In the midst of a barrage of frustrating parenting days, I had a parenting epiphany:
I am not fun.
Well, sometimes I am.
But most of the time, I am too busy with the minutiae of being a mom of three and a wife. A successful day would include more than 5 hours of sleep, making three mostly healthy meals and a couple of snacks, completing two or three cleaning tasks (which may or may not include keeping children clean), and all of my kids (and me!) out of pajamas before lunchtime.
When you take into account all of the little things that need to be done each day, it is no wonder that I can lose my cool with my kids. My reality is that my children, who are four, three, and one, are growing up so fast. And as much as I plead with them to stop growing, gaining strength, mastering tasks, and getting smarter, it is happening.
Part of this growth means testing every boundary I put into place.
Another part of this growth means testing every other boundary that I should have put into place.
So yes, I yell.
I yell often at my kids.
The majority of the time it is not a yell of outrage. Most of the time, it is a yell to get their attention. To be heard over their rambunctiousness. To stop their rambunctiousness. To get them to do what I want. Because, you know, what I want them to do is important! Like now!
Does that sound like fun for anyone involved? To quote Dr. Phil, “How is that working for you?”
Obviously, yelling doesn’t work. They rarely to never listen. I may get their attention, I may scare them, but as a daily parenting tool, it is highly ineffective. If “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, then on any given day, I feel a twinge of insanity creeping in already. I really do not need to add any more fuel to that fire.
My solution to avoiding yelling?
I decided to play and have more fun with my kids on a daily basis. In many ways, this was a complete reversal. But have you ever noticed how good everyone in the family feels when playing together?
Before I know it, I will have three teens living under my roof, and other than a much higher grocery bill, I know that they will most likely want very little to do with me. But not right now. Right now, my children beg for me to play with them, to sit with them, to read to them. How great is that?
Through play, I have learned plenty about them and about myself. I honestly feel more connected with my children after having fun with them, and I know they feel the same way. I have more patience for the not-so-fun times with them, and when I add play into tasks that in the past led to frustration, it diffuses the situation quickly. They listen better because they are getting undivided attention, and because I am not constantly yelling and making demands of them, they feel better about themselves. And because I am not yelling and making constant demands of them, I feel better about the job I am doing as a parent.
So, tell a joke, make a silly face, tickle or chase your kids around the house!
Tell them they are the parent and you are the kid or tell them that the best way to get dressed is to put their socks on their hands and their pants on their heads!
Put on music and dance, dance, dance!
Chances are if you take a few minutes, absolutely plugged into playing with your kids, they will reciprocate in kind. And your stress level? The constant yelling?
They will be strangely absent.
Definitely a win-win-win-win situation for everyone.
I have really fun kids. It is time that they have a really fun mom.
Do you feel guilty after yelling at your kids? What has worked for you in efforts to yell less often? Share your tips in the comments!
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.