I don’t consider myself a lazy person. I am up early, I rarely sit down, and I always have a to-do list a mile long. I mean who has time to be lazy when you are a parent? Yet I find myself parenting lazy. I find myself saying ‘no’ to my kids out of laziness. I find myself yelling at my kids out of laziness.
Let me explain.
A few years ago we signed up for the Empowered to Connect (ETC) parent training. The course is designed to help adoptive and foster families. It really made us reconsider some of our parenting strategies. We had to look at the parenting tools we were using and decide if they were working.
Most of us have four tools in our parenting tool belt:
- verbal reprimand (yelling)
- isolation (timeout, sending kids to his/her room)
- physical punishment
Most days we find ourselves in a vicious cycle of using these tools to no avail. They seem effective because we see our kids behavior modified in the moment. But rarely does the change in behavior carry over to the next day or interaction. As a result, we find ourselves doing and saying the same things again and again.
The ETC course offered to show us 25 new and different tools that we could use with our kids. We just had to be willing to put the other four to the side. We agreed, and we were introduced to a crazy new world of parenting. One that has proven to be effective and has taken us to a whole new level of connection with our kids.
One of our first homework assignments was to give our kids a day of saying ‘yes.’ Everytime we wanted to say ‘no’ to our children, we were asked to stop, think about why we were saying ‘no’, and if possible give a joyful ‘yes’ instead. Now this was a daunting task and I was a little skeptical about what it would accomplish, but we did it anyway. What it showed me was that my kids didn’t take advantage of me saying ‘yes’ to them. It showed me that saying ‘yes’ as often as I could helped them accept ‘no’ when I couldn’t say ‘yes.’ It also revealed that my laziness was getting in the way of saying ‘yes’ more often to my kids.
“Mom can we ride our bikes?”
I wanted to say ‘no’ because that would require me to get the bikes out and supervise them in the front yard. It was easier to let them play in the backyard with something else.
“Mom can we get out art supplies and paint?”
I wanted to say no because it was messy and I didn’t want to deal with the clean up.
“Mom can I have a snack?”
I wanted to say no because it required me to do something.
What this exercise showed me was that so often my response to my kids is lazy parenting. I don’t want to be a lazy mom. I want to be a mom who is fully present for her kids. I only want to say ‘no’ for good reasons. I want my kids to remember me as a mom who engaged them in play daily, who let them get messy, and who said ‘yes’ often.