The huge daily to-do list, is it possible to get it all done? Mary L. says, "Tired and too much to do! How do you handle it?"
I hear different versions of that all the time, "How am I supposed to get done what I need to get done, when my toddler demands so much of my time? It's too much to keep up with! There's no time for me! I'm physically and emotionally exhausted!"
Well, I can't change your to-do list. But what I can do is offer another way to look at four parenting myths that might be stealing some of your energy.
Myth #1: Parents Must Immediately Explain All Answers in Great Detail
You do not have to answer every question your child asks in great detail, all day long! Shocking, I know, but you don't.
What you do need to do is address questions instead. Addressing questions can actually end up increasing the amount of time and energy you have!
Some parents of preschoolers think they're creating high self-esteem and increasing their child's intellect and language skills by being verbose. They answer every question with lengthy, detailed explanations.
Consider the facts. A child's brain doesn't have access to logical thinking until the age of 7. So long explanations, filled with details aren't required or truly absorbed at age 3. You'll know when your child is ready to absorb and retain that kind of information; you'll see it in your child's lessons at school.
Do use short, concise, age-appropriate words and explanations during the early years. Even short concise words can increase language skills and create high self-esteem. There will be plenty of time to have rich intellectual discussions as your child gets older.
Myth #2: To Stop Complaining, Whining, Arguing — Use Intense Words and Punishment
Most parents have decided that the best way to shut down any complaining etc. is to use stern reactions and punishment. The problem is — that's exhausting!
Consider humor. Hubby had a unique way of busting our kids when they complained, and it worked every time! He'd say, "Was that I complaint I heard? You know, when I was a boy I had to walk 50 miles to school in my socks! Can you top that! Then, no complaining, please!" The kids tried not to laugh; they instantly recognized what they were doing and stopped complaining.
Consider eye contact and silence. I'm not suggesting that you ignore your child when they're complaining, whining, or arguing. I'm suggesting you consciously and purposefully make eye contact and say nothing. Silence is one of the most powerful tools a parent has! It sends the message, I'm looking at you, I hear you, yet I'm choosing not to react to you, so you can think about what you said or did and learn from it.
If you want more of an explanation, read my What To Do When Your Child Won't Potty Train article. The concept mentioned in that article, "Parent Pie," applies here, too.
Myth #3: Oh, She Knows I Love Her
Think back to when you were little. Were there times when you thought your behavior was just fine, only to find out that you made a mistake and were in trouble? At that moment, did you wonder if your parent still loved you?
Consider saying I love you, often. You may think your child knows that you love her, but she needs to be told, out loud, as often as possible, especially after she's misbehaved in some way.
One great way to say I love you after misbehavior is to say, "I love you, and I don't like what you did." Saying I love you, even when you're mad, creates unconditional love and high self-esteem. Saying I love you also stops the drama in play at the moment, allowing you to save some energy.
Myth #4: Following a Routine Is Restricting to Both My Child and Me
Some parents fear that if they use a routine they're dictating what their child's body rhythms should be and restricting their own freedom. The truth is actually the quite the opposite.
Consider a routine. Placing your child on a schedule is one way to send a message to your child's psyche that she can always trust that you'll provide her with what she needs — which is a foundational message that all humans need.
When a parent uses a sleep schedule, a child usually stops fighting sleeping as much, which allows you to have time for yourself to rest, relax, and refuel so you can accomplish the rest of your to-do list!
These short tips won't shorten your to-do list, but they will free up some physical and emotional energy that you though was lost forever.
Sharon Silver is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be and the founder of Proactive Parenting. Her book and site help parents gain more patience by responding instead of reacting as they deal with the whirlwind of emotions created by raising kids ages 1-10. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.