What mom doesn't want to have fun? I know when I became a mom it was the most momentous, joyous time in my life and then came the endless nights of crying, nursing, rocking, crying, walking, bouncing, “shhhh, sh, sh, shhhhh", slowly and gently placing baby in crib, crying (rinse, repeat, with mom crying too!)
It's rough, right. . . All of a sudden I was thrown from my independent life; working out side the home and all I really had to worry about was me. I was able to use the bathroom, eat, and well, just do what ever I wanted when I wanted. And for better and for worse that is something of the past, the far distant past!. My sister told me the first few years are the easiest, and then “It really gets tough". From talking with friends the “fun" really begins as our beautiful babes enter their adolescence and teen years. So much to look forward to!
When discussing with my husband whether we wanted to start a family I told him I wasn't sure if I wanted to deal with teenagers. . . His response, “If people made the decision to have children based raising teens, no one would have kids". That's probably a pretty accurate response, right?
But, I didn't want to enter parenthood feeling frustrated, confused, and not knowing what to do. So I started looking for answers and I found and amazing source and wealth of information. The resource I am speaking of is Nicole MacKenzie. She created a home parenting course called:
Parenting Rule #1: Mom Has Fun and I was able to interview her. Nicole also offers for moms like me where “too much information" still isn't enough, a newsletter. She first tells mom's “not to be perfect and to have fun". What is not to like?
Nicole teaches that when mom and dad “having fun", it will encourage your kids to make better choices, listen and be more respectful. Strange isn't it! It is such a parenting paradigm switch. That is why it is so intriguing to me. So I decided to give it a try! I placed the emphasis of parenting on me. If things seemed to be going down hill and unwanted behavior started to flair, I quickly stepped aside and said to myself “Am I having fun?" The answer was always, “no". I realized that if I wasn't having fun, neither were my kids.
When I sat down and really thought about the things I want to give my children, the most important qualities were to appreciate and enjoy life. How am I going to do that if I am frowning, agitated, and become spooled up because my kids are “not listening", tormenting each other, and acting like monkeys. If kids learn (if anyone learns, really) more from seeing and doing (not from what I say) then how would I really be teaching this? So my mission was to practice having fun myself. What an incredible gift!
When I sat back and decided what my primary focus for the day was. . . to enjoy it, I realized it was not to: do laundry and change bedding; to clean the house with resentment because in less than an hour it would be a mess again; second guessing whether I am giving my kids enough “quality time"; etc. My personal goals are to teach my kids to be well-adjusted, kind, conscientious and responsible adults who are in love with life. A tall order, but, here is the thing, (it was like a light bulb glaring at me in the face) - they were not going to learn this from watching the “old" me. So, I have dedicated myself to live it.
So what only seems like a simple solution, really is simple. If I put the focus on me and not on the kids the characteristics I want my kids to have will follow. Does that seem original? It isn't, really.
I think back to when my parents were growing up they didn't have all the material stuff or luxuries we have so there was less time to spend with the kids. Kids had so many more responsibilities and so much more independence.
We hear so often: “kids need to be kids"; “kids don't play anymore"; and “they are forced to grow up too fast". Don't get me wrong, I think our kids are exposed to violence, *** mature situations, and adult responsibilities all too often in our culture. But I also believe our kids are not held accountable and given reasonable and appropriate tasks to manage consistently. They often grow up not realizing how their behavior affects others.
Also, I don't mean they don't learn the consequences for toddler hitting or biting that necessitates a time out and saying “sorry" with a hug to the injured, but the kind of empathy learned when emphasis is placed on giving to others; the happiness, joy, and contentment that truly lie when giving to others without being asked or encouraged.
I have heard similar messages from parenting experts before but this was different. There is a broader meaning to me in a new way. (Finally, after 34 years!) Although, children learn to receive love and affection from their number one teachers, (mom and dad), are they learning everything they need to learn about love this way? What happens when they aren't held responsible for giving love: to experience the love, joy, and satisfaction of truly giving of him/her self?
Would I be giving my children the “education" and lessons they truly need to live the life I want for them, if I don't create situations where they have to give in order to know joy, happiness, and satisfaction?
I once thought that happiness didn't really exist in life. I thought, “Yes, we do experience happy moments but life is filled more with boredom, problems, want, need, rejection, fear, and loneliness. " I have learned recently that there is so much more and happiness, joy and contentment can be the mainstay with bits of sadness, loneliness, and fear thrown in so we know we are alive.
Yes, there are quiet moments and times when I even crave to be by myself. I even look forward to these because now know happiness and fullness. I feel love and I am surrounded by it. It has taken me way too long to find this and what I really want is for my kids to grow up with these feelings and have them all their life. I know I can't guarantee that they will always have and experience those feelings but I can set up the lifestyle that supports it.
My faith in this is compounded by the people I see and the stories I hear in other countries where there isn't the intense media and focus on material things. Places where there is true need, despair, and want, but not often the loneliness and rejection when there is a family unit. A family that depends on one another with children held to standard of their parents with giving and caring for one another.
Some may question. . . what about role reversal, what about inappropriate responsibilities for a child. But that isn't what I am discussing. I mean creating situations where the child realizes and practices the power of their life and love by giving it to another, unconditionally. Unfortunately, our culture doesn't necessarily support this and I truly do not want to offend. But if you ever experience feelings of being overwhelmed, frustrated, or counting the minutes until bedtime so you can have a break, then I think you need to step back and ask your self if you are having any fun?
Just the other day, I took Nicole Mackenzie's advice, and acted instead of reacted to my kids bickering and said. . . “Hey guys, mom isn't having fun right now, are you?" They both looked at me and said a resounding “no!" Well, what do you think we need to do then?" I asked.
At that instant the fight was over and we were off doing something else! Thank You Nicole Mackenzie for making our lives so much better!!
J. Edwards is a WAHM with two children and a hubby. Although her house is rather “lived-in", she is finding greater meaning and satisfaction every day! To find out more, please visit http://www.kidskeystosuccess.com/blog for links to more J. Edwards’ sites and helpful information.
My “How To" articles are created as answers from questions asked on The Blog Train Forum. To increase traffic to your blog and to network, register at http://www.kidskeystosuccess.com/forum
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