I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

• 29 July 2009



































For those of you that are parents, do you ever have moments when you feel like a total failure? I'm feeling a little like that these days...the stress and strain of an overseas renovation on a strict timetable is taking it's toll. It's probably time to re-read a few parenting books (Love & Logic is a favorite) but let's be honest, that is not going to happen in the next 30-60 days. Plan B seems to be in order!

Perchance I am not the only parent who ever felt this way, I'd like to make a request. If you have a great parenting tip (this is a broad request so broad comments are all welcome) please speak up and share it with us all. I/we would be much obliged :)

image taken in some nearby fields we pass just about everyday; thankfully we captured the moment when we did, as the next day a whopping storm pummeled through the valley and left the formerly happy sunflowers looking rather sad...

38 comments:

tammyig said...

I have three boys and I have my days too. And when I do, I recall a MOPS newsletter I read. I'll try to sum up the good points: God picked you to be the parent of your children despite your flaws. It's not always about teaching them but it's about teaching us too. And for whatever reason, He wanted us to be parents.

I know that I feel a step closer to him, now knowing the love I feel for my children, He feels for me.

Anonymous said...

For a change, when things got out of control this last week with travel and interrupted schedules, I did the unthinkable. Instead of trying to take control (parenting books) I had a flash of inspiration. Roll with it. I told the kids (8 and 5) we were on vacation and so I wasn't going to tell them no eating dessert first, get dressed, go to bed. They got to try it their way. Still pondering the many benefits of this.

KJ said...

I'm wallowing in the depths of parental failure woes myself. And my oldest isn't yet 3. Some days all I can do is remember that they won't be this little and tiny and wonderful (and utterly impossibly naughty) for very long so I must embrace all the little and wonderful goodness even if the tyrannical, ferocious terrible twos come with. You are in FRANCE with your 3 BEAUTIFUL children, fulfilling a DREAM. They likely won't remember you were stressed out, but what a wonderful summer they've had.

tam said...

I give myself time-outs. When I'm feeling like a failure, have been yelling or barking demands too frequently, and the kids don't seem to be responding, I tell them I have been naughty for talking in an angry voice and I need a time out. I retreat to my room, close the door, put up my feet and relax awhile. They don't know my time-outs aren't punishment for me! And they think it's hilarious that I get myself into trouble. They just mind themselves while I take the break I need before starting my attitude over :-)

Stefanie said...

I found after many years (boys are 14 and 24) wait a minute or two before responding (easier said then done, right!) It really helps.

Christy said...

In my house, unexpected treats help everyone's mood. My current favorite is breakfast sundaes - healthy, made with yogurt: http://alilmorewelshrarebit.blogspot.com/2009/07/breakfast-banana-split.html

Jill said...

when my youngest was still a baby, i read love and logic and it reminded me so much of the way i was raised. i had wonderful, loving and encouraging parents who always gave me choices. it empowered me as an adult and i want to give my children that same advantage in life. choice + accountability = happy, confident, empowered children.

Jennifer in Minnesota said...

At weak moments I will occasionally do a query on www.askmoxie.org only to find that there is almost always a thread addressing a similar challenge to my own. A great site, I think.

Stephanie said...

oh, if only i remembered a few of these things on even half my days. when emotions get high, and the temptation is to just scold, a little empathy always helps. if i sit with the offender, and help her name the emotion...and then empathize for a moment, i tend to discipline firmly and lovingly. if i skip the empathizing, then i just sound (and feel) impatient and unloving. won't somebody please send me these reminders every morning?

Minder said...

Steph you are a wonderful Mom! I've seen you with your kids. What a great experience they are having right now. It's okay if your kids see the effects of stress on you. They are going to see a little stress in their lives too. It's perfect proof of what a good job you are doing, by the way you worry about it, but honestly I know you are doing just fine. Miss you!

Anonymous said...

I'm a Mom-to-be and these references are all super. Can you provide the title of the exact book again so I can look it up and purchase it for my Mommy library??

Hang in there. You're an inspiration.

Thanks!

USAUS said...

When you feel overwhelmed, it is time to just stop and HUG your child. I did this for years with a particularly challenging child and to this day, this child is still paying the highest dividends in cuddles and kindness!!! It really does make a difference, for both of you and gives you time to calm the frayed nerves... and restore the loving bond. But it does take a minute or two... but not a bad investment given the returns!

You are a GREAT mother Steph. I would give you an A+ and remember I have seen you in action. love you.

Brooke Rane said...

i love reading this book by the Eyre's, and if you haven't read it already, it's a great one to pick up. i'll leave the link below...

http://www.amazon.com/Book-Nurturing-Natural-Enriching-Family/dp/0071415068

the emily said...

I don't know what will help, but for me and my 2 boys, rewards work WONDERS. I used to get so mad and punish punish punish. But when they kept acting out, I knew a change was in order. By offering a reward (BEFORE the tantrum or bad behavior starts), my boys are different people. They will do almost anything I ask for a piece of gum. It's nuts. And it works.

Robin said...

