Yes isn’t always the best answer.

I’ve been reading a lot of parenting articles in my motherhood groups lately. The focus seems to be on saying “yes” more to our kids. I was buying into a little at a time, slowly doubting myself in a new way, and thinking that I just shut the kids down too much, too often.

So “yes” started becoming my new mantra. Not to anything dangerous, of course. But I found it pushing bedtime back because my new question was, “What does it hurt?” And if they stay up a little late, they can sleep in a little, it’s summer. We homeschool. We’re on our own schedule.

“Yes.”

“Yes.”

“Yes.”

Every interruption that came, I was trying to meet with a sweet, “Yes baby, let’s do that.”

With 5 kids asking me for time, attention, snacks, activities, things to do, I started to feel overwhelmed. I was being pulled in more directions than I could keep track of, and I started to see the disappointment and let down of the yes’s that I couldn’t follow through on.

Is “yes” the best answer when the hours of the day run out and our children feel like we’ve broken a promise? Yes is like a promise to a child.

Today, as I was down to only a couple of the kids, and we were having special time together because I rarely have just the girls, it just kind of hit me – if God is wise enough to tell me no, why do I suddenly think I need to always tell my kids yes? Yes is not always the best answer.

I am limited. If I don’t guide my kids through how to manage my own human limitations and give them a solid example of choosing how we spend our time, then I’ll send out adults who run themselves ragged and don’t know how to say no. They have to hear no, have no be enforced, to be able to say no. If they never hear me say no, they may turn their backs on God when He says no.

“No” should not be a foreign concept to my children. “No” is disappointing, but not as disappointing as a yes that wasn’t followed through with. “No” teaches patience, boundaries, delayed gratification, selflessness.

See, if I’m crawling into bed weeping because the interruptions were too many and I didn’t allow “no” to protect my energy, then I’m eventually going to resent them. Or resent motherhood. I don’t want to look back on these days and only remember the exhaustion, overcommitment, and crawling into bed in tears because I wasn’t enough that day. But that’s easy to do in motherhood.

I would rather so no to some things, so I can say YES to the best things- as my Pastor Craig Groeschel says.

Today we did a face mask and painted nails, but I said no to writing a story. That was a hard one, anything that moves their minds is kind of my jam. But today was a good day for pampering and I also had chores to do, a personal project, and meals to prepare.

I have more peace about saying no to writing that story than I’ve had in the last several weeks of trying to say yes to everything.

I’ve learned that God says no when I’m not in His will, not looking the direction He wants me to, to keep me safe. I don’t always understand, and I don’t always like to hear no. But I trust that God has my best interest in mind, and I want to lead my kids to trust that He has their best interest in mind by showing them that I do. I also want to lead by example that it is okay to say no to some of the things that tug at our time and attention.

How do you feel about saying no to your kids?

Until next time,
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Where do you brush your teeth?

What a silly question, right? I bet you brush your teeth in the bathroom. So do I.

But not my kids. Not anymore.

See, I feel incredibly claustrophobic and a wave of anxiety takes me from Mom to Monster in .02 seconds flat when I’m crowded in their little bathroom trying to keep cavities at bay.

I had this idea of setting up a toothbrush cup in the kitchen, where there issmurf toothbrush space, and letting everyone brush their teeth together, where I could breathe and be nice. It teetered around in my head for a while but I just kept thinking, “We’re supposed to do this in the bathroom.” Supposed to. Supposed to. Supposed to.

Until one day, I asked myself, “SAYS WHO?!” It’s not like we have company over that early or that late (if ever, honestly). It’s not like the kitchen is grosser than the bathroom for keeping toothbrushes. It’s not like brushing our teeth is getting anything dirtier than spooning food into our mouths. I did it. I made the plunge and made my toothbrush cup and started a new habit.

Guess what?

We brush our teeth more regularly, more consistently, and with less anxiety or morphing on my part.

So, what do you do in your life, because you are supposed to, that you would like to break free from? I’m not talking about sinful or not sinful things. Just societal norms that are a certain way, but don’t have to be. If there is a way that would make life easier, make something smoother, ease your family through a transition, or just flat-out tell anxiety, “HA, I don’t have to be locked in this tight space with 3 screaming, yelling, giggling, overwhelmingly energetic small people. And I can still clean their teeth! Take that!”

I often feel like I need permission for things – it’s silly, I have learned steps to overcome that mental roadblock, but it takes me a series of questions. If you need permission from somewhere or someone to do something that isn’t “normal” (but isn’t a sin issue, saying it again, you know, just in case) then I give you permission. I’m a mom, I get to do that. So take that permission and do something that makes your life easier, like brush the kids teeth in the kitchen, or ….. you tell me.

Until next time,
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Parents Get a Do Over too

We’ve been watching an incredible series on TBRI – Trust Based Relational Intervention – to help us build trust based parenting skills to use at home. One of the practices they use over and over is giving the kids a re-do.

Disrespectful tone? Say it again nicer.

Forgot to ask, instead told/commanded? Try again.

Instead of punishing the person, they give them the opportunity to connect and try again. I’ll be honest, I thoroughly love watching these. They are full of useful helps like this.

Yet, in the real world, when the kids are awake once again, it’s easy to use the same old, same old.

My 5 year old daughter was particularly sassy this morning, and I finally barked, “Don’t talk to me like that! Get out of the laundry room!”

And I froze. That wasn’t the response I wanted to use. I blew it. I hung up another shirt, while shaking my head at myself. Next time, I’ll try it the right way next time.

Buzz. Wrong.

I called her back to me, “I didn’t mean to talk to you like that. Were you asking or telling when you talked to me?”

She smiled real big, “I was supposed to be asking. Will you please hand me that?”

I got to fulfill her request, reach something that was too tall for her to reach, and connect with her. And she got to have her do over and see that asking nicely produces better results.

Parents get a do over too. It’s a lot like apologizing – we have to tell pride to take a hike, and we have to tell ourselves not to wait until next time. Try again this time. Don’t let this moment pass without learning how to respond to and lead your kids better.

They get a do over when they mess up so they can practice the right behavior and hopefully turn the right behavior into a habit. We get a do over for the exact same reason.

Until next time,