(Every time I'm on one of them a signal is sent out to my kids to track me down and drive me crazy)
Why is it that so many parents say the same thing? I can't understand it, but the minute my son sees me on the phone, he has to interrupt my conversation. Every time I close the bathroom door, my daughter has an emergency that absolutely can't wait. This is also the case every time my husband and I find a few minutes, which is rare, to catch up on our day, and numerous times during the finale of every single binge watched series I have ever tried to finish.
I figured out that it took longer for me to get through the very last episode of Mad Men, then it did to watch the entire season. In fact, my daughter interrupted me so many times, that I had to stretch the episode out over three days. However, when I am in the kitchen, emptying the dishwasher, or in their rooms changing their bedding or organizing their toys, not a peep. In fact, sometimes I forget they are even home.
There is something magnetic about a parent engaged in a conversation with someone else or enjoying a little quiet time that sends out a transmission to these little children letting them know that now is the time to attack.
If you need some ice cream or a play date wait until mom is on the toilet to go and ask her. If you see mom and dad talking to one another and it seems like they are really engaged in conversation, that is the time to spill your bowl of Cheerios, ask for a new set of Lego's for Christmas, or just start screaming and crying for no reason at all.
If I didn't know better, I would think that once a week my kids attended a meeting with other kids where they discussed the strategy of interruption.
I can picture it now, a group of three and four-year-olds being led by some very well-dressed five-year-old's in a room with a big chalkboard.
The board has strategy set out on it just like you would for a football game with pictures of parents on telephones, engaged in conversation, reading the paper on the toilet or watching Showtime. Then there are lists of topics that kids can use to interrupt whatever activity their parent is engaged in.
There is also an area of the board detailing times when you should steer clear.
If you see your mom cleaning up your playroom steer clear you might have to help. If you see your mom in the kitchen emptying out the dishwasher keep moving. If you see your mom or dad in the laundry room that is a code red alert! This is absolutely the worst time to walk by and interrupt your parents because even a four-year-old can bring washcloths into the linen closet.
So as parents what do we do to teach our children the virtue of patience and the value of waiting.
First make a sign. The sign should be hung outside the bathroom door whenever you go into use the facility. The sign should say, mom is in the laundry room folding towels & cleaning up all your toys.
All kidding aside, it is really important to teach children how to respect your privacy and your time. It is also so important for children to understand that sometimes they need to wait for things and that you will address their needs as soon as you have a moment.
One of the first things you can do is sit down with your child and talk about some of the things that make you sad and happy.
For example, "It makes me sad when I am talking with daddy and you don't allow us to finish our conversation. It makes me happy when you wait until I am done speaking, to ask your question."
Providing your children with strategies is also very helpful. "If you see that I am on the phone or in the bathroom, just knock once, or sit quietly near me, so that as soon as I am done I know to help you right away." Let them know that of course, if someone is in danger, or they are physically hurt, they never need to wait.
However, if the need is more of a want and it can wait a minute or two, you would really be happy if they gave you a minute to finish what you were doing so you can give them 100 percent of your focus.
And most important, when they do honor your privacy, give you that extra minutes to finish that show, or sit quietly and wait for you to finish your conversation, give them your undivided attention. Reinforce that good behavior by rewarding them with your eyes, ears and time.
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