How many of us have experienced the frustration of needing cooperation from out kids, and felt the disappointment of realizing it will be an uphill battle?
Children are not robots. They are tiny human beings with feelings, thoughts, and wait for it...emotions.
Yes, just like you and me, they have opinions about how their days should go.
Now, we know that part of our responsibility as parents is to shape those feelings, thoughts, and emotions into actions that are acceptable not only in our home, but also in our society at large.
When you are dealing with the un-tapped energy of a toddler, this task can prove daunting.
As a mother of 4 children, I live this reality quite often. And, now that I have a few years of this parenting gig under my belt, I do have a few suggestions to offer my fellow comrades.
1. Don't say it unless you are prepared to follow through.
How many battles could we avoid if we didn't make a big deal out of insignificant things?
I confess that with my first child, I made everything a battle. I was prepared to show her that I was completely in control, even though I technically had no idea what I was doing. She caught on to my naivete quickly, and decided to test me at every turn. But, part of the fun for her, was that I made an issue out of everything.
People, please learn the fine art of redirecting a child, especially when they are at a very young age. You don't want to be that annoying Mom who is constantly whining "NOOOO" at your child. I know, because I have been that Mom. Letting the little things go can feel wrong. We think that somehow if we don't tackle that issue at that moment that our kids will inevitably spiral out of control. I have watched Parents who redirect with such finesse, and the child doesn't even realize what they are missing! And, with all that energy you have saved with ignoring the little things, you will have more spunk to deal with the biggies.
2. Be prepared.
I love the idea of being spontaneous. And, I believe it can be a healthy part of a person's life. Flexibility is a wonderful attribute. However, there is also nothing wrong with planning ahead. If you know you are going to be leaving the house for awhile, or even for a quick trip, make sure you have the essentials. Things like, Diapers, Wipes, Bottled Water, Sippy cup or bottle, and a few granola bars. You don't know what could transpire from the time you leave, until the time you return, so save yourself the possibility of some stress, and prepare for the inevitable!
3. Ask for help.
So much of the time, we could save ourselves stress-filled shopping trips, and meltdowns from sleep-deprived children if we took the time to ask someone for help. Now, I am fully aware that not everyone has a Nanny, Grandma, or willing husband on their speed-dial. However, if you do, ask them to help you, especially if you know you will have a busy day of errands. I rarely take my children shopping with me, because I have worked out a system with my husband. I don't want to take them to the store with me while I stock up on groceries. No thank you. Just typing that gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Even with the most well-behaved children, a shopping trip is a challenge. So,as much as you possibly can, team up!
4. Make it an adventure. (Don't freak out...fake out!)
If you are unable to find help, and you must take your children into the unknown territory of the teaming masses, fake them and yourself out. I have used this strategy many times. When you feel yourself slipping over the edge of sanity...your head feels fuzzy, your ears are ringing, and your hands are trembling, try this trick. First of all, take 3 deep breaths. It works wonders to have oxygen flowing. Then, close your eyes for a brief moment and imagine that you are at the fair, an amusement park, or your favorite spot on earth. Think to yourself, I will choose to enjoy this. I am on an adventure. I am on the most exciting ride. I am going to smile and have a good time! - Now, there have been times when I have been too far over the ledge for this technique to be effective. However, it has worked for me many times. It involves a change in perspective. A decision to enjoy the ride.
Errands and trips with our children are inevitable. But, with a few strategies in place, we can survive the twists and turns of our busy lives.