Have you ever heard the term "getting soft around the middle?" I find myself getting "soft around the middle" of the year with my parenting skills. My children get out of school by the end of May so summer starts early for us. By mid-June my parenting skills could use a refresher course, especially when it comes to staying strong with my speech. I find myself eventually given in to repeated requests, getting wimpy when it comes to whining and blowing off the bratty-ness that seems to be happening on a far too regular basis. But it's time to take charge again before that softness around the middle before it goes too far.
Pick my battles. My girls are learning to explore their independence. This is a good thing. It's time for me to learn to pick my battles. After all does it really matter if they wear a flowered shirt with polka dot shorts? By picking my battles I will have more energy to deal with the big things when they do come along instead of being exhausted by the little things.
Do's and don'ts. I don't agree with many experts when they recommend that parents avoid using the word "Don't." In my parenting world there is a time and place for it. Sure, I can remind the kids of all the things they need to do, but I also need to remind them of the things they don't need to be doing. With everyone home for the summer saying "Don't pull your sister's hair" sometimes works a whole lot faster than "Pulling your sister's hair hurts her. Please stop that." By then the pain is inflicted.
Set limits and live up to them. If I take the kids swimming and give them the fifteen and then five minute warnings I have to be willing to stop what I'm doing and make sure that we actually do leave the pool. Getting involved in another conversation with friends and losing track of time just shows them that the limits I am setting aren't to be respected. If I don't respect the limits I set why should they?
Keep it short and to the point. Avoid long explanations. The more I try to explain my decision or instructions the more they think they can argue or negotiate with me about those decisions. It's important to provide specific instructions about my expectations and avoid any other drama that may come from making a decision.
Limit their choices. My daughters get two choices. Do you want this or this? If providing too many choices makes it hard for them to make decisions and makes mommy lose patience.
Make consequences count. They do the crime, they do the time. I need to keep consequences consistent, but also realize that it is okay to have different consequences for different actions.
Maybe it's the middle of the year. Maybe it's the sweet summertime. Maybe it's the fact that the children are home more so there are more instances to deal with. Whatever the reason it's time for mom to step up and stay strong as a parent, before they become kids gone wild and mom gone crazy.
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