When To Introduce Him To Your Kids
How to make mornings with your kids not suck holy hell
OK, so you’ve met a new guy (because you are all that and a bag o’ chips) and it seems like this new relationship might actually be going well. Your next big question is, how do you know when to introduce him to your kids?
At some point it will be nice to ease into a more relaxed kind of dating where you have dinner at home and watch a movie, rather than going out all the time.
While there is a delicate balance in all of this, it’s actually more simple than some would have you think.
Let’s start with what doesn’t work, and while these may seem super-basic, you’d be surprised at what I’ve seen...
The Long Game
I was working with a client this week who is going back to work after a year-long maternity leave (oh, Canada!), and, of course, her biggest concern was how the hell she was going to get herself and her two small children up and out the door by 7:15am without losing her ever-loving shit—every single morning.
This particular client works really well with well-laid-out strategies, so she was looking for a clear-cut action plan she could implement that would have her mornings run like a well-oiled machine.
What we came up with applies across the board for many moms, working or not.
Setting Boundaries With Your Kids
Yesterday was a shit-show with my kid. Epic fucking shit-show.
My son is in the throes of pre-teen hormonal craziness; let’s start there. Let’s add that I am totally perimenopausal and my patience is at an all-time low. It’s like a permanent state of PMS up in this jayjay, and the combo is, well, let’s just say my son and I are in a hormone-infused horn-locking dance that would put bighorn sheep to shame.
It’s not cute.
Yesterday we had a weird amount of time to kill after school before going to a doctor’s appointment. We opted to come home for 15 minutes, have a snack, and then turn around and go back out, rather than try to kill 30 minutes in the no-man’s land of the doctor’s office (and with a kid like mine, you don’t want to try to kill 30 minutes somewhere that doesn’t have a climbing structure, a trampoline, or wifi).
So we go home, snuggle with the puppies, and I offer to make my son his absolute favorite snack. Which involves cooking.
While I make the snack, he disappears, and within minutes I hear the TV on.
I Took Away the Xbox and Now He is Listening
There is a common misconception that boundaries are all about the other person.
Not taking responsibility for setting our own boundaries, and then blaming other people for crossing them is kind of like building a house out in the forest and expecting the deer and bears to build the fence around your property for you. It’s kind of insane.
Believe me, I’d know. I did it for years.
Admittedly, there are two types of people in the world: those who have a healthy respect for other people’s space and limitations, and those who see other people’s boundaries as goals.
Our kids are usually the latter, and it’s with them that we have to work extra hard on setting (and maintaining) healthy boundaries.
We Have To Do Better
When my son was a baby, he'd wake up and cry in his crib, and I'd always go in. 3 or 4 times a night, until he was 11 months old. I had to go in. His wails were like something out of "The Exorcist." I was sure the walls were bleeding and the floor boards were popping up. Clearly there was something really wrong this time.
Needless to say, there wasn't. (You know this story as well as I do.)
Eventually we hired a specialist who talked us through letting him cry it out. I protested, but when we talked through what happened each night, she asked me some very pointed questions:
"How badly does he scream?
"So badly I'm sure he's dying!!"
"How long does he scream?"
"Until I come in."
"And if you don't go in?"
"He screams louder!!!"
"Until I go in..."
Five Reasons You Need to Work On Yourself to Become a Better Mom
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know that I never bring the news or politics into my business.
If we’re friends on Facebook, you know me to be very vocal and unafraid of giving a damn what anyone thinks. You know my political affiliation, my stance on a lot of issues, and mostly you know that I am not afraid to speak my mind, fully self-expressed, whether it be outrage, sadness or pride.
I am a fully self-expressed woman, and that’s what I teach other women—to own their own power, to find and use their words and voices in ways that matter and in ways that model to their children—sons and daughters alike—what a fully self-expressed, self-possessed, confident woman actually is.
Which makes it slightly ironic that in my business I have fallen short of doing that myself.
How To Talk to Your Kids So They Will Listen
I'll say it till I'm blue in the face, but if you want to the best mom you can possibly be, you really do need to work on yourself first.
Here are five reasons I think this is vitally important:
- Children’s success and happiness in life is most strongly correlated to their emotional intelligence. In a study published in 2011, children were followed for 50 years, from childhood well into adulthood, and it was scientifically proven that their success and happiness in adulthood was directly related to their levels of emotional intelligence. Sure, they could have learned that in adulthood, but how much cooler would it be if your kids learned that from you? Working on yourself in specific and strategic ways—increasing empathy and objectivity, becoming better able to notice and name your emotions so they don't take over in tough times—boosts emotional intelligence. If you do this work here and now, your kids are raised with it. If you don't, they're raised in the shitstorm of your past. You have a very real choice before you...
How I Got My Kid to Clean The Toilets
There is a popular saying that states: “The meaning of any piece of communication is the response you get.”
What this means is that you are actually responsible for being sure that your communication lands the way you intended it to, and if it doesn’t, you are also responsible for adjusting your communication to be sure that it does.
Including with your kids.
Here’s how things usually go:
Mom, calling from the other room, or peeking around the doorway: "Come to dinner," "Please get ready for bed," "Get your shoes on,” “Brush your teeth.”
10 minutes later mom comes back in to find kid still on iPad/Xbox/Legos/book…
Mom loses shit.
Here’s where the communication breakdown occurs:
I was in a bad mood. Capital F Foul. It was Sunday, late afternoon, and it had been a long weekend. That morning we'd gotten up early to go to a pumpkin festival at a farm over an hour away. I'd had to leave the farm early to drive an hour back to a work meeting, then 45 minutes home from that to meet my son in a parking lot at Michael's where he was with friends buying crafts for their Historical Pumpkin class project (please don't ask) and by the time we got home I was D.O.N.E.
But the house was an absolute mess. Dishes piled up in the sink, dog hair sprinkled throughout the house, laundry piled up, and dirty, filthy toilets (why can't boys pee IN the goddam toilet?). So there was work to be done before I could feel remotely good about relaxing.
Exasperated by what I was facing when I was already exhausted, I told my son to clean up his Legos in the playroom while I started on the dishes.
"Mommy will you help me?" he whined. (He is a class-A whiner.)