After an eight-week hiatus from normal life due to extreme morning sickness that kept me in bed, the house (and the kids) were in complete disarray. I couldn’t blame them. I was emotionally wrung out, feeling guilty, overwhelmed with the house and out of practice with the flow of life that had made all the pieces work together.
It seems ridiculous, but those eight weeks were enough to forget…everything.
Getting the Home Management Guide back in the center of my day, and honestly, starting this blog has helped me remember the things I love about being a stay-at-home mom. In reality, it has always been about more than just the kids for me. It’s about the house as a whole. I love creating a space where the people I love can come and feel safe and warm, relaxed, accepted, and loved.
None of those feelings were floating in the air with piles of dishes in the sink, piles of toys on the floors, and the kids constantly eating whatever they could scrounge from the cabinets while I tried my hardest not to throw up.
It was up to me to restore the peace.
First things first, I cleaned. And cleaned. And cleaned. I am still cleaning my way out of the mess that accumulated during that time, but at least the house is functional now. Then came the hard stuff–restoring parenting structure, expectations, discipline, and routine for the kids.
It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t really their fault. However, I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t my fault either. Sickness happens. Trust me, I did not choose to be in that bed so sick I could barely open my eyes. It made me so incredibly grateful to know that my sentence was short, that there was a time limit on my being incapacitated. Many, many parents struggle with chronic illnesses that do not fade in a matter of weeks. They never fade. They have to just make it work. By comparison, we did alright.
Adjusting to having mom present and mom-ing again was hard for the kids. There were many tantrums, adjustments, tears and nights where I wondered if somehow, after fourteen years, I’d turned into a terrible mother after just eight weeks.
That’s when I remembered something crucial to my parenting style and I broke out my super-secret, super-awesome parenting hack. Supernanny.
No, I am not joking.
When I had my first child I was just 19. I had no idea how to parent except I knew that I didn’t want to parent my child the way my parents had raised me, so all the way back in 2005, I started watching this magical woman transform families of chaos into emotionally connected, consistent, disciplined homes with a simple system. I studied and literally took notes. I prepared myself for a time when fits would happen, and I was able to internalize and understand that pushing boundaries wasn’t personal. It was a normal part of development that all kids go through.
What I learned from Supernanny:
- Be consistent.
- Be clear.
- Hitting/spanking doesn’t work because kids know you’re out of control and out of ideas.
- Kids need a parent, not a friend.
- Having expectations actually helps kids feel closer to you.
The problem is, like all parents, as kids 2, 3, 4, and about to be 5, and 6 entered the picture, I just assumed I had everything under control. I assumed I was done learning, that I had reached black-belt parenting level. I stopped researching, stopped being consistent…and started losing control.
My time in bed brought all of that laziness front-and-center.
I’d lost my way.
My 3-year-old was especially quick to point this out to me. He was showing his defiant streak and in my desperation, guilt, and years since the last defiant little phase, I’d somehow forgotten EVERYTHING. It was like being a freshman in the parenting world…but with 4 kids.
Now things are transformed.
There is peace and kindness, order, routine, and predictable consequences for unacceptable behavior. I have help with chores that are age-appropriate for the kiddos and because they are expected every day, I get zero fuss about it. Fits with the 3yo are short-lived and easily handled without stress or tears. Yes, I mean my tears.
While I highly recommend binge-ing Supernanny and taking notes (seriously, this woman is a gift from the gods), the most important Parenting Secret Weapon is this: whatever your guidepost is (a textbook, a show, your own parents) go back to the proverbial book often.
Check in. Make sure you have a plan for when issues arise and how you will handle it. Know what the stages are that your children will go through and anticipate the normal problems and push backs that will come, and always, always know you aren’t alone. If you have a co-parent, get on the same page; involve your family; reach out to the parents online–we’re a huge community just trying to figure this whole thing out.
Find your center. Find it often.