Since I have been home from vacation, I have been busy meeting with the kids teachers. We are discussing tweaking their schedules, good techniques for disciplining, effective and appropriate consequences, playdates, validating feelings, etc. It seems the list of things to work on with kids is never-ending.
My husband and I were discussing the other day how much time and effort it takes to be a good parent. Aside from the physical needs of running a household: meals, laundry, clean-up, errands, etc there is another whole dimension we don't always talk about. The fact that we are rasing little people who are slowly but surely turning into big people! And along the way we need to ensure that they feel loved, respected and self-confident. We need to teach them appropriate ways to interact with others, boundaries, safety, a love of religion and life- the list goes on and on. These lessons don't happen in long lectures or heart-to-heart talks, although that may be part of it as the kids get a bit older.
These values are imparted slowly and daily through our interactions and choices. Do we react to misbehavior with off-the-cuff anger or do we think about the best way to communicate our disappointment.
You can be home with your children, but are you really there, are you present emotionally? What I find so difficult is that you are always "on" and it is so so hard to be constantly mindful and present. In the moment, it seems impossible to think beyond the fact of "This child is annoying me and if they don't stop this second I will scream!" to a more measured and appropriate response.
And of course, like in everything in life, balance is important. We can't be the perfect parents all the time and we cannot expect that of ourselves. But it is a goal we should be working toward. We should be reading books, taking classes, discussing with their teachers, thinking about it and formulating plans. Because it's not just about the apple juice on the floor for the fourth time that day...it's about your child's sense of self as well.
And now I am going to take my own advice and be with my children who are clamoring for attention!