break the rules. i can’t say this enough. break the rules. the rules in the books. the rules in the magazines. the rules on all those tlc mama shows. the rules that your friends and family tell you. the rules in your own head. break the rules. do what works for you. and that will change with every child just about every month. do what works for you until it doesn’t work anymore.
these are some questions you need to ask yourself frequently, particularly when you’re pulling your hair out and thinking, “what am i doing? i’m gonna kill these kids.”
1. is this working for me?
-if it’s not. change it. i don’t care what ideology you think you have about whether your child should have a paci or suck his thumb. if he’s screaming all the time and sucking his thumb makes him happier and therefore your whole family happier – break the rule.
2. what’s not working about it?
-he won’t sleep anywhere but attached to me. if he thumbsucks, he’ll sleep in the swing sometimes.
3. why am i still doing this?
-tape playing in my head, “you must let him sleep in his bassinet to learn to sleep alone. he must use a paci because i’ve heard nightmare stories about 10 year olds that still suck their thumbs.”
4. what can i change right now to survive this moment?
-let him suck his thumb.
5. what can i change for the long term to make life better for everybody?
-let him suck his thumb. which leads into another motto around our house “you can always retrain later.” there’s not a window of training that closes and you just lost it. no, you can revisit this. and you probably will. case in point: so you have her sleep trained perfectly, right? what happens when she gets sick, then? you break the rules for her (and you) to survive the throwing up marathon. 3 days pass, all the puke is sufficiently lysolled away – how’s that perfectly sleeping child doing now for ya? you retrain. and she learns to sleep without you again. you can retrain.
and a few really big picture questions:
6. are we all having fun? is my child having fun? am i having fun?
-yes, this is important. as important as moral training, as manners training, as learning to read. you have to live this life you’ve got, you know. it doesn’t have to suck.
7. what effect is this rule having on my marriage?
-oh, so important. the whole point of raising kids the right way is to get rid of them in the end. really. that’s the whole point. so what’s left 18 years from now? you and him. you better get this part right.
8. what am i going for in the big picture?
-a happy baby? a well-mannered child? well-adjusted adults that don’t have too many therapy bills? followers of Christ? a home that i want to come back to is probably a home that my husband will want to come back to and that my children will want to come back to. figure it out and plan accordingly. jeff used to say, “live intentionally.” a friend of matt’s says, “having no plan is a plan to fail.” every once in a while i ask myself, “what is my plan in homeschooling?” to keep up with the neighbors? to impress my friends? to finish a curriculum because i’m anal retentive like that? i’m going for a young adult that knows how to survive the real world – bullies, friends, having babies, being married, balancing checkbooks, being debt-free, knowing how to cook, serves others, and seeking what Jesus wants for them. in order to accomplish this i need to not get bogged down by not getting to our math today, the house is a wreck, the baby sucked his thumb, and i burnt dinner (again).
in parenting, ask yourself, “did i love ‘em today?” and if i didn’t so much, then know, “His mercies are new every morning.” as can our mercies be for them.
and break the rules.