Principles are great, in theory, in an ideal world we would live by our principles. Reality is different and seldom will the day progress as you planned it to. I’m finding myself going through a phase of my children going to bed at unpredictable hours and my plan to get them involved in the tidying up of their toys is not quite going to plan. So when it’s approaching midnight and you’ve finally got your little darlings to sleep do you go to bed yourself or do you clean the house in the twilight hours? (I know what some are going to say, ‘why don’t you clean up the mess instead of spending time blogging about the mess?’, quite right to except for the fact that I write the blog posts on the train to work, pretty hard to do any tidying up while travelling back and forth on the train).
This basically brings me on to the wider question of how far do you live your principles?
It’s easy to live by your code when things run smoothly and everything is easy and going to plan. But what about when things are going wrong, children are crying, you’re tired and stressed out too. How well can you live by your code during these high pressure moments?
I’m not really looking for in theory answers, there’s plenty of people out there to tell you in theory how to do something (especially people without kids, they seemed to be the experts for some reason – be sure to remind them of their good advice when they do have children of their own), rather I’d love to hear and learn from your actual stories, if like some parents you have a no cake policy or a no TV after seven policy, how well can you stick to it in the face of constant screaming from both children and adults alike?
I have caved in under certain situations, especially when the second child was a new born and I had to get his milk ready, there were times when Top Gear was put on for half an hour as I settled the baby. For those of you who don’t know Top Gear, it’s a show we have in the UK about cars, it seems to enthral boys from age 3 onwards.
Top Gear can teach your kids about cars, experiments but most of all how to be pretentious
There were times when I gave in and let the older boy have a biscuit/cake/chocolate (and chocolate-biscut-cake, now there’s an idea) when I was dealing with a nearly asleep baby. I consciously knew I was breaking my code.
During the heat of battle, sometimes giving in is better than holding your ground.
My rationale was that I didn’t want any noise from the non sleeping child to disturb the sleeping child, for instance it would typically be the younger child who I’d have to rock to sleep (I know I shouldn’t be cradling and rocking a child to sleep), he is more sensitive to noise waking up his sleep and if a baby is woken from their sleep the crying will be incessant, whereas a three year old will not start screaming if there is noise from a baby. Getting the three year old happy and content means I could then focus on the baby who needs more attention and help to get to sleep.
The second question about principles is that do you live them yourself?
The things we tell our kids to do, do we do those ourselves, like sugar being bad for your teeth, brush your teeth properly or waiting for the green man before crossing the road, how many of the principles we set out for our kids do we live ourselves?
In the case of cleaning the house at midnight, the trade off is whether cleaning the house trumps the reduced hours sleep I will get, which in turn directly affects how much I can give to the kids or to the job the following day.
Thanks for reading, please leave your stories below on how to maintain your principles in high pressure situations for all of us to learn from.