I recently was in conversation with a woman who gave birth to her first child in July. She said she used to be annoyed by her friends with children who had to decline invitations to socialize when they interfered with naps or the 5 o’clock dinner time. She felt that they were letting the children run their lives. But now, she’s struggling in the way all new mothers do. How do I create the space for myself to heal and rejuvenate, with a child and business to nurture?
Well, I am similarly averse to letting children rule over their parents. But being a parent myself, I have 5 years experience knowing that routine for a child is necessary for ease. It is with the routine, the stage I set, the expectations I present, that I stay in the driver’s seat with my children.
It is one of those paradoxes. By giving up the spontaneous pre-baby lifestyle, you give your child a predictable set of experiences to make the big world seem safe. With regular meals, outdoor play and rest, you help nurture strength in the kidney-adrenal system (and yours too). This child is more likely to be agreeable and content. Feed dinner by 5, they’ll be in bed by 7pm. Then you get to have your self-care time until 10 pm, when it is best to curl up and fall asleep. So yes, the children rule your life in the sense that you’ll be cooking dinner at 4:30-5 pm EVERY DAY. But the children understand you’re in charge then, because you are always one step ahead. (This is my goal, at least)
One other golden tip I have learned: If you find yourself in a battle of wills with your child, understand that the will of a child is usually very strong. In fact, this is their work in the preschool years – to strengthen it. Instead of using words, take your child cheerfully by the hand and say ” It is time now for …… “ This approach has yet to fail me.