“Three words,” my husband said suddenly, as he appeared in the doorway of the kitchen.
I looked up from what I was doing and started throwing words at him. “Self-control, kindness, love.”
“All good words but not the three I’m thinking of.” Although he was serious, he had a cheeky sparkle in his eye that I love so well. Although I was serious in my reply, there was an edge of banter to my words.
About an hour before this conversation, in the aftermath of the dinner-bath-bed routine, my husband and I talked about family life. You see, at the moment, everything seems chaotic, and we are deciding what to focus on. Manners at the dinner table are shocking; things in the home aren’t organised; the kids can’t seem to sit still during story time; they are bickering and I feel like we are failing at family life right now. I’m sick of the chaos. I’m over mess. I’m just tired.
As I write this, things are quiet again, I remember some good things too. After the children were in bed, my eight-year-old daughter came and stood beside me. I felt irritated that she was out of bed but when I turned to face her, the genuine glaze in her brown eyes, dissipated my annoyance.
“Sorry Mum. I know you said you didn’t want me to read in bed tonight because it’s late but when I was in bed, I forgot and read a few pages without thinking.” Her eyelashes are long and I noticed them as she spoke.
“I just wanted to tell you,” she said.
That’s pretty amazing.
I couldn’t help but smile at her. “Thanks for telling me darling. That’s fine. I can totally understand that. You need to go straight to sleep now though.”
“Yep. Sure mum. Night. Love you.”
That’s a pretty amazing moment right there.
When things are chaotic, I feel like throwing myself on the ground like a 2-year-old and giving up. But all is not lost, see? And when I take a moment to think about my kids, there is so much awesome. Seriously. However some things do need to change, and I voiced it to my husband in our conversation after dinner.
“I feel like basically, we are putting the blame on the children’s behaviour, but it’s mostly our fault, isn’t it?” I said frankly. “What are we going to do?”
We let the conversation hang on that note, and sit in the air while we continued through some of the night time jobs. It wasn’t uncomfortable, nor was it expectant, it was a there, waiting.
After a shower, my husband appeared in the kitchen doorway and said, “Three words.”
My failed attempts to guess the words had him smiling.
“Lead. By. Example.”
That is what he said. “We have to be the change we want in our family.”
It’s an obvious answer that is often hidden. The concept isn’t a new one; I’ve heard it many times before, but it hit us both in the eyes right then.
I both loved and hated the three words my husband spoke. I loved them for their truth. I hated them in that moment too, because of their implication. You see, I like action. I’m horribly impatient. I aim to make things happen. Boom! Like that. I want change immediately and am willing to fight for it. I like to move hard, work fast, and then just be.
These three words go against that. They are silent. They are enduring. They are persistent. They are gracious. They are patient. They are strength. God help me be the change.
Nothing dramatic has happened since the three-word conversation. Nope. Still chaotic here. But there is a quietness beneath the noise. A quietness that waits patiently in confidence…because fruit only happens after the nurturing is done.
It’s good to talk. It’s great to be reminded. It’s excellent to refocus. And we DO have a slightly new focus for the now. And it’s less about table manners and more about creating an environment of harmony and gentle leadership. How we plan to do it is contained in these three words, followed by another three words: lead by example, lead with love. Until the next time we need to regroup…
Naomi EllisApril 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm
I am emailing this to my husband. We just had the exact conversation recently. We are currently drowning in the chaos and trying really hard to see the good sweet moments. Love this post. N x
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm
It’s nice to know that we go through similar things, isn’t it? x
ShannonNovember 30, 2013 at 9:19 am
It is easy to feel that we aren’t being the greatest parents…but we all feel the same way at times. I appreciate you sharing this as I feel that most people don’t like to admit that parenting can be difficult.
Jo SweeneyApril 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm
LOVE THIS!! I said WOW at the end, your words are so true!
Im also thankful for your chaos and unorganised home at the moment 🙂
Thanks for the share
Jo Sweeney – Fit Mums N Bubs
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm
Aw, Jo, thanks for this sweet comment. xx
Debbie @ Aspiring MumApril 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm
I can so relate to putting the blame on the children’s behaviour, when the reality is, it comes down to us. Man, it’s hard work, and often we don’t see the fruits of our labour for a long time. But when we do, it’s priceless.
