Do you ever spout off a bunch of instructions or explanations to your toddler which you quickly realise you need to listen to yourself?
Sometimes I wonder why my toddler or preschooler is so naughty, inquisitive, or just challenging, only to realise they’re basically modeling my behaviour.
It turns out most of the advice I have for my kids, is really advice I need to hear. Here are 10 things I say to my children that I really need to say to myself:
#1: Put On Real Pants!
My boys are obsessed with sweat pants and basketball shorts. I get wanting to be comfortable but sometimes I just want them to wear jeans or khakis, especially for an outing.
However, 90% of the time I look down and notice I’m wearing yoga pants, or even yoga leggings. Do as I say, not as I do, really doesn’t work as easily as we’d like.
#2: Clean Up After Each Activity
If you’re done with the race cars, put them away before going to ride your bike – I easily say that a million times a day. Is it really that difficult to just clean up before moving onto the next activity?
And then I look at my laptop and see 50 tabs open on my browser, five unsaved documents (thank you auto-save), and Skype blinking back at me despite not using it for months. Let’s not forget about that half cup of lukewarm coffee sitting on the table.
#3: Go Play Outside
Get some sunshine and exercise, you will feel much better, the TV will rot your brain – I utter these words nearly every day of summer break.
Of course, if I actually followed them outside and got active perhaps I’d feel less stressed and my insomnia wouldn’t be so bad.
#4: You’ve Had Too Many Carbs Today, Grab Some Veggies
Kids love carbohydrate foods, and if we’re honest, parents find them easy. Crackers, chips, sandwiches, they can be easily served and keep children full for a long time. However, we know kids need to have a balanced diet with loads of whole foods to really be healthy.
As soon as I say this, I often realise my breakfast was half a piece of toast and lunch was a cookie I found in the cupboard because I was too tired to make something healthy for myself (and the irony of that, as a real meal would give me energy!).
#5: Leave My Phone Alone!
I can’t be the only parent who spends half her day trying to manage little ones who are keen to snag my smartphone.
The moment I tell them to drop my phone, I pick it up. Perhaps I need to learn to leave my phone alone too.
#6: Be Nice To Your Brother
Sibling squabbles, so many sibling squabbles. It’s par for the course, but I just want them to be close and to not hurt each other’s feelings.
If I remember the many things I’ve asked of them all day, I realise how many times I forgot to say please, or thank you. I think about how many times I've thrown out short commands without stopping to really interact and cherish them. Sometimes I really need to be nicer.
#7: Give Daddy A Hug, Say Goodbye
I want my children to learn to greet and say goodbye in a loving way to those they care about. I certainly don’t want to force them into physical contact, but I do want to encourage them to show love and care for people in ways they’re comfortable with.
But I also remember that many days I simply say “hey” and “see you later” or an autopilot “love ya!” when my spouse gets home or leaves. Leading by example is far more effective than simply telling them what they should do.
#8: I’m Counting To Three And You Better…
Often the counting thing starts out well-meaning. It can help with transitioning, giving a child a timeframe they understand, or giving them some more time to make a better choice.
One thing I really need to do if I’m counting is to actually turn those counts into nice, long, deep breaths. This helps me to stay calm regardless of how effective my counting is getting out the door or giving them time to make a better choice.
#9: Don’t Run While You’re Chewing, Sit Until You’re Done Eating
Children have a way of tripping, choking, etc. when they try to do too much at one time. As it turns out, so can adults, but we like to pretend we’re exempt from distraction. After all, we can cook a meal, juggling a toddler and answer the phone all at the same time.
However, sometimes our overconfidence leads to us taking unnecessary risks like eating while we drive. We only have so much time some days, but this is probably a reminder I need, don’t eat while you’re driving.
#10: It’s Okay To Ask For Help
Sometimes my children need a reminder or a confidence boost, that they’re able to handle a task on their own. Other times they need a reminder that it’s okay to need help (like when you’re five minutes late and your toddler is still trying to buckle his own seat).
I often try to juggle everything on my own and quickly forget that sometimes it’s okay to ask for help.
So often we want our children to make good choices, be their healthiest, and find ways to be happy and supported. Yet often we fail to follow our own advice and be a good example.
Perhaps I need to pause before speaking and offer more grace as they’re often copying me. And I bet, if I took my own advice, I’d be much happier and healthier too!