Sometimes I think that women make things harder on ourselves, by comparing ourselves to each other. There is an unspoken competition between mothers for their children to accomplish tasks at certain ages. A child is supposed to be walking by one, talking by 18 months. You have heard these milestones. You have seen a child defying the odds by running at 10 months.
Let’s talk potty training. There is a “rule” that children are supposed to be potty trained by two. So you have the super aggressive mothers, who start training at 12 months. And the children who resist to learn until 5 years old. There are books and charts and potty chairs and dolls, all designed to “help” you with the potty training process. I tried them all. I made charts. I bribed with candy, stickers, toys. You name it, I tried it.
Finally, while I was watching Cinderella with my darling daughters, I had an epiphany. I realized that my goal was just too short. I realized that no one at Cinderella’s ball was wearing a diaper. So if I shorten that time frame a little, I realized that no one would be wearing a diaper at Prom.
I took an unreachable goal of two years old, and I made the attainable goal “prom”. I was determined that my daughters would be potty trained by Prom. Just changing the timing, took the pressure off. I relaxed. So the girls relaxed. Then when they were ready, they were potty trained. And not a single child was wearing a diaper at Prom. Have you found that changing the time frame can help you achieve a goal?
Most of my parenting skills were taught to me by my oldest child. It is funny, with your first child, you think you are an amazing parent. Then you add the second child, and you realize it wasn’t you. But now you have to figure it out and quick!
My children were awful nappers, which made me an exhausted mother of two. I admit, when things got rough, I put in a Disney movie. One of our “go-to’s” was Dumbo. My
oldest decided that when the “Baby Mine” song came on, I was required to stop whatever I was doing and rock her in the rocking chair that my grandma rocked me in.
In the film, Dumbo’s mother, Mrs. Jumbo, an elephant locked in a circus wagon, cradles her baby Dumbo with her trunk while this lullaby is sung. It was an ingenius idea, because whenever daughter wanted attention, she inserted the movie, Dumbo. Then a little while later, all activity stopped and I focused on her for a whole 2 minutes and 5 seconds.
When I later attended a behavioral parent training, I realized that this does exactly what they tell you to do. Focus on the children, when they are doing something right and reward that good behavior. Instead, most parents ignore the kids until they are doing something wrong and then have to yell and scream.
So all of my best parenting skills, I learned from my oldest child…..and Dumbo.
I love the lines at Disneyland. It sounds crazy, but I have had the best, longest and most revealing conversations with my children, in line at Disneyland. Now that my children are grown and gone, we don’t have family dinners or time around the television. We have a few texts or Facebook messages, but the times for a real conversation are minimal.
That is why I treasure the time in Disneyland. This is a big chunk of 6 or more hours together, without phones or work. I never understand why families split up and then wait in separate lines. Then they have to try to find each other and they cut in the lines to join up….but that is another topic.
The key to making the time count, is to be there, right there, with no agenda or attitude. It is easiest to start the conversation, like you are talking to a stranger. Ask them about their life and their dreams. Try not to let any of the past arguments or judgments slip into your conversation. Be there, in the conversation, without worrying about anything that you might be missing.
I have countless pictures of people waiting in line and talking on their phone. How could anyone on that phone be more important than the people enjoying Disneyland with you today? Like Trace Adkins warns us in his song, “You’re gonna miss this.” Be here, right here and enjoy now.
Let’s go stand in line together!