Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Success with Older Children

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by Bethany

Our family has used Babywise principles, in many ways, for over seven years now. We did not really have a "name" for our parenting philosophy when we first found out I was pregnant, but as soon as I read Babywise, I knew that our thoughts were almost identical to principles the book. Both my husband and I are big believers in structures, discipline, fun, marriage-first, and parent-directedness. We have not always agreed, but the vast majority of the time, we are very much on the same page with our parenting. One of my favorite moments was when I overheard my husband telling another couple that they really "needed" to get their infant on a routine/schedule and stick to it. He is one of the biggest proponents of putting in the work early to see lasting results later.
Fast forward several years and many lessons learned. Now my children are 5- and 7-years old. My youngest is starting Kindergarten, and both are in multiple sports/activities. I feel busier than ever with much less time to instill values and principles. At times, it even feels overwhelming to practice anything from the -wise series. Both my husband and I also work full-time outside of the home. Babywise has helped make us successful though.
For one thing, all of the years of effort and training have paid off. My kids have heard things for years now, like "Obey right away, the first time, with a happy heart." They know that if I say, "You lost the privilege to play outside today," it means they lost that privilege. No changing my mind or bluffing. Consistency. Follow-through. First-time obedience. Earning/losing freedoms. These are the things that have primed them to be successful for life! I am certainly not saying that you will not be successful without Babywise or that you cannot find/teach these principles elsewhere, but the -wise books verbalized these so well. I needed something tangible to demonstrate why these were so important and illustrate lots of examples for me. I knew that, without some suggested guidelines and a good support community, I would most likely not stick with these principles when it first became difficult.
There have been times we have done things differently, but overall we still follow most of what is in the -wise series to this day. Even though we have built a solid foundation, we still have to put in a lot of effort and make difficult parenting decisions on a daily basis. I have found that these decisions/principles are sometimes even harder than all of the constant training when they were little. Consequences need to be more creative, structure is not always as feasible, and there are so many other things that start to influence them. I thought sticking to a nap schedule was difficult (and, it was!!) but I am not always prepared for the flexibility and finesse that is needed for an older child. However, the -wise series has also helped prepare me for the times when structure is not as important as flexibility. Our children are still under our guidance and authority, but they have a lot more ability to choose whether to heed our advice or not. We have taught them "the rules." We have shown them the importance of obedience and structure. Now it is their turn to practice and fail, at times, but we are never far away.
It is a different phase of life now. The consequences are different. The rules are sometimes different for each child. That may appear inconsistent, at first, but Babywise has helped us learn when to be unbendable and when something else is needed. It taught us to troubleshoot. It taught us to follow a schedule...but really a routine...but sometimes neither. There are times the routine goes out the window, and I've learned two things. One, my kids definitely love their routines (for the most part!) and it absolutely pays off in the long run to have a routine. Two, when we do break routine, my kids do just fine for short amounts of time. Babywise isn't mean to be so strict that you cannot make good parenting decisions. It's the complete opposite. Obedience and structure are paramount to setting a good foundation, but you still have to do what is best for your family. This has worked for us. It took years of hard work, and it still takes lots of work!
Last point, I promise! I would be remiss if I did not mention how Babywise has helped me as a working mom. Without Babywise, I would have been (more of) a disaster! It gave me structure when I had to depend on others. It gave me peace when I was physically not able to be there. It helped make the time we did have invaluable!! I have had happy, healthy, adaptable, obedient children! I could write many, many more blog posts on this alone. I am a better mom for having read Babywise, and I go to work every day knowing that it has helped us thrive!
Bethany works full time outside of the home and has a healthy, thriving family! Her full life consists of a hard-working husband, two wildly creative children, three insanely energetic dogs, and several other hobbies to balance out her full-time job. She blogs at The Graceful Mom and is passionate about encouraging other moms with work obligations.

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