Parenting and life get complicated and the stress and pressure can get so high that we end up feeling like everything matters. But, fortunately, some things don’t matter. Here is a simple list of ideas to help you refocus and make your own list of things that matter and things that don’t.
Some Things That Don’t Matter
Being the Best – By definition there is only one best. And it doesn’t need to be your child, unless it happens naturally. Then you celebrate!
A Very Clean Room – A pretty clean room most days makes more sense. A deep clean, purge, donate some toys, books, clothes day once in awhile. Also, try teaching your kids to roll their clothes for drawers instead of folding them. They love it and it make things easier to find in the drawers.
Perfect Grades – Cs or better are acceptable and even without a 3.9 GPA your child can go to a good, good college and be a success in life. It’s true!
An Immediate Response to a Parental Directive – Lag time is normal. Off the cuff directives suddenly disrupt the child’s focus which might look like “not listening” or disrespect. Better to have a routine than to unexpectedly throw out directives. What looks like disrespect might just be the brain transitioning since it got interrupted by the directive. Get your child’s attention and eye contact. Get closer and give a brief directive with the purpose first, then the directive, and allow a minute or so for the shift. Example: “It’s time to get ready for bed so pick up the toys. I’ll help if you want.”
Lots of Activities – Over booking causes stress, and the research on this abounds. Teach your children how to enjoy down time, quiet time, unstructured time. We used to call it “Do Nothing Time” when I was a kid.
Owning Lots of Stuff – Why? Too much housework, visual clutter makes everybody feel like they have ADHD, stuff costs money.
Doing Your Best Every Day – Not possible. Doing well enough most days and doing your best on inspired days makes more sense. Forgive everyone for not being perfect.
An Occasional Temper Tantrum/Bad Day – Roll with it if your child has a bad day. Try not to over analyze it and definitely don’t go heavy on the consequences or punishments. Maybe your child is about to get sick – behavior often goes down hill before actual symptoms emerge.
Some That Do
Plenty of Sleep Every Night – 10 – 12 hours for children. 7 – 9 for adults. That’s sleep and not TV in the bed time or iPad in the bed. To fall asleep give your children one book, after you have read to them. Yes, this pays off big!
A Conscience – Develop that universal value of kindness, respect, and caring toward all others. Model it and watch your own attitudes and language.
Impeccable Nutrition – Mental health, self-regulation, learning, the ability to sleep well, long term health – all of these things and more benefit from excellent nutrition. Why set your kids up for diseases, or other health conditions such as obesity or Type II Diabetes, later in their life simply because you fed them poorly in their childhood?
The Ability to Gauge How Well You are Doing – Teach your children to know themselves, and to know what they know about themselves. Ask them what they know about themselves so they can look inside. As Warren Buffet says, “Have an inner eye.” Know why you are doing what you are doing and know how well you are doing.
A Love of Reading – Model it, don’t quit reading to your kids just because they learned to read, no matter what age. Talk about books at dinner and go to the library – it’s nice and quiet in there. Collect books. Teach your children how to create a carefully chosen, treasured personal collection and how to let other books go back into circulation for others to enjoy.
Problem Solving Skills – This applies to all of life’s experiences. Help your kids understand that problems will always appear throughout life, therefore, to expect, or wish for, anything different is a set up for despair. Some problems are big and others are small. Then show them how to switch from a quick problem definition right over to “Now, what shall we do about this? How can we solve this problem?”
Chores – Yep. Chores. Not too many. On a schedule. Age appropriate. Chores that matter and actually help the family. Praise and appreciate the help. Consider having a buddy chore for each kid, a chore that you do with your child every time. Dishes make a great buddy chore and the bonding is powerful when you do it together. Laundry is a good one, too. Actually, anything can be the buddy chore.
Knowing How to do Things – Cook, fix things, garden, skills, on and on, how to do “work”, how to be on time, how to listen, how to give a compliment, how to manage money from an early age, how to do laundry well, how to change a bed. You name it. The list is endless. The more kids know how to do, even imperfectly, the more confident they feel and that lowers anxiety and depression risks.
How to Tolerate Frustration – Not how to never be frustrated but how to survive, tolerate, and not fall apart when frustrating things happen. How to stay calm and think clearly. See problem solving above. Poor frustration tolerance and poor problem solving skills can set children up for substance abuse issues later on.
How to Be Still/Quiet and Use It to Regenerate – Let your children learn how to entertain themselves by staying home once in awhile, letting the kids choose their personal activities. This is not sibling time, it’s solo time. When we started to get owly at home as kids, my mom would announce, “OK. Everybody go play by themselves for awhile.” I didn’t know until I became an adult what a strength that play-by-yourself-time was creating. I still like to play by myself sometimes!
Now. What’s on your list?