Clean Slate Parenting

Clean Slate Parenting

“If I’ve told you once…” Do you sometimes feel like you’ll go mad if you have to say the same thing to your child again? “Why don’t you go to the loo before you sit down for tea?” “Take your shoes off!” “Put your shoes on!” “No jam on the sofa!” Should we expect young children to remember the lessons of yesterday – or should we take a leaf out of their book and treat every day as a new day?

“I said, don’t wipe your toothpaste on your sleeve!” I yelled this morning. My 7-year old looked at me blankly – clearly this was news to him, and he couldn’t understand why I was so mad. Because, you see, I hadn’t actually said it just then. I’d said it yesterday. And the day before that. And – you get the picture. I just couldn’t believe he had done it again, and something in me just exploded.

Wiping your toothpaste-y mouth on your sleeve is pretty standard for children – it’s practically a reflex. It’s my fault for not standing by with a towel or putting one within an inch of the sink. In itself, it’s not a big deal. Of course it’s not. But when it’s the 1000th time he’s done it? The cumulative annoyance just becomes too much for me.

Cue a totally disproportionate explosion at my poor bemused child.

Yes, kids can be annoying. They forget a lot of things and need constant reminding about so much: “What do you say?” “How do you ask?” And so on. It’s worse in the holidays, with so many opportunities in the day for them to forget what you’ve told them a million times.

Only the other day, I had a “bite the head off a bunny” kind of day after a series of painfully familiar petty annoyances.

Clean Slate, bite head off bunny

But my toothpaste-sleeved son’s bewildered look made me stop and think.

Children wake up to a new day every morning. They don’t wake up intending to annoy us (not at this age, surely?). Their little minds are eager and ready to soak up new experiences and information all day long. They are learning new words, new skills, new things their body can do.

Can we blame them for forgetting the boring stuff?

I’m not saying I will ever stop my campaign for good manners. Or that I’ll let them off the hook for throwing their coats on the floor every time we come in, instead of hanging them up, or at least putting them in the vicinity of the hooks.

But I think a change of mindset for me is the only way to cope with the repetitive annoyances of child-rearing. If they’ve knocked their drink over for the 500th teatime in a row? I’m going to try reacting just to the one instance – rather than bearing down on them with all the weight of the other 499 times they’ve done it. It’s usually only accidental after all.

This holiday, for the sake of my blood pressure, I’m going to try a bit of clean slate parenting.

What about you? Do you find it hard to bite back your exasperation sometimes?


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  • You are a genius! I am adopt this attitude too – have a feeling I will forget again tomorrow though x
    Complicated Gorgeousness recently posted…Where can I scream in peace?My Profile

  • Love this! I think we can give ourselves a clean slate too. If we’re not at our best one day or make bad decisions, we can start again the next day. Like a diet, if you fall off the wagon one day just get back on the next!

  • Mel says:

    Yep, can completely relate! Keep telling them to rinse the sink after brushing their teeth. It would make my life easier and I wouldn’t have to painfully take off dried off mouth dirt / food bits that are clinging to the enamel of the sink when I spot it hours later… Kids are wonderful, Kids are wonderful, Kids are wonderful. Love the ‘bite a rabbit’s head kind of day’!
    Mel recently posted…My Sunday Photo – 5 April 2015My Profile

  • I do use that! I wake up every morning and no matter how things were yesterday I start fresh 🙂
    Modern Dad Pages recently posted…Trolls: Thank you for being there!My Profile

  • Kiri says:

    I need to do this! It’s the little frustrations that build up to an overall bad day. I need to be more patient and remember that children are too preoccupied with just being children to remember everything they have been told. Even if they have been told 50 million times (oh that’s what it feels like today!)

    I also laughed at the headless bunny as a chocolate bunny also met the very same fate earlier on in this house!
    Kiri recently posted…This week… 30 March – 5 AprilMy Profile

    • Wry Mummy says:

      Those poor bunnies! They do bear the brunt. It’s hard to remember your good intentions in the heat of the cereal bowl tipped over yet again, though, isn’t it?!

