Archive for the ‘sleep and children’ category

Slow down, you move too fast

June 13, 2011
bath time is an excellent time for children to unwind so bedtime is not a discipline problem. Water soothes children and gets them ready for bed. Parenting is about taking time and spending time and love to get children to do what we want- also known as cooperation and discipline. Positive discipline is easy when you know how to do it.
Tubby time for sisters. I’m a great believer in a nightly bath as therapy to get ready for sleep.

Watching children play together, catching them being good, witnessing their daily activities without criticism, rushing or interfering is one of the most important things you can do for your family.

It’s time well invested in the parent-child relationship. I learned how to watch quietly when Ian, my third child, was very difficult and I didn’t like him very much. My assignment was to “rebuild the relationship.” I had to practice seeing his positive attributes.

It took at least three months of forcing myself to change my attitude towards Ian, then 2 years old, was very demanding, controlling, loud, powerful and a trouble-maker with his older brother and sister, to start to see his beauty, charm and persistence.

Last week at a parenting workshop when I described how to just watch children in action, the mother of four children ages 4 to 15 had an “aha” moment.

“When I just watch my 7 and 4 year olds take a bath, and I’m not cleaning the bathroom, dealing with the 15-year-old in the hall, making phone calls or doing a dozen other things at the same time, they go to bed without a fuss, without coming out and asking for another drink of water.”

This is why parenting workshops are so effective. They give parents an opportunity to  step back from the hectic, emotional and consuming job of taking care of children, and see the big picture.

A smooth bedtime routine benefits everyone — parents, children and the family environment. After 7 or 8 pm, little children do not have the emotional or physical capacity to be awake. However, we must satisfy their emotional needs and wind them down for bed by using a soothing bath where we are not distracted.

Just watch. Wait. Enjoy the moment — they will be grown up sooner than you will ever believe.

When Ian turned 13, he decided to build a skateboard ramp in the driveway with the help of his friends. I continued my routine of watching quietly — and it was very interesting to see his crew in action. They taught me when the hour is late (after 2 pm) and the problem great,  quit and go swimming. Ian and his buddies finished that skateboard ramp, which impressed me and gave them a great deal of confidence and competence.

Watching was sheer delight. Remember to slow down, watch and don’t miss their growing up.

Big lessons from little ones

February 28, 2011

slowing down, conscious parenting, savoring the moment, appreciating everything that children can teach us, living in the moment can all be learned from children. Children can be wise teachers. Carl Honore wrote about about being in the moment because of what his son taught him about bedtime routines and bedtime stories. Slowing down is an important lesson of parenting. Having patience is one of the most important things a parent can learn from their children. Parenting is about patience, love and forgiveness.Welcoming my firstborn into my world when I was 22 years old changed the course of my life and taught me more about life and love than I ever imagined.

Casey Anne and her three siblings put every human excrement imaginable on my narcissism and flushed it all down the toilet. She forced me to think about someone else besides me, and to put me second. Ironically, that became a habit. A decade later, I had to resurrect my needs from the toilet and take better care of me.

My children taught me how to be interrupted and still get something done — in addition to taking care of them. The hardest jobs are when you’re constantly interrupted — like secretaries, teachers, nurses and mothers.

Bob and I bought a house that had been neglected when the children were 4, 2 and 6 months old. The 35 windows were so gray with dirt that you couldn’t tell the weather outside. Every day for a month, I plopped them in front of Sesame Street and washed three windows until chaos erupted and I surrendered — another lesson from three children born in three-and-a-half years.

The most valuable lesson was patience, to slow down to their pace, to revel in the present moment. To appreciate humongous earth movers and construction sites; wild animals like squirrels, ants and robins; the wonder of a train station or airport.

Bob and I spent more than a decade giving the kids a nightly bath, reading a book, singing a song and tucking them in. It was like a meditation, and it worked, because they stayed in bed and went to sleep early. It bonded us for life.

In a lecture on Ted Talks,  journalist Carl Honore said that reading a bedtime story to his son taught him to slow down his hectic life. It inspired Honore to write a book “In Praise of Slowness,” a valuable lesson to most 21st century Americans.

Now in their 20s, my “children” continue to teach me different lessons about relationships, technology and  life. They’ve returned the favor — I was their most important teacher because humans learn more in the first four years than they do for the rest of their lives.

When my children were little, they patiently allowed me to make the same mistake, over and over, until I figured out to do something different. Nowadays, they could have more patience now with their ol’ Mom, but they haven’t had any children to teach them — yet.

What have your children taught you?