One of my favorite parts about the fact that my kids are rapidly growing older is to watch their relationship form. Every day I am thankful that they love, look out and play with each other. Not until this weekend did I realize that sometimes keeping them together is not a good thing.
While my husband was out of town for work, I attempted to put the kids to bed after a long day at school and dinner at a friend’s house. They both were tired and hyper. As I tried to get them ready for bed, they would copy each other scream silly phrases, laugh and not listen. This made me frustrated and I didn’t follow the number one rule of parenting: stay calm. The more upset I got, the more crazy they became.
Defeated I made the second parenting mistake: let them lay in my bed together. After hours of musical beds and frustration, somehow I barely managed to accomplish the goal. I had no time to myself, slept poorly and did not feel refreshed in the morning.
The next night I knew I had to make a change. I told my boy to take a shower in one bathroom and my girl to take a bath in the other. Yes, it was more running around for me, but the mood was calm. When each doesn’t have the other to get riled up, they both appreciated the slowness of bath time.
After his shower, my boy got in his pajamas, brushed his teeth and I sent him downstairs to play with his Legos. My girl finished and we actually enjoyed drying off, getting dressed, brushing teeth and hair. There was no battle involved, it was pleasant. We read stories and I tucked her into bed. Clearly, she was enjoying the one on one time and effortlessly listening. At one point she did ask where her brother was, but easily I distracted her back to her book.
With that I gave her a kiss and said goodnight. She did fuss for a few minutes before she passed out, but it was nothing comparable to the majority of nights.
A little while later I brought her brother to bed, read him a story and had the chance to practice his new reading skills. He asked lots of questions and benefited from the lack of chaos. We said goodnight and within 20 minutes both of my kids were asleep. It was 8:00!
I had a few hours to myself and my heart rate significantly decreased. It is so true that when I get upset, my kids get upset; I need to remember this. Staying calm is really helpful. Yes, it seems so simple, but emotions creep up so easily.
Nights like this one, make all the other hard and frustrating days seem not so bad.
How do parents of 3, 4 or 19 do it?