Here are the three goals I set for myself during my parenting challenge:
1. Let the Little Things Go
When my boys want to move on from playing cars to coloring, or from Legos to building a fort, we follow a protocol for clean up. Growing up, I had a similar clean up routine in my house, so I decided to enforce it with my boys. Not to mention that I’m a self-proclaimed neat freak and have trouble living in a mess.
However, I decided to try and let the little things go. For this challenge, I vowed to clean up three times a day versus a dozen. I cleaned once in the morning, once after lunch, and a good sweep after dinner. The first two days, I was hyperventilating in my closet while looking down the hallway of toy terrors. Day three was better, and since I wanted to own the challenge, I learned to live in the toy explosion.
What I learned – I don’t like mess, but kids are messy. And most kids aren’t aware of the reasons for cleaning up after each activity because, well, they’re KIDS and all they see is play and fun. While I didn’t care for this parenting challenge, I did learn to let some of the little things go. Like a Lego piece on the ground, which I know was staring at me and perhaps taunting me.
2. Pleading at Meal Times
When my boys don’t want to eat what I prepare for them, I find myself pleading with them. I say, “One more bite, please, finish that half”. I swear I’m talking to myself when we sit down for a meal. How the heck do they survive eating so little throughout the day?
With this parent challenge, I warned my boys that I was not going to bother them about finishing their dinner. I also warned them that dessert was not in their future if they didn’t eat. For a few breakfasts and lunchtimes, they consumed a slice of apple, a bite of a peanut butter sandwich, and nothing more. With only one snack between lunch and dinner, they were quite #hangry once dinner was served.
What I learned- I absolutely hate wasting food, so I ate nuggets, peanut butter sandwiches, and apple slices for a week. This alone probably made me happier. However, I also learned that my kids don’t need to be forced to eat. I need to work on offering healthy choices and letting them decide what they will eat.
3. Stop the Refereeing (But Step in if there’s Real Danger)
When I hear little bickering from the other room, I intervene all the time. It’s not only exhausting, but annoying to say the least. The bickering turns into a shriek, and then the true fighting starts. Their fighting spins me into such a bad mood that I end up being as mad as one. Honestly, you’d think that I just got whacked with a lightsaber, not one of them.
I won’t be there all the time to referee, and I’m doing a disservice in being a mediator when things get ugly. I have been tagged as a helicopter mom because I tend to linger and solve their problems without giving them the opportunity to settle things themselves. With this parenting challenge, I planned to not intervene immediately.
What I learned- This challenge, by far, was the toughest among the three. I had to go to another room and sit on my hands while humming a song. My instinct is to yell at them for yelling at each other (I understand, this makes no sense at all). I was fairly disappointed in myself when I thought about what I would have done without this parent challenge in place.
Take the Parenting Challenge Today
Although it was only a week-long parenting challenge, it helped me identify what I can work on. It was not only rewarding for me, but also for my boys. And if it worked for me (a neat freak, hot-tempered Latina), it can have it benefits for all walks of parenting. My next parenting challenge will be longer than a week, and I hope to discover more about my parenting.