Recently, while watching The Sound of Music, I found myself crying. No, not because the Nazi soldiers were threatening the von Trapp family, or because Maria was torn between two worlds, but because I realized lately I’ve been parenting a lot more like the grouchy Captain than the playful Fraulein.
I’ve seen the movie so many times I’ve lost count. But this time I saw it through a new pair of eyes: my bloodshot parenting ones. (Ah, how I long for the days when the beautiful and naive Liesl was the one I related to!) As I sat there watching, it seemed so obvious that Maria had a natural way with kids and the Captain was insane. She listened to the kids—and helped them find good solutions. She believed they would do the right thing—gaining their trust in return. She taught them to use their energy in creative and fun ways—leading to a lot of laughter and fewer tears. She loved them unconditionally—and it was obvious that they loved her right back…effortlessly. The Captain, on the other hand, was hard to please, threatening and uptight. No fun at all. (At least before Maria got her hands on him—figuratively and literally, of course.)
I don’t use a whistle (as tempting as that may be), but I have found myself with a sore throat more than once thanks to letting my short patience and yelling getting the best of me. And, it turns out, sleeping about 5 hours a night (total, not consecutively) doesn’t help things.
I know things around here have to change and it’s going to have to start with me. Here are a few of the ways I plan to shape up—and by shape up I mean loosen up.
Ask myself, “What would Fraulein Maria do?”
Listen. Sing. Dance. Hug. I may not have her pipes, but I can do the other things just as well. I’m pretty sure, at least. We haven’t been having nearly enough dance parties around here lately.
Focus on my kids’ positive behaviors instead of harping on the not-so-positive ones.
One of our biggest issues is Big constantly telling everyone around him that they’re wrong or doing something wrong. Hmm, wonder where he got that? Well, my friends Amy at TeachMama (a wonderful blog about incorporating teaching moments into everyday life) and Cristie at The Traveling Circus and The Right Hand Mom (who might just be my long-lost sister) have had great success with Gem Jars. Big and I are hitting the craft store today and I’m going to start rewarding the boys as I catch them doing good things. And, yes, at first I’m sure I’ll have to remove gems to help drive the point home, but hopefully we’ll all find ourselves focusing more on the positive. (More to come on this if it’s a success…which I’m sure it will be. See? Already thinking more positively!)
Spend time fueling the boys’ confidence and passions.
Like cooking. We’ve already started having Big pick one recipe a week to shop for and make with us. He loves it! And yesterday he read Little Runaway Bunny almost completely on his own. Looks like we’ll be hitting the library more. Now, I just have to figure out what will ignite Little’s passions. Besides bad guys…
What about you? Do you have strategies for keeping things positive in your house? If so, please share. I’ll incorporate everything I can!
Here’s to hoping you and your little ones are laughing and loving every day. And remember, when life hands you ugly curtains, make play clothes.