Going to the gym when you’re pregnant is hard enough. Going with an additional 4 kids bundled in 12 pounds of winter gear because it’s 24 degrees out makes you rethink your commitment to exercise.
So when Caramia unbuckled her carseat as she’s in the habit of doing every.single.drive, I was less than amused. After a loud sigh, I lugged myself back out of the driver’s seat, waddle around to her side of the van, and not-so-gently rebuckled her while not-so-gently correcting her.
I then got back into the driver’s seat, closed/slammed the door, and let out another loud sigh. And then, from the back row, the sweet voice of my 6-year old son found its way into my ears and my heart.
“Mom, I think we could be an even better family than we already are.”
“How so?” (Internally battling my hurt pride while also acknowledging that he knows me really well.)
“Well, we could do a better job working through our frustration.”
“How so?” (releasing my hurt pride and accepting this moment as training for all of us.)
“Well, we could come up with a reward system. Every time we work through our frustration with good manners and not yelling, we get a reward.”
“What kind?” (knowing full well what he’s about to say…)
At this point, Sam jumped in and suggested, “Or we can come up with a plan for when we’re angry. Something like go to your room, take deep breaths, and then come down when you’re ready . And every time we follow this plan, we get a reward!”
Also at this point, I’m taking furious mental notes because these kids are killing it as parents! What great ideas!
We continued brainstorming the rest of the drive- what frustrates each of us? Siblings not sharing was the main theme. What frustrates Mommy? When the kids don’t cooperate with her was their (accurate) observation. We made sure to include 2-year old Judah in on the round table discussion, who muttered something about race cars and choo choo tracks. How do we behave when we’re frustrated? How does it make us feel? What would our family look like if we better handled our frustrations? Using our creativity to imagine healthier behaviors got us all very excited. And interestingly, led them to the conclusion that, the healthier we are, the more able we would be to give gifts to others. In Silas’ words, “We could give gifts to our friends every week because we wouldn’t be wasting our energy being angry!”
As I replay the minivan conversation in my head, several things jump out to me for which I’m very thankful.
- That our minivan often provides a great space for conversations (individual restraints might have something to do with that?!)
- That Silas felt safe enough to tell his frustrated Mommy that she could do a better job at handling her frustration
- That I was able to let go of my hurt pride and listen to my children After all, they probably know me best since they spend every day with me in all sorts of situations
- That I scored some great parenting tips from my kids!
I can only hope that these types of interactions continue to build trust and a safe environment within which we can all grow, fail, and try again.
What about you? Any good parenting tips from your kids lately?