Where does the parenting split begin and end? 

It’s supposed to be a natural give and take scenario and a fair split: moms and dads sharing parenting duties, but sometimes it’s not an equal split of time that comes naturally but rather an equal split of value.

Just like tonight: I finished work, then did grocery shopping, then made dinner and did Maddox’s bedtime. My husband had a full day of meetings, got home before me, did some home admin and then put his feet up and relaxed on the couch chatting to a friend on the phone while I did bedtime for Maddox and dinner for us.

I guess an equal split would have been him not having that relaxing time and rather doing dinner or bedtime. Completely share the load right?

Well the realisation came when, after Maddox went to bed, he called me back on 3 separate occasions due to:

1. An invisible owie on his arm that supposedly needed mountains of medicine to fix

2. Simply expressing that he did NOT want to sleep now (Honest and ballsy – I’ll give him that)

3. There was a funny smell in his room – to be clear, there was no such thing (although with his strong will he could have summoned a fart from within to make a new excuse like that)

On all 3 occasions, I went upstairs and firmly told him that it was bedtime and there was no negotiation and came back down to finish dinner.

Then, came the tantrum. I heard a positively demonic sound coming from upstairs which meant Maddox was losing his temper and yelling in frustration. I had had enough. I interrupted my husbands’s phone call and told him that he needed to deal with this one. I usually give him some hints or tips on how to deal with this from things I have read online but I was so fed up with Maddox not going to sleep that I had nothing. No ideas, no strategies, nada.

And so, I let my husband handle it solo. I expected a stern voice and some warnings but to my surprise, I heard thumping coming from upstairs. At first I thought it had gone wrong, maybe Maddox had got his first smack (we promised never to give those) or Maddox had lost it completely and was hitting and kicking things.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. My husband (not one naturally blessed with patience) had hit a home run and used comedy to diffuse the tantrum. He was pretending to slip on the newly polished floors and that was the thumping sound. I heard screams of laughter from Maddox and not an ounce of anger or one complaint. My husband casually came back downstairs 3 minutes later and I haven’t heard a peep from Maddox since.

The lesson I learnt was that, the time it took me to do dinner, or bedtime or anything that added extra time to my share of the load, was equal to the 3-4 minutes where my husband stepped in and subdued our little darling’s tantrum. Those situations are way harder to deal with than the extra minutes spent on a mundane task and it takes a lot more from you, mentally and emotionally. And also, that was when I really needed him. Just like sometimes, he really needs me.

Our philosophy is equal parenting in value not in time.

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A little meditation for a little boy

I decided to use the time between getting home from work and making dinner to do something a little different this evening. Meditation for children.

This idea started forming when my stepmother sent me this great link about pediatricians releasing new guidelines for children’s screen time. The article outlines the revised guidelines for how much time your kids should spend in front of a screen (TV/ tablet/ cellphone) and ultimately concludes that it depends on the situation, your family habits, rules and what you wish to do. In the article, there is another link to an online tool that helps you to create a little media plan for your family created by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Of course, being the keen bean that I am, I instantly created our family media plan and answered all the questions required. One question stood out to me: “By decreasing screen time, we will have more time for”, followed by multiple check boxes including: “Playing outside”, “looking at books”, and “being with my family”. There was a section to add your own recreational activity to which I added “Arts and crafts” which is one of Maddox and my favourite pastimes.

This topic sat on my mind for a little while and I thought about all the nice things Maddox and I could do together if we weren’t absorbed in TV or me with my phone in my hand. I had had a stressful day today filled with emotion and so the idea of meditation and taking a little time-out came to mind. The google machine helped me to find this YouTube video which was perfect to trial Maddox and my first meditation together.

As you might understand already from previous posts, Maddox needs to be introduced gradually to new concepts. Thats just his personality. So, I decided a little 5-minuter would be perfect for him. I asked Maddox to please turn off Netflix and accompany me upstairs to lie on the bed. I introduced the concept of meditation and being mindful and calm and he said he was willing to give it a go. I plugged my phone into the sound dock and turned up the volume. We excluded the imagery from the video (given the whole screen time reduction objective) and lay side by side on the bed. For 5 minutes, we listened to an Australian lady talking us through clouds, raindrops and butterflies. Short and sweet. It was wonderful.

I asked Maddox afterwards if he enjoyed it and what he thought and felt. His reply? He felt, “Calmed down”, “Happy” and had thought about “butterflies”. I felt the same (although I was a little distracted by the Australian accent) but for that little moment, it felt so amazing to be present and  calm and to share that with my little boy.

meditation

 

The Swimming Saga

This afternoon, at Maddox’s swimming lesson, I was that mom. The one that other mothers look at with a sort of sad smile. A mixture of pity and understanding.

We paid for the term’s swimming lessons upfront and Maddox and I set off to today’s lesson with genuine excitement, goals, and hope (from my side).

Last week didn’t go so well – picture all others swimming and Maddox standing on the side crying – so we had a good chat and Maddox and I set goals for today: feet will be in the water and he will splash as much as possible. A realistic goal, I thought. Gentle intro to the pool and a bit of fun mixed in, I thought.

Well, apparently, I set the bar too high. 20 minutes of negotiations and tears just to get the swimming costume on. Then, using my unreal powers of distraction and annoyingly excited voice, I managed to carry him to the pool. More negotiations. All mothers staring at us through the glass window. Me accidentally flashing my arse to them but not caring during the negotiation.

And finally, my little boy crying and frozen with fear, broke my heart and we went back to the changing room and left.

Today’s lesson? For Maddox, it’s to keep trying, gently, until you succeed. For me, according to my own parenting style (we are all different), I refuse to force (nothing wrong with a bit of coaxing) anything on Maddox. His fear was real, albeit irrational, and sometimes the tough love approach just isn’t worth it. I want to create memories of love and happiness, not fear.

Next week’s goal? Getting Maddox into his swimming costume in under 15 minutes.

Last week’s situation:

swimming-saga