I came across a great blog post this morning on ‘picking your battles’ with your kids and it really struck a chord! Actually, let me back up, I came across it yesterday, but just got a moment to read it, which is amazing time lag for me. Usually we’re looking at more than an 24 hour turn around!
Anywho, I digress… it’s a great read that anyone with kids can relate to. It chronicles, in a real human way, both the hilarity and insanity of the battles, we at times either engage in with our kids, or choose not to. It reminded me of how much I’ve learned about this over the years.
I’ve always known the phrase ‘pick your battles’ and have used it multiple times throughout my life. That said, I really and deeply began to understand it more when I had my son. I feel like I’ve constantly had to check myself in terms of what I think things should be versus what is really okay for me and my family TODAY.
Some case in points… I nannied for about 6 years for 2 amazing kids in my late teens/early 20’s and there are so many times that I have these situations that arise with my son today and I think… why did I make this such a big deal back then?! The two examples that come to mind most readily… bank lollipops and meal time!
Bank lollipops… Every time when I went to the bank with the kids I used to nanny for, they’d get a lollipop. It was the highlight for them, just as it was for me as a kid! Things would quickly turn into a battle of wills regarding chewing the lollipops! They’d bite them and I’d basically freak out that it was bad for their teeth and that if they kept doing it, the lollipops would be taken away! Oh just the horror of it! Can you imagine this fight? I mean, what kid would calmly react to THAT threat?!
When I took my son to the bank recently and he got a lollipop for the 1st time, he actually started to bite it. My natural reaction was to tell him not to do that, that it was bad for his teeth. Then I had a flash of my nannying days and thought, seriously Arieal?! Him biting and chewing up a hard lollipop is not going to break his teeth. They are teeth for crying out loud and it’s not like he’s chewing up lollipops all day every day. I cringed every time he did it and gently encouraged him not to because I just couldn’t help myself, but really; I just let it go. What the heck was I so freaked out about in the past?! Sooo, not worth the battle time I spent on that one!
Example two… meal time! Now I’m sure we ALL can attest to this one! I frequently engaged in this battle of wills with the kids I nannied for and it was painful for us all. I also have engaged in the same battle with my 8 year old step son and I still struggle to let that go. But, what I notice is that most times I can just accept that my toddler son’s meal is not what I would have liked him to eat, or I’m able to settle in to the idea that even though it isn’t a traditional meal; an apple, a cheese stick and some cinnamon rice cakes are all healthy things that will still nourish his body, so is it really worth the fight of forcing him to eat what I think he should?! If you’ve ever tried to force a toddler to eat something they didn’t want to, you know where I’m going with this!!
The me of the past would have, AND DID, use the following methods – which I’m happy to report, do not make their way to my table today (just for today! haha)… Insist that things be eaten before one could leave the table or watch tv or have that snack or treat they wanted or whatever else I could think of to threaten with!
And not to drag out this post with examples, but can we talk about ice pops for a moment?! My son is OBSESSED with ice pops! (Thanks to the one his amazing toddler room teacher gave him this summer! Shout out to Miss Helga! We love you immensely!!) He wants them morning, noon and night! I’ve laid the ground rules that we aren’t going to eat more than one at a time so well, that even at the very mention of a pop, he looks at me very seriously, puts one finger up and sternly says… ‘One!’ (or ‘own!’ as it sounds when he says it!)
Many times he asks for them in the morning and I want to freak out with, are you crazy?! We don’t eat popsicles in the MORNING!?! And as I start to see him freak out, I think, why not?! They are frozen juice! (Because I make sure to only buy that kind!) I would let him have a cup of juice in the morning or before dinner, why not a bit of it frozen?! It’s such a weird thing to wrap my head around and I almost feel like I’m being ‘that mom’ every time I do it; like I’m breaking some huge unwritten code that it’s simply NOT acceptable to have an ice pop outside of dessert or a hot summer day!
I’ve (for the moment!) successfully smashed this belief and my son (and I!!) are all the happier for it. Getting there however, really challenged my thought process and I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened with my son… and he’s only 2! Check back with me in a year or two and I may be singing a different tune, but I don’t think this is about getting walked all over or letting my kids do what they want. Like the blogger from the fighting the ridiculous fights post commented, I still believe in appropriate behavior (and eating habits!), I still have rules and boundaries and all that I need to in order to raise happy, healthy and safe kids.
I am grateful for this lesson and the peace and sanity it saves me today… and I’m quite sure my kids are too! Sometimes, in the grand scheme of things, it’s really just NOT THAT IMPORTANT and even more than that, many times, it’s all based on some idea I have in my head of how things ‘should be’ that doesn’t even make a whole lot of sense!
Check out the motivating blog for this post here and let yourself have a few good laughs at the trials of another mom, cause really… we all can relate & laughter is the best medicine!
AWalsh a Little Achievements Childcare MomBlogger