Adding Tools to my Toolbox

Can't stop loving this kid!

I’ve recently been reading “You Can’t Make Me [But I Can Be Persuaded]” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias.  It’s a parenting book that will hopefully fill my Mommy tool box with useful tools to help this strong willed Momma lovingly guide my strong willed daughter through this thing called life while highlighting and bringing out the positive aspects of both of our personalities.

If I’ve said this once I’ve said it 100 times; E and I are two people cut from the same cloth. She is a 3 year old version of me. Our strong wills battle against each other on a daily basis. I often find the two of us locked into the same battles over and over again. My will against hers. The problem is that I am the parent here. I’m supposed to be the mature one in this relationship and yet I regularly find that my 3 year old gets the better of me.

I hear myself speaking to her, issuing commands, and rather unsuccessfully trying to “negotiate” and I think to myself “no wonder she doesn’t want to capitulate, I wouldn’t either.” I regularly find myself fearing that I am going to shred any hope of ever having a relationship with my daughter to tiny little irreparable pieces before she even enters school. I want to avoid this with all my heart.

What do I long for? Well, I long for a slightly less co-dependent Lorelai & Rory relationship. I want a closeness with her – and any other kids that come along – that is secure. I want her to know she can come to me no matter what. I want her to know she is unconditionally loved. Period. My question has been HOW? This kid gets the better of me on a regular basis and I lose my cool. HOW.

Enter my current book choice. I generally hate “labels” like “Strong Willed Child.” I think they have such negative connotations. I don’t view E’s strong will (or my own) as a negative trait. This stubborn streak that is firmly implanted in her is exactly what will someday make her a tenacious, competent, intelligent adult that knows what she wants AND how to go about accomplishing the goal. I do not want to crush that in her. I do want to help her guide it and learn to use this personality trait as positively as possible.

Can't stop loving this kid!
Can’t stop loving this kid!

As I’ve been reading (and I’m only half way through) I have been able to put SO many little things into practice that have already made my days easier. One of the things that has struck me most (and that I have been working through for a while even before starting in on this book) is how much I need to work on MYSELF. This isn’t all about molding E into an awesome little person. It’s also about molding her Mommy into an adult that can pick her battles. Be gracious, firm, loving, patient, and kind. I need to be a better person for her. I need to be able to move past my own desire to stick to my guns (sometimes) in order to help E learn to channel her own strong will into something useful.

So much of parenting is about the parent. How I react, how I respond, how I understand my child. Being able to put her first and me second. Choosing my battles wisely, allowing that outfit that makes my skin crawl slide because it makes her feel like a princess. I have to resist my own urge to push certain issues to the death so that she knows that when I do press an issue it’s really time to listen. I need to choose my battles wisely. I need to ask myself more often; if a month from now, six months, a year, five years, ten years from now does this issue I’m fighting over today really matter? If the answer is no then why am I fighting it?

One thing this book is hammering home is that my approach is everything. Deep down I knew this. I’ve been struggling with it for a while just not really sure of how to change it. What reading this book has done so far is give me some of the tools I need to do something about it. It’s been showing me how to best approach a topic and garner the best possible outcome, all the while understanding that these techniques aren’t always going to work, and sometimes we will have to do things the hard way.

Something else that has also been significant to me is that her response and willingness to comply with me is directly related to how much she values her relationship with me. It all comes back to relationship. Which is what I want so desperately to preserve with her.

So is this one book going to give me all the answers? No. So much of this process is trial and error. Figuring out what works for me and what works for her. What garners a good response and what is ineffective, while understanding that what works once may not work every time. One book, ten books, or a hundred books are not going to unlock all the secrets to parenting without ever butting heads with your child. That said, anything that makes this process a little bit easier is welcome!

Is this book going to have a significant impact on the way that I parent YES. It already has. I can already tell you that E and I have had much easier days since I started reading. I knew that I needed to make some changes in the way I was parenting I just wasn’t sure how. Now I have a few more tools that are helping my days run more smoothly.  I feel a bit more capable of navigating a day with my little one. I don’t feel like every task is a struggle, and I am enjoying it. I still have a long way to go, and will always be working on learning to do things better but today I would say that we are making progress!

2013 Goals

The McHale Family ready to embark on new adventures in 2013
The McHale Family ready to embark on new adventures in 2013

I’ve always been a very goal oriented person – really anything I can check off a list is highly motivating for me. I regularly set goals/create to do lists for the short term, but until recently have never considered setting long term goals to give structure to my whole year. I’ve been working on some personal growth over the last 6 months and a recurring theme amongst all of the books and podcasts is goal setting, giving you something to strive for. So I figured sure, why not! I’ve tried to set my goals in a number of areas of life to allow me to round out my life and hopefully keep things in balance, so I’ve got everything from career, to fitness, to personal goals. The Hubby and I even set some joint goals that we are going to work on as a couple. He has also set his own goals which he posted on one of his blogs late last month (sorry I couldn’t tell you where to find them I have no idea).

I hadn’t really planned on making my goals public, but publicity also creates accountability. I may or may not also have a few other “private” goals up my sleeve ;).

Here we go these are my goals for the year:

  1. Double my income in the year 2013 by starting a side business. (More on that in a later post I hope)
  2. Pay off the car by March 1/13. – Last February we started our “Total Money Makeover” after reading Dave Ramsey’s book of the same title, and it has been life-changing for us in more than just the financial realm of life. If you have ANY debt at all seriously check it out, read it. It’s been an amazing journey for us and is really what has started my journey to self improvement.
  3. Run a 10K race – I know I can do this, but it’s fun to participate in the event!
  4. Run a 1/2 Marathon – got up to the distance last year but then was unable to participate in an event.
  5. Run a full Marathon – this will be the true physical stretch for me, farther than I’ve ever run before!
  6. List & sell our current home
  7. Buy a larger home hopefully with a smaller mortgage
  8. Read all the books on my reading list. (See reading list below)

While some of these may seem like lofty goals I think “Go big or Go home” is a good principle by which to set your goals. If they are easily attainable then you aren’t going to find it challenging enough to keep you interested (at least I’m not). And hey, if I only make it 3/4 of the way then I’ve still made it farther than last year and ultimately while I am always going to strive to meet and even surpass a goal that I’ve set – that’s just the way I am – making it even 1/2 way there on most of them is still pretty good.

Reading List:

  1. The Total Money Makeover – Dave Ramsey – finished Jan 4/13
  2. The Millionaire Next Door – Dr’s Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko – Finished Feb 11/13
  3. Wisdom Meets Passion – Dan Miller
  4. Guerrilla Marketing – Jay Conrad Levinson
  5. Entreleadership – Dave Ramsey
  6. See You at the Top – Zig Ziglar
  7. $100 Start-Up – Chris Gilibeau – in progress
  8. No More Monday’s – Dan Miller
  9. Tribes – Seth Godin
  10. Love & Respect – Dr Emerson Eggerichs – started & abandoned 3/4 of the way through – good content, just not my style.
  11. Thou Shall Prosper – Daniel Lapin
  12. Becoming a Person of Influence – John C. Maxwell
  13. How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie

If any of these books look interesting to you and you’d like to support the site then check out amazon.com here and pick them up!