Why is it every time I go somewhere in public, get an important phone call, or have something particularly important I need to accomplish, my kids act...well, like kids.
I used to find myself overwhelmingly embarrassed when they would throw a fit about something small. I think I do a fairly good job when it comes to keeping my composure when they have these fits. However, I've found that if I'm able to just laugh at the situation, it lightens not only my mood but their mood too.
Since we've moved to NY, there have been several times where I've just had to laugh at my screaming children or resign myself to certain arguments. Mind you, I'm not giving in, but I'm picking my battles. I wish I would have learned to "pick my battles" earlier, because I find not only do I look at situations and feel as if I can conquer them (oh, walk a mile to Target and back with two small children? Sure! Why not?), but I also feel as if I'm starting to enjoy my kids more.
Here are some important lessons I've learned about picking my battles, getting my kids to behave, and lessons I've learned as a mom in general:
1. Seeing Santa, going to the Pumpkin Patch, or any other cheesy childhood tradition is not worth it...until your child is at least five*.
*Each child is different, maybe your child has always loved seeing Santa. Mine, not so much.
When I was pregnant with our second son, I decided that I would drag Allen to the pumpkin patch, and to see Santa. I didn't go the year before, because I felt he was too young. I thought that he would enjoy it more, and so would I. WRONG. Not only was he terrified of Santa, but it ruined his entire day as well as mine. Afterwards we attempted lunch, where he would not stay seated, fussed about everything, and refused to eat his food. Here is a little glimpse of our Santa experience:
|Plugging his ears and not listening.|
2. Have a Plan, but Prepare for ANYTHING.
I don't know why I insisted on seeing Santa. A couple of months prior to this, I thought it would be a fantastic idea to take Allen to a pumpkin patch. Where we lived, the pumpkin patch was an hour and a half away. It took my friend Jenn (also pregnant and had a toddler too) and I almost three hours to get there. Between the stops to get gas, changing diapers, and eating lunch, by the time we arrived to the pumpkin patch we were exhausted. We parked, walked to what we thought was the field for pumpkins. We then found out that in order to get to the pumpkins we would have to wait in a thirty minute line, catch a 15 minute hayride, pick a pumpkin, ride the hayride back, and stand in another ridiculously long line to pay for the pumpkins. Since we didn't have six arms, we decided that this would be a bad idea to attempt with two,now fussy toddlers, while seven months pregnant. Instead, we opted to take pictures (did I mention we discovered we forgot our cameras too, and we had to use our phones?):
|Please, take note Allen is mad.|
|Allen steals Lyla's squash.|
|STILL not looking at the camera, but at least a war didn't break out between him and Lyla.|
While our pumpkin patch experience didn't go as planned, we made the best out of our situation. It is a memory that we both still laugh at. Every time I attempt to go somewhere planned like this, I prepare for anything. If things don't turn out as I envisioned, it is not the end of my world. At the time this happened, I will admit I was disappointed, but there have been many other times since this experience where things don't go as planned, and it is okay.
3. Don't change your plans, because you are scared of how they will act in public.
I don't know how many times I've avoided going to dinner, because I'm scared of how my kids will act in public. Our recent move to New York has forced me to take my kids out in public more. For instance, I have to walk to the grocery store and pretty much everywhere. For about three weeks I refused to take them shopping with me. I would always wait until my husband was off work or on the weekends. I then asked myself "why"? Do I really want to be stuck inside my house all day? I didn't really know how I was going to carry everything, and I was nervous about making Allen walk back instead of ride in his stroller. It then dawned on me that I was only making myself stir-crazy at home. I would never know what type of experience it would be if I didn't experience it. Not only that, but they wouldn't be able to learn what I expected of them, if I didn't have an opportunity to teach them. I will now make a point to take them with me to dinners where our family is invited, I will take them to the store with me, or I will take them with me to run errands, because they need to learn how to act. Otherwise, they will never learn and will constantly misbehave.
4. Bribe them.
Yes, bribe them. That way they learn their good behavior will be rewarded. Here is an example in pictures:
|Me: "Allen, if I give you candy, will you smile?"|
|Letting him have a piece...|
|I held up my end, and he held up his end of the bargain. Win.|
I have fun with my kids, but I always felt like other people were able to have more fun with them. I couldn't figure out why. Then, I realized it is because they know how to laugh and have fun with my kids. Instead of always worrying about if my kids are behaving or if they need to be disciplined for something, they just enjoy my kids. I'm not saying to neglect your parental duties, but lighten up. Since I've been able to laugh at every situation more, the little things my kids used to do that would irritate me don't seem to phase me. For instance,taking off their shoes in public, getting mad when we couldn't buy a toy, or talking extra loud in a store to name a few. I now laugh when Mason pulls off his shoes. He doesn't want to wear them while in the stroller? Fine. Allen throwing a fake fit? I laugh. He then sees he looks ridiculous while faking his tantrum and laughs too. The toy? Forgotten about. Loud talking in a store? Whisper in Allen ear in a funny voice to make him laugh and he will whisper back. And sometimes, it is important to go out of your way to laugh and be silly. Here is a perfect example:
|Thanks, Emily for helping me learn the importance of always being goofy no matter what.|
|Because sometimes you have to be goofy.|
|Silly faces are important.|
|It's okay, spit happens.|
I'm not perfect. I'm still learning things everyday about it what it means to be a parent. It's not easy. Some days are easier than others. One thing, however, remains constant: no matter how difficult I think it might be, I couldn't imagine my life without these two precious boys. They inspire me to a better person, they encourage me to laugh more, and they show me each day the important role I play in their lives as their mom. I'm sure I will need to revisit this post to remind myself of these things that they have taught me, but that is okay. I still have a lot to learn, and I'm excited for our ongoing adventure together.