Peaceful Home. Peaceful Family. Peaceful Life. Part Four.
When creating a peaceful home it is important to consider all aspects of your family’s home life. In my previous post I talked about creating a peaceful marriage. You can find that post below. In today’s post I am going to be talking about helping creating peace for your children. Now I want to clarify that ultimately only your children can choose to be peaceful and create peace for themselves, especially as they grow older. But I do want to touch on some things you can do in order to help create and maintain a peaceful atmosphere for your children which will hopefully help them learn to choose peace over chaos when presented with the options. In case you have missed the previous posts in my current series Peaceful Home. Peaceful Family. Peaceful Life. You can find them below.
First I want to say I am no expert on parenting. I am learning new things everyday about my own children and about parenting. I am learning what works and what doesn’t work for them each as individuals. Every child is an individual. What may work for my child may not work for yours. However, I do believe that there are fundamental things that we can do as parents and especially moms to help create a peaceful atmosphere and life for our children. In doing these things we can help our children learn how to be peaceful and how to choose peace over chaos. There are a few things I have learned in last 4+ years of being a parent and I would love to share them with you!
- Always keep a united front with your spouse.
If there is one thing that children don’t always get enough credit for it is for being bright and being able to pick up on subtleties. When raising children it is important to keep an united front with your spouse on everything. Discussions about things that will affect your children should happen away from the children out of ear shot. If you are caught off guard about a situation, and you or your spouse have to make a decision without consulting each other first I think it is always important to back up that decision regardless if you disagree with it or not. For example: say your child really wants to go out with a friend one night so they ask your spouse if they can. Your spouse says no for some reason. You didn’t think it would hurt for them to go out but your spouse has already made the decision. It is in the best interest of everyone to agree with the decision your spouse makes and not disagree with it, especially in front of the child. I say this for a few reasons. First if you disagree with your spouse and say no billy bob can go out tonight you are doing two things. One, you are undermining your spouse’s authority. Two, you are showing your children that you don’t respect your spouse’s opinion and decisions and neither should they. Backing up your spouse when making a decision and keeping a united front should be made a priority in my opinion. It shows your children that mommy and daddy are always on the same page. They cannot pit you two against one another. And it also teaches them that they need to respect both parents. I also believe that when this is done both parents gain confidence in their authority and of each other’s authority. Now I am not saying that you and your spouse will always agree with one another but your children should think that you do for the reasons I stated above. If a decision was made that one of you disagree with then it should be discussed in private. Decisions can always change. But undermined authority is difficult to repair.
- Be present.
When you’re with your children be clear minded. I have found that it is usually when I’m preoccupied or distracted that I get the most frustrated with my children. When I am constantly rushing and not listening and paying attention to them then I start rushing them to finish what they are doing or saying. Or I may not actually be listening to them. They see this. My four year old can tell if I am truly listening to her. Because I am working with her on maintaining eye contact and listening she expects the same from me. Why shouldn’t she? She will be in the middle of saying something and pick up on the fact that mommy is distracted so she will say “mommy look me in the eyes and use your ears to listen to me.” Which is what I say to her. Time goes so fast you guys. You know the old saying goes “the days are long but the years are short.” There are certain things that don’t matter. That Pinterest board or that Facebook wall, those don’t matter. That laundry that needs put away or that dishwasher that needs unloaded. Those can be done later. They won’t matter in twenty years when your kids are grown and out of the house. You have right now. Here with your children. Be present. Listen to them. Engage with them. Play with them. God has blessed my husband and I with two daughters. He also blessed us with a son that he took home six days after he was born. That’s all we got. Six days. They were beautiful days but they weren’t enough. I never got with him what I get to have with my daughters. It has shown me to appreciate time so much more. Be present in the every day.
- Give them consistent sleep habits.
