I have very limited experience as a parent. My oldest child is only five, and I have yet to deal with disciplining a boy. So far my boy is practically perfect. I am quite sure that all of the seasoned parents reading this will chuckle at my naivety and inexperience. But if this is helpful to even one floundering mom, then I have accomplished my goal.
When people say that three children is hard, they are not joking. Suddenly I went from being just busy to being stretched way too thin. And the thinner mom is stretched, the more each child needs. The less I felt I could give, the more they wanted. I really began noticing this about a month ago, when some strange behavior started showing up. Most of the time, the sin around here is pretty cut and dry and can easily be turned from with some firm correction and redirection. But I was hitting a point where I felt like nothing was working. The bad attitudes and mean spirits were popping up all over the place at weird times and I felt like I was playing whack-a-mole parenting. I needed to redirect myself.
When my children are sick, I cancel our plans and set aside some time to specially focus on them. Most of the time during these seasons, many things (like the laundry and the dishes and play-dates) take the back burner and I am 100% focused on what that child needs. So why wasn’t I doing this with our attitude sickness that kept showing itself?
I decided to set aside an entire week for attitude re-training. I canceled all our plans, even moved appointments, and made a plan of attack. I did all my errands over weekend and stocked up on plenty of crafting supplies. I made sure I was dressed and coffeed by the time the children were up every morning. I turned off my phone. I set aside my to-do lists. I planned very simple meals that the kids could help me prepare. And I did everything with the kids that week. No alone time! My full attention was on them. When they were playing with blocks, I got on the floor and built with them without texting friends while we played. When we worked on letters and numbers, I refrained from folding the laundry and gave them my full attention. When they were going to bed, I got in the bed and snuggled and told stories. When we sat down to work on crafts, I did crafts too instead of using the time to place Amazon orders. I saved all my chores for the evening after the kids were asleep. When we were outside I threw the ball with them. When we went to the park, I raced them down the slide and went on the swings with them. When I was nursing the baby, I read stories out loud instead of reading my own books. When we ate lunch together, i had joke competitions with them instead of menu planning.
And do you know what happened? Within two days the girls were playing sweeter, obeying quicker, sharing better, whining less, and staying focused on a task longer. Obviously this intensity can’t be constant. The laundry does need to be folded and errands need to be accomplished. It is good for children to learn to wait and not have the world centered around them constantly. But that week was the perfect dosage of vitamin C that they needed for the soul-colds. They just needed an intense reminder that they are my top priority and I am always willing to set aside everything else if they are struggling.
Things are getting back to a normal pace now, but I am so thankful for this experience. I certainly plan to do this again if I see their love-tanks starting to run low. Cut back on multi-tasking and pour out a joyful heart, which is the best medicine.