Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Power of the Pause

There is power in a pause.  As in

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.


Erin said...

I need to remember that phrase and I need to use it more often. I too am guilty of the no game (and I'm only the nanny!) and stopping to think about what they are actually asking for instead of immediately responding will likely get a few more positive responses out of me.


1001tears said...

I love this!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!
I am your newest follower!

Nancy said...

So did you crawl into my brain and figure out exactly what I needed to hear?
Oh yes.
"I'll think about it." That's FABULOUS! Because no has been all too often here these days.
New follower here. So gald I found you!
nancy-of the crazy 9

Kim said...

Hi Kristin,

I hope you get this- I didn't see an email. I saw the post about Mama Kong on RQ so you may have been the one to post it there. If that's the case, thank you! This little woman is such an inspiration to me. I knew we just had to try and do something. More than anything, I would love to meet her in person to tell her how many people are thanking God for what she is doing. We need more people like her, who are actually DOERS! Love, Kim