Thursday, March 17, 2011

My new mantra - Keep Calm and Speak Softly

Our house has been plagued with a nasty late winter cold - stuffy noses and congested coughs. My oldest brought it home a couple of weeks ago and it made its way through my husband and the little ones while I marveled that somehow I had escaped the cursed cold.

Of course the Cold Gods - always ready to prove their might, especially to smug humans like myself- descended upon me with a vengeance just as my little ones were getting better and sleeping blissfully through the night again. I was coughing and hacking up wads of grossness as my throat became sore and scratchy and my voice quickly disappeared to a faint whisper.

The thought of facing the day with three kiddos 5 and under with no voice to control the chaos was a bit frightening. I pictured my headstrong, curious, envelope-pushing kiddos running amok, laughing at my futile attempts to control their actions, as there was only one of me and three of them, which would give them ample opportunity to run wild without correction.

Now I admit probably yell too much. It is difficult not to when you are changing a poopy diaper on a toddler who wants to reach down and grab it while you attempt to clean his wriggling booty, your 5 year old is spending much too long in the bathroom with the water running (never, ever a sign of attentive hygiene practices, but rather, a forewarning of a huge mess) and you hear the piercing screams of your 3 year old from Lord-knows-where in the house for who-know-what reason. And that is just a one minute snippet from my typical day.
Multiply that times the 900+  minutes that make up my average day directly caring for my children, and the yelling happens.
Every day.
Too often.

So I was pretty much preparing for anarchy.

To my surprise, it never came. My kiddos were, for the most part calm and attentive. They listened, most often the first time, and when I did repeat myself, even several times, I  found myself calmer.
The soft whispery voice was magic.
"Did you notice how much better they are listening?" my husband noted.
It was true. The whole house was calmer. They were less combative and more cooperative. My frustration level wasn't escalating with the volume of my voice.
They didn't always like what I was asking them to do. (tv time is over, is usually a battle but today it was a softer, shorter protest)  It wasn't always ok. When we went for a walk, my daughter ran further ahead than I like crossing a driveway without looking, and I couldn't call her back or stop her easily.
But over all it was wonderful.
Bedtime even went more smoothly, once the kids accepted that mom just could not read the story tonight and bedtime songs were short and whispered instead of sung. There were far fewer "I can't get to sleep"s and "I just need a drink" requests and my littlest guy, still enamored with his ability to easily get out of his toddler bed, only ventured into our room once!

Today is day two. I still don't have a voice so we will see if it holds true again. So far it has.
This mom, has learned an important lesson -

(I'm going to print this and post it as a reminder all over my house!)

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