Friday, December 2, 2011

Positively Negative... Until Now. {Mindful Parenting Collaboration}

If you’re reading this, you might have the feeling that you want to change some of your parenting practices or, perhaps, you're curious about “mindful parenting” and what it could be. Well, congratulations for taking a moment from your day to click on the link. Erin of it’s OK and I are going to be working together over the next 40 weeks (!) on a journey toward more mindful parenting and would love to have you join us. To learn how we envision The Mindful Parenting Collaboration working, please read the introductory post HERE.

Remember when I vowed to make sure I posted on this every Friday? Well, I didn’t plan on Thanksgiving to give me such a feeling of blah. I just didn’t have the motivation to write. I’ve posted some giveaways and a couple of other things, but it’s not like I was writing something spectacular, you know?

And other thing: I’ve really been procrastinating on this particular post. As I wrote in the intro post to the third topic, Being Positive, I gave a ton of reasons that explain why it is important to be a positive parent. I believe them all to be true. I don’t think that the occasional negative attitude will screw up my kids’ well-being for life. But, looking up, rather than down, most of the time is best. That said, I must confess that I have a very hard time being positive. I haven’t always been this way. The more I saw promises go unfulfilled, the more lies I was told, the more I built something up only to watch it crumble before my eyes… Well, it hurt more each time it happened.

Even the little things started to get to me. Things like planning a family picnic. I’d tell my husband that I’d like to go on a picnic next Saturday. Throughout the week, I’d remind him. We’d talk about bringing some games, should we pack a meal or bring a bunch of sacks, would we bring a blanket to sit on or can we sit at picnic tables, etc. Toward the end of the week, I’d start mentioning that I’d like to leave at a certain time. On the day of the picnic, hubby would inevitably wake up with a headache or some other ailment. So, staying positive, I’d try to get things together by myself: make and pack food, get all of the kids’ supplies together, get the kids dressed, get myself ready… All while trying to keep an eye on a very wily toddler! The entire time, I’d be positive, “Oh, this extra rest will help him feel better!” Thirty minutes before it was time to leave, I’d go see how hubby was feeling. He’d get up and ever-so-slowly start to get ready. An hour later, he’d still be screwing around, doing a million things that he doesn’t need to do that suddenly become important NOW. The kids would start to get restless, fight with each other, get hungry… I’d finally just tell hubby he could stay home. He’d act disappointed, but agree that I should just take the kids by myself… again. The whole picnic would end up being a disaster. I’d be grouchy from the entire thing with my husband. The kids would still be tired and hungry. Little Guy would hit “I can’t hear a word you say to me” mode. I’d end up yelling, we’d leave the park much sooner that expected, I’d get home and just be so disappointed in everything.

So, I taught myself to think of all of the bad things that could happen. I’d make myself believe that they’d all occur. I figured that, that way, when something went right, it’s be a bonus! Suddenly, I was thinking negatively about everything. I became a helicopter mama – Little Guy could fall off the playground steps and crack his head open. Someone might see my oldest walking to his friend’s house and kidnap him. Every little thing had me freaking out. It wasn’t fun.

My oldest snapped me out of it. One day he had been invited to go with a friend to one of those splash mountain water park places. He came home, excited, and told me all about it and how much fun he’d have. Then he started adding little things like, “I hope their car doesn’t break down this week so we can’t go.” And, “I wonder if their floors are slippery? I don’t want to fall and get hurt.” There were more of these comments until he had talked himself into believing that something was going to happen between now and the date of the trip that would prevent it from happening. He comforted himself from the disappointment by deciding that it would probably be better if he didn’t go because it could end up being dangerous both driving there and at the water park. Isn’t it interesting how our children show us the real reflection in the mirror?

I knew I had to stop the negativity. I knew, but it was hard to do. I can’t stop myself from feeling crushed when my hope is trampled. I still haven’ figured out how to do this. I have learned to not be expectant of anything – in either a positive or a negative way. When I plan a picnic, I just plan. I don’t expect it to be good or bad, I just expect that we’ll have a picnic. It’s not as fun as getting excited about it and anticipating the joy we’ll have together. I’d love to be positive all of the time – LOVE IT. However, I am not ready for it.

Right now, I think that passively planning for things is best for me. I know I can’t expect everything to go wrong all of the time. I also know that I cannot take the emotional roller coaster that excitement and disappointment will bring. I am working on being positive, though, in small steps. This holiday season, for instance, I have decided to try to be positive. I made an Advent calendar and included little activities to do for each of the 24 days. They are little holiday activities that run the gamut from easy, five-minute crafts to spending a few hours at a museum. Rather than thinking of all that could go wrong or thinking of nothing at all while I plan, I am going to try to let myself get excited about our daily activities. I think that the trick, for me, is to not put any real expectations into the excitement. In other words, I will try my best not to envision us, as a family, walking hand-in-hand through the museum – with the kids cooperating with each other, Little Guy following all of the rules without my having to remind him, Hubby chatting away at me and happy to be there… Nope, I’m just going to be excited to get out of the house to go look at the decorated Christmas trees on display there.

Hopefully, by being a little positive in each of our daily activities, I will form a habit of thinking positive when it comes to other things.
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Christy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thank you for this. I felt like you wre writing this just for me. I tend to be a negativity dweller myself. I always worry about the bad things that could happen instead of focusing on the good. This is something I have really been trying to alter recently. It's hard when the society we live in seems to celebrate the vent session where we can all commiserate together but shun the happy times and say "oh she's just showing off" whenever someone shares good news.

Erin OK said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

It's great how you identify where you're at and work on accepting that. Reprogramming our thought patterns can be a complex process. I've definitely been working on it for many years. I get angry at the negativity and cynicism of our culture, and can tend to bounce between enthusiastic optimism and catastrophizing. I'm doing better at cultivating calm these days and accepting where I, and others, are at.

Nina said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates
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