Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Mission To Listen

If you've been here before, you know that this week I am trying to make the extra effort to really LISTEN to what those around me are saying.  I missed a few things, I know.  But I did make more efforts to stop what is distracting me from listening. I also got better at saying "I'd love to hear that, just hang on two seconds while I finish this."

Last night, I was in the middle of work, got stuck and had to refer to a tutorial video.  I couldn't hear ANYTHING. The kids weren't loud, they were just playing. 

It wasn't their fault that I was wrapped up in something work-related on a Friday evening....But as I started to speak, I could feel my voice rising, I realized that they were the ones doing what should be done.  Fun.  I was the one who was not .

So I asked the oldest for his headphones from his MP3 player.

The headphones worked really well.  I didn't need to move all my stuff, they didn't need to quiet down, AND when my son came to ask me something, I paused my tuturial, explained that I needed to hear these instructions and as soon as I was done I would take the headphones off.  So AS SOON AS he sees me WITHOUT headphones, he can ask me for what he needs.  If he needs something RIGHT NOW, he can ask Dad.

Over all this week, my kids seem to be a bit less edgy. They had a few moments of wild loud play, you know, the type that is just CLEARLY to gather the attention of everyone else.  No real rhyme or reason to WHAT they are playing, but it's definitely noticed (and probably heard by the neighbors!!).  But it was only once or twice.

The younger one mentioned on Monday that it wasn't fair his brother got to go to friends houses all the time and he couldn't.  It's not that I'm mean, just that the older one has two advantages.  He is old enough to go to his friends house by himself, and the current best friend is just over a block away on our street. (I really could watch him walk from door to door when I'm worried.  And Yes, I know, I have.  I was that paranoid the first while)
The poor little guy, his closest friend is not that close.  He's not old enough to go alone and surely not that far.  We talked about the differences.  And I did explain that his brother wasn't always able to go that often either. And as much as it doesn't feel good or help anything now, by the time he's as old as his brother, he'll be doing the same and the baby girl will be the sad one left at home.

BUT because I sat down and listened to him explain how he felt, and I asked him for suggestions on how we could make it better THIS WEEK, we were able to make arrangements in advance.  He was able to get time with his friends.  And it gave him something to look forward to all week.

Cindy Lou doesn't hafta wear socks!
The oldest baked cookies with me for the first time in ages.  And I was listening when he bragged to the whole house about how he managed to crack the 2 eggs PERFECTLY for the cookie dough.  (yes, this is a new accomplishment!) I really enjoyed knowing that he felt pride in small things, too.

I'm going to keep working on this.  It is important.  It won't be my only focus, but I sure want it to be close to the top.  When even the toddler responded well to me sitting down on the floor and explaining "I hear you saying no, you don't have to scream it. I know you don't want to put your socks on. After we pick up your brothers from school you can take them off again."  I know that this is something I need to keep doing.

Life is still stressful and busy, it's full of surprises everyday. But slowing down and listening made the days a bit easier to get through. I'm calling my listening week a success because:
  • We had fun everyday, as I'd hoped. Even if the week didn't go as we'd hoped.
  • I refused to rush, even when I knew we were running late.  It doesn't make us faster, just crankier.  
  • I found ways to have fun, even while doing dishes.  You can read my fun ways to do dishes on my other blog.
  • I tried to read or write something every day.
  • I celebrated small accomplishments. 
  • I didn't hear as many negative comments, because I really listened for more positive ones.

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