Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Discovering the Obvious, Part 1

I spend a lot of time nursing. I think I've mentioned that before, right? Since my book supply can't seem to keep up with the time I have to read, I also then, have a lot of time to sit and think. As I sit and ponder about things such as: why some days go better than others, or ways to get done what needs to be done, or what causes figurative dark clouds to hover above my head some days; I feel as though I am discovering things I should have already known. Maybe I did know them, but have never articulated them, or I knew them at one time, but forgot them. Whatever it is, I want to give myself a dope slap upside the head for not thinking of it sooner. Because when I actually think about it, it seems so blindingly obvious that I can't believe I haven't known it all along.

Since I have had more than one of these moments recently, I will share my discoveries with you one at a time, because no one wants to read a 20 paragraph blog post. My first obvious discovery? It is the fact that I don't do transitions well. Usually when discussing transitions it is in regards to helping children navigate them. But I find, even as an adult, that it is very difficult for me to move from one activity to another. Once I'm doing something, I want to keep doing it. I have an 'all or nothing' personality. (Which is a nice way of saying I'm pretty compulsive about whatever activity I'm engaged in.) It's also why, when I have a small chunk of time, I am unlikely to want to start anything, because I know I won't be able to finish it. I believe I end up wasting a lot of time because of this.

But while time management could be a potentially interesting area for discussion, I believe my difficulty in transitioning has greater implications in regards to child rearing. If I am in 'active parenting' mode,that is, being engaged with my children, paying attention to them, or just having them present with me, I am able to be patient with them and (usually) enjoy their presence. I don't have to be actually doing something with them--we can be working in tandem on our own projects--but I have to know they're there. But sometimes I do things without them present. Either they are at someone's house or I have been somewhere alone (it happens), but I find moving from an 'adult only' mode to 'active parenting' mode to be extremely difficult. It is at these times where I find I have the least patience and I get easily irritated that these little creatures are bothering me. Of course if we have been separated, it is precisely at these times that the little ones need my presence the most. I am constantly in awe of J. who is able to manage this type of transition so seemingly effortlessly on a daily basis. When he walks in the door from work, he faces instant parenting. It is not unusual for him to be bombarded by all the children with hugs and the need for them to share, right now, everything that happened in their day.

As a result of my 'discovery', I'm working on two different things. The first is how to prepare myself for the obvious transitions between being away and active parenting. The second is one which I think will make a difference in how my daily life feels. There are some days when I move into 'non-active parenting' mode. Those are the days when I keep sending children to another room, or to another floor, or outside. If I am truthful, I am spending just as much energy to keep the children away from me as I would to find activities for them to do next to me. And because I find it so difficult to move between modes, the day does not continue to improve. In the end, I have spent the same amount of effort, but I end up feeling far worse about myself in the first instance. I need to remember that the small effort to create a positive atmosphere and to remain engaged pays huge dividends in my relationship to my children.

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7 comments:

Jason said...

You describe exactly one of my biggest parenting struggles, which I've always chalked up to my personality type and possibly my ADD - I'd be interested to hear how your efforts in this area go and what ends up working for you.

Carol said...

I think the lightbulb just went on. I have noticed the same thing lately. If I take the little one with me while I'm cleaning a room and engage him it is so much easier than if I put him in another room doing something else. Now to put it in practice more.

Heidi said...

Interesting reflection. With a 2-year-old, it seems I"m always on "active parenting."

Joanne said...

Do you ship to Canada? :) Joanne

Ann said...

Like you, I have a hard time with transitions and stopping in the middle. Sometimes it's just good to be reminded tho so thanks!

mrsbroccoliguy said...

I totally have the same problem with not wanting to start something, knowing I don't have a big enough chunk of time to finish. And so some things just never get done and too often I get to the end of the day feeling I've accomplished nothing. :( On the good days though, I find a way to break tasks down, or come up with mental milestones for the task so I can do a little and feel like it was worth doing. I need to do that more often.

And the transition thing - I totally struggle with that, feeling like I'm forever shooing the kids away and then we both feel bad and really nothing productive comes of it. But also? I'm horrible at sitting and playing - I get SO bored after five minutes of Barbies! I'll have to try doing more of that parallel play/work and see how that goes...

thecurryseven said...

Just to clarify...I don't play. I'm horrible at playing. I'll make crafts, read stories, play board or card games...but no playing. That's why they have brothers and sisters. :-)

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