No More Grapes Until You Finish That Donut (and other words you never knew you’d say as a parent)

“No more grapes until you finish that donut…”  Yep.  That’s a direct quote that came from my mouth a few years ago as my two-year-old consumed the only breakfast item she cared to eat at that meal.  If I ever write a parenting book – that will be the title.

Reflecting back, there are so many words I’ve said as a 30-something parent that 20-something me would never have imagined.  These words I say multiple times a week:

  • No singing at the dinner table.
  • Don’t scratch the table with your fork.
  • Feet off the table.
  • Don’t touch your feet at the table (is this just my kids? so many are about dinner)
  • Where are your pants?
  • You’re not the parent (stop bossing your sibling).
  • Yes, you have to pick up your mess.
  • I can’t hear you over your whining.

Then there’s the mundane of life that I get really excited about.  Potty training, for example.  I have behaved like I just won an Olympic gold after my child went potty.  Jumping, flailing, high fives, beaming with pride.  I make up potty lyrics to popular songs (my favorite being Potty Rockin’ in the House Tonight) and sing them for what feels like hours on end.

20-something me would be appalled at how often my mother’s words just fall right out of my mouth.  The most notable being “Be quiet…I’m on the phone!”  It’s not just those words but the way I say them.  And I get it now.  The entire house can be calm but as soon as a parent gets a phone call, every child in the house will begin to ask for cookies, play with the loudest toy in the house (drum set), and engage in a shouting match with a sibling.  It’s just a rule.  I did it to my mom.  My kids do it to me.

Some of these are funny examples, but there are some I’m less proud of.  I distinctly remember rocking an inconsolable infant after many nights of lack of sleep and telling my husband, “we are never doing this again” (meaning have another child).  That was during a refining stage for me where some of the selfishness of singledom and early marriage had yet to be sifted out.  Obviously my opinion changed (two more times, to be exact), but the point is there are things I might wish I could unsay as a parent.  And some others that I can only laugh at and try to do better in the future…including “no more grapes until you finish that donut.”

Coffee Time a.k.a. our secret to not getting a divorce

I have a secret that I’d like to share with all the couples out there.  It’s called Coffee Time.  And in my household it is sacred time.

Coffee Time is my favorite time of the day.  It occurs on the back patio at my house when it’s nice weather, inside when it’s not, or at my office (where my husband also offices).  At the office is my favorite location.  See photo above.

We have been doing Coffee Time for years and rules have developed over time.  It lasts at least 15 minutes and it is a kid-free time.  At our house this is tricky because our three kids don’t think Coffee Time should be a thing.  Instead they want someone to spread peanut butter on their waffle, take them potty, or start Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  But Kyle and I refuse to do these things during Coffee Time.  Because, for the love, we do those things 99% of the rest of our waking hours (or at least it can feel that way).

During Coffee Time my husband and I connect.  Sometimes it’s making plans (what are we doing this weekend? do you have a plan for dinner?); sometimes it’s talking about the news or weather; sometimes it’s reading our devotion for the day; and sometimes it’s just checking in (how are you doing with that project?  are you feeling better about that thing you were worried about?).

Coffee Time fills my bucket because it’s meeting my need for quality time.  Gary Chapman wrote this really great book called The Five Love Languages (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/).  The book is a pretty quick read it you’re looking for a little boost in your relationship.  Basically he outlines five ways we give and receive love:

  • Quality time
  • Acts of service
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Physical Touch
  • Gifts

We each do all of these things it’s just that some are more meaningful for us.  Also we tend to show love to others via the way we receive love.  This is great if your partner has the same primary love language, but often that’s not the case.

So, in reality, the secret to not getting divorced is more complicated than just Coffee Time, but if you want to strengthen your relationship with your partner, find out your primary love languages.  For the quality time folks out there – I’d start with Coffee Time.