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm
I think that’s the thing Debbie. It’s a long term thing and I find it hard sometimes, not seeing the fruit of it all…
mumspkApril 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm
Fabulous to hear such heartfelt intentional parenting. Very encouraging.
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm
Intentional parenting. I like that.
PetrinaApril 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm
So true. Thanks 🙂
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm
Tracey HutchingsApril 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm
Wow, a great post.
I love reading your blog, and others like it, by people who are not claiming to have the perfect hollywood family but who ARE really trying to be the best parents they can be. Thanks again.
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm
Thanks Tracey. Such an encouraging comment.
JJ StrananApril 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm
Kel, Your blog posts get better and better each day – I’m not sure how as they were pretty darn incredible when I started reading them last year. You are the type of Mother that I aspire to be (if I ever get given that opportunity of being a mum that is!) I love your ideas, your love and your honesty and your determination to be the best of everything that you can be. Much love JJ 🙂
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm
JJ my friend, I feel like crying reading this. Much love back. x
Deb @ Bright & PreciousApril 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm
Love this, Kelly. Love your conscious and heart-led mothering. Love what you draw out and share with us. x
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm
So nice that we have met now Deb, and I can hear your voice through your words.
Darren OsborneApril 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm
My wife sent this to me at work. It’s like you just described our life and the same conversation we had last night. It seems you, your husband, my wife and I, and the commentators above are all in the boat. Great post. Thank you.
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm
Hi Darren. Thanks for visiting here and leaving a comment. I love it how we can connect and share through so many common experiences.
mother experimentApril 27, 2012 at 5:28 pm
Leading by example is hard! Not always fun either. But it is very rewarding isn’t it? (Eventually!)
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm
Yes VERY. And yes!
ElizabethApril 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm
My favourite so far Kelly, love it. Keep sharing your living in the moment 🙂
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm
Thanks Liz. 😀
JulieApril 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm
Thanks Kelly. I need to hear these words again and again. So easy to focus on ‘the kids” and not on ourselves…
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm
I do find it easy to blame things around me rather thank look at what I can change. The challenge continues.
wendyApril 28, 2012 at 7:04 am
My husband asked me the other day which baby/kid website is my favorite (eg. bub hub, etc) , I told him “Be a Fun Mum blog”, he asked why. For stories like these that remind us that family is the most important thing, it grounds us and make us whole. Thanks Kelly for these reminders
Kelly Be A Fun MumMay 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm
Thank you Wendy. You’re right: family is so important isn’t it? And worth investing in.
Gayel Stewart-AirsApril 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm
Thank you..lovely post. You could of been peeping in our window describing my little lot lately. 🙂
Tracie ParnellApril 28, 2012 at 11:02 pm
I can relate to that. Thanks for sharing. A timely reminder for me.
NaomiMay 8, 2012 at 10:57 pm
It’s been wonderful coming across your FB page and blog tonight! This post was incredible to read; we’ve had the same frustrations in our house too, the same type of conversations… I’m asking God to help me be the change too, for our children to see a Mum whose joy is obvious, no matter what may be going down!!! My Husband is beautifully and dutifully leading the way, reading the Bible to our 2 boys before bed, while I listen with great pleasure as I nurse the Baby – nothing more beautiful at the mo…! And talk is positive from him, where it’s not often been in the past… I’ve allowed this to drag me down, so now I’m trying to “catch up”… Re-focusing means ‘effort’ for this sleepy Mama, but our little ones are so worth it, I know that!!! Thank you for your wonderful, meaningful post, and for your honesty that speaks volumes… Blessings!
