23: choose your battles
In our day to day life there are many things that Ranger is cannot play with. Some of the things are kept in the open and he must learn not to touch them for his own safety; some are kept put away in safe places.
I know some parents choose not to baby-proof the house because kids have to learn things eventually and instead choose to house-proof the child.
I admire those parents.
Personally I feel like I’m pulling out my hair all too often so I have baby proofed the house. There are still things out that we must help him to avoid (wall outlets, over doors, books, forgotten items etc) that cause enough conflict/baby training moments in our house.
He is still learning to obey and to stay safe, but he is doing it in a more controlled environment for our sanity.
And I still can have things out in some spaces without him getting into them. There is a gate in front of the laundry room, the doors to the bathrooms, extra room and the office stay closed, and I have a fence around my garden. This keeps him out of the dangerous adn dirty (cat litter and food, cleaning supplies,etc) and allows us to have space where our things (breakables, books, plants, camera gear, computers) will not be damaged while I am in the midst of a diaper or similar occupying circumstance.
This is one way I choose my battles. Instead of constantly redirecting I have physical boundaries in place. Gradually he will learn how to behave in each of the closed off environments as he spends time in each area closely supervised when we are in there.
It will happen.
But for now our choice is to avoid those battles.
Another way to choose battles is to be proactive in how you approach “crunch time”. You know, those moments when needs are high and tempers are short.
Bedtime. Mealtimes. Snacks. Times when babies are bored, hungry or tires.
Those are the times when we can do our best to help our kiddos be happy by focusing on preempting those possible bad moments.
My sister wrote a beautiful piece yesterday on how we, as mothers, can choose to learn our children and learn how to avoid problem moments before they happen just by paying attention. By being more intentional or mindful as mothers we can help our kiddos get through the day much more easily. Makes for less stress for the baby and less for the mommy as well.
Read it in her words here!
“Not allowing your children to do innocent but different things is the logical outgrowth of a belief system that emphasizes the symbols of faith rather than its substance. This shallow religion measures success more by the image than by genuine authenticity.”
Tim Kimmel, grace-based parenting.
Another thing to consider is if we’re trying to control our kiddos behavior strictly for appearances or if the behavior you’re asking of them represents an important value you would like them to learn.
-I know that my gut reaction when dealing with a screaming hurting toddler is to just tell him to hush, but often a little more empathy is required and the screaming may or may not stop immediately. I have to be okay with allowing him to be a little noisier so that he will feel safe instead of trying to go through the situation in the least disruptive way possible. I want him to learn he is allowed to express his emotions.
-I also need to be able to tell him “no” in public even if it will cause a tantrum and possibly gain less then positive reactions. He needs to learn obedience is required even in public. (Apparently I have a thing against noisy outbursts in public spaces!)
And then there’s the realm we haven’t entered yet of not allowing your child to wear certain clothes or dye their hair because “what would people think!?” when you could instead choose to allow your child to practice making minor decisions on their own.
It is more important to parent towards the condition of his heart than the appearance of perfection.
Today I chose to give up on nap-time thanks to reading my sister’s super-wise post this morning. I could have stayed in and made him try to go to sleep for much longer but we both would have been unhappy at the end of that and sleep was still not guaranteed. Instead we went out and he played and I got over my frustration eventually. Bah humbug on no naps!
How do you choose your battles?