The morning ritual seemed to run smoothly. The kids ate their breakfast, lunch boxes are prepared, hands washed, and teeth are brushed. Ready to leave the house.
Suddenly. Sam asks his mom if he can wear his flip-flops to school? Thoughtfully she explains her son that it might be a bit cold because of the two meters of snow outside. The situation got out of hand quickly and in a blink of an eye the perfect morning changed into an emotional war zone.
Mom was getting late for work and frustrated about the lack of impact she had on her son. It was not her finest mommy-moment.
“I wonder how Meindert would have dealt with this?” – the mom asked herself.
I feel deeply gratified and humble when parents approach me with their private parenting struggles. Yes, this is an open invitation for questions and struggles: firstname.lastname@example.org and +41 79 788 05 27.
In the heat of the moment I try to forget about learning a lesson or even try to make headway.
Kids are messy! It is their most healthy state of mind.
So, I acknowledge the experience of wearing flip-flops. “Oh men, I also love to wear those summary open flip-flops. I like the feeling the toe thong passing between my first and second toes, don’t you?”
A crucial element in my speech is to leave out the “BUT . . . . . .”
Then I try to connect with my son. Get on my knees, make eye contact and comfort him. To make sure he knows that I am 100% okay with his messy self.
Don’t expect any instant miracles to happen and remember, leave out the “but”.
Only when I feel that he is calming down, I try to redirect his attention. “Look, that is a funny bird sitting on that branch?”. If it doesn’t work, I continue my connection modus. And remember, leave out the “but”.
If he is able to shift his attention, I will give him two options: “Okay, you can make your own choice: do you want to wear your blue hiking boots or the red sneakers?”
If the latter does not restore the peace, I return to my previous mode.
. . . and ehm yes, oh hell yes. When I am not in a good mood it’s hard to stick to the programme. I am still guilty of frequent daddy-bloopers. For me that is okay. Because it is not a sprint. Raising my children is more like running a marathon.