Tuesday, May 31, 2011

the parroting of parenting

I love, love, love my lads. Adore them even.

But just not last week.

In fact, in my five years of parenting bliss, last week was my least memorable. And I knew it was bad before my husband said, "Babe, you usually love being a mum, but you're just not enjoying it right now."

He was sooo right. He didn't even need to say it. Because I had been my own reality check.

You see, I'd been listening to the voice that was coming out of my mouth and cringing at what was being said over and over again.

"Stop that!"

"Put that down!"

"Put that back!"

"Don't touch my stuff!"

"If I have to ask you again..."

Seriously. I was The Fish Wife. And then some.

And this was the moment where I realised that I'd stopped talking with my children and started barking orders at them. Just telling them what to do all the time. Oh wait. Hang on. Is that only me?

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me that it wasn't.

She said, "There are days when I put the kids into bed and realise that I haven't had one conversation with them."

Well, that was me last week.

I blamed the crazyness of week, the long work hours, my stress levels, and the fact that I was a bit tired too. Perhaps my expectations were a little high? Perhaps there was too much on? Perhaps they were being their active little selves, but I was not my usual tolerant self?

Perhaps all of those things. But the fact was, it had to change. I couldn't not enjoy my kids.

So, that night I went to bed right after the lads did. At 7:30pm. I read for an hour and then turned out the lights. The next day, things went a bit more smoothly, but still there was a bit of barking. Less animated I must confess (I'd said to myself there would be no more ordering from me). I spent more time with them, and made sure that there was a bit of positive attention to balance out all that negative stuff.

Another early night. And the next day was even better.

By the end of the weekend (and four more early nights), I must say the parroting has just about disappeared. And I made a bit of a revelation. The kids haven't behaved any differently. In fact, they're still up to their eyebrows in curiosity and exploring.

It's me that's changed.

I've re-prioritised my day. I've planned more play during the day. I've had more sleep. More relaxing down time. There were more cuddles. I've even looked at what I'm currently doing and working out what isn't necessary.

And I'm on my way to being less of a parrot, and more of a mother.

Do you have days where your parenting is more like parroting? How do you make it better?


  1. Oh gosh thanks for your post I really needed to hear that today. I feel like I've been stuck in parrot mode for about a month. My excuse is being in constant pain and being mentally and physically exhausted being a single Mum. But no more excuses. Thanks for the ahuh moment I needed xx

  2. I think I was perenially tired when my kids were young..it's so hard not to be cranky when you're tired! You have done so well to turn things around.

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  4. I LOVE your post, Kymmie, just fabulous. I think we can all be like this at times, sometimes a break in the pattern, a break from the routine (or just a break, perhaps??) is what we need to get back to being less of a parrot. I love your honesty, i think reading posts like this is what makes the parenting business a little easier. Knowing we are not alone! And, that ultimately, most of us truly want to to do the right thing by our kids, we just need a little help with it sometimes. So thanks for your help!

    Gill xo

  5. I absolutely love this post. Life has been SO hectic here and I found myself even doing the same...and seeing a change in my daughter as a result. I plan on recharging the batteries and refocusing on my job as a mama. Thanks for allowing me to relate and reposition. X

  6. You're a wise woman Kymmie... one who can recognise the problem and take steps to fix it. Lovely that all is back on track. gxo

  7. Great post. We've had some tough days recently: I'm sure the boys haven't changed, it's me that's less tolerant. And it doesn't sit well with me. I might follow your lead. Thanks!

  8. Great post Kym and such wise words and advice!!
    I too have been guilty of this at different times throughout my mothering years and sometimes it can become so habitual that I have done it without even realising. It's when I have heard my children parroting me that I have a huge wake up call.
    Good on you for making small changes..they really are very impacting.

  9. I think we have been living the same life ... so we now have limited tv, more family playtime, more playdates, more fun activities and it works - I am happier and the kids are happier. Now if only I could get them to sleep through the night - then I wouldnt wake quite so grumpy!
    I think you are an ace mum Kymmie and I have no doubt that your kids think that too!!!

