Hold your horses! and
Give me one cotton pickin' minute!
Sure, I make my kids wait while I am speaking to another grown up, going to the bathroom, backing the truck out of the driveway, and trying to count how many cups of flour I have already dumped into the bread dough. (No, I am not doing all of this at the same time - that would be multitasking overkill)
I expect that my children will wait. I expect them to realize that the world does not always revolve around them, their wants, and their whims. But that is not the powerful pause I am referring to today.
I meant, I get to pause.
Sometimes I am just too worn down to be fun. My first instinct when my kids ask to do something is often, "No". I can go through streaks where "No" becomes as automatic as saying "ouch" after I stub my toe. It is instinctual. Afterwards I don't even realize why I said no.
It is also lazy parenting. Now, those of you who have followed this blog long enough or know me in person know that I am a fan of some benign neglect for my kids. I am not their cruise director. I am more than willing to let them be bored for a while till they come up with something to amuse themselves. Fortunately lazy parenting like this can be sold as enhancing the creativity of my children.
But I can take it too far, especially if they ask me at an inconvenient time. And once I say, "no" I mean it. That's it. So I need to remember to reserve my "nos" for when they are necessary, not habitual.
For the last couple of years, one of my favorite parenting phrases is "I'll think about it." when my kids ask me something. This gives them an immediate response so they stop repeating the questions as if I had suddenly lost my sense of hearing. It also gives me a chance to finish what I am focusing on. I have time to think about whether it would be too inconvenient to set out the slip and slide or have a play date with a friend. I can consider whether they can watch a TV show or dig out some very messy craft before supper.
I am not a girl who loves change. If I had a plan for the day or morning, I can struggle to shift gears and reevaluate their request. This gives me a breather to think through my answer.
My children know that "I'll think about it" does not mean yes or no. It is a maybe. However, if they continue to ask, the answer is an automatic "NO!"
Some requests take only a couple minutes to consider. Some may take a day or more. I feel so much more confident about my decisions when I know they are thought through, and my children feel better knowing their request was given full consideration.