The best advice I ever got (and the mantra that rings in the back of my mind when I'm having one of those not-so-good parenting days with my 3 children) is: Aside from the basic societal and hygienic norms, the only important thing to enforce with your kids is whatever makes the family experience enjoyable for you.

Anonymous said...

It may be too hectic for this, but I've found that when things get rough (ie: sick for the first three months of pregnancy), "normal" goes out the window, and discipline gets a little tight, my kids respond really well to individual dates. When my husband or I will take the time to take them out, and do what they want, and talk to them about everything and anything (but being sure to include talking about how they feel about the summer, validating the negatives and emphasizing the positives). It doesn't give me much of a break per se, but it does seem to recharge them.

Lane said...

Hugs and a cup of really good coffee. Gets me though my day. Renovating with kids is a huge challenge, it will all soon be over

Jordan said...

smile at them--I've found this does wonders somehow.

Rynell said...

Really? Sometimes I think I am the only person with these issues.

I am also a fan of Love & Logic, but I find I really have to remind myself of those principles every so often. I love the logical reasoning used in L&L. Can't beat that.

My kids really thrive on one-on-one time. It's tough to fit it in, but it really helps my kiddos out.

Good luck to us all.

Scattering Lupines said...

I am not a parent, but my mother-n-law told me once that LISTENING is always more important than any trivial little household task or errand. So, I guess stopping to sit and chat for a few moments with each child each day could make all the difference in the world. But, again. I'm not a parent... yet.

Sam and Josh said...

Being the Mom of twins and triplets you sometimes just have to let it go and just remember they are kids. I know how hard it is and I get frustrated all the time, but sometimes it is easier to do it yourself even if you should be teaching them.

Jennifer R. said...

I once read that the best thing you can do for a child is to let go of saying no for purposes of control. (I'm paraphrasing). Of course, you should say no for matters of safety, good habits, good manners, etc., but if you find yourself feeling like you or your kids are out of control, it may be because you're focusing your parenting energy on controlling the negative rather than delighting in and encouraging all of the positive aspects of childhood. I found when I followed this advice, my relationship with my 20month old daughter changed (for the better) almost over night. We still have our power struggles, but her attitude towards me, and my attitude towards myself as a parent have both improved dramatically.

Jenny said...

I completely relate. We just finished building our own home about a year and a half ago now, and are in the process of starting another. Things are always busy and no two days seem to be the same. It doesn't do much for sanity!
If you are beating yourself up about parenting, the odds are that you are a very good parent! Parents who think only of themselves don't worry about this and don't even consider that they might be able to make things better for their children.
If I am having a rough day, I try to make sure that I've eaten enough(me+hungry=cranky). I also make sure that I apologize to my kids if/when I'm in the wrong.
Lately it's been really different because my husband is working away Mon-Sat and is home on Sunday. I am trying to keep scheduling to a bare minimum - meals and bedtime to make it as laid back as possible for both myself and the kids.
My kids are 4,2,and 1 and I am feeling the need to constantly be writing things down, especially things I've told the kids we would do as I have the best of intentions but am often pulled in several directions at once and forget more than I'd like.
Try to focus on the things that make you a good parent and try not to be too hard on yourself when you make mistakes. Kids are more resilient than we realize. One of my favourite Anne of Green Gables quotes is, "Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it." We can always begin anew.

Likes Chocolate said...

I think as parents today, we are putting way to much pressure on ourselves to be the perfect parents. I mean come on -our parents didn't spend all this time reading book on how to be the perfect parents. The just did their best. Ok, we know some parents from the 60's and 70's failed but I do not that is any different of any different generation. At least for me, being a mom of three boys Love and Logic didn't work for the under 8 children. I like 1,2, 3 Magic. Also, I had some many people give me their two cents of advice and now I wish I had just listened to my own heart and not others. Just celebrated and embrased my child for who he is.

Designer Diva said...

Obviously we all know that being a parent is the most challenging and yet rewarding experience that we can have in life. All of the advice that I've read is awesome! You all sound like fabulous parents! We all have our moments. I have four children and often am overwhelmed by the tasks at hand. Giving myself a time-out is always helpful. Then I go about trying to focus on the positive. If we are constantly noticing the negative we are going to be negative. With every reprimand I give, I try to follow up within five minutes at least two positives. This helps me feel better about disciplining and lets my kids know that I still love them as individuals; I just wasn't pleased at the moment with the action.
You seem like an incredible mom, Stephanie. I'm sure that your children will understand that mommy is just a bit stressed right now. When time allows, I have found The Power of Positive Parenting a great read.

And of course, being a religious person, as I know you are, I try to always start my day with scripture study. Takes the edge off before a hectic day.

KatiK said...

Play with them.

When my kids are misbehaving and it seems like I'm constantly getting after them, I try to remember the last time they had my undivided attention. It can be shocking how long it's been. So we play. I'll set a timer for 15 minutes and play hide-and-seek, board games, pretend, whatever, and after a few days of doing that once each day, we're all okay again. They're happier, I'm happier, and Love & Logic is more effective again because you've been building the relationship.

