Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mama's Muse ~ The Confessions of A Supermom to Other Supermoms

Here's a 'shout out' to all my fellow 'Supermoms' out there. And, yes, you are a Supermom whether you have one child or, like me, four or more. It isn't how many kids you have that makes you a Supermom. It's what you deal with on top of mom responsibilities, and how you deal with it all, that gives you the title.

Hey, I'm not perfect by any means. I have four children: an ornery 14-year old who seems to have developed tunnel-vision to how she acts/reacts effects the rest of us; a twelve-year old who, although is very sweet and loving most of the time has developed the tween attitude that comes out in stealth mode most of the time then pretends she doesn't know what you're talking about; a ten-year old boy who is incredibly sensitive and still struggling with sensory issues and is the target for all of his sisters; and my eight-year old who has more crazy energy on her own that all four put together. When they are all in the same room, I feel like a referee at a WWF Free For All. The only thing missing is the bell!

Then there's my husband. We'll get to that later.

When my kids were little, I did absolutely everything for them. I had two special needs kids, one with severe allergies and asthma and the youngest was, and still is, a handful. They went everywhere with me, did everything with me and as taxing as it could be, I didn't mind...even on days I could have pulled all my hair out.

But as they got older, and they didn't 'need' me the same way, I instilled independence in each of them, especially since I started my own at-home business I need to direct more attention to. Trust me, it's a lot of work, especially when dealing with a teen who looks at you like you have an IQ of an kumquat when you ask her to put her dishes in the dishwasher.

"We're a team," I keep telling them. "Team isn't defined as 'Mom does everything while we just sit here playing on our various media toys".

The number one piece of advice I can give is to always try to maintain calmness as best as you can. I know it can be tough. I mean there are times I'm sitting here working and the younger two are at each others' throats, the second oldest starts trying to intervene then joins in, and the oldest submerges from her room to say, "Hey, mom. Can you get them to knock it off?"

Sure! Because I'm only sitting here at my computer trying to earn us the grocery money for next week, even though all of you just think I am playing games on here or something, but I'd LOVE to get them to knock it off. This is where a lot of deep breathing usually happens.

In a nutshell, here's how I manage:

~ Remember each kid has his or her own distinct personality and how you deal with each of them has to be at that level. And remember that each of them deals with you a different way too, so be sure to be the one bringing calmness to the plate.

~ Losing it and yelling only raises the tension. We are all human. I have lost it too. But I've always gotten the kids to go to their room, while I calm down, then I go and talk to them. I explain why I got angry, what led up to the situation then invite them to explain to me what happened before the blow up so I could try to help.

~ Praise the heck out of them when they are actually quiet and getting along. When kids hear praise for the good things they do more often, the bad times seem to decrease...somewhat.

~ If they are doing something wrong or against the rules repeatedly, even if you've shown them what you expect (eg: I seriously think my kids and husband are allergic to the dishwasher and dish soap), talk to them about it rather than muttering about it under your breath and doing it yourself. In this house, everyone is responsible to 'scrape and rinse' plates and put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. One of my biggest pet peeves is having dishes piled up in the sink.

~ An add on to the above, is that if even after talking to them they still don't listen, take away something until they do hear you. I actually charged money for awhile to anyone who left lights on, didn't clean up after themselves or otherwise made more work for me. It worked.

~ This one is very important. The spouse ABSOLUTELY has to be on board with you. They may not necessarily understand your rules, or where you're coming from, but they need to have your back. If that doesn't happen, the kids will weasel in and do the 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' thing, and I end up being the bad one because I make the rules and he just goes, "Well, you tell them _____". Well, thank you sweetie, considering this blow up happened because you said, "SURE! Go ahead!" without talking to me first and finding out what led up to me making the rule you're letting them break in the first place.

Aside from trying to find a way to remain as calm as possible, communication is the key to everything. Kids should have a little bit of freedom and wiggle room, but they have to earn it bit by bit. And talking to them about all the why's and because's really helps.

As an end-note, aside from the stuff in my last point, my husband is actually really good with instilling, 'If I can do this, so can you and we don't ask you to do anything we wouldn't do'. Plus he has the same view as we lead by example. If dad is cleaning a pot without dying, they can do it too.

So, there you go fellow 'Supermoms'. Having the title isn't just about all that we do, it's about what we are passing along. Sometimes it may feel like you are on an uphill battle and that nothing is sticking. Then you go upstairs on a work break to see the kids taking the initiative to clean up.

"You were busy, mom. We wanted to surprise you so you wouldn't lose it with all the dishes here."

Thanks. I think.

Dust off that shirt and celebrate your Supermom-ness today. Because they may not say so, but your kids think you are.

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