I don’t claim to be any sort of parenting expert. Far from it. What I am is a mum and an early childhood teacher who has worked with lots of families over many years. I read a lot. I try things out. Some things work and some things don’t. This Parent Smarter, Not Harder series of posts is not about having all of the answers, nope, because I certainly don’t have them! What it is about is sharing simple parenting strategies and ideas that work for me and some of my friends.
I don’t know about you but simple is exactly what I need on THOSE days when things are just not going to plan. When I am flustered or frustrated, or when my to-do list threatens to strangle me, or when the kids and I are sick or overtired – you know those days, right? So my hope for the Parent Smarter, Not Harder series is to provide simple but effective strategies to help turn these moments (or days) around.
And my first such tip is this one – every now and then every parent needs to don their superhero cape!
Let me paint you a picture of the last time I put mine on.
It was late in the afternoon and the playroom looked like a giant toy monster had projectile vomited every toy we owned onto the floor. As well, there was playdough all over the art table and all over the floor, play rice scattered throughout the dining room and the trail of destruction extended down the hallway and into the lounge room. I had asked Immy to start packing away as I attempted to start prepping dinner. In fact I had asked her several times and I was getting nowhere. The visual clutter seemed to be all around me and I could feel the frustration building in my neck and shoulders. I was really very close to losing my cool, of pulling out a huge garbage bag to collect the lot and dump it – aka I was on the verge of an “If you can’t look after your toys then I will just take them all away and give them to someone who can!” moment. These moments aren’t pretty. And they aren’t effective. And they just leave me feeling cruddy and the whole family feeling miserable.
Instead, I popped around the corner of the playroom to the dress up box, donned a play superhero cape and transformed into SuperMum. Assuming the super powers of speed cleaner, SuperMum recruited her pint sized helpers (with capes of their own) to help her put things right in record time. I sang a silly song and got down on the floor and started packing away. I zoomed from job to job using my silly SuperMum persona to help Immy and AJ get busy with cleaning alongside me.
It worked. In about ten minute the majority of the toys were packed away. The playdough and the rice were swept up. A sense of order returned which made me feel calmer and more in control, and set the girls to playing more productively too – because excessive visual stimulation and clutter can effect your children’s ability to play effectively too.
The truth behind this strategy is really about changing the tone of what could easily become a stressful situation by adding humour and transforming an everyday frustration into a little bit of fun. Humour can be a great distraction and a fabulous tension breaker. Of course, for you it might not be a superhero cape – it might be a cap and coach’s whistle or a tutu and fairy wand but whatever it is, let your children join you in the spirit of the situation, letting them don their own dress ups or giving them a prop to use or a role to play.
Give it a try next time you are having one of THOSE days. I hope it works for you too 🙂
Do you have a version of ‘donning the superhero cape’ that works for your family? I would love to hear more about your experience of using humour to circumvent what might be an otherwise frustrating situation.
Visit the previous Parent Smarter, Not Harder posts by clicking on an image below…