  10. I think that's when we need to take ourselves to the movies with a girlfriend. Where you don't have to talk, you get to zone out from life for a little, without little people interupting and then you feel more equipped to battle the drama when you return, a little refreshed and level headed.

  11. Sometimes social media creeps into my life too much and this happens. I have had to really make an effort not to be on twitter through the day so much,I do a morning flick, a lunch time one,and then leave it til night.

  12. I guess it is really something that every Mom experiences. We all yell and feel so guilty afterwards. It's good that you're discovering new ways to deal with it. When I go through tough times myself, I try to snap out of it as fast as I could because I really believe in the saying that goes "When Mom is happy, everybody is happy". A big hug to you, Kym,

  13. I have more of these moments/days than I should. Stress at work and having a hubby who gets home after the dinner/bath routine is done every night just in time for the bed routine doesn't help either.

    I find turning the radio off and talking to the kids on the way home from daycare helps. But the best reset is to have a girls night out reguarly. I love my mothers group - we all know when things are getting tough for one or more of us and we organise a night out. Works wonders!!

  14. I try so hard for it not to be like this but sometimes it just is and out comes the fish wife! Don't be too hard on yourself. Sleep is the thing that gets it all back in order for me too. Have a great week :)

  15. Every mum can relate to this and my best recipe is sleep, as much as you can get (but you already know that).

  16. Yes! i had a day just like that today and you have just been my reality check! thank you for sharing such a great post. Will be more Mother tomorrow!
    Hope you have a good week! x

  17. Haha! Tiredness is the enemy of parenting! If only those little ones realised that if they slept through the night the next day would be better for them!

  18. Yes Kymmie! I have the same revelation regularly and each time I do, I physically stop myself and breathe. I hate who I become when I am bossing the boys around. I can even hear myself, like an out of body experience. I know that's not the kind of Mama I want to be.
    You're a clever gal sorting out how to make good though. I have to say my 2 big ones, are getting enough sleep AND spending less time doing unnecessary things. Like your boys, my two are a bundle of energy every waking moment. But when I'm organised and well rested, their rapscallion ways don't even phase me! Hope tomorrow is even better for your household :o) xo

  19. I feel like that quite often recent days. I was working on my MA thesis, opening my online shop in Polish, working on everyday basis, attending school on weekends and doing all that homework as my hubby is from Chechnya and he does not do that stuff...
    Two days ago I could see the fear in eyes of my younger son's eyes after I almost yealed at him to step back; I was taking pics of the stuff I am selling. He looked at me like I would be a monster and started to cry... I made me stop. I mean it's a process... Sleep is important. Proper food is important. But kids are the most important :-)
    Anyway, thank you for your story... It made me less guilty but also more aware of what being a mother means :-)

  20. I so know EXACTLY how you feel. Some days after the kids are asleep I want to wake them up again just to make up for the grumpy mole I'd been to them that day!

    Here's to not sweating the small stuff xx

  21. It is amazing how our children take their cues from our own mood. I think we all have days and weeks that we grimace at when we reflect back upon our own parenting efforts! Good on you for getting making some changes, I really need to head to bed early tonight!

  22. Great post. I have been the grumpy Mum far too often for not just the last week, but the last year! Thanks to some changes in our life this is happening less and less which I am so so grateful for! Nothing worse than being hard on the kids when really they are just being kids and we need to get some more sleep (or in my case some 'me' time and some extra help!)

  23. Oh I have days where I don't just feel like I haven't had a conversation, more that I just haven't stopped talking AT them. So tiring sometimes. Glad to hear you've taken some steps to wind it down a bit :-)

  24. Oh Kym. Yep, been there, trying to drag myself back out. Thanks.


Thank you for your thoughtful and positive words and taking the time to comment. Love Kymmie. xx