Are you just joining me for the 30 Day “experiment” of learning to trust my kids and really dig deeper into truly peaceful and respectful parenting? Check out this post for an introduction of what we’re doing.
Ready? Here we go. The Rundown on DAY ONE.
- Addie will watch movies and eat junk food all day long every day and become an unhealthy, lethargic screen zombie
- Addie will want to stay up super late every night and I will not get enough introvert-required alone time or time with just Kevin.
- I will feel like exhausted and powerless and taken advantage of by trying to say YES.
Summary of the day:
Woke up, and Addie’s first request was to watch movies. Movies are a hot-button issue for me, so I immediately felt fearful and irritated. But what’s the point of trying to see where TRUSTING her more leads if I don’t actually trust her more? So I suggested we eat breakfast first, but then said she could. She aggreed. We ate breakfast, and by the time it was over, she was involved with her toys playing.
When I told her I was going to put Nolan down for his morning nap, she asked to listen to music on my phone first. I expected to return to a phone zombie, but said “Okay” and went up to put Nolan to sleep. When I came back, she was—SHOCK!– playing with her bear and fire truck while the music played nearby. No phone zombie! This is encouraging!
Then she requested movies, so I said yes, and proceeded to use an 1-2 hours of movie time to write the blog post introduction from yesterday. Then I came down stairs and got some cleaning done, until it was time for lunch.
She came downstairs for lunch, and afterward I told her I was going to go outside and work on the garden. I expected her to ask if she could go back and watch movies, but instead her face lit up and she said, ” Can I come HELP?!?!”
So we went outside and built a garden bed together. For the next 3 hours, she alternately played in the sandbox, got toys out of the shed, came to help me water or spread compost, pulled stuffed animals around the yard in the wagon, and finally suggested a picnic on the lawn of chips, hummus, and an entire carton of strawberries.
Then we came inside to make dinner, and she spent time helping me, doing crafts, playing with toys, changing in and out of dress up clothes, and generally just being a fun kid.
THEN “BEDTIME” came along. I bathed Nolan, and she wanted to join in, so she took a bath, and changed into her jammies. She brushed her teeth, and then asked me if she could go do more crafts before bed.
Normally, the answer would have been, “No,” as I tried to push things along and keep the bedtime routine extremely consistent. But….trust her and stop controlling everything.
This is where things got a little messier for me. I was tired, Nolan needed to go to bed, Addie didn’t want to be left alone, so we tried a few different varieties of “You go play and come get me when you’re tired,” or “I’ll rock Nolan in your room while you fall asleep” with no success.
We had some tears. Mommy felt a major loss of vision and didn’t know how to open this time of day up to her listening to her body.
Eventually, she came and said she was ready for bed at 8:27 pm. Not exactly “staying up late.” And we figured it out from there, though it wasn’t totally “coercion” free… I need work at bedtime still.
The Stats (What Actually Happened Without Me Controlling Everything):
What Addie ate: eggs with ketchup, toast with jelly, blueberries, an entire carton of strawberries, oatmeal with blueberries and chocolate chips, a small bowl of chocolate chips alone, pasta with red sauce and a huge handful of asparagus, 10 or so Teddy Grahams, and a few of Nolan’s baby cheerios.
How many Hours of TV she watched: Honestly, I failed to keep real track of this…But I think it was probably less than 3. (Which, let’s be honest, is a whole lot more than I naturally want her to do. I wouldn’t even be opposed to not HAVING a TV at all. But it’s a far cry from watching TV all day and being a zombie, right?)
When Addie went to bed: Came to get me at 8:27 pm, but after some difficulties and “missed” moments of empathy on my part, finally was asleep at 9:20.
Overall Lessons and Conclusions so far:
Did my fears come true today? Not really. Like I said, more “Screen time” than I personally like, since I personally have a (probably entirely unrealistic in this day and age) ZERO Screen time Ideal for our life. But she definitely didn’t only eat and ask for junk food. And she was definitely not a zombie….so much glorious creative play and fun and time outside, all on her own initiative.
I did feel exhausted by bedtime, but not taken advantage of. Truly, it was immensely hard to do today. I have a DEEPLY ingrained habit of saying NO automatically. So slowing down to SEE the opportunities to say Yes, and choosing empathetic reactions took a lot of energy and intentionality. It was really fun though, and I felt like I got to connect with my girl in so many more moments than we usually get.
Bedtime was kind of a wreck, because I was tired, and just really didn’t know how to let go. I felt like I still really wanted her to be in bed by 7:30, so I could have the evening to myself. I think she picked up on my internal conflict, and also felt confused and conflicted. It was encouraging that she was ready for bed by 8:30, but I honestly don’t know how a truly coercion-free evening would go.
My self-work is going to be the hardest part of this. That’s not really a surprise, but I see how HARD it is for me to empathize, and slow down. I see how HARD it is for me to even WANT to.
And yet, even with the mistakes of Day 1, the times I snapped a bit or really missed empathizing, I know there is NO WAY I can let my kids grow up, and watch them walk away into adulthood knowing I chose the easy way of parenting them, just because it was too hard to change my own habits.
I care so much that they see REAL examples of kind human interaction, of real true respect for others and their autonomy, that they learn how to make decisions and listen to their bodies and their hearts.
It’s not as easy as controlling their lives, in some ways. It’s certainly not as “automatic” for me.
But I suspect that, in the long run, I will find it much easier to have a real, respectful relationship with my children if I put in this work now.