Do you ever get to the end of your day and say to yourself, “Good job! You got it all done?” No? Me either. I perpetually transfer tasks from today’s to-do list to tomorrow’s. I am never finished. Yes, I am busy, but my main enemy is procrastination. Why ruin this moment by doing something I don’t want to do when later seems like a perfectly good time to do it?
What is that one thing you put off until the last minute? My bathrooms get the run-around every week. I know it must be done, but tomorrow always seems like the best day to do it. While I am being transparent about my aversion to scrubbing toilets, I’ll admit to you, sometimes tomorrow never comes. Tomorrow becomes next week. Finally, after my nose reminds me I am potty training a boy, I roll up my sleeves and don the rubber gloves. The job doesn’t take very long, and I always feel better when it is complete. But still, I procrastinate.
This tendency to put off until tomorrow what should be done today is not limited to my list of household chores. It affects my parenting as well. I let little offenses slide. Eyes roll without correction. Parental requests are ignored or forgotten without consequences. Why do I put off correcting my children? I have a list.
- Too busy checking items off my to-do list (except the bathrooms, of course)
- Preoccupied with my phone or laptop (I’m not proud of this one)
- Don’t want to deal with the push-back (parents of strong-willed kids say, “Amen!”)
- Hope it will go away on its own
- Foolishly believe they will do better when they are older
- Tired, worn out, and just plain lazy
You may have a few things to add to the list. No matter the reason, procrastination parenting produces the same results—overwhelmed parents with out of control children (who become out of control adults).Procrastination parenting produces overwhelmed parents with out of control children.Click To Tweet
Be Kind to Your Future Self
In her book Overwhelmed, Kathi Lipp says, “We set ourselves up for overwhelming failure when we place unrealistic expectations on our Future Selves.” When I continually put off my list of chores all week, I inadvertently expect my Future Self to clean the entire house during a small window of time on Friday (while also caring for a three-year-old). I would never expect that of a friend, so why do I expect that of my Future Self?
This truth applies to parenting. We set ourselves and our children up for failure when we delay discipline.We set ourselves and our children up for failure when we delay discipline.Click To Tweet
When I delay discipline, I leave it up to my children to self-correct. I give them the responsibility to weed out their tendencies toward selfishness, pride, anger, and discontentment. Why am I surprised when they don’t clean their room the fifth time I ask or keep watching Netflix after I call them to dinner? Why do I have to diffuse sibling arguments every single day? My procrastination parenting frustrates the stew out of me, and I do this to myself!
Nip It in the Bud
The Andy Griffith Show is one of our family favorites. It presents a conflict with a tidy resolution in twenty-three minutes, all with a smile and a southern accent. Storylines don’t carry over to the next episode. As Barney Fyffe says, they “nip it in the bud.”
When it comes to discipline, we need to embrace Barney’s advice and nip it in the bud. Our response to disobedience needs to be immediate and decisive. Easy enough, right? (Don’t mind me—I think I will just hide under the table until the high school graduations.) How do we pull this off without feeling completely overwhelmed?
Kathi Lipp says we can avoid that overwhelmed feeling by pre-deciding. “The best way to take care of your Future Self is pre-deciding: making intentional decisions ahead of time about particulars and principles.” This addresses procrastination parenting head-on. To strengthen our resolve to nip it in the bud, we need to decide now how we will deal with disobedience. We have a few questions to consider:
- What is unacceptable behavior in our home?
- What heart issues would we most like to address?
- Which consequences are most effective for each child?
- Which Bible verses address the core issues?
I nailed down a few issues to address in my kids, each specific to their current struggles and temperaments. I also pre-decided some consequences that sting. It will take me a little more time to talk through the desired heart changes during the lectures. As for my own heart, I decided to memorize Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (ESV).
Answering these questions will help us pre-decide when and what discipline is required. We will have a ready response, making procrastination parenting a thing of the past. A little forethought can stave off that overwhelmed feeling and give us the strength and stamina to be intentional parents. Our Future Selves and our grown children will thank us for it!
Are you overwhelmed in any aspect of your life? Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity helps address the why and how of that overwhelmed state. I share more here.
Would you like some help finding that just-right verse to train your child? Ginger Hubbard has an amazing resource for moms. Wise Words for Moms lists heart issues we need to address with heart-probing questions and corresponding Scripture. I keep this resource hanging on the wall in my kitchen for quick reference. I also love her book, Don’t Make Me Count the Three, a great resource to combat procrastination parenting.
Photo credit: Jordan Whitt via Unsplash.
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