The Small Parenting Change That Made the Biggest Difference


I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a bit of a multitasking marvel. I’m able to check homework, prepare dinner, and fold laundry in a single bound, my git-er-done philosophy has allowed me to beat motherhood at her own game or so I thought.

My practice of doing more in less time started innocently enough. Working full-time in a demanding career, I spent lunch breaks running errands, dinners practicing spelling words, and bedtimes checking homework. I thought in order to have it all, I needed to do it all. So that’s just what I did.

My kids rarely saw me devoted to any one person or thing. They shared me with endless tasks and waited patiently for blips of my time. Prioritization lacked, attention to detail waned, but my biggest regret in my so-called mastery of our collective domain was forgetting who all of this was even for.

My youngest child is in third grade this year, and although he’s managing academically, homework has been a real challenge. As an 8-year-old required to explain mathematical principles in his own words, perform extensive internet research, and manage deductive reasoning, he could no longer go it alone. He required guidance, moral support, and lots and lots of scratch paper only I was too wrapped up in everything else to notice.

So while I payed bills, folded laundry, and defrosted chicken for dinner, my son struggled. By the time he’d ask for help and I’d get to an allowable stopping point, he’d be fighting angry tears. I would question why he waited so long to ask for help, and he’d ask why he ever had to wait at all.

I understood then that I’d made parenting about my own unforgiving agenda. And for what? Dinner could wait. Mail could wait. Everything should wait! My kids deserved a mom focused less on efficiency and more on them. They deserved undivided attention, serenity in their home, and peace in their dealings with me.

Realizing this was huge. Thankfully, making a positive change wouldn’t need to be.

Because the bulk of our troubles centered around homework, I began providing focused attention from the time school let out to the time homework was finished. My son didn’t always need or want my help, but soon enough, homework didn’t seem so impossible anymore. His confidence began to grow. He started smiling more, talking more, and hugging more all because he felt prioritized. But of all the goodness that surrounded this small change, perhaps the most unexpected was that he began prioritizing me.

Today, as I focus on time and attention, peace and intention, I can tell you there’s renewed harmony in my home. We may no longer eat dinner at 6:30 PM sharp or have all the laundry done, but focusing on the who instead of the how has made all the difference.

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