My grandma, who had five children in six years, has always talked to me about not sweating the small stuff. She’s almost 91 and I think this lifelong attitude has helped her not only have a long life but a very happy one, too. She’s told me on occasion, “Don’t worry about the chores, they will wait, patiently.” Or “If it won’t matter in a year, why bother worrying about it?” And “The small stuff, well the small stuff doesn’t really matter and the big stuff, well the big stuff you’ll make time for.” When you have four kids in two years or five kids in six years, the small stuff just kind of fades to the background.
“Don’t worry about the chores, they will wait patiently.” -Grandma T.
A perfect example how I try not to sweat the small stuff is how I don’t fold laundry anymore. If it’s clean, I’m happy. Sorted, even happier. In the drier and clean and dry, that’s okay, too.
The differences in how I’ve started out with the two sets of twins are another example. With the first set, I tried to soothe using anything but bottles and pacifiers. Though later, they needed bottles anyway. With the second set, I started them from day one with pacifiers (loved that decision!) and they never had a bottle in their life! It’s so funny how you can have an idea of how things will go before you have kids and then in reality, you learn how to let go and not sweat the small stuff!
The great outdoors and being outside have always brought me peace but since becoming a parent, it has been even more important. We spend a lot of our day outdoors, no matter the weather, and I have found gardening to be a fun and rewarding way to pass the time when you’re at home, with kids so much. It’s enjoyable, takes your mind off of things, keeps you in the moment and in the end gives you an aesthetically pleasing yard. I like to involve the kids in the gardening when possible! They help dig holes, place the seeds, water, and the most fun part, harvest!
Teaching Kindergarten for five years helped me understand just how important schedules and routines are for young children. I’m not the type that follows the schedule to the minute, it’s more like “ish time” but the routines, especially during transitions like meals and bedtime, and the order that we do everything in is pretty much set in stone. Everyone knows what to expect and when and it helps keep the chaos of our household minimal.
An example of our “Toddler Schedule”. Pictures help them follow along!
I know it makes me sound and feel old and boring, but we would not have a harmonious family if it weren’t for structure, consistency and rules. The kids know what is expected and we try our best to be consistent in our expectations and consequences. When they don’t follow the expectations, there are consequences and that is just a matter of fact. I try my best to keep the emotion out of the discipline and the choice on them while showing I love them. I learned a lot about the Love and Logic Method as an early childhood teacher and I believe this is the best and most kind way to bring structure and discipline to a classroom and to families while still bonding and nurturing the relationship.
We do a lot of assembly line style parenting! 4 bowls at snack time, 4 milks- ready to go and we even bathe them and have them brush teeth together. Sometimes it feels like we have quads!
1 Kindness First- No Hurting Each Other
2 No playing with the doors (a constant problem and tiny fingers)
3 Help with family jobs
4 Listen the first time
These cover almost everything and if they aren’t followed, they get an age appropriate time out (minute/year of age) or we will take away something fun (outside time, a show, books before bed, etc.) We try to save these consequences and use them sparingly. I’m lucky that time out is still so effective for my children but I don’t overuse it.
My Favorite Discipline Strategies:
Love And Logic
Dr. Phelan’s 1,2,3, Magic
I also love to give warnings before most transitions, “We’re going to clean up to go bye-bye in 2 minutes.” Or “Pretty soon, we’re going for a walk, does everyone have their shoes on?” This can really set kids up for success when they know what to expect with transitions.
What are your favorite ways to use positive discipline at home? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
I learned very early on, during my first year of teaching kindergarten, and I’ve never forgotten, how important follow through and consistency are with young kids. They are constantly testing you and that’s their job! They’re wired to see what they can do and what is unacceptable. Consistency is key- if one day you give a 4 minute time out or take away a privelage for certain behavior, then next day they should expect the same reaction. This should be across the board, every time! I know it’s hard to do this, I have trouble for sure! Sometimes I’m more tired or less patient and sometimes I’m feeling like I really don’t care but I know I have to at least try to be consistent.
This is so similar! If you give a warning with a possible consequence, “If you do this again, you’ll have to go inside and miss out.” They will sometimes do the thing again, sometimes to test you, sometimes just because it’s that fun... either way, you HAVE to follow through. I still have to remind myself of this constantly!
Kathleen, M.Ed.-mom of two sets of twins, educator, yoga instructor, nature enthusiast.