Just a few weeks ago, I reached a parenting low, and came to a few realizations. Don't know why these things take me so long to figure out, so I'm sharing in case anyone else goes through this stuff.
You see, we've had visitors coming and living with us on and off all year long with little breaks in between. Reason being, we live in Germany and want our family to visit because we miss them, and we very often times need them to help watch our kids.
I work full time, so does Frank. Cooper has Kindergarten, but it closes up in the summer for a whole month and our friend who watches Lily was unable to watch her the entire summer.
So, first came Frank's parents to travel and help. Then Eric for three months, then my mom for a month. Every time we have people come, some things happen.
Well, one, I clean the house like crazy and try to make it look like we are clean/organized normal people. We're not. So this is an ordeal to try to make it look like we are!
Two, our routine with the kids changes. Not just a little, but a whole lot. Cooper gets quite used to not going to school, and this means more time with Lily and this means more fighting and jealousy ensues. I stop working out, I go to bed later, I stop crafting, and we're on a different glide path.
Three. My attention is divided and I spend much more time talking to my company. Time that I normally would spend with my husband or my kids. They notice. They crave my attention more and cling to me and whine to me much more than normal. Well, the kids, not Frank on that part. And the dog even! Maya won't get out of my face the first 20 minutes I come home every day.
Four. I stress out. The worst part. I worry about the kids misbehaving and what the visitors are thinking. I worry they think I should be parenting differently and I make up thoughts in my head about how terrible they think my kids are because of me. I then start feeling mad and lose my patience with everyone and everything and try being stricter in an effort to try to appear like someone I am not.
My behavior and feelings lead to chaos. I made Cooper feel like he was such a bad kid just a few weeks ago. All the time outs/constant corrections and being grumpy with him. He just was acting worse and worse. He was feeling less and less connected with me, and me with him. Every day was worse than the last.
Now envision a light bulb glowing by my head. Yup, I was enlightened through retrospective analysis and some helpful articles I found. I'm done with the time outs and negativity/grumpy parenting. I'm changing myself. I'm learning to stay calmer, show my love more, and to accept his feelings and acknowledge his frustrations instead of shunning them or getting mad at him for having his mean thoughts and comments. I'm listening. I'm hugging. I'm praising. We're having a lot of time ins together. And you know what? It is working. For me and for Cooper.
This morning, he woke up crying about having to go to school. "I hate school, I don't want to go to school. I want to go to work with you." I responded with hugs and love and holding him telling him I love him and understand and know that he is upset. It worked. He cheers up and pushes me out the door (part of our routine) and told me to have a great day.
And just yesterday, Frank said he told him "I had a great day" as soon as he picked him up from school. I can barely get him out of the school when I come to pick him up. He loves school. He just loves being with us more. And I get that. I love being with him more than anything and just have to let him know that more often.
When I'm with him, I'm trying to really be with him. We're talking much more, being silly, and close again. He is helping me with Lily, trying to cheer her up now when she is sad instead of gloating as he was just weeks ago. We are laughing again and trusting each other again. I'm feeling better about myself as a parent and most importantly, my kids are happy again and I am happy again. Life is good.