  • teacuptoria says:

    Hi Jess, I really enjoyed reading this post. Such a great view point and I love your writing. I think you’re absolutely right, children just don’t ‘hear’ the constant requests to ‘do this’ and ‘do that’…they can’t do because they know they’ll get an ear full so why would they not do it on purpose? The things I say all the time are; put the ‘put the toilet seat up before you go’ (yes up), ‘have you washed your hands?’, ‘take your bowl through to the kitchen’. These are repeated every single day but hey, like you say who cares? I’m going for the clean slate approach from now on. x
    teacuptoria recently posted…How To Be A Tough CookieMy Profile

  • Mummy Tries says:

    We read a book over the Xmas holidays called 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child, and he talks about how important it is to wipe the slate clean every day. I’ve been really mindful to try and do it ever since, because it made me realise how much resentment I was holding onto. I have to admit though, when my eldest’s sleep goes to pot (and we are currently on a particularly horrendous cycle) it is really bloody hard!!

    Fair play to you my dear, hope it’s helped xx
    Mummy Tries recently posted…The Books that Changed my LifeMy Profile

  • Talya says:

    So needed to read this after today! Clean slate parenting here I come! #sharewithme

  • Ooh I think we can all relate to this! How hard can it be to remember simple instructions? Hopefully we will drill it into them eventually but you’re right, in the meantime there’s no point exploding or stressing about it. Easier said than done though sometimes 😉 x
    Caroline (Becoming a SAHM) recently posted…Making time for me – 2 weeks inMy Profile

  • Donna says:

    I know that exasperation well and I think we could all benefit from a leaf out of your book! x
    Donna recently posted…4 Ways to Make Your House Healthier For Your ChildMy Profile

  • Laura Wolf says:

    Really great reminder! We should all adopt this philosophy…thanks for sharing.
    Laura Wolf recently posted…No Easter Bunny In TaiwanMy Profile

  • This is what I am thinking as well! Why is it that they forget things that we had told them so many times?! And then you are right, it might be because there is so much to take in in a day. Maybe I need to do the clean slate parenting too. #sharewithme
    Merlinda Little ( @pixiedusk) recently posted…Cease The Sunshiny DayMy Profile

  • There’s a good idea! I’d be interested to hear how you get on with it. I’ve never considered that they might genuinely have forgotten that showers exist, that teeth need to be cleaned before school and clothes need to be put away at the end of the day!
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…The Rosie Effect by Graeme SimsionMy Profile

    • Wry Mummy says:

      I guess as they get older I’ll be less willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but at 7, 5 and 2 I”m pretty sure they bumble around in their own sweet little worlds not realising they’re doing something annoying for the 50th time. Bless them.

  • Notmyyearoff says:

    I really really need to do this. My hubby says I go straight from calm to explosive and I’m pretty sure my neighbours think I’m some kind of crazy nagging dragon.

  • I understand this completely. We have this with throwing the coat on the floor or not putting one puzzle/game away before getting another out. I try so hard to remember that he genuinely doesn’t mean to upset or annoy me but it is hard.
    RachelRealLife recently posted…Speech Therapy – Loud ‘n’ ProudMy Profile

  • Jenny says:

    I just about exploded over this and I will tell you why now because I had the same experience the other week. It was the spilling the milk on the dinner table. I don’t understand why its so hard a half full cup of milk to use both hands and not spill it but like you said its the last 499 that broke the camel’s back. I shouted and my son look at me like I had four heads and it made me stop and think the same thing. Child rearing really is frustrating sometime because they really aren’t doing it on purpose and don’t ever remember yesterday. lol Glad i am not alone. If I had a bunny in the house I would have bit his head off today! lol Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. Have a great weekend. #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted…Clean eating, swim towels and a new firepit #littlelovesMy Profile

    • Wry Mummy says:

      OH yes, the spilling the drink! It’s so annoying! I’m glad you have the same experience. These things don’t matter in the slightest, but in the heat of the moment that pent-up annoyance sometimes just overwhelms me! x

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