The other day PapaGray and I had the pleasure of going out on a date, just the two of us. Ahhhhhhhh, no children. No one dropping food on the floor, getting food (or lord knows what) all over my clothes, talking loud enough to ensure that even the deaf will hear, dominating the conversation, walking way too close to the street, and generally being like a herd of cats you are trying to corral in the middle of a monsoon.
We went to a super fancy restaurant, and the young waiter asked us what the special occasion was. Like most parents, we lit up with glee as we explained “it’s a night out with no children!” As we basked in the general quiet of the restaurant that was clearly not a kid friendly place, our waiter stated, “Man, I hear that all the time. I hope my parents didn’t hate me when I was kid!”
Ouch. Kids are crazy. They are demanding and wild and unruly even when they are well-behaved. They are children discovering the world and all the beauty that is within it, and as they see it with their young eyes, they have to jump in and live it. It takes its toll on any parent, and it’s easy to get caught up in the drama. If you want to complain about how hard your life is, simply be a parent.
They suck the marrow out of life…and you…every. single. day. They are needy and constant and full throttle (at least mine are, all the time).
But….they are amazing. What a gift we have to bring up these little ones to be world changers! They are the next generation, and what’s more, they are yours. Mamas, you carried these children within you for around 10 months (it’s 40 weeks, ya’ll. 9 months is a LIE). They were formed within us and are beautiful and innocent reflections of love.
I know they can get to you – like I said, parenting is no small task. I challenge you, however, to put on your rose-colored glasses and look closely at those little humans in your household. If it’s a trying day, look at them when they’re sleeping – it’s always a time to see them for who they really are. An incredible creation you get to be a part of.
The way you speak about your children becomes your reality.
We all need breaks from our kids. I firmly believe that if you want to be a better parent, you have to set aside time to be away from your children. My sister-in-law created a program called “Mommy Sabbatical” and the tagline is “Take a break from the ones you love so you can love them better.” Scheduling time for yourself and time with your spouse is so, so important in being fully refreshed and recharged and ready for all that parenting throws at you (sometimes literally).
Take the breaks. Go on dates. Take some you time. But please, please, consider how you speak about your children. If you were to step back and listen to yourself for a day, are the words you say to others about your kids ones that show you enjoy being a parent, or are they continual complaints about what holy terrors you have?
I challenge you to two things this week:
- Take a break. Step away from your kids and have some adult time. Give yourself, at a minimum, ten minutes a day where you lock yourself in the bathroom, get out of your house, etc, with NO CHILDREN around. And at least once this week, go out on a date with your spouse for some adult time. Intentionally give yourself time to recharge. And just like getting flowers for your wife on Valentine’s Day doesn’t give you brownie points to get off scott-free for the year, one moment to yourself or a date with your spouse doesn’t cover you forever. Think of these times just like sleep – needed daily in order for you to recharge and refuel.
- Focus on their awesomeness. Be aware of how you talk about your children to others. You can be realistic, but remember that what you speak becomes your reality. When you simply complain about your kids, those reasons for complaints become more prominent than anything else. Focus on the positive. Lift them up. If your child walked into the room while you were talking to your friend about them, would they feel good about what you are saying? Would it build them up or knock them down? They are listening. Don’t ever underestimate how much your children pick up on. They hear you, especially when you don’t want them to!
Now, go hug your kids and your spouse and have a moment to reconnect with why you love your family so much!