A couple weeks ago we had a playdate with some friends. As five of our kids ran back and forth between two bedrooms and got busy pulling every toy in the house into the play room, my two friends and I sat and chatted.
After a while – in the middle of a conversation – my three-year-old Annalyn interrupted, demanding my attention and then requiring my direction. When she didn’t obey right away, I snapped at her and sent her to sit on the steps for a time out.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed her inching up the stairs while staring me down with all the attitude a three-going-on-thirteen-year-old can manage. “Get down here right now!” I hollered.
Not once did I get up off the couch and go to her. Not until it was time to pull her into a bedroom and have a talk about her misbehavior.
As I sat back down and resumed my conversation with my friends, I wasn’t embarrassed that they’d seen my child act up. And I wasn’t worried about their reaction to my talk with her. But I did realize that the whole problem could have been avoided if I’d just gotten off the couch.
I’ve read all the articles. I know the benefit of getting on her level and talking in a firm but gentle voice. But here’s the thing: I’m lazy.
Left to my own devices, instincts and general nature, I will sit on the couch for hours on end. Day after day. For-ev-er. And not only is that bad for my desire to fit into my jeans, but it’s also bad for my desire to be a good mom.
Sometimes I’m literally sitting on the sidelines, hollering down the hall while holding down a corner of my couch. But other times, I’m with Annalyn but not really with her. I’m reading a magazine during lunch instead of chatting with her, I’m sneaking peeks at my e-mail while she’s “reading” me a story, and I’m kidding myself that two hours of TV and 15 minutes of playtime outside is good enough.
Either way, it’s no good. And I’ve got to do better.
After all, I’ve seen what happens when you space out around that kid. If you’re my husband, you end up wearing a purple tiara and agreeing that yes, he is a pretty, pretty princess.
A few ideas I’ve had to curb my laziness:
- Take Annalyn to the park for an hour after my aerobics class on Mondays and Fridays. After all, I’ll already be sweaty.
- Do a counting or ABC worksheet after lunch every day (while I wait for her to need to go potty one more time before naptime).
- Limit morning TV time to an hour – instead of letting it stretch into two.
- Make a list of summer activities to accomplish before Labor Day, ala Meg Duerksen.
I often have great intentions and, um, less-than-great follow-through. But yesterday we made play-dough, we had a princess tea party and I got down on the floor with her to play. Instead of staying up on the couch. Which is what I prefer.
We may have still played a 15-minute round of The Sleep Game (where she pretends to be my mommy and tucks me in for a nap). But come on! That’s a hard habit to break.
Do you ever struggle with parenting from the couch? How do you break out of that parenting rut?