Monday, February 2, 2009

Trusting My Gut

One of the toughest things for me as a parent these days is following my instincts. Take our mornings, for instance. Say, this morning.

The girls have been getting out of bed later and later every morning. Our standing rule has been, school starts at 9. They have chores to get done before school starts -- as long as those chores get done before 9, it doesn't matter what time they get up. Up until now, that has always seemed very reasonable and simple--nothing they could argue.

But my gut has been telling me that part of the reason they're lethargic and cranky and bickering during the day has to do with the fact that they sleep so late in the morning. I know that I get that way when I sleep late. When I'm up at a good hour and get my morning work done with time to spare, I feel pulled together and ready for the day. When I sleep late, I feel like I'm always behind, all day long (even if technically, I'm not--I still feel that way).

So, I told both girls last night that they were expected to be out of bed by 7:30 -- soon after their dad came in to say goodbye before leaving for work. And I knew I'd be fighting them about it this morning.

"Why do I have to get up?" "But I'll get my chores done!"

And the problem is, I have no answer to give them other than, "because I said so." It's just that my gut tells me this is what they need. Maybe I'm wrong, but I at least want a chance to find out. So, then I feel like an ogre, demanding behavior of them that I can't give a reason for, and succumbing to the "I'm the mom" argument to justify it.

Makes me cranky and whiny about it all, too.

OK, so there's another tough thing for me as a parent these days: consistency. Persistence. Stick-to-my-guns-edness. Whatever you call it. Confidence. I'm confident that getting an earlier start to their day will help in a lot of other areas in our family, so I'm going to make it happen whether I can articulate the reason for it or not.

I think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have often wondered why we get defensive when our children question our decisions? Why do we feel the need to give an answer? Maybe it's because we haven't thought it all through yet and subconsciously wonder if we are making the right choice, or maybe we feel like they are questioning our authority. I don't know. Either way, I think your girls are old enough that they could benefit from a brief explanation.

"This is how I feel about the situation, and even if you disagree with me, this is one of those times you need to obey because I'm the parent."

You could try explaining to them that you think everyone's been cranky because they feel rushed in the morning and you feel that getting an early start will help the day go more smoothly. They probably won't agree with you, but explaining why you feel this way will help will clarify things in your own mind and might help them become more self aware. I think it will make you feel like less of an ogre as well.

I think you've articulated your feelings pretty well. Maybe understanding that gut reaction will help you stick with it until your gut is satisfied either way about the sleep situation.

By the way, I can definitely relate to the "behind all day" feeling. I've found that leaving dirty dishes in the sink when I go to bed makes me feel behind all day. Once I discovered the connection, it gave me the extra incentive to be sure the kitchen was clean before I went to bed, even if I was tired. And when I explained the situation to Brian, he made the extra effort to help out in that area as well. And it all started out with a gut feeling---wondering why it bothered me so much when Brian left a few dirty pots in the sink after he had finished loading and running the dishwasher. =)