The Importance of Solitude

I'm a stressed-out stay at home mom of 3 kids (ages 9, 6 and 3) and feel exhausted. My patience is shorter than ever and I need some advice on how to recharge and be a better mom, which to me means being more patient, more willing to answer question after question, and finding more effective ways to deal with many parenting issues that come up each day.

On the day I received this email, I had gotten up early to enjoy several uninterrupted hours in the mountains, and was stunned at how much better I felt, even though I was already feeling pretty good before I went.

So ... for this mom, I have one word of advice. Actually, three words:

Solitude is critical.

My 13 year old girl sent a provocative picture of herself to a 15 yr old boy! 13 year old girl sent a provocative picture of herself to a 15 yr old boy! I don't know what to do!!! I feel like I am all over the place when I try to discipline her... and when I try to talk to her. What are appropriate consequences for this stuff?!?!

The email was quite a bit longer than this and contained much more information. I think you can understand my response without all the details, though:

A: First, let's examine the things that went right.

She TOLD you. Yes, you had her phone in hand and were going to find out anyway, but nonetheless, it speaks highly of your relationship and her trust in you that she did not just wait for you to find out when she wasn't there to face the music, and she also did not gamble that you wouldn't see it. This is a big deal, and worth celebrating. It demonstrates good character that she came clean. She did not have to say it to your face but she did. You can be proud of the fact that she trusted you with a very vulnerable situation.

asking nicely

In response to my post "Ask, Don't Tell" a parent wrote:

I often ask my children nicely if they will do some task, and they answer just as nicely, "No thanks."

"How about you help me set the table for dinner?"
"No thanks, I'm playing.".
"Well - I really could use the help."
"I don't really want to right now."

What would you do about that?