This is my family. We have seven kids; four are grown and out of the house, two are married, and we have two grand babies. Life has been busy for many years for this mama. I understand overwhelmed, stressed, and tired, but it’s such a great life!
No matter your family size, the wildly fast pace of our culture today is exhausting. Parents can very quickly feel like we’re failing at what matters most because we’re so compelled by the urgent needs that come with managing a busy household. How can we possibly have time to enjoy life with our kids? Is it really possible to cherish the moments with our family, even in the fast lane? I’d like to share some time management strategies for the busy mama and her busy tribe.
1. “No means no” and other ways words must mean what words mean. (This first tip is a long one but this is so important, so try to hang in there with me.)
How much time does your family lose because your kids ignore what you say, followed by you trying over and over again to get the kids to do what they need to do? You’ve tried so hard to patiently tell them multiple times, and then wind up being at your whits’ end as so much time was consumed by a power-struggle over what should be the simplest things.
My dear fellow mama, I’d like to show you an UNCOMPLICATED and VERY EFFECTIVE WAY to increase your child’s respect for your word. There’s a change you can make that will decrease parental stress, kid whining, manipulation and begging; and it can result in kids doing what they’re told the first time.
Here it is: Mean what you say or don’t say it. In other words, YOU need to respect your word if you want your children to. Try to develop a personal parent motto of “Say it ONCE, then ENFORCE.” If you tell a child, “stop it” or “let’s go” or “pick up after yourself” (just some examples of things moms commonly say), if you tell them any of these things but then let them ignore you or delay, you’re sending some very mixed messages which is creating some very unwanted habits in them as well as some negative beliefs about your words in their minds. You are making life more difficult for you and your kids by not clearly saying what you mean and then following up with it after the first time you say it. As the parent, you need to enforce what you’ve said completely, consistently, and confidently. If you’re not willing to do that, then don’t say it.
Strengthening the power of your voice requires that you:
*Slow down to give your words the attention they deserve.
*Think before you speak and make sure you’re willing to enforce your words after the first time you say it.
*Make sure your child is really listening before you start talking (eye contact is a key in making sure they’re listening).
*Give clear instructions that are reasonable for your child’s age and ability.
*Having them repeat back to you what you asked them to do, coupled with the eye contact that I already mentioned, insures that neither of you have an excuse to renege.
*Hold to compliance to your word even when it is inconvenient for you to do so. (At our house, we also include the ATTITUDE of their actions as an equal value in following through. Learning that a negative attitude creates negative results, we just try to steer clear of whining, complaining, eye rolling, etc. Once a child gets out of that habit, you will see an improvement in relationships, in achievements, and definitely an improvement in how much time it takes to complete a task).
All of these actions are what makes up the parental life-skill of Making Your Voice Matter. “Say it ONCE, then ENFORCE” will save you loads of time in the long run, once you’ve given your kids a chance to see that “a new mom is in town and this one means what she says.” If you want your kids to experience a blessed and successful life, at some point they’ve got to learn to honor the person in authority, whether it’s a boss, a teacher, or a police officer. The younger you help them develop this into a success habit, the quicker they’ll start reaping the rewards that are available to them from all kinds of life situations. My grown daughter has done a great job of this with her little guys. Our twenty-month-old grandson, James, already enjoys the peace and blessings that come from honoring his mom and dad’s “no” or “wait” or “say ‘please’ first.” Give your children the gift of choosing joy and follow-through by being a parent who means what you say!
If you verbally make family rules and then you don’t enforce them, you’re simply teaching your kids to disregard your word, and, honestly, it affects how much respect they have for you. It is hard to respect someone whose words are worthless even to the one saying them. So, be more careful, parents, to only say it if you mean it. If you say it, then follow through with it, after you say it ONCE.
As parents, it’s great to say “yes” as much as you can, but when you say “no,” “no means no.” Otherwise your “no” means, “beg more and mom might let you.” Or when you ask them to do something but you don’t follow-up on whether they followed-through, you’re teaching your kids that “If I ignore what Mom told me to do, then I probably won’t end up having to do it.” Is this instilling qualities in your kids that you really want them to have?
Save your family plenty of arguing, nagging, confusion, and frustration by being CLEAR with what you say, and then CONSISTENTLY enforce COMPLETE follow-through. The level of peace will increase in your home by leaps and bounds! Yay for Consistent MOM!
2. Perfection is the Worst!
It’s so time-consuming and emotionally draining to set a standard of perfection for yourself. Since perfection isn’t possible, you essentially set yourself up for feeling like a failure at a non-attainable standard. Especially if the task you’re working on is not connected to a relationship, then it really doesn’t deserve so much pressure. Yes, we should do quality work and represent ourselves, our family, and our God well as we put our signature on anything we do, but at the end of our lives, what matters most are the memories we’ve made and the relationships we’ve given time to; so, please, please, don’t waste time and emotional stress