Kids are people too

Kids are people too! Maybe this seems like it goes without saying. I think it is worth exploring a little, because when I say “people” I mean independent souls and bodies who should be thought of and respected as such. Kids are their own people and I want to be conscious of this in the way that I treat them and think about their feelings, actions and desires.ย I believe that each person is an individual with unique personality traits and needs that have been with us since we were born. Each of us have been shaped by our families in certain ways, but inside, we are who we are, totally separate from them. The same goes for our children.

Long before I had kids, a Rabbi and teacher of mine told me that our children have all of our good and bad midot (attributes). He was saying that if we pay attention, our children can help reveal all of our own positive and negative traits through their own behavior. When I see something in my children that frustrates or even infuriates me, it is most likely something I dislike about myself as well. If I see something beautiful and praiseworthy in my children, my first thought is not that I have that characteristic too, but maybe it should be.

I do my best to respect these two people
I do my best to respect these two people

Figuring out how to treat my children is a complicated dance with endless possibilities. In any relationship I truly believe that acknowledging how my own thoughts and emotions are coloring my experiences is the first step to my own best path. With my kids this is extremely important. When interactions with my children bring up uncomfortable, angry, sad feelings in me, it is so easy to say to myself, “Why are they acting this way?” or “They should be doing ____!” ย There is not always an answer to the first question and the second statement is the ultimate recipe for futile frustration. So what can I do? I don’t know! I’m not sure, I try to take it on a case by case basis. The first thing I try to say to myself when I feel really upset with my kids is “this is not an emergency” (as long as it isn’t an actual emergency!). I think I read this on Dr. Laura Markham’s blog. It helps me create a little space between my impulse and my reaction. Sometimes my frustration is about something that really is inappropriate and I think it is okay to express that. As I said in my previous post, I don’t want to pressure myself to try to move through life with a constant smile. I get angry sometimes, and sometimes for good reason. What I’m trying to avoid are reactions disproportionate to the action. These visceral reactions are not pleasant, I think everyone has experienced this sensation, when we are taken back to another place and time by an experience in the present. It is not a pleasant feeling!

We all have buttons and it is our kids’ job to push them. Why else would they be so good at it!? I believe that if I pay attention, my children will reveal all of my own best and worst traits and give me endless opportunities to heal. This takes time, or at least I try to remind myself of that even when I feel like I’ve taken the “low road.” I try to remember that it is never too late to “connect with respect,” and say “I’m sorry” to my child or my husband or myself. My hope is to then to see patterns in damaging thoughts and actions and begin to change them.

On the subject of difficult situtions, tonight was Mo’s late night at work so I had to put both kids to bed by myself. Our usual bedtime routine is bath for both of them, books for Ben with Mo and nursing for Ella with me, then lights out. I stay with Ella and Mo stays with Ben until they fall asleep. You can imagine why one person trying to fulfill this routine is literally impossible. It started out fine but I was stressed about getting them to sleep by a certain time and by an hour after bedtime they were both still awake. After I thought he was asleep Ben came out and I totally snapped and yelled at him to get back in bed. I saw that I really startled him by yelling, he literally jumped. I felt terrible! ย I went into his room told him firmly to get bed and turn out the light. Then my frustration started to fade and I and asked him if I had scared him when I yelled. He said “Yes, did you see me jump?” I said “I did and I’m so sorry, I’m having a really hard night and it’s an hour past your bedtimes. I’m sorry I yelled and I’m sorry I scared you. It’s not nice to be scared right before bedtime.” He said, “Right, because it gives you the creeps.” We talked for another minute until I felt like we had reconnected and that he would be able to go to bed without feeling upset. I stayed in his room holding Ella for a few minutes but left before he was asleep. It wasn’t a total disaster but they both finally fell asleep over an hour after their normal bedtimes so we are going to have to figure out a much less stressful plan for the nights when Mo isn’t home for bed time. I don’t want to give up laying with either one of them because it is one of the sweetest times of day for me and for Mo to take a minute and have quiet time with the kids. If you have any suggestions for how to change up the bedtime routine for the nights when we aren’t both home I would love to hear them. I would prefer not to have to give up the routine we have now for the rest of the nights, but I’m open to changes.

Alright, I’m not sure how much of this made sense because it has been a really long day! I hope you will take a minute to share your ideas about what I said.


10 thoughts on “Kids are people too

  1. Again, I’m in your same boat. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for this introspection– it will give me something to work with next time. As for the bedtime, I think maybe just for that one night, you need a special routine. With the girls, Alice is easier to put to sleep so I get her to bed first (though to be fair, she usually falls asleep in the living room on her own before “official bedtime” and I just transfer her.) Stella takes forever to get to sleep, so after Alice is asleep, I lay down in her bed with her until I feel like I can leave her to go to sleep. So, maybe you can try just one at a time bedtime, to make your life easier.

    1. Thanks Nancy! It means a lot to me not to feel alone in this. I have in mind that I want to make it a special routine, and that I would like to put them to bed one at a time. I will have to give some thought to how to arrange it. I think I’m the one who needs the consistency of the evening routine the most! Changing it really throws me off.

  2. We have similar bedtime routines and on nights that I have to do it alone, I put both kids to bed in our room. Would that work for you?

