Please welcome Charity Hawkins who is guest posting for us today. Charity Hawkins is a pen name, but the real author lives, writes, homeschools, and makes snow ice cream with her three children in Oklahoma.
If you give a mom a recipe for potato soup and go on about how cozy it is with homemade bread on a blustery day, and that day happens to be the only snowy day the city has seen all winter, well the mom is going to go make herself some potato soup.
And if she makes the potato soup, she’s going to want some homemade gluten-free bread to go with it.
And if she makes the gluten-free bread, she’s going to have to use some extra dough to make donuts (because unless Krispy Kreme starts a gluten-free line, this is her only chance in life to have donuts).
This will be a problem because the kitchen will already be covered in puddles of melting snow and food coloring, due to earlier snow ice-cream lunacy. (An hour before, her seven-year-old, five-year-old, and two-year-old stood on chairs pushed up to the kitchen island, haphazardly tossing snow and vanilla and sugar into bowls, and, in equal amounts, onto the counter and floor, helpfully making cheerful comments like, “Whoops, someone will have to clean up this floor later!”)
This mom will decide to leave the soup simmering and bread rising in the kitchen and finally get around to homeschooling for a while. She will go upstairs and crankily prod her older two children through a spelling test, reading lesson, and phonics pages while trying to convince her two-year-old that she means it when she says, “Stop throwing blocks.” He thought she was kidding.
After school is done for the day, the mom will come downstairs to suddenly notice the wintery disaster that seems to have melted throughout her house, and then something deep inside will snap and she will become a Mean Mommy barking irritated commands at her poor children who will wonder what just happened to Mommy.
Or, so I imagine.
Okay, fine, that was me. Here’s what I learned today: I need to say no more often. To forty-five projects in a row, to snow ice cream before ten o’clock in the morning, and to my own bizarre soup-making urges. The problem with that is I’d have to a) slow down long enough to think about if something is a good idea and b) I’d have to actually say no to things.
Saying no often means confrontations. My seven-year-old might mutter something under his breath, and I’d have to stop and correct him. My five-year-old might whine and beg, and I’d have to correct her. My two-year-old might streak naked through the living room, and I’d have to chase him down. It seems like more work in the short-term. But in the long-term, by setting limits and giving my children (and myself) reasonable boundaries, I’m keeping our lives from overload, mentally and physically.
My kids take after my own tendency to have a Brilliant Idea Which Must Be Executed Immediately. Immediately! But sometimes, that idea really can wait for another day.
Today, after cleaning the kitchen for an hour during the kids’ rest time, I sat (finally enjoying my soup and bread). I was reflecting on why I was all snippety and mean, and I realized that I was semi-irritated all morning because I hadn’t been setting limits. I knew we were behind in school that week, but I let the kids play outside for two hours. I didn’t go through the effort of making them clean up their own soggy mittens and coats. I conceded to their demands, tiny tyrants that they are, to make their own horrendously sticky ice cream mess and not clean it up.
I said yes when I should have said no.
After rest time, I apologized for not being gentle and kind with them. (I have been memorizing 2 Timothy 2:24 about “being gentle to all, able to teach, patient…” and it is totally eating my lunch.) But when my five-year-old asked if she could go set up a table in the driveway and sell paper cups of water to the neighbors (on this frigid night), I said no. “Pleeeeze, Mommy, pleeeeeze, just one cup!!!!!” “No.” And so on, and then we discussed not arguing with Mommy, and she kept begging and then went to Time Out, but soon she was ready to be cheerful and obey Mommy the first time. We were all much happier for it.
So, as I pray and work on being gentle and kind with my words and my actions, I was reminded today that setting limits is one way to save us all from being overwhelmed. If I decide to let my children play outside on a rare snow day, then we might have to make up some school on the weekend. If we make snow ice cream in the morning, I may have to save my culinary endeavors for another day.
We can’t do everything. I can’t do everything. When I try, I just make us all miserable.
I was reminded today that a simple way to bring more peace and joy to our everydays is that one gentle, kind, and firm word: no.
What about you: What have you learned to say no to in order to have a more peaceful home? Or, do you have the opposite problem and have to work on saying yes to things?
I’m linked with Hip Homeschool Hop.