The great irony of motherhood is that the better you strive to be at it, the worse you feel about your abilities. You agonize over every time you lose your temper, every time you say something that makes them feel bad, and every time you make the wrong decision. The bad highlight reel is non-stop, especially if you’re an introvert like me who spends hours agonizing over things other people have long since forgotten about. The New Year is here. I’m sure you’ve already made some resolutions.
Since I’ve already lost weight and will soon have all our debt paid off except the house thanks to our tax refund, I’ve decided to ban some phrases that I say WAY too often.
1. It’s Ruined/Destroyed– Oh you like having new things and you also have kids? Yeah, those two are not compatible. I am in love with an idea that I can keep my things new and in working order, but that’s just not reality with kids. The brand new desk my husband bought me for Christmas is already tattooed with pen. I didn’t even get to use it one time before one of the kids got to it. It’s always a real bummer when something I really wanted gets messed up and it takes me a good ten to fifteen minutes of being royally pissed. After that’s over, I’m fine and I just accept that this is life with small kids. But during the time I lose my mind I always say, “It’s ruined” or “It’s destroyed.”What I usually mean is, “It’s damaged.” There’s a big difference. When I say it’s ruined, not only is it not true, but I think it gives my kids the impression that I love that item more than them. I’m not giving them license to damage the stuff we work hard for, but at the end of the day it really is just stuff. A few years ago when a lady rear-ended my mini-van with my two kids in the car my daughter said to me, “Oh No! Our mini-van is destroyed.” I told her it doesn’t matter because you guys are fine. That’s what matters.” Stuff is replaceable, but people aren’t. So I’m going to try my best to stop using this phrase.
2. You want ANOTHER snack? – Do you hear this ten million times a day like I do? I get soooo freaking tired of hearing it. My kids want to snack all day long. I admit that I get too snippy about these requests though. One day my daughter said to me, “You could just say no. You don’t have to be mean about it.” I said, “You know what, you’re right. I could have said it nicely.” I’ll admit I let my frustration come flying out of my mouth unchecked, but I’m going to try to be better about it. It’s probably not their fault they need snacks way more often than adults do. I guess if I had to ask permission every time I wanted a cup of coffee, it’d be pretty hellish for all involved. I have to remember that they are asking. They are doing what they are supposed to do. I shouldn’t get upset just because I hate playing the mental snack calculator, trying to keep track of how long ago they ate and how much was junk and how much was healthy. From now on, I’m going to try to stick to “yes” or “no” and lose the ‘tude about it. This one is going to be REALLY hard for me, especially during those breaks from school where I hear this ALL DAY LONG.
3. Hurry Up– Ok, sometimes it’s totally necessary to hurry my kids along, but other times it’s not. If we’re trying to get out of the house to be somewhere on time, I’m still going to urge them to move it along, but other times I say it just because I’m tired and trying to punch out for the night. If your kids are like mine, they’re a mile a minute until you tell them to get ready for bed and then it’s like they hit the slow mo button. In my tired crankiness I urge them to just “HURRY UP.” From now on I’m just going to start the process a little earlier, so that by the time they FINALLY get up the stairs, put on PJs and brush their teeth it’ll be bedtime and not a half-hour to an hour after it.
4. Stop Fighting – No, I’m not going to start encouraging the fighting. I just had the realization that telling my kids to stop fighting doesn’t work. I’m going to see if a little flip of terminology can do better. Instead I’m going to tell them to get along with each other. I will try to offer up this simple plea along with a suggestion or two or ask them what things they’d like to play/work on together. And if ALL else fails, they are going to write notes to each other about what they like/love about each other. We all need a good reminder when the ones we care about most are really annoying us.
My resolutions are not about trying to censor everything I say to or in front of my kids, but rather taking a second to think about how my words affect them. What phrases would you ban from your parenting dialogue in the New Year?
Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found blogging at Hudson Valley Parent Magazine and thenodramamama.com when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her otherwise three adorable kiddos. This frugal, “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow me on Facebook or Twitter for my delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails.