I have a category called “Salty Advice”. Mainly because I discovered that while I prefer to be light hearted and rarely serious, the odd mood strikes me where I become introspective. So while I try to stay off my soap box (or any kind of box for that matter), these blogs should be taken like all advice…with a grain of salt. This blog is not a how-to parent. I am definitely NOT the person to be telling anyone else how to parent. But as I raise three kids, I do tend to learn things from time to time (I know, what a shocker). Long story not really made short, this is a “Salty” post.
I named this blog Keeping the Peace. Mainly to have the clever play on words so that it works both for my job as a stay at home mom and my hubby’s job as a cop. But it got me to thinking about what keeping the peace at home really looks like. I see all kinds of articles, blogs, posts, etc. that tell me what I need to do to have a peaceful home. Some claim strict schedules, some say let kids be kids. Some say to use cry it out, some say never let your kid cry. It’s all very confusing and muddled. But with three VERY different kids, there are a few things I have learned that keep my house happy and peaceful…in general. So here is my deep, infinite, almost world peace wisdom that I depart to you:
Play to our strengths.. I see people posting all the crazy adventures they take with their kids and just love it. I see work. I see all the artsy fartsy crafts they do with their kids and it makes me cringe. They love it, but it’s not me. But get me some good books and we’re set. Board games? Bring it on! I could play Candyland with my girls for hours. Don’t force something we don’t love, but keep looking for the things we do! Then we’ll end up actually enjoying the bonding time with our kids.
A peaceful home isn’t always happy.. Okay, let me explain this one. We will not…no matter how hard we try…keep our kids happy all the time. They will still get hurt, people will still be cruel to them, things won’t always work out the way we (or they) want it to. This doesn’t mean our home isn’t still peaceful. I am going to throw a quote at you from Finding Nemo here. ‘Cause Pixar knows where it’s at. Marlin is talking about Nemo to Dory and says, “I promised I’d never let anything happen to him.”. Dory responds, “That’s a funny thing to promise…you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”. (I know, Dory rocks…even with the double negative). Basically, we need to give our kids room to explore and experience things. More important than preventing pain is giving our children the security of knowing they can always come to us for help and comfort when things go wrong.
Two dangerous words for a parent to use is “never” and “always”. Of course I understand that some things you will never allow or always do…like never abandon, beat, starve, etc. Always love, cherish, protect, etc. But I’m talking about all these parenting styles, mommy war fodder, gray areas. Even before I had kids I would play the I will always, I will never game. Like leashes for kids. Mortified me. Then I had a bunch of kids at a crowded zoo and I was terrified of losing one. Totally wanted a leash at that point. I even halfway considered using my belt. All this to say, the best way to have a peaceful home is to actually consider my child and make changes accordingly. Urpling slept great. We never saw her cry. But King Toot will not go to sleep without crying a bit. If I had decided I would never let my kid cry themselves to sleep…he would not sleep. Hates being rocked to sleep, tries to escape. The swing his sister loved he would only cry in. He will go and go and go and go until you finally make him sleep. And if we don’t, he turns into an overtired and cranky mess. But put him down and let him cry for five minutes and he sleeps well and wakes up happy. Each kid was different. Your child may have special needs where you have to be more lenient than you intended in certain areas. I heard a story about a man whose wife died and to help comfort his three or four year old daughter he gave her back her pacifier. I’m sure there were all kinds of judgmental looks when they went out, but he was just helping her get through a rough time. I thought having a baby sleep in the same room as me was a terrible idea. But then a couple friends had babies where the nursery was practically a mile long walk to the other side of the house. Gotta tell you…that baby would be in my room too. No way I’m going to add in a nice jog in the middle of the night to the feedings. If a baby won’t sleep well without the presence of mommy, then let the baby into your room! We need to loosen up our ideas and accept that each kid is going to be different and our kids will be much happier for it.
Apologize when we’re wrong.. We are human. We are not perfect. There will be times when the anger rises in me and I finally snap at something small and ridiculous and I lose it at this poor, (usually) sweet, small creature in whose care God entrusted me. It happens. Instead of beating myself up over it, as soon as I realize my mistake…I own up to it. I don’t care if they’re three days old or thirty years old, I need to eat some humble pie and admit I was wrong. Easy said, not so easy to do.
Just love the little buggers. Yes, they can be gross, rude, stressful, and always seem to know all the wrong buttons to push. But the best way I have kept a peaceful home is my endeavors to show my love for them in all situations, at all times. I may not always succeed, but I think I get my point across. And that is worth more than any perfectly executed parenting technique, any well planned day, or any elaborate activity.