Martine@themodernparentJuly 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm
Beautiful words again Kelly, and certainly I don’t think there is ever a family who could not heed this advice at any given time. Your husband is a wise man (of course cause he married you!) xx
CarolineJuly 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm
Kelly, fantastic blog, obviously echoed by a lot of people, including myself. I look at my kids eating and I think, ‘My God, do I eat like that?’, obviously aware of the lead by example concept!! Like you too, I’m an action Mum and want to see results yesterday!! I’m half way through the Positive Parenting programme, which my husband and I decided to purchase sometime after your webinar. It’s hard……! But I love the philosophy and practical suggestions, just what we needed. Can’t wait to finish it (action Mum speaking!), I just desparately look forward to better table manners!!! Caroline
Kate @ Back to Basics TuitionJuly 15, 2012 at 2:29 pm
ok, my eyes are leaking a little as I read this because it is so true. And it sounds similar to our household (although we only have one child to deal with). She’s only 17months but is such a bright little girl, and she observes EVERYTHING. Her frustration at not being able to physically do things or in not getting what she wants turn into fairly impressive (but thankfully short lived) tantrums. She has her father’s short fuse for sure and we need to lead by example too ?
Jo RJuly 15, 2012 at 2:34 pm
This has come at exactly the right time for me, after spending that last couple of weeks feeling like I am failing at family life! Wow, perfect. thanks for sharing
Misty JonesJuly 15, 2012 at 2:50 pm
Tara MartinJuly 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm
Hay there Kelly, once again your words ring true. its hard to be a parent who holds traditional values in a modern world with so much distraction and a fast paced lifestyle. finding the calm in the chaos is very challenging for us at the moment. My husbands grandfather passed two days ago and we are trying to buy our first home ( with endless drama) organise a full renovation to happen in the space of three weeks, Im about to turn 30 and on top of that we have three adorable but busy children under 5. It is easy to see how focusing on quality family interactions and parental teaching can turn on its head. Thank you for reminding me that the lessons are still happening and to be conscious of the persons we are encouraging our children to become. A very timely reminder.
Gratefully yours Tara. 🙂
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LauraApril 18, 2013 at 10:30 am
Beautiful post and so true. A good wake up call. There are quite a few behaviours in my children that I wish were different, and most of then lead straight back to me and my husband! Thanks for reminding me that the change starts with us!
TierneyApril 18, 2013 at 1:02 pm
This was really well written, thank you.
LollyApril 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm
I love your honesty, Kelly. When we are honest about the challenges of parenting it allows others to do the same. Thank you for a great read.
KamyaApril 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm
Oh I so needed to read this right now! Perfect timing and such wise words. Thank you for the reminder and the gentle encouragement.
Laura McKillopApril 19, 2013 at 6:29 am
Kelly, Thankyou for a lovely post ( 3 words) it really touched me because at this present time my family and i are living in total chaos and dont know how to get out of it. These words were the very ones i needed to read today. I know I have to change for my family’s sake.
You Don’t Have to Save the World, Every Single DayMay 26, 2013 at 11:57 pm
[…] he by surface thinking. Yet, many times he comes out with just the right thing in a concise way (here’s another example) that brings stability to my thinking. I guess our polar differences bring balance to our […]
Jo @ Princess Warrior LessonsNovember 30, 2013 at 8:57 am
There is such wisdom in this. Thank you.
YolandeNovember 30, 2013 at 1:11 pm
Love it Kell! Sounds very, very, very, familiar…. well the chaos that is…… the words we speak trying to solve it are not limited to three lol. Think it’s that time of year. Everyone is just tired!
NessNovember 30, 2013 at 8:40 pm
What a great post Kelly. Im so happy I have come upon your blog and I’m so glad you wrote such wise words to inspire us all. Thanks so much for sharing. xx
Angie PantaziDecember 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm
Our little family goes through this on a seemingly constant rotation. It’s so hard to lead by example when you are both exhausted from work and instead of those three wise words, we tend to use four not-so-wise words: Go. To. Your. Room. Oh dear. We’ll keep trying!
Debs- Learn with Play at HomeDecember 2, 2013 at 9:03 am
My husband and I just had a very similar conversation recently. And all we could come up with was the same. That we needed to be the change and that at the end of the day, actions do really speak louder than words. Thanks for keeping it real x
Nathalie BrownOctober 20, 2014 at 10:06 am
Nailed it x
Kelly Be A Fun MumOctober 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm