I wanted a better life for me and my daughter so I immigrated to America from Bulgaria. I was a single mom and when we landed, I had one suitcase, a few hundred dollars, no job, no home, no family, no driver’s license, and above all, I didn’t speak a word of English! But, within two days, I enrolled my daughter in school and got my first job -- working 12 hours during the evening shift, seven days a week.
The downside, of course, was I struggled with parenting. I was overwhelmed with work, and I didn’t have much time to spend with my daughter. That was when I knew I had to develop systems and strategies to make me become a better parent. I had to be efficient in how I raised my daughter.
By being efficient, we become consistent. When we're consistent, we'll get more results. The more results we get, the more confidence we have. With more confidence, we won’t hesitate and we can lead -- and do the parenting job well. So how did I become more efficient?
I make sure I follow through with the consequences I set. For example, there is no TV for a week for my daughter if she doesn't do her chores, and I make sure I dole out that punishment each time it happens. Of course, I would feel very bad every time, probably worse than her! But we both go through it, and she knows me well enough now that I am serious about consequences.
In my coaching, I have found that many parents give in very easily especially when the kids whine. I have found that if parents don’t follow through on threats three times, they lose control! Their kids will not take them seriously again. You have to think twice before you say something because you are making a commitment. If you don’t follow through, no matter what you say, they won’t take you seriously.
One of my parent clients told me he threatened to take the phone away from his teenage daughter for a week. Then, the very next morning, he felt bad and left it on the kitchen table for his daughter in the morning. Another example is a client who was getting called very bad names from her child, and then turns around and takes her shopping, throwing money at her, thinking she can control her with gifts. She thought if she buys her stuff then her child will respect her. This is the exact opposite of respect. You just can’t get respect through money, gifts or vacations.
Meals, naps, bedtime routines, and morning routines are very important. Knowing what happens next makes the kids feel secure -- and less cranky. And with a routine, you need a game plan on how to tackle your your daily tasks, which doesn't seem to end. What has always helped me is I ask myself, “Which one do I need to start with?” Then I make a schedule, and I stick to it. You get to have more me-time when you do this.
What's also important is you make sure that you and your spouse or partner are on the same page when it comes with your kids. Draw up this contract: “We will never fight or undermine one another in front of the kids. If you have a problem with me, wait and talk about it away from the kids.” I suggest you agree to this contract before you even have kids. You need to be a united front or else the kids will see that they can get away with other stuff.
Remember, efficiency is key to be your most courageous and confident parenting self.