I would say that one of the biggest things that impacts whether I have a good day or a bad day are my expectations for the day. Having realistic expectations does not come naturally to me. I am an idealist. I underestimate the time it takes to do chores, I over estimate how fun things will be and I completely ignore tons of important variables. Yikes!
Having realistic expectations is also one of the biggest adjustments I have had to make as a parent. It’s hard to get used to the fact that it takes an extra hour to get ready to go anywhere. It requires at least one other fully packed bag (besides my purse) with snacks, sippy cups, change of clothes and diapers. And don’t forget to check that bag every single time to make sure that it has diapers and wipes . . . that is a disaster you don’t want to have to deal with in public. Every outing usually requires at least two trips to and from the car to get it loaded and unloaded. Just knowing all this and reminding myself of it every day, makes it much easier. I don’t get frustrated when I have to make that second trip to the car, well, at least most of the time. Throw in a day dreamer and we have some serious “getting out the door” problems! I have to remind little Luke 3-10 times to put his shoes on and he needs at least a 15 minutes warning that we are going somewhere. (This side of his personality is also something I love about him. It’s just harder to appreciate as we are hurrying out the door.)
Our morning routine is another big adjustment I have had to make. Feeding 3 people plus myself (frankly, I forget to eat a lot of the time), packing lunches, getting everyone dressed . . . it’s a lot to do every morning. If I wake up 30 minutes earlier than I think I should (yes, I am still struggling with correct expectations!), I don’t get so frustrated/annoyed and my mornings aren’t so frantic. I’d like to be relaxing on the couch with a cup of coffee and the Today show but I’ll save that for my 40’s or 50’s? Ha!
I’m not the only one who benefits from having realistic expectations. I’m not saying that we don’t have plenty of frantic mornings but it’s much easier on my kids if I don’t have to yell and berate them to eat, get dressed, brush their teeth quick, quick quick, now, now, now. A few years ago I was talking with a friend about disciplining Fleet. I was frustrated because I felt that he was being deliberately disobedient. She said, “Well, what are your expectations? With toddlers, you are doing pretty good if they obey you half of the time.” I was like, “Oh, well in that case, we’re fine.” Fleet’s always been pretty obedient. If we weren’t having a few behavior corrections and a few time outs everyday, it probably means we, the parents, aren’t doing something right. They are kids after all.
They also benefit from knowing what I expect of them when we go to the grocery store, restaurant, anywhere really, but especially places where they have to show some self control. I try to avoid many of these places but I can’t hire a sitter to go to the grocery store and every once in a while we get the wild idea that eating out with 3 kids would be fun. Honestly, everyone has been doing fantastic lately at the grocery store. I have them repeat the rules for the grocery store right before we walk in. If they obey, they get to pick one item each. This keeps them from begging for 100 items. It’s actually pretty cute to watch them debate over Pringles or donuts. I also know that trips to the grocery store take much longer. For the trip to end pleasantly for all, I need to give them plenty of time to pick their item and answer questions on every isle we walk down. What do swedish fish taste like? Are they chewy? Is this gum spicy? Would I like those kinda chips? Is Daddy going to eat all my donuts? . . .yes, buddy, sorry!
I had to take the kids, all three of them to the Apple Store on King Street this week to get my phone screen replaced. I had never been there before. That is one slick place. It was packed the entire time and there were at least 19 employees. The whole experience was very efficient and everyone was very friendly but that is not a place for little kids and babies! It was hard to navigate the stroller through all those super hip people not to mention that I got a few funny looks when I started pulling out sippy cups and fruit snacks. But what’s a mom supposed to do? Sometimes I have to drag these people with me…trust me, I didn’t want them there and they didn’t want to be there either. They behaved really well and I got my screen replaced so mission accomplished. I didn’t have to strangle anyone…just a few whispered threats. When Luke got home yesterday, little Luke said, “We went to the strangest place today, guess what it was called. . . Apple and there weren’t even any apples there.”
With the right expectations, all of these extra tasks and extra time, are no big deal. These little people are my love and my life. Plus they are kids, of course they are going to require big changes. We were having movie night last night and Fleet turned to me and said, “Watch out, you’re about to get snuggled!” Um, yes please!
Right now I am working on my expectations for the coming up school year. It will be the first year that two kids will be up and at school by 7:25am. My dreamer might have some trouble with this and I don’t want to fuss at him every morning. We’ve decided not to do any fall sports for the first time in 3 seasons and I kind of hate this but I think it will be better for us overall. It’s going to be a big adjustment to have 3 kids in 3 different schools and that seems like enough to get used to for now.
Fleet’s first day of 4K. I can’t believe this was 2 years ago.
I’d love to hear from any of you about how you’ve adjusted expectations for whatever reason; kids, sick family members, work schedules, empty nest, anything.
And just for fun . . .