By Nicole Perkins
Boy did I have a week! Not that I wasn’t getting enough sleep or I was particularly overworked, it just felt like I was not making any forward progress with my kids. Day in and day out, for a good four consecutive days, my sole occupation was conflict resolution. Put me in the Middle East – I’m ready!
My four-year old daughter and two-year old son were fighting over everything – who got what cup, who got to carry what bag, who got to pour the bubbles in the tub, who walked out of the door first – and on and on.
By Thursday I was ready to strangle them or run away from home. My husband, being the ever considerate man that he is, told me to call my girlfriends and get out of the house – he knows I’m of no use to him in that state, anyways!
And let me tell you, a couple of good girlfriends to whom you can confess everything are priceless! I was really starting to feel like a bad mom, that all I did was yell at them, yet even that wasn’t getting me anywhere. Time outs, banishing them to their room, withholding treats – my children seemed numb to it all.
We spent at least two hours talking about what our own parents did, what other friends do and what might work on my kids. The consensus is that my threats were not serious enough, I wasn’t really following through anyways, and the yelling was doing more harm than good. All of us remembered back in the day that the scariest thing our parents could do was give us the look – I needed to cultivate mine. So the next day, I kept my cool, told the kids exactly how many chances they got and what would happen when they didn’t listen – and without any yelling, they now knew when I meant business.
I also realized that I was spending most of my time reacting to them instead of being proactive with them. It’s a habit I slip into when I have a lot of work to do. I jump on the computer whenever I have a second (I still don’t know if wireless internet is a curse or a blessing!) and never really plan my day out. So, thanks to a Nanny 911 rerun, I decided that we needed a schedule. Now, we have our general nap and eating schedule, but I mean a daily schedule.
So, for the past three days, we have talked about what we wanted to accomplish during breakfast, written it on a piece of paper, and believe it or not, we have completed it every time, sometimes with plenty of time to spare. The kids have been so excited about checking the list to see what’s next, as well as finishing each task to get to the next one. They know what to expect and what I expect of them. Not only do we all love checking items off our list, but it’s truly amazing the things we have accomlished in such a short time.
None of us are perfect, but thank goodness we can help each other learn from past mistakes. Just a couple tweaks and my family is running like a well-oiled machine again – thanks to the advice of others.