I came across this a few months ago and committed it to our day plan almost immediately. Especially the last point…where we were failing miserably! Only I had never realized exactly why.
I do treat my kids differently in matters of physical touch. I have one who has *never* wanted affection that way from her parents past the basic hug or hand holding. Even from the time she was little. And, I have one who would ride on my shoulder all day or live under my shirt like a baby owl if I let her. So with some compromise, we navigate everyone’s needs where touch is concerned.
As for the second…I had to think about it. I mean, I really had to think about it and whether or not any of us actually commit to this. For the reasons it intends. My girls both love to scream at me through walls, from behind doors, from high on the stairs, through floors of the house…you name it. Because they know I can’t hear them. But they also know I am damn sure they *are* yelling at me. Lucky for them, a lot gets dismissed under these circumstances.
There are communication challenges in the house. It’s easiest, and clearest to be face to face to discuss anything. I have to read them in addition to other ways we communicate. We have it worked out. I feel like they have to have my full attention and that, in this, we were doing good. But I started to look at the other side of it. Yes, I was understanding them. Recieving their information. But I realized that my oldest, with all her transition-to-adulthood issues…was getting way more connection in these times where I was not distracted. Where I didn’t allow myself to be busy otherwise. I put more weight on giving this to her than I did with her little sister. Was that making her feel less important. Does she feel I don’t validate her the way I do her older sister. Were there times she hollered about things that weren’t really *things* just to be heard in that same way.
As is typical, the little one is prone to outbursts. She’s more prone to exaggerate an issue. She’s more apt to cry and show frustration than her level headed teenage sister. When our kids ways become typical, we begin to cater to what we feel we can’t change. We revert to damage control so we can all get by and end our days on a peaceful note. Putting out fires and managing situations to survive. It doesn’t take long for things to become routine or habit. So I started to wonder…if I took more time on the root of more of these fires, maybe I wouldn’t need to do all the “managing”. Seems intuitive, right. Well, not so much when a 7 year old is lecturing you about letting yogurt expire in the fridge making the execution of smoothies an impossibility. The last thing I want to do is sit down with her and hash out the meaning of life.
In these times, I may not be able to placate her anger about lack of smoothies, or figure out the root of her frustration is really getting yelled at by Fiona for talking in line then Fiona refusing to be quiet in line the next day when she was asked more than once by her friends. I can’t fix Fiona or the smoothies, but we started small. Making sure I was listening, undivided, to all the ‘little’ things. The news. The funny stories. The 2nd grade drama. The upsets. We started there, with my attention only on her, not being rushed or dismissive unintentionally. Truly listening. Which is how I found out about Fiona later that night as we were still not having smoothies.
But the last point. That Number Three gave me extreme pause. I’ll make it quick cause this has gone longer than I intended. This is where I’ve devoted most of my time to improvement of our days. And where it’s absolutely had the most impact. Those simple three minute sets. How often and how easy it was for a child waking up crabby to set the morning into an absolute tailspin. How many times we all went to bed on a negative vibe after having a stressful night or an all out shitstorm. What was that doing to our days, and our nights!? My answer is that I saw our cycles becoming unhealthy. Day to night. Carrying over, and then over again. And I started to feel like most of it was preventable. After giving this theory of these three minute sets a lot of thought, it made nothing but complete sense. How obvious it seemed, our need for our mornings and nights to be peaceful. And how obvious it was that those are the times we are at our most raw nerves. And that those times require the most care and tenderness. The most give. Not the least.
With the train wreckage decreasing steadily, I still get a lot of attitude in the morning. I still get a lot of attitude in the evenings. Lots of screaming through walls, letting food expire and not hugging my teenager too tight. But, we’re working through it in phases. Finding out what works best for us and what we need to change. What has been hurting us and what can help us heal. It is a slow but sure process of baby steps. And learning to kiss a whole lot of ass with a fantastic attitude first thing in the morning and at last thing at night!