I am a huge believer in consistent sleep habits. I always have been. My daughters have regular bedtimes that are rarely later and they also have a consistent nap/rest time during the day. Children get tired easier than adults. They need consistent rest and sleep and they need to have a clear picture of what that looks like. If their routines are just thrown together and they aren’t sure what comes next it will feel chaotic to them and that is when fits and tantrums happen. I would say that 90% of the tantrums my children throw happen when they are tired. Expecting a tired child to behave like they would if they weren’t tired is too much to ask of them. Ask yourself this question. When you are tired don’t you get grouchy and irrritable? Why expect something else from a small child who is still learning everyday and whose body gets worn out easier than yours. Children have absolutely no control over what happens during their day to day. If they don’t know what to expect they will feel chaos and chaos ensues chaos. Set a consistent bedtime for your child. The Sleep Foundation Website gives great guidelines for how much sleep children actually need via their ages. It is typically between 11-14 hours for young children. I know that it may be difficult to set a bedtime if your child doesn’t currently have one because they just simply don’t want to go to sleep. But children should not decide when they go to sleep. Parents know better than they do about what they need, therefore it is our job to set the rules. My children have always had early bedtimes. My oldest now goes to bed at 8 while my youngest goes to bed at 7. Our four year old’s bedtime has changed recently because she’s older. She also only takes a nap some days but I always have her lay down for quiet time to rest. If she needs a nap she will fall asleep. If she doesn’t she will at least have had some down time. Her moods are drastically different when she is well rested. Most children’s are. I have had several people give me funny looks when I tell them what time our children go to bed or if we have to leave a function early for bedtime. But like I said I am a huge supporter of consistent sleep habits and if my children don’t get enough sleep they are emotional and hard to be around the next day, and I am the one who has to be around them all day! Not the one’s giving me weird side eye.
- Give them down time.
As I stated above, I always give my children nap/quiet time everyday. It can become frustrating to work my schedule around this much needed time but it’s important for them to have it so it’s important for me to make it a priority. Children are learning everyday. Their minds pick up on so much every second of everyday. It can be tiresome. Naps are essential for young children. By the time they reach four or five they may be done with naps but laying down for quiet time with a book or puzzle can still be beneficial for older children. It gives them time by themselves to wind down. It gives their bodies time to rest. It is a great time for mommy to relax and rest too!
- Make discipline a priority.
No one likes to discipline their children. It can be difficult. But it is important. Children will by nature push the boundaries to see what they can get away with. Young ones also have a difficult time expressing their feelings. That is why discipline needs to be a priority. You need to find a discipline technique that works for your children and family. For us time-outs work the best. I think of discipline as a teaching tool that helps show our children what is expected of them and what they are not allowed to do. It’s not fun and it’s not easy but it is most definitely worth it. It gives a child a clear picture. When you are lax on discipline or not on the same page as your spouse it sends mixed messages to your children. First state what is expected of them to your children and what will happen if a certain behavior continues and then FOLLOW through. If there is no follow through then you are simply wasting your time. Children will quickly realize that you are not serious and do what they want anyway. I do want to say that when it comes to discipline you should always make sure that the underlying cause of misbehavior is not because the child is hungry or tired. Like I stated earlier it’s hard for small children to behave if they aren’t getting adequate rest and it’s really not fair for us to expect them to because it is our job to make sure they are getting rest to begin with. I have recently listened to an excellent podcast on discipline by the Busy Mom. You can find that link here.
- Allow them to be children.
Don’t put too much pressure on children. Allow them to be able to play and get dirty. Allow them to use their imaginations and just be. Not everything has to be about learning. Because children learn from everything, everywhere anyway. Trying to push them to do something early just because you want bragging rights to a smart child or being constantly on their backs will only discourage them from learning naturally and enjoying life and being a child. They are only children for so long then they grow up and have to deal with all kinds of yucky adult things. So allow them to just be little. Don’t put pressure on them to be bigger or more grown up than they are.
- Explain things on their level & talk to them like a regular person.
I put these together because I feel like they go hand in hand. Children need guidance but if you don’t explain things to them on a level that they will understand then it will simply go over their heads. I certainly don’t mean to engage in baby talk with them though. That is one thing I never did and never will. My Mamaw used to always say “talk to children like you would an adult because they are just little people.” And they are. They desire to learn. So talk to them. Explain things to them. When our oldest was a bit younger I would constantly get told how amazed people were that she was speaking so well for her age. Now I get told “how smart” she is all the time. Yes she is very smart. She is also determined to learn. She is determined to accomplish things and she’s brave enough to go and figure things out. Yes she is naturally smart. However I contribute a lot of her smarts to how we are raising her and her sister. From the time they are born we talk to them as though we are talking to another adult. We describe things to them. We explain situations to them. We converse with them. We also encourage them. They learn quickly that they are smart and can accomplish so much. They also learn that mommy and daddy believe in them and think their existence is a vital part to our family. It gives them courage.
Now like I stated earlier I am definitely not an expert on parenting. However, these are several things I have learned in the past four years that help me create a peaceful life for my children and help me teach them how to be able to choose peace over chaos. I am sure there are several more things I will learn throughout my years of parenting! If there is something you do to create a peaceful life for your children that you would like to share please comment below!
Until next time,