These Five Words Are Changing My Parenting
Me: "Ok, it’s bedtime. Let’s go up and use the potty and brush our teeth!”
“But moooooom, I am tired and I already pottied today and I brushed my teeth yesterday! I can’t doooooo it. But…but…just one more minute….?!” Reply all my offspring, immediately rolling around on the ground, pierced with phantom pains.
Silly me! They used the bathroom ONCE today and they brushed their teeth YESTERDAY (gross)… so I can’t believe I even brought all of that up!
Maybe this is just my house, but I have my doubts.
And it’s not just bedtime. It’s mealtime. Transitions. Really whenever I ask them to do anything, they have an arsenal of excuses on rapid fire, faster than a loaded nerf gun. It can feel like war. It seems I can’t win. Sometimes I want to just wave the white flag and lie down. There. I’m done.
But let’s not give up. We may be tired, but it doesn’t mean we can’t do this. Together.
Let’s rally. Let’s pray. Let’s get tools. Let’s gain strength to do the beautiful and hard work of parenting, of raising the next generation, of stewarding little souls. It’s such beautiful and meaningful work, this teeth brushing and potty training and sharing and raising humans that love other humans well business.
“I have a good plan.”
All three of my kids were with me reading our bedtime bible story. And I asked if my youngest had used the bathroom before bed. “But I’m in beeeeeeed already momma!!!” Ensue whining and push back and gnashing of teeth.
Me: “Son, I have a good plan.”
Youngest: “What is it?”
Me: “Does anyone want to guess what my good plan is for Judah when I ask him to use the potty before bed?”
His older sister: “So he doesn’t wet the bed!”
His older brother: “So you don’t have to change the sheets in the middle of the night!”
Ding ding ding! Yes. Good job everyone! So you are dry and sleep well. I want you to have a good, uninterrupted sleep. That’s a good plan.
You know what happened next? My youngest’s eyes widened and said, “Ok momma” and used the bathroom so he wouldn’t wet the bed. Knowing my good plan helped him do the right thing. He didn’t want a wet bed. He forgot that there was a good plan and I am not just randomly asking him to do a task.
I went on to make it a bit of a game. What was the good plan when I ask them to pick up their toys? They all concluded so they don’t step on them, break them, or lose them. Because they care about their toys, they need to take care of them. Excellent.
What is the good plan when I ask them to do their chores? They decided that if everyone helps, no one person has to do them all, like Momma. Great job. I added that I am raising them to be responsible and to live in harmony with others.
What is the good plan when they have homework to complete? So they learn and grow and become contributing humans to our society and respect their teachers.
What is the good plan when I ask them to set the table? Helping make a house work is part of being in a family. Serving one another is a way to bless others and to feel good about yourself, too.
Five words have become life changing around here: I have a good plan.
Since we are regularly having this conversation, when I ask them to do something, I see their wheels turn a bit. And if I hear a sigh, I try to whisper and wink, “I have a good plan” and it softens their hearts just a bit more. It’s been a great tool in my box.
It also helps ME to stop and think what is the good plan behind why I have my children do something or not? (And how maybe, sometimes, my plan isn’t very good at the moment because I reacted out of anger or exhaustion.) It helps me think through why any of us do what we do or don’t do.
It also helps me remember God. I often don’t understand why I am walking the path I am walking. And of course I might not always get a peak behind the curtain. But if I, as a broken human, know how to parent pretty well, then how much more does a perfect, almighty God have a good plan for me?
Perspective. It’s so helpful. We all need it, parents and children alike. Here’s to five little words and the grace to go with them.