I know what you’re thinking. That because I’m raising three boys and share my life with my husband that this post is going to be about bathroom habits, and I’m delighted to say that you’re wrong.
In my short time as a mom to boys (8 years) I’ve learned (most of the time the hard way) that certain techniques work, and other techniques make things worse. Everyday I learn something new about the boys and about myself as a mother. What I try to remember are the 4 P’s of Parenting Boys that I have set for myself.
Patience: Holy moly this is hard! I mean grind your teeth, eyes rolling in the back of your head, eyelid twitching HARD! How many times can you ask one little being to do something? And we’re not talking about something complicated. We’re talking about something as simple as washing your hands before dinner. I actually have a number, right now the record in our house is 15. Yep, 15 friggin times I’ve had to ask one or both of my older boys to wash their hands for dinner before they actually do it. It’s like as soon as they hear an instruction, it is at that very moment they find interest in every piece of lint or spec of dust that stretches the floor from where they are to where the bathroom is.
There are some days that I do so much deep breathing and collecting myself that I make myself dizzy. But we all know as parents that patience is something we have to have. Darn-it-all! It would just be SO much easier to fly off the handle (which I still do from time to time). Oh how I wish they sold patience in a jar on the shelves of every store in the world. It would be so much easier to buy it, drink it and then have patience rather than conjuring it up all my own.
Persistence: My mantra to myself when I want to throw in the towel is simply…If you give up, they win and walk all over you. It’s that simple. I have to keep at it until it is burned in their brain. For example when it comes to consequences for their actions, the follow-through is so much harder on the parents then it is on the child. If I threaten something like “if you hit your brother again, you won’t be able to go to so-and-so’s birthday party,” (you know where this is going don’t you) and of course he ends up hitting his brother, not going to the party, and you get to listen to his moaning and groaning, sobbing and crying, and the “you’re the meanest mommy in the whole world.” So who is actually getting the punishment? I swear most of the time it feels like it is me. BUT, persistence pays off, especially in the long run, even though it has a tendency to suck when you are in the moment because who really likes to be the bad guy?
Praise: Give plenty of praise, praise and more praise. I’ve learned that my little boys can have very fragile egos and can lose confidence in themselves and their abilities with the slightest bit of negativity. I try my best to remember that they are just simply trying to find their little place in this crazy world of rules and exceptions to the rules. As parents we can be so quick to jump on the negative in order to correct their behavior and have them learn the correct ones. So I try my best to be aware and communicative about the things they do right no matter how small it is. There have been times where all I’ve focused on is the negative or the things they need to work on and I’ve found that all that does is promote more of the negative behavior. However, when I use an equal amount of praise, I get more of the behavior deserving of praise. Go figure! Seems simple and logical enough, but it is sure hard to stick to and requires a ton of trial and error on my part. But it is another must as these boys are shaping how they see themselves at such a young age.
Plungers: Okay, okay…turns out one of the 4 P’s of Parenting Boys does in fact deal with bathroom habits. But the bottom line is you simply cannot live in a house full of boys without investing in several really good plungers. They save you from having to remodel your bathrooms every other year. They save your sanity. So, if you have one boy or twelve please for your own peace of mind, invest in plungers. Get one for every bathroom in the house. I learned the hard way that the days of having one plunger for the house are long, long, LONG gone.
So while my personal 4 P’s of Parenting may be short, concise, and the words themselves are easy to remember they are the things that I strive to remember, and struggle to do, every single day. Well with the exception of the plungers of course, that doesn’t take memory, but it does require lightning quick feet and a fast draw!
What are your mantras of motherhood?