Friday, July 1, 2011

My Summer of Self Improvement

This has inadvertently become The Summer of Self Improvement for me. It all started when I finally got my hands on a copy of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin from the library. It’s been out for months. While reading about Ms. Rubin’s year-long journey to being happier (as she already considered herself a happy person before the project), I came across some very good tips about interacting with children. She referenced the book How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. And while reading reviews of this book, I came across a recommendation for The Pocket Parent by Gail Reichlin and Caroline Winkler. I have not finished any of these books yet (what part of single mom don’t you understand?) but already I’ve changed my mind set about how I’m going to deal with, not only Monster, but everyone in my life.

The sunflower, the cilantro, and the bell peppers (which sprouted yesterday y’all!) are part of my own happiness project. I made the goal of planting some things, which is something I’ve been talking about for years but never actually doing. There was joy in finally dragging my ass to the gardening store, buying the supplies I needed and actually planting the stuff because I took the first step. Then there’s been the overwhelming joy that the stuff is growing. Every day I see it and I get a jolt of happiness. I think Monster gets it too because now he demands to be held up to see the “flar.”

I’ve decided to fight less with Monster. I believe I have mentioned that he hates getting out of the car. He wants to play in the driver’s seat but it’s been too hot and I’m afraid he’ll bake so I’m putting my foot down about this. I’m also carrying my purse, my work laptop and usually a lunch bag so I don’t have the strength to carry a fightin’ toddler too, mostly because I don’t want to drop him on the pavement. I’ve decided to do a small struggle to get him out of the car, then shut the doors, but then hand him my keys and let him play beside the car while I go put my stuff inside and take off my shoes. He doesn’t leave my sight. I sit on my front step and watch him and eventually he makes his own way into the house. It’s been great not getting my ass kicked by my two-year-old right after work every day.

These two small things have made such a huge difference in my life this week. And by making myself a happier person, I’m becoming a better mom.


  1. I applaud your Summer of Self-Improvement. I think it's a great idea!

    I'm also learning to both pick my battles and alter my battles with Peanut. Like you did with the car keys compromise. And I try to give her "or" choices when I can to make her feel like she has some control over life in general -- I think this makes her more agreeable overall. Like, last night I knew she would be resisting her impending bath, so I asked her, "Do you want to wear the ladybug pajamas or the cupcakes?" (She went with ladybug, always a fine choice.) Then she seemed satisfied with herself and the bath went okay. For whatever reason, it works.

    I'd like to hear more about your selected summer reading (in essence, steal your homework) if you come up with anymore good tips!

  2. I cannot recommend The Happiness Project enough! I just finished it last evening. So worth the read. The author even offers materials to do your own project. Check out her blog
    I will begin reading 'How to Talk So Kids Will Listen' this evening and will keep everyone posted on how it's working.
    I've tried giving Monster choices but he just says 'ok' to everything and then still gets pissed when he has to do one of them. I'll keep offering though.