SwimWest’s own, Amy Horvath, is this months guest blogger with some parenting tips and a little commiseration on the headaches of parenting:
“The first thing I figured out when my second child was born was that being a mommy to my baby was relatively easy and straightforward compared to parenting my 5 year old. A baby wants to be held, to be fed, kept at a comfortable temperature, have a clean diaper, and, above all else, they want to be loved. I can do that! It’s not complicated. It is demanding, but not hard per se.
As children get older, though, they start to require parenting. It starts small at first, with things like what they can and cannot put into their mouth and where they can and cannot go. For the most part (at least in our house), this meant redirecting and distracting the baby, which is fairly easy with their short attention span and curious nature. Our babies may have not liked when we took something away or moved them away from an area, but in general they moved on quickly to something else. When they try to go back to doing what you just took them away from its understandable because they are just learning. There is no talking back, no attitude and you know that they are not purposely ignoring you. Repeating yourself and remaining consistent is 98 percent of parenting from the very beginning.
For as easy as being a mommy is, parenting is HARD….”Well DUH!” you say. If parenting were easy, everyone would do it. We’d have an overpopulation problem and parents wouldn’t look perpetually tired. Businesses that cater to kids wouldn’t be able to make money off of ‘Parent’s Night Out’, and babysitters would not be getting rich off of parents who are literally going to die inside if they don’t get a night off.
There are some days were I feel like all I do is get frustrated and upset with my 5 year old who is not listening or following directions (among other indiscretions that I don’t even want to talk about because I’ll get stressed out). There are consistent strategies that we use to deal with these issues, but, there are days where I feel like I am talking to myself. On those days it is especially hard to find the good and remember to find time to be her mommy, not just her parent.
There are all kinds of parenting philosophies that suggest that you focus on the good and go out of your way to praise your children when they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. I agree 100 percent with this philosophy and was able to manage it when she was younger. Now, a lot of times I feel like a boxer on the ropes desperately trying to duck and weave as she throws punch after punch of attitude, back talk and general unpleasantness.
Enter in last summer, when, for the first time, our daughter went to Swim & Gym Camp for a few weeks. One of the first days she was there, she got a ‘Caught Being Good’ card. One of her camp counselors had noticed that when she was told to get dressed after swimming she did it quickly and quietly, so they gave her a ‘Caught Being Good’ card. When I went to pick her up from camp that day she ran up to me to show me her card. She was extremely proud and excited and told me if she could get four more than she would get to pick out a prize. I decided to help her celebrate with some ice cream and we called everyone we knew to tell them what had happened.
The next week we started a ‘Puffball Jar’ at home. If we catch her doing something good like following a direction the first time, doing something without being asked, doing something she doesn’t want to do without whining or complaining, etc. then in goes a puffball. When she fills up the jar, she gets to pick a fun activity for the whole family to do together. Her current go to activity is pizza and a movie at home. It hasn’t fixed our behavior issues completely, but it has helped my husband and I take the time to let her know that we are noticing the good, not just the bad, and it has motivated her to get attention in positive ways instead of by any means necessary.”