Monday, February 8, 2010

Find the Pattern

Do you remember finding the patterns in math class when you were a youngster?  It looked something like this:

@+^^^*(=)@+^^^*(=)@+___*(=)  The answer of course is ^^^. 

Did you ever wonder why you needed to learn about patterns?  As parents, we need to learn how to see patterns in our children's behavior.

When my children were youngsters, the dinner hour became a stressful time for me.  Actually, it started around 5pm and lasted until 7pm.  They would quarrel amongst themselves, they would whine and they seemed to get injured more easily.  There I was, trying to fix a nice dinner for my family, all the while being distracted over and over.  It wasn't an easy time for me.  Every single night I became exasperated and then I would lose my cool.  By the time my husband would enter the house, I was done with my parenting duties for the day.  At that point, I wanted him to take over so I could regain my composure and find some peace and tranquility.

Unfortunately, noone ever told me to watch for behavioral patterns in my kids, and I missed the obvious for several months.  Finally, one morning as I cried out to God, He gave me an idea.  Make dinner during the lunch hour.  It would require a bit more planning on my part, but at this point I was willing to try anything to break this pattern.  That evening, I began to see a shift, not with their behavior but with mine.  Since I wasn't struggling to multi-task, I was far more attentive to them and far more patient in handling the situations that arose.  I also found that I was able to engage them and resolve volatile situations before they escalated to a bad level.

Over the next few weeks, making dinner at lunch time (or even in the morning thanks to buying a crock pot) broke the ugly pattern I had been seeing - both in my children and in myself.  Eventually, I began setting the stage for a quiet, peaceful dinner by lighting candles and playing classical music.  The kids even got into the dinner preparation as I started letting them take turns setting and decorating the table for a pleasant dinner.

When I reflect back to those early days, I am amazed at the difference. I am thankful that God showed me the unpleasant patterns, and then gave me wisdom to make changes. 

Even as my kids have grown, more patterns have emerged.  I'm on the lookout for patterns now, and I immediately go before the Lord and ask for wisdom to change them. 

Proverbs 2:6-8 (NIV) " For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. "



Kelly Combs said...

This is a great post. One thing for sure that dinner time is the "bewitching hour" for kids. They just crash!

Cooking-co-op has been my relief in this, as most nights I don't have to cook dinner.

This was a great post and a great idea for busy moms.

Katie said...

Thank you for sharing this. I need to go to the grocery store this afternoon actually. I have the crock pot. I just need to use it. Cooking earlier in the day would be a great way to destress the evenings especially with a one year old whos bed time is 5pm and she is such a cranky sleepy baby. Evenings can be super stressful.

Edie said...

This is a great post Sonya. I don't multi-task like I used to.

Even though I don't have to do this every night, I noticed that I was getting a bit frazzled trying to fix lunch for the girls after church on Sundays. When I started giving them each a task of their own it reduced my work load and the girls were so focused on their own tasks that everyone got along better.

Stacy Wittkamp said...

This is great! I have noticed that I have to look at my own negative patterns as they begin to emerge as well. Working from home created a few of these for me. i had to begin to structure my days in such a way that I forced myself to adhere to the kind of behaviors and goals I wanted and needed to accomplish and be truly productive. My 4 kids used to regulate me in this area, but with 3 of them gone it is all too easy to let yourself get too "relaxed" in some areas!
Great reminders!

Warren Baldwin said...

Very perceptive, Sonya, and great response to what you discovered.

Sharon Sloan said...

Sonya, I love this. I have found, too, that having dinner prepared early in the day takes the pressure off the day so much. I am not overwhelmed. I am peaceful and not cranky! God's wisdom brings life!