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10 Small Grumbles Hidden In The Heart Of Every Parent With Kids

10 Small Grumbles Hidden In The Heart Of Every Parent With Kids

Quite a lot of movies, books, and even songs represent parents as saints or people with few personal needs. Meanwhile, in reality, most parents feel annoyed, frustrated, and even driven nuts when dealing with their children. We are only human after all. The little people in our lives are extremely proficient at finding our weak spots.  They seem to instinctively know just how to get our goat.

1. You never wake up naturally

I never wake up by myself. I never even wake up with the alarm clock. I’m usually woken up by a small face appearing in front of mine and loudly asking, “Are you awake, Mom?” From the moment you become a parent, the days of waking up naturally are gone. Everyone acts like that’ll change. Here’s a newsflash – it won’t.

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2. You never stop cleaning up messes

It never fails. Your little one asks for a glass of water or milk and two seconds later – it’s on the floor. Or down your shirt. Or in your shoes. You might think you’re clever and put the liquid in a sippy cup. It doesn’t matter. They will find a way to spill it.

3. You never get to eat dessert without sharing

My kids are experts at wolfing down their own desserts, giving me sad eyes, and asking for “just one bite” of mine. I have been known to actually shield my dessert from them with my hands while growling, “Get away from my cake.” It’s like Lord of the Flies when it comes to dessert and kids. Ever tried eating a piece of cake in front of your two year-old and offering them fruit as a “healthy snack option instead? You only try that one once and live to tell of it.

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4. You can’t leave home without packing half of the house

Leaving your home used to be so quick and easy. You’d grab your purse, maybe a drink for the road, and you’d walk out the door. Now you need at least 30 minutes to prepare. The world might end if you forget a sippy cup, a change of diapers, wipes, snacks, toys, bottles, a special blanky, a change of clothes, and so on. Leaving your home requires roughly the same amount of planning that some military missions do. There are no quick errands anymore. If you get brave enough (IE: crazy enough) and leave the house without the all important diaper bag, you know your kid is going to have a blowout so epic that they’ll be talking about it at the grocery store for some weeks to come. Trust me, I know this from personal experience.

5. You can’t have nice things

Do you have a beautiful and intricate rug? Not anymore. With kids running around, you might as well go ahead and rub chocolate all over it yourself. Perhaps you have a priceless heirloom mirror from your grandmother? Just break it now. That’s what it’ll look like in the near future if you leave it in your home with kids around. No matter how much you love your little rug rats, rest assured that they will trash everything in your home. It’s their job.

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6. You never pee alone

For some reason, young children think that going to the bathroom is a group activity. You think you’re going to steal away for 2 blessed minutes to pee in peace – you’re not. They will find you. And they will have urgent needs the minute you sit down. They need a snack “NOW!” They broke your favorite vase. They lit the kitchen on fire. If you don’t get off the toilet, what’s next?

7. You find that vomit is magically attracted to your body

It starts when kids are tiny babies. They spit up on you – a lot. And it usually happens right after you’ve put on a fresh shirt or dropped the burping cloth. Then they become toddlers and get the stomach flu for the first time. You know what comes next – they throw up on you. You tell yourself it’s because they don’t understand the feeling of nausea and what usually happens next. Then they become preschoolers and they come into your room to tell you they don’t feel well – and throw up all over you. Even elementary school kids seem to do this. Parenting is rife with puke. It nearly always ends up all over you.

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8. You repeat yourself 10 billion times

Ever tried to teach a small child manners? Or tried to explain why dragons can’t be pets? It takes a special kind of patience to torture yourself daily with explaining the same things over, and over, and over again. The next day it’ll start all over again. Ever had your four year-old give you a puzzled look when you say, “I didn’t hear the magic word” for the twelfth time that day? You patiently explain that when you ask for more milk, you have to use the word “please”. They will look at you in confusion. I swear.

9. You reheat your coffee at least 10 times before you drink it

Remember the days when you sat down to the paper and a steaming cup of Joe on Sunday mornings? You could relax and drink your delicious beverage while it was hot. Once you have kids, you have two choices. You either chug your coffee while it’s so hot you actually get third degree burns on your tongue, OR you drink it in small sips in between its trips back and forth from the microwave.

10. You face resistance to sleep every single day

No matter how tired your kid is, they will fight sleep. In fact, there seems to be a direct correlation between tiredness and sleep resistance. As in, the more tired and hyper your kid is, the more viciously she will fight sleep. Your kiddo will always come up with some amazing reasons she can’t go to bed just yet. Ever heard the one about how there is a dragon in her room that only comes out when it’s dark and no parents are around? Or how he is so thirsty he might just die without water? Or how one more bedtime story will surely bring immediate and glorious sleep? Or how it’s not fair that grown-ups get to stay up late and do amazingly fun things like the dishes? I could go on and on… like an annoying little (lovable) kid.

Featured photo credit: Man and child at Occupy Wall Street/Timothy Krause via flickr.com

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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