|photo by Lars Plougmann - Creative Commons|
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"No! You don't find me!!" It's nap time, and she is out of her room. Again.
I pick up my daughter and carry her back to bed. As I walk down the hall she screeches, "Don't tuck me in!"
Until now, my easy-going toddler has been a breeze to parent. But when she became a big sister and moved to a new city within the same few months, we hit a snag. Now my typically chill little girl refuses to stay in bed.
For weeks we have been stuck in the same miserable routine. I tuck her in and kiss her good night. She runs out a soon as I leave her room. Over and over ... and over. Most days it takes two full hours, and many tears, before she falls asleep. None of my usual tricks have worked. I am at a breaking point. I need to win this battle.
I hear a familiar creak and I glare at the door. When suddenly I see - really see - my daughter's tear-stained face. All at once I understand the root of our bedtime quandary.
Until now I have seen my daughter as the problem. We were locked in a battle of wills, and I was determined to win. But families shouldn't have winners and losers. We are on the same team, working toward common goals. As long as we engage in battle with one another, we all lose.
When I remembered we were on the same team, I could consider peaceful options to our dilemma. She needed my attention, and I needed rest. In time I found a way to meet both of our needs without hours of tears and frustration. But the first step to peace was to let go of the fight.
Maybe bedtime is the battle your little ones have chosen. Or maybe it's the potty, wearing a seatbelt, or mealtimes (or all of the above). Kids dig in their heels for any number of reasons, and a peaceful solution in your home may look very different from mine. As mothers, our goal is to guide and nurture, not to win. When we are most frustrated with our children, it may be time to disengage. We are all on the same team.