Given the fact that my kids don't currently see me as a 'happy mom' my knickers are in a real twist over that. That is the driving force behind my resolutions for the new year kick-off in the month of January and the fact that I want my kids to feel happy themselves. Now, I have no control over anybody but myself, but as the woman at the head of the household, I can be an example and use specific methods, set up certain parameters and steer my home in a direction that will help my kids feel safe, loved and happy. That's what I want at home.
I took a good look at how I am currently managing my household and identified the issues that I was saddened and disappointed by:
1) Blended family; too much contention and strife
2) Troubles with Preston's ADHD - ongoing
3) Not taking the time to do what is important to me
4) Every day gets away from me and am often frustrated, stressed
5) Not following my instincts
I then did some thinking as to what I DID want to be happening in my home:
1) Happier Me
2) Happier Husband
3) Happier Family
4) Happier Home
I then decided on a course of action, did up some charts and set my sight on the prize and repeat to myself often, "It's do or die time folks!" Yes, it is in quotations because I say it aloud. It's incredibly empowering to hear yourself fighting for what you want. Honestly. Take charge!
I then broke down my goals into the following categories (in no particular order):
4) Family Life - Routine, Predictability
5) Parenting - Blended family, ADHD
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be breaking down each one of these sections and what I have implemented to improve the atmosphere in our home and our interpersonal relationships. In the last two weeks since I changed-up a few things, I'm already impressed with the direction our home is headed.
I decided to first start with myself and my husband. This is a second marriage for both of us with a yours, mine and ours. This has proven exceedingly challenging and I understand why the odds are against us in relation to a lasting marriage. But, I do believe that we can do it. We decided to wipe the board clean and adopted the following rules:
1) Any issues over 24 hours is 'garbage' and has already been 'taken out.' The moment is now - in the present. Focusing on the past or future leaves no time for the now. There is no way possible to get around imperfection; it is inevitable that we will handle situations wrong and make poor choices. When I find myself frustrated with my kids or husband I remind myself, out loud, "They're just as imperfect as I am and thank goodness they forgive me the same way I will forgive them. " This has been very centering and humbling for me as I quickly reflect on my own imperfections and how grateful I am for forgiveness and the ability to learn from my mistakes. I will have the same conversations again and again and again with my kids. I will consequence appropriately and drop the, "How many times do we have to go over this?" How many times I wonder does the big guy upstairs say the same of me?
2) You parent yours and I will parent mine. This gets tricky because I am home more than my husband is. So, I simply time-out to let the kids chill out or consequence appropriately for the time being when there is an issue and I'm the parent-on-deck. I then report to my husband to manage any further concerns or consequences. Our main goal here is to build our relationship and trust with our step-kids. This is challenging as we often see things differently as far as how to discipline and what should be disciplined but as our values are on the same page, this is simply where we learn to trust the other parent. The other key component for me has been to just let it go. I will be the one ultimately to answer to how I raised my son and my husband will be the one to answer to how he raised his son. Strong discipline from the step-parent only seems to create problems and dissolve the relationship; you simply have to let it go to a large degree.
3) Take time out as parents. I have structured our evenings so that the kids are in bed by a certain time and the house is picked up before they head to bed. This leaves some time to spend with my spouse and to also get to bed early. Eight hours of sleep is key to one's physical and emotional strength and health. I've also put on the calendar a date night every Friday or Saturday night.
4) Serve the other person (not as a maid, but more along the lines of doing little things for them). It is so easy to get caught up in keeping track of what you do and what your spouse does; there will always be discrepancies in who is carrying more weight - so what's the point? It is also so easy to get trapped in to looking at the negatives. When you are looking for them, you will find them. Focus on the positives. Let the little things roll off your back and find ways to serve your spouse and family and enjoy doing it. I took a couple minutes last night to scatter a few love notes for my husband to find as he left for work before I was up. I know he appreciates it and it was fun to be clever. It also increases my love for him. Funny how that works.
If your marriage isn't in the right place, your family will suffer; this is why your relationship is most important and has to come first. It is so important to put effort into our marriage each day and keep one-eye closed. Focus on the positive and good and write down what you are grateful for each day, including what you love about your spouse, your kids. Anything worthwhile takes work, and at times more work than usual. That's okay. Employ and enjoy.