Diary of a mom: I stopped nagging for a month
Hi, My name is Lisa Steinke and I'm writing this article because I'm a nagging mother and wife. (Sounds sexy, huh?)
Because I really, really wanted to stop nagging my poor family, I did what any self-respecting woman would do: I decided to keep a journal and put it out there publicly so I wouldn't chicken out. So it's been 30 days. Was I able to curb my nagging ways?
Moms: Do you ever have one of those days when you rise above your body and see yourself the way you fear others might? In my case, it was not as much what I saw, but what I heard. As I clicked down a list of grievances I had with my husband — to my husband — I sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher but amped on multiple shots of espresso. Not good. And so that's where it began, my journey toward giving my inner nag a swift kick in the you-know-what.
I'd like to preface this journal entry with the words: It's only day one.
I've already nagged. One of the kids didn't remember to set the alarm clock again. Sigh. I tried to talk myself out of nagging about the importance of waking up for school on time. I tried to let it go, but I couldn't. I had to lecture. If her glossed-over eye balls were any indication of how well my speech went over, I would've had more success trying to convince her a cell phone free life is a better life.
Charlie Brown's teacher, 1. Lisa, 0.
I woke up this morning determined not to nag even if it meant gagging myself with a sweat sock. When my stepson came home from school, I didn't ask him if he remembered to wash his hands (a rule after coming in the front door). I just crossed my own clean fingers that he had. Then he told me I'd put out the "best snack ever" and I was relieved I hadn't said a word.
I asked my husband if he'd called the furnace repairman. When he said no, I nagged him about it. In my defense, I was cold!
It's amazing but I haven't nagged anyone in two days. Now's probably the time I should confess that my husband has also been traveling for two days, but still! Nag-free days are nag-free days even if I've spent most of that time with my toddler who doesn't listen to a single word I say.
I've had a nagging relapse. In the span of 10 minutes, I nagged my husband about packing, checking us into our flight and dishes. I just irritated myself. That's got to be a good sign, right?
In an I-want-to-nag-but-I'm-determined-not-to panic, I did an online search for answers about how to stop nagging. I came across an article I had researched and written entitled, Tired of ragging and nagging? and studied it until my eyes crossed. (There was some really good advice in there!)
It's been almost two weeks and I'm not sure how much of an improvement I've made. I'm starting to worry that there is no hope. And one day my family may just revolt. No matter what happens today, I will not nag anyone in the family.
Update: Three hours later. I nagged the postman about where to leave packages just to get the nag out of my system.
Had a terrible dream that my family tied me to a wooden stake and chanted nags at me until my eyes bled.
Woke up in a cold sweat and realized it's officially been two weeks. I decided it was time for a check-in with my husband. When I asked him if he thought I'd improved, he asked me to define improvement. Not a great sign, but I pressed on and asked him to evaluate me on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the nag from hell and a 1 being more laid back than someone on Xanax. He gave me a 9. I'll take it!
It's been three days since I've nagged the kids or my husband about anything. The competitor in me wants to get a score better than a 9. Because right now, my 9 means I'm failing. And maybe on some level my husband knew that giving me a 9 would be the fire I needed under my nagging arse. I have to admit that it feels good to just let everyone be. I've noticed that I feel a lot less stress too. Maybe there is something to this nag-free life.
The kids said something to me today, that they'd noticed I hadn't asked about the handwashing or the beds being made or even the alarm clock in a while. I've turned a corner, I told them. I trust you guys are going to get it done. They gave me a genuine thanks. (I secretly wondered again if my husband was behind it, knowing full well I wouldn't be able to nag for a while after hearing that!)
My husband and the kids - 1
I couldn't take it. My husband forgot to get an important paper signed and I nagged him about listening. Why does everything I say go in one ear and out the other, I'd asked? His response: Do you seriously want me to answer that? That night's Twitter hashtag had I been tweeting? #NagEphiphany.
They say it takes 28 days to break a habit. Is that what this nagging thing is/was? I found unmade beds and crumpled up dirty clothes right next to the dirty clothes hamper this morning and I wondered, is it possible to get people to do what you want without harping on them? I had to dig up that sweat sock but I didn't say a word about any of it to anyone — except you, Journal.
I'm wondering if thinking nagging thoughts can be considered nagging. Because I think about nagging a lot. But have I? Nope. Not in five whole days. No one's been traveling and there were no sweat socks involved. And a funny thing happened. Family members have been remembering to do things on their own, gulp, without so much as a word from me. #NagSuccessStory
Will I never nag again? Have I suddenly become all-tolerant and laid back? No — not even close. But am I well on my way to becoming a person who doesn't sweat the small stuff? Who thinks before she nags? Yes. And that's good enough for me (and hopefully my family too).