Good luck. Things sound crazy for you right now but your children really won't remember the stress like you think they will. And only good mommies worry so much about this stuff. You're doing great.

annamae said...

my husband is currently deployed and I've had a much harder time of it then the past two. This past week especially. Some things I'm doing:
Prayer! reading God's word, and other books too. I would highly recommend the mission of motherhood by Sally Clarkson. I've also been trying to take the time to sit and talk to my kids, love on them one on one every night before bed. We've been really busy so I was definitely noticing their reactions to my "neglect" and I think the pointedness of taking that time is helping.
I hope all these ideas and stories lift you up, you're obviously not alone in this. And I absolutely love and will be using Tam's idea of mommy time outs! Brilliant!!! :D

Tally Girl said...

I can't believe I am the first to type this...get a babysitter! Best parenting advice ever. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Georgia said...

I agree with some of the other comments. You ARE an A+ mom, and like TJ said, they probably won't remember the bad because there was so much good that you did. Remind youself that they didn't come with owner's manuals, and cut yourself some slack for not being perfect all the time (although you are near perfect ;-)

Georgia said...

P.S. Great photo! My girls in our youth group were just talking about taking photos in the sunflower fields (they are all around our town) tonight!

Anonymous said...

You do seem like a great mom, but since you've asked for ideas, I'll share what's helped me lately.
If we spend time and energy focusing on the positive with our kids, then when a moment comes when we need to correct, they will listen much better than if we've been nagging and badgering them all day long. Sincere compliments like, "Wow, you did a great job of helping your brother just now. I'm impressed with how loving you are," can build a child up immensely and help them view themselves in a positive light that leads to positive behavior. There's a poem I like that includes the line..."Build self esteem now, and the house later." (I use this to make me feel better about the umpteen projects at home that I haven't gotten to). Since you have to build the house now, you can work doubly hard on building self esteem now too! You could use this as an opportunity for praising their flexibility, their ability to roll with the punches, their sense of adventure. Maybe make up an ongoing story about three amazing, wonderful, brilliant enfants who had an adventure in France!
One last thing...I've told my kids I'm working on controlling my anger, and that if they hear me get angry, they're invited to come touch me on the arm and quietly remind me that it sounds like I'm angry. Just knowing that they might do this helps me keep myself in check!

amyks said...

My only comment to you...is to just breathe. Remember in the end it will all be so wonderful and awesome, the headaches soon will be outweighed by the amazing home that you and your husband have created for your family. What an incredible experience you have given them. Kids are so forgiving and they probably won't remember how you lost your cool or "created all this chaos". You have given your children such a gift, try and think about that instead of all the ways you have let them down. Hang in there, you're in France, in the summertime, don't forget to stop and smell the flowers while you are there. :)

Stephanie said...

Wow.

I appreciate all these wonderful, thoughtful comments. Even the Husband read through them all and that's saying something! Thank you for the encouraging words. I feel better already! My game plan is ready to roll come tomorrow morning. It will be a new day. Many thanks again!!

kgbgraphics said...

I was just talking with a co'worker today about parenting...
she told me this
pick your battles, but stand your ground

lynne said...

Steph, wow, you have a lot on your plate. I can only imagine how stressful it must be to try and provide some kind of normalcy or routine in the midst of so much hard work. I loved reading all of the advice (as I found myself yelling at my sweet little 2 year old this morning) and the only thing I have to add is the only advice my mom ever says: Muddle through, and the only thing you'll be consistent at is being inconsistent. :) It sounds a little defeatist but I think what she means is not to be too hard on yourself - you clearly love your children SO much, and they know in their little hearts that you are doing your best. And they'll flourish because of that love. In the meantime maybe you can pay the elder ones to read stories to the baby to get a 5 minute breather. Amazing what the offer of a quarter will do!

Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Just try, try to enjoy them as much as you can! When I was in your stage... I couldn't wait until they were older and more independent... and know I am finally (kind of) there.. and it makes me sad that I wished those times away. I look at pictures from those times and I am sad- because I didn't enjoy the little buggers!! Good luck... and always remember what is most important.

Anonymous said...

This summer I feel like I have been yelling at my daughter all of the time. Due to the economy she has not gone to any camps this summer. I work from home and it seems that I am constantly barking orders, asking her to be quiet and telling her that she cannot watch tv. The other day we were talking about the meaning of the word predictable. I told her that she is always predictable because she always wants to watch tv. And then in a grumpy voice I said that I am predictable because I always say no. My daughter said that was true except that I never sound mean. Maybe sometimes when we think we are being terrible parents our kids do not perceive it that way!

Laura said...

With my husband being in the military, I'm often both mom & dad around here.

On his last deployment I began to pretend my mother-in-law was watching my every interaction with my very challenging son. It still helps me get through difficult days now that we have three kids (6, 2, 9mo) and live in Germany.

By now, you may know a few people in your town. If not, perhaps by talking with your realtor (who tend to know everyone in town), you may find a young person who could come to your house and play with the kids. I do this even when I'm home so that I can get things done when on a tight schedule.

All of this is fleeting in the big view of your life. As my beloved mother-in-law says, 'this too shall pass'.

You can do this.

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