Like dumpin’ bugs out of a jar.
That’s how their daddy often described it. Our little ones were prone to scatter and wander at will. Each of them with his or her own agenda, heading out in a different direction of their very own.
So full of fun. Free-wheeling. Independent.
On the days that I wasn’t trying to make anything happen or get anything done – it wasn’t too bad. But what if I was actually trying to accomplish something? Or go somewhere?
Then it was a challenge. I felt almost…helpless. Like somehow these small people were determining my day. Determining my decisions. Rather than the other way around.
And it didn’t set right with me.
Nor did it settle so well with them. There was this slightly out-of-control feeling to the whole enterprise and so they whined. Fussed. Tested. And we often clashed.
Then I heard my dear friend from Texas say something that changed my world. Or at least changed my perspective.
I overheard her telling her child in an oh-so-soft, sweet, and….um…firm voice:
Darlin’, you just need to get on my train.
(Accent is optional, but adds an unmistakable charm.)
She smiled and she was warm. She also knew where she was going and what she was doing. Her children knew it too. They were secure in her plan for them.
Well, that’s what I wanted for our children. I didn’t want to drag them, pull them, or push them. I simply wanted more peace and for them to get on board.
Looking for Your Children to Get On Board?
1. Prepare with prayer. Before launching a new approach, make sure it’s covered in prayer. Even the best plan is only effective as far as it’s carried out in Christ’s strength.
2. Go slowly. Especially at first. If your children have basically had free rein of the place? Then slowly add structure. For instance, the first week you might add set meal times. Then naptimes and bedtimes. And when that’s in place, add specific chores or responsibilities – even if it’s only finding their shoes or picking up toys. Then incrementally add on your other expectations until you’re well on your way.
3. Stay cheerful. This is a happy train! It really is. You’ve got good things in store for them. Remind them that you have a lovely plan for their little lives. Maybe they don’t “want” to nap? But you know better. You know this is what’s best for them.
It’s time to get ready to go somewhere? Line up what you want them to do and then help walk them through it. Allow for plenty of time for training though. Don’t wait until the last minute to make your call.
4. Remember, God appointed you the conductor of this train. No need to apologize. This is where the “firm” part comes in. No need to make a big deal about it, but remain confident in what God has called you to do. He’s asked you to be the parent and your child…well, to be the child. He’s not designed that little one to be in charge – that’s just too big of a responsibility for those young shoulders.
5. Keep the destination clear in your mind. The goal is not to get things done. It’s not about getting places on time. It’s about your child learning to yield his or her heart to your plans. Much like they’ll be doing (is this not our hope?) to Christ Himself someday.
So why not encourage your young ones to get on board?
And then everyone enjoy the new peace it brings into your home!
Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women
*Lisa is also the author of the newly-released 100 Ways to Love Your Husband: A Lifelong Journey of Learning to Love Each Other