Parental confession time:
I have trouble setting boundaries.
I’m most definitely and empath and often feel the need to comfort and soothe and acknowledge feelings in the immediate moment, With a true, albeit misguided, belief that it’s what’s best for the long run.
One of the ways, though, that I have witnessed this NOT WORK is with Piper’s bedtime .
No matter that we sleep trained her when she was 9 weeks old – at 6 years old somehow we’ve got this never ending bedtime that often begins @ 7 pm and doesn’t end. I mean, I end up falling asleep in her bed and walking out of her room bleary eyed sometime after 9:30 pm.
It’s turned into the longest and most tiring part of my day.
And with some hard reflection I’ve realized that I’ve done everything BUT the hard part to, well, avoided the hard part.
I mean, since my evening gets obliterated by this situation, I get up at 5 am so I can get the time to myself I need to center and reflect and have some Nina time.
And yes – it’s a really good habit and I love that time – but good Lord, Piper also needs to go to sleep on her own! lol!
So – there’s good news here folks. Although we don’t know what we don’t know – and so can’t teach ourselves new things without help – thanks to Piper’s teachers I was guided to the book Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson.
I’m still reading it. But with some reading and discussion with my husband I was able to find some new tools and make some big changes! Here’s what happened:
- On Sunday night I took Piper aside in a calm moment and told her, in a very excited way, that we are starting a new, big-girl bed time routine!
Win #1: I’m did this from place of calm and excitement rather than in the middle of the night time routine when I’m frustrated and losing my patience.
2. I got clear, first for myself, on all the ways that a new routine where she eventually falls asleep on her own, BENEFITS her. Much in the same way I know that eating a healthy dinner benefits her over, like, eating cookies for dinner. Lol! I know hat seems simple, but it really is similar. And I have to keep that in mind. I liken her desire to have me lie down with her until she falls asleep (every night) to her desire to eat dessert three times a day. Lol! I understand the desire, but I won’t give into it!
3. Encouragement!!! From that place – a place of calm, excitement and clarity of my “why”, I can be full of encouragement and love in the face of any of her protests or nervousness. My default desire to just soothe her feelings has been replaced by this very positive and well intended plan. And in the face of some whining I could smile and kiss and hug her and say “You’ve got this! I have so much confidence in you – you can do this, Big girl!”.
I told her that she can call be back in a maximum of 2 times during bed time. And that, of course, she doesn’t not need to get me to go to the bathroom herself, etc.
You guys – IT WORKED!!!!!
Day 1 was a little rough because in the middle of the night there was a wake up – and she was unclear if it was “ok” to call me in (of course it was!) and it caused her some stress and we were up fo ra bit. But nevertheless, SHE DID IT! And last night – she called me in one time, and got me in the middle of the night for a quick bathroom trip, but when back to be don her own.
I AM SO PROUD OF HER!
And you know what else – I am so proud of me, too.
One of the reasons I wanted to write about this today was not just to share the story – but to share that not only does positive, firm encouragement go a long way for our kids – it goes a lone way for EVERYONE.
Mammas, Daddies, Teachers, Librarians: whatever you’re struggling with on your parenting/teaching journey or in life today – approve of yourself. Even if you were screaming at your kids and you feel bad this morning.
Approve of yourself and tell yourself that you are human and you are well intended and parenting and teaching is hard.
Because you won’t be able to make changes from a place of defeat.
I felt really defeated and defective. Honestly. I felt like I was this way – this overly empathizing and boundary-less way that would be too hard to change. And seriously – I have a long way to go. But if I can make a change like this – so can you!
In honor of all of this, today I share with you my video and song called “Colors Of You”. It’s a Love song about accepting all the parts of a person. All of their colors. All of their emotions. All of their faults and feats. It’s for you and it’s for your children. It’s a song of Love and Acceptance and approval and encouragement.
And – it also uses color idioms if you’re up for a little Language Arts lesson, too!
Sending you all lots of Love! Have a wonderful week –