Okay, so I’ve been watching that new show on NBC This is Us. I really like it.
In the second episode, a mother of three asks her husband how he thinks they’re doing as parents. She gives them a six, then ups it to a seven and admits that she believes she’s actually a nine but he’s bringing their score down with his drinking and late nights. She does tell him that when he’s there, when he’s sober, he’s actually a better parent than she is.
But this isn’t about the show. It’s about my score as a parent.
These days, I’d give myself a solid seven. I think I’m doing okay; not great, but okay. My girls know they are loved. They are clothed and fed (separate dinners each night because…well, I guess it ups my score.)
They seem to be getting enough sleep and they’re doing pretty well in school. Alyssa has a lot of friends and has her interest in which I take a decent amount of interest as well, because I know that’s important to her.
Olivia has a vivid imagination and I listen (mostly) attentively when she tells me her imaginings, her stories, her dreams.
I hug them both as often as they want and they get a lot of physical affection from me, which ranges from hugs, to holding hands (while watching TV) to back scratches and gentle touches to soothe a tired nine year old to sleep.
But I could be better. I could yell less. I could scold less. I could set more limits and enforce them better.
I realized last night that one thing that would make me a better parent is if I set a bedtime and then just took the girls to bed at that time so I could have even a half hour to myself.
See, our routine right now is at 8pm, we sit on the couch together, me between A and O. I read to Olivia while Alyssa watched Pentatonix videos on her tablet. We finish reading at 8:15, at which time I take Olivia’s glasses and put them away. Then I settle back on the couch and rub/scratch Olivia’s back until she falls asleep with her head in my lap. This can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to forty-five minutes. Which is frustrating for me because, dude, JUST GO TO SLEEP.
And so because sometimes I’ve scratched/rubbed her back for up to forty-five minutes, many of those minutes with her twisting and turning and rolling and fidgeting with her blanket or her nightgown, I’ve had it when those forty-five minutes are up. And then I yell or I tell her sternly to settle down and go to sleep. Our peaceful time if over and I’ve turned into grumpy mom.
If I were to institute a bedtime for her of 8:30, we could still read and rub/scratch back for a bit but then when 8:30 rolled around we could calmly head up the stairs, I could kiss her good night, hug her and then tuck her into bed. Grumpy mom would never have to make an appearance. My score would move from a seven up into the eight range just like that.
Alyssa, on the other hand, could stay up until 9:30, doing her thing, sitting next to me watching either television with me or watching videos on her tablet but at 9:30, I could just send her to bed. There would be no hissing at her to turn her tablet down because I can’t take the noise of Tom’s TV from the family room, my TV and her tablet all being noisy at me. Again, if I knew there was an end time to her tablet time, to her sitting next to me and showing me every single comment on every single video, I could take a more sincere interest in the things she shows me and grouchy mom would stay away.
These are definitely things I need to consider implementing. It would be good for all of us. And grouchy mom could possibly pack her bags, never to return. If that happened, I could see myself hitting a score of nine in no time.