Keeping your cool in the face of adversity is the Holy Grail of good mothering.
Just as a queen bee’s pheromones create harmony in her hive, the mother’s mood sets the tone in her home (ever heard the saying happy wife, happy life?).
However, this is not always so easy…
After all, children can be messy, willful and not overly concerned with things like the electricity bill. They leave peanut butter and jelly crime scenes in the kitchen and booby trap the stairwell with their toys and shoes…
One of my children’s favorite ways to irritate the hell out of me is to turn on every light single light and leave all the kitchen cabinets wide open. Needless to say, their poltergeist behavior does not bode well for my mommy pheromones.
So what are we mothers (and fathers) to do?
Reminding them gently and patiently does not work in and of itself.
Screaming and yelling may get the job done, but the household harmony will be lost in the process.
Ignoring their bad habits, or, worse yet, trailing behind them to clean up their messes will only create a bitter mama and some rather spoiled children.
This is where push-ups come in…
That’s right. Stealing a trick from good ol’ boot camp, I have found that push-ups are all that is needed to whip our little people right into shape (figuratively and literally).
Allow me to explain why this simple technique works so well:
Harkening back to the queen bee and her pheromones, a mother’s mood is arguably the most important aspect to a healthy family.
However, it is nearly impossible for us moms to be easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy when our simple requests are blatantly ignored and our precious free time is spent picking up after our children.
Even the most gracious and patient of mothers can’t sustain harmony under these conditions for long.
That’s when many of us ‘snap’. We end up screaming or grounding our kids in a fit of fury after we have reached our limit.
But, if we have a tool on hand to be pulled out anytime, anywhere, we can avoid the theatrics and the giving away of our peace of mind.
Push-ups are a consistent and reliable method of reminding The Forgetful Ones of the household rules.
They are also a healthy physical activity that can build strong bodies.
Ironically, with the push-up method, the more bad habits your children have, the more opportunity they will have to buff up. Can we say, win/win?
How to Implement The Push-Up Method
- Hold a family meeting. Announce there will no longer be endless pleading and begging, screaming and yelling, to coerce your children into behaving like good little household citizens. Explain you will now be using pushups to help remind them to clean up after themselves, brush their teeth, flush the toilet, etc.
- Introduce the push-up. Demonstrate what good form looks like (you may have to practice this a little before calling the meeting). In our household, we take the push-up method seriously. Our children are expected to have good form (straight back, no butt up in the air, head in alignment with their back). This ensures they take the whole process seriously while building up strength and stamina. Remember parents: no pain, no gain.
- Determine a starting point. Be sure you meet your children where they are physically. If they have never done a push-up before, they may need to start with a modified push-up (knees on the ground), or even start with sit-ups. Know that they will definitely whine and complain and act like their arms are made of wet noodles. Assess them fairly and judiciously. Once you have a starting point, be sure to add to it as their strength builds. Let them know your expectations moving forward, such as “I will only remind you once a day not to lock your sister in the basement. After that, it’s five push-ups”. In our house, push-ups are a blanket consequence for all minor transgressions.
- Adjourn meeting and wait like a child on Christmas Eve for the first sign of misbehavior. Once said behavior happens, calmly request push-ups payout. Channel your inner gym coach and count them down, correct their form and take tiny pleasure in the fact you will no longer be outsmarted by their cute little pleas of “I forgot!”.
Consistency is Key
Remember in all things parenting, consistency is key. It’s easy to let things slide one or two or ten times. But then the blow-up happens.
What makes push-ups such a great parenting tool is their ease of implementation. The phrase “Drop and give me twenty!” should be on the tip of your tongue as you work your way through the house, checking to make sure the minions have followed orders.
In all seriousness, my family has had a lot of fun with the push-up method.
When children know what the expectations are (and the consequences if said expectations are not met), they tend to fall into line rather easily. When moms have a method to control the madness, they tend to emit harmonious pheromones which create a busy hive of happy, healthy baby bees.