I like reading parenting blogs and reading the odd parenting book. I like to chat with like minded friends about this parenting gig. It’s nice to know I am not alone in some of my struggles nor in my desire to find some magical way to be a perfect parent to my kids. I’m not beating myself up or putting myself down and saying I am a terrible mother… it’s just that I know I can always learn and do better.
Recently I found this lovely blog – The Parenting Passageway. I’ve linked to it before and no doubt I will link to it again. Carrie, the author, is a paediatric physiotherapist, a breastfeeding counsellor, a Waldorf/Steiner home schooler and a mother. Her wonderfully written posts cover lots of gentle parenting ideas and even though I am not a steiner home schooler, I find many many of her posts relevant and inspiring.
Before Christmas I was reading through a back log of Parenting Passageway posts in my feed reader when I came across this one – Cultivating No Comment – The Inner Work of Advent.
Super bright parenting light bulb moment!
I can really relate to the over tired crazy chatty commentary of life. I hear it in stereo, most often in the back of the Big White Bus as we are coming home from some where. Christmas night was a perfect example of this.
It was late, very late, 11pm late. The girls had been up in various combinations since about 5am that morning (it was Christmas after all). We’d had presents first thing in the morning, a fancy breakfast with our house guests, lunch at my parent’s house, then dinner at my mother-in-law’s house. There’d been lots of presents, lots of people and lots of food. It was the end of a wonderful day and in my grand plan all three kids would be well asleep before we got even half way through the hour trip home, but that wasn’t to be.
From the moment we headed off the girls began to talk. And talk. And talk. And talk. About nothing in particular, and everything in general. They talked the entire way home. The entire hour’s trip. They barely stopped to draw breath and didn’t really acknowledging what the other was saying either. They weren’t talking to me. They weren’t talking to each other. They were just talking.
That post popped into my head before we even got on to the freeway and I stopped talking. I put on some quiet music and I just drove through the darkness while they talked. It seemed so obvious then. They didn’t need me to answer their questions, gush over their excitement, explain away their problems or rationalise their fears. They just needed to get it out. To get all the exciting, overwhelming, over stimulating stuff out of their heads and sorted into words. So I let them.
It was also some what of a relief for me. I was tired and over stimulated too. It was nice to not feel like I had to have an answer for everything. I just let their chatter wash over me and I let my mind wander around my own thoughts as I drove instead of wondering if the next thing I said was going to be met with tantrums or attitude.
We got home right on midnight and as I popped them both into bed I wondered if it would be a huge battle to get them to sleep. They’ve been having trouble calming down and shutting off in order to go to sleep of late and I was dreading the chatting continuing on into the wee small hours. When I came back after putting the Small Boy into bed a few minutes later, they were both snoring their gorgeous, chatty, little heads off. It was like they’d gotten it all out of their system and were ready to sleep by the time we got home. Bliss.
It’s been a lesson well learnt for me. Two six year olds talk, a lot. But I don’t always have to respond. In fact it is often better if I don’t.
Why didn’t I know this before??
Of course I always respond when addressed directly, or when I really feel a need to, and I enjoy talking with my children as well, heck I enjoy talking in general! But now I’m just a little more mindful of choosing my words and my moments to speak a little more carefully. And I’m more able to see the times when my girls in particular just need to talk things out, not talk to.
It makes a lot of sense to me – Young children are still developing their ‘inner voice’. Even looking at the idea from a more general (rather than ‘Steiner specific’) approach it makes sense that children haven’t quite learnt to internalise their thoughts without always speaking them out loud. So allowing them to talking things out uninterrupted and without always adding our adult ideas is valuable, especially in this world where there is often very little quiet time for any of us.
What do you think?
Do you have a chatter child that could use some time and space just to talk?
Had any parenting light bulb moments of late?
Can you recommend another great parenting blog that I can sink my teeth into?