    I’m glad you and Ben sorted things out before bed. I snapped at Uly today because he was asking a billion questions while I was trying to look up directions on my phone before pulling out of the driveway but after seeing how upset it made him, I took a minute to get out of the car and apologize, and it made us both feel a lot better. They are people!

    1. Thanks Anna-Liisa! I have tried putting them both down in our bed but they love each other so much they won’t go to sleep if they see each other! They just cuddle and laugh. Sooo cute but sooo not sleeping. I think it could work if I started bedtime much earlier to allow for lots of cuddling and hanging out in bed before I feel the time crunch for them to be asleep. The 5am wake ups are stressing me out! Thanks for taking the time to comment, it’s great to feel like there is someone around here who is on the same page!

  3. Great blog. Very interesting about the part about looking at your kids best and worst actions and sort of taking a mirror to look back at yourself. I always try to be so conscious of what and how I say things around my children. Manners was always a big thing in my house and I notice Molly not even 3yet always says please and thank you….I just hope this sticks around! Haha. As for the night time issue, I too was going to suggest something “special” . My husband works for the township, so whenever it snows he is out plowing and me being a teacher I almost always have off the next day, or call out if its bad enough but no snow day. I started a little tradition with the Molly since she is older that on those kinds of nights when daddy works, she gets to sleep in bed with me. I spend my special time with the baby and then put her in her crib as usual, and let Molly watch a movie in my bed while I do that. Then I force myself to leave the dishes, laundry, and mess and hop in bed with her to get nice snuggle time. It’s nice to stop myself and relax with her, give her all my attention, and sometimes we just lay there and talk. Since your kids are as far apart as they are you could try doing something like this for now, then adjusting it as the baby gets old enough to realize, and by then maybe Ben won’t want to sleep in there or you can all snuggle together and give hubby the couch that night. Joe usually gets “couched” when we have our “girl sleepovers” as Molly calls it. I too am a scheduled and routine person but try to be out of the box a little one night a week, you’ll be amazed at how it may end up as bens favorite childhood memory. Good luck!

    1. Thanks Meghann! I really appreciate your ideas. The baby sleeps in our bed so I have to figure out how to arrange everyone. I might try putting on a video for Ben while I put the baby to sleep and then laying down with him in his bed. Or maybe I could bring him into our bed once the baby is sleeping. I feel like bedtime is one of those things that is challenging for everyone, parents are tired, kids don’t usually want to go to sleep but are tired also, parents have all sorts of stuff on the to do list for after the kids are sleeping…I will just have to focus on “snuggle time” do my best and take it as it comes, as always! Thanks again for your comment ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Caitlin, I love your blog. You’re doing a great job and I love that your writing is intriguing, thought provoking and spoken from the heart. I typically don’t offer too much parenting advice over the world-wide-intraweb (hahaha) it just seems like it can cause be taken out of context too easily and cause too much friction, so typically when discussing parenting issues it’s among friends in face-to-face conversation that way we know we can call a spade a spade if need be ๐Ÿ™‚ However, I think you have a lovely group of friends and I think the bottom line is that momma needs kids who sleep ๐Ÿ™‚ Perhaps on the nights that Mo has a late night, the kids bath time could be pushed up, 30 or so minutes. When they are finished bathing and pj’s are on, Ben could know that it’s his “special” night and he has the privilege of looking at books, etc. if he’s quiet while you lay Ella down. Then you could go back to him. Obviously, this is an intricate ballet of back and forth. The night Ella screams it’s all thrown out the door! Hopefully, though if you start bath a little bit earlier then the bedtime routine is a little earlier so it won’t be such a late night for them.

    This is the main reason why I don’t like leaving advice…because WHO KNOWS???!!! It might work one night and not the next 3…and then work again the next 2! ๐Ÿ™‚ Just know that it’s not just YOU. I think that’s what is important. We’re all in it. (and my worst trait is yelling….it’s hard. it’s really, really, really hard. My mom was a “yeller” I thought I wouldn’t do it b/c I hated it SO much, but I think it’s what you know. So it’s also what you have to break…every time I hear myself I have to take a step back and regroup. Especially since I have a loud voice to begin with so it’s a very fine line! HAHA!)

    Keep up the amazing WORK, the JOY, the LOVE!

    xoxoxo, Misty

    1. Misty! You are awesome. Thanks for your comment even though it is over the interwebs. I trust that we can be honest with each other. Conscious parenting can be difficult, painful, and so rewarding! Thankfully we aren’t alone and I am so glad when friends reach out to remind me of that. Hugs and kisses to you and yours! xo c

  5. I love your blog and wholeheartedly subscribe to the theory that “kids are people too”. Maybe you can explain your dilemma to Ben and see if he has any suggestions. Let him know that it’s important to you that he is sent to bed feeling loved and that you really cherish your snuggle time together but you don’t know how to get him and his sister to bed at the same time. I don’t know much about kids his age (or any kid that’s not my own) but I’m guessing amongst the silly suggestions there might be something that could actually work. And if he’s helping to create a new routine he might be a more willing participant. Good luck! I think it’s a universal mom truth that we always feel like we need to be in two places at once – sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively.

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