Coping Tips for Stay-at-Home Moms

This post is based on a comment from a stay-at-home mom. Please adjust the gender accordingly if it is different in your situation.

Because I deal with all the little "stuff" during the day (I don't want to go to school, I don't need a coat, he's hitting me, when can I watch TV, I am hungry and I want junk food, I want a playdate!) I am so worn down that I can't think straight by 6 p.m. Then my husband comes home, and he's the star. Warm, patient, and clever, he can get them to do anything. Which is terrific and frustrating, all at the same time!

Some days, whoever is home alone with the kids all day feels like they've endured the equivalent of water torture.

My child cries at everything, part 2: very sensitive children

To read part 1, click here: http://www.advice-for-parents.com/2007/11/what-can-i-do-about-my-preschooler-who.html

Before I say anything else, let me first say I am assuming that you have had her thoroughly checked out by your doctor. Sometimes undiagnosed health issues can impact behavior. If there are sensory integration issues going on, an occupational therapist could teach you both some tricks that help enormously.

My five year-old just discovered "the finger." How do I get him to stop using it?

This very sincere and earnest question came from a childhood friend of mine, and oh my goodness, it just cracked me up! I've met this little guy, and he's got these twinkly blue eyes and an impish grin that just makes me want to muss up his hair and let him get away with anything. I bet he is absolutely gleeful about this new gesture!

"The finger" is a lot like swearing. It triggers an emotional reaction in some people - typically shock, aggression, or anger - and is therefore not something you want to see your child relying on for communication shorthand. On the other hand, we know that with some kids, our attempts to prohibit them from using it only inspire their creativity and determination to continue.

What if my son doesn't want to do extracurricular activities?

from a reader in the Midwest:

My 7 year-old does not want to do any extra curricular activities (like sports, game clubs, science clubs, etc.) He says that sometimes he has to do stuff he doesn’t want to do. He doesn’t care if everyone else is doing it. How do I interpret this? At what point do we need to teach our children the concept of working within a group or with a team for a common goal? Does he get enough of that in the classroom environment? If that is the way he feels should I just let him be himself and be independent (i.e. no organized anything outside of school)?

Ya know, I admire this kid. He knows himself pretty darn well! Not everyone is wired to love group activities. Group experiences that energize extroverts can be very draining for an introvert! I'd say to go ahead and respect his wishes. He's getting plenty of opportunities to participate in groups at home and in school.

Help! My teenage daughter wants to date, and I'm just not ready!

Ready or not, here it comes!

Here's the thing: When we simply prohibit our teenagers from dating, or anything else for that matter, we are missing a MAJOR opportunity to help them learn useful life skills while they are still receptive to our guidance and input. (Even though some adolescents don't seem receptive anymore, they are. It's just against the 'teen code of honor' for them to admit it!)

what can I do about my preschooler who cries about everything?

Today's question comes from Lisa, who asked me to write about preschoolers who cry about everything:

Some preschoolers are a bit more tender than others. They have a harder time with transitions, take social interactions very personally, and seem to need a lot more attention. They are easily overwhelmed by changes in routine, and once they are overwhelmed, they have a very hard time calming themselves down. Often they will continue spiraling emotionally out of control until they receive the help of a calm and caring adult.

soothing your baby

Trying to soothe your baby? Work your way up to full contact.

Rather than immediately picking her up when she fusses a bit, first try talking or singing within earshot, and/or moving yourself within view so she can see you. Then try looking into her eyes and smiling, followed by a gentle pat, and finally slowly rubbing her back, feet or head.

And then go right ahead and pick her up if none of that has helped to calm her down.

Being present for our children in these progressive steps is a wonderful way to foster healthy attachment - your child experiences you as available, attentive, and responsive, and she also gets the opportunity to gently expand her self-soothing abilities.

what to say about poor grades

from a 16 year old young man:

Parents need to remember that just because their kid is failing math does not mean he will fail at life.
I hear a lot of angst from parents about grades. It makes us feel so powerless to see our offspring not working up to their potential! We try consequences, punishment, privilege removal, microscopic supervision, bribes, and lectures. Sometimes, these things seem to work, and their grades improve.

And sometimes, we only cement our teens' determination to have some control over their choices. Academics are not a battle we can truly win, because ultimately, the motivation for all REAL learning comes from within.

Step into your teen's shoes (combat boots?) for a moment, and imagine hearing this from your parents:

Honey, I have no doubt that you can successfully accomplish anything you set your mind to. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help, and good luck!
At the very least, this takes rebellion out of the equation.

If things get tough for my kid, I want him to see me as a trusted resource who is on his team and will help him figure out what to do, rather than being fearful of my reaction and hiding the situation from me.

Not only that, but there's so much more to success than grades. Skills such as honesty, responsible communication, self-awareness, curiosity, creativity, and compassion are at least as important for success in real life as academic discipline. Even if your kid is not a great student, he can still be a great person.

YOU are the expert on your child.

No author, professor, therapist, or consultant can trump what you know about yourself and your children.

Consider what you hear or read and see if it resonates with your own inner guidance and intuition. If it makes it through that filter, then experiment with it.

If it is not effective, or the price you or your child pay feels too high, then pitch it out and try something else.

taking care of yourself

Needs are part of the human experience.

In our Inspiring Connections parenting classes, Robin and I teach The ABC's of Five Core Needs:

Autonomy
Basic Essentials like food, water and safety
Connection
Contribution
Creativity

formula for making changes that last

Big changes can happen in small increments. Take baby steps!

When you want to make a change or try a new experiment, it's okay to take it slow. Look for the smallest possible step, one that is so small that it almost doesn't even register on your radar screen as a change. A step that makes you say, Sure, no problem! I can do that easily!!

teaching your teen to drive

As I write this, my son is out driving on his own for the first time. I am pretty much calm enough to write down a few ideas about teaching kids to drive. Forgive me if there are typos!

getting baby to sleep longer at night

Not getting enough sleep at night?
Perhaps one of these suggestions will be helpful:

parenting as yoga

Parenting is the ultimate asana! Like any good yoga, it bring us to our edges every day.

When we are at our edge emotionally or mentally -- the place where we think we can't stand it a second longer -- we don't always have to run away.

Sometimes we can stay there and breathe a bit, and we may find we can go a little deeper into the interaction, or we may decide to retreat. Either choice is okay.

It's the deep breath that allows us to decide and choose rather than react.

a tried and true stress-buster

Feeling stressed? Remember to breathe deeply.

Allow yourself at least one calming deep breath before taking a soothing action for your child.

Actions are more effective when they spring from a place of inner alignment. (and oxygenation!)

communication guidelines to teach your teen

My daughter is going into 8th grade, which really should have been included in Dante's levels of hell. She sure is suffering while she works things out for herself socially.

Most of the time, all I can do is rub her back and dry her tears and witness the fury and pain as it releases from her system. She rights herself much more quickly than I remember doing at her age. Heck, who am I kidding -- she's quicker than I am even now!!

While searching for some kind of lifeline to throw to her, I remembered a three part guideline I heard somewhere years ago, a sort of algorithm that helps us decide whether to speak our thoughts out loud or not. Thought I'd write it here since I will surely need to refer back to it myself:

Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?