This fantastic post by Alissa Marquess on 100 Ways To Be Kind To Your Child really struck a chord with me. Parenting chez Bones has felt like a hard slog of late; between the house move, the sleepless baby and the 3 year old being 3, Mr Bones and I are worn down to tiny nubs, and it shows in our tone of voice. Well, not so much him, as he gets to interact with adults five days a week. But I have been too often guilty of snapping, sighing and occasional hag-like shrieking.
So it was cheering to read this list and feel validation hit my knotty soul like a hot bath full of vodka. I try to do this stuff every day, because kindness is so obviously important when dealing with small people. I don’t always succeed; it is so easy to be unkind to those smaller and more vulnerable, so tempting to offload. I snap at my son because my daughter’s crying has driven me demented, or cuddle my daughter with hard, resentful arms when she wakes for the nth time at crap o’clock. Later on, I stew into miserable sleep, prepping myself for another day of being uptight.
A lot of the things on this list add up to giving more of yourself – your time, your emotional space. No wonder it feels so hard sometimes, when the invasion of small children into your headspace is already so complete and overwhelming. Even when they’re away, asleep or mysteriously quiet, their needs and wellbeing and opaque, unknowable futures weigh on your mind, leaving much less opportunity to think your own thoughts.
So making the effort to be kind, especially when you just wish there was someone to be kind to you, feels like a crucial skill to hone. It’s like a mental workout: finding a smile the fifteenth time your toddler tells you their made-up joke is hard work, likewise singing a song to try and distract your screaming baby at naptime. Like lifting weights, these things come easier with practice. My kids have forced kindness from me at moments when I didn’t think there was any left to give, and their happiness has bounced a little of that kindness back to me.
So in the spirit of being lighthearted I nominate this for my number 100: buying Weetabix because they love it, even though cleaning the stuff off babies, toddlers, clothes, table, chairs and floors is one of my least favourite jobs ever.