Friday, January 14, 2011

And the Mother of The Year Award Goes To...Not Me...

Ugh. One of my main goals in life is to get my kids off to school happy, calm, well fed and ready to face the day.

Today I figure I'm 0 for 4. As in, not batting a thousand.

Does anyone else get sick of repeating themselves over and over and over again? I often joke that parenting is all about marketing--package and present something attractively enough and they're going to bite. "It's 6:45am! Isn't that great? Hope out of bed and I'll have some hot chocolate waiting for you!" Or we're doing something exciting after schooo, or it's movie night, or those beets give you superpowers...whatever.

And I'm just kidding about the beets. I despise them so I never make them.

Anyway, parenting, as we know, isn't only about marketing, it's also about retition. But I feel like my life lately is repeating myself repeating myself over and over again. And no one is apparently listening or learning.

When I go upstairs before we walk to school, beds are not made, blinds are not open, night lights are not turned off. I estimate I have reminded them to do these things several thousand times. Literally.

I'm also dismayed and disappointed at my children's gimme gimme gimme get get get attitudes. They get an allowance (which I informed them this morning is in jeopardy if they cannot start completing even the simplest morning tasks without reminding) that burns a hole in their pocket from the second it lands there. I don't know why I find their incessant, "Can you take me to the store to buy this and this and this and this," commentary so draining. It's right up there with the constant stream of, "Can I play DS/Wii/computer?"

So this morning, after yet another question of when I could take a certain person to the store to buy a certain something, I cracked. I yelled. I shouted. I slammed stuff down on the counter.

I stunned everyone into silence and sulleness.

That felt great. Not.

The problem, of course, is me. Me not sticking to my guns about no electronics during the week. Me not outlining expectations and then sticking to them. It is always so painfully obvious to me when I am being inconsistent. What kid wouldn't flounder around in the face of inconsistency?

So I foresee a family meeting in our very near future where we re-affirm the rules for all parties, discuss consequences and also behaviorial expectations. Because really, do I need to remind you to do the same 3 things every morning? I think not. Even if you are just 8 and 10.


I'm glad it's Friday. I feel weary.


Kristie said...

If your children are at the point where you yelling still stuns them into silence, then I'd say you've done pretty well. Its the times I raise my voice and no-one even bats an eye that I realize how truly ineffectual I have become. (sigh)

Lucinda said...

If it makes you feel any better, I sent a sick kid to school on Friday...and went to school feeling pretty sick myself. Nothing like having your mom call to tell you that your daughter has a temperature...

And, I have to remind the kids to do the same stuff every day too. You're not alone in this Natalie. Not by a long shot.

Lauren said...

Definitely not alone! We got a Wii this Christmas, and the Sunday before school started back we had a family meeting. For once, Fergus actively participated, because he cared about Wii rules. We do have screen time during the week--an hour W/Th/F; half hour T and W (they have afterschool one day and piano the other). Piano practice has to happen before the Wii for Fergus, but not for Norah who will always do her practice. Screen time is Wii, TV, computer or iPhone but it doesn't include something we watch as a family (arbitrary I know, but usually we just have Friday movies or nature specials or Glee (yes Glee!). They get a 10 minute wrap up warning and then a stop. If they (really just F) don't stop, the next day's clock starts running down and if there is rudeness or surliness associated with stopping, the next day screen time goes away. He's lost a few days already that way, but seems to be learning from it, and accepting the loss with more grace (because if he doesn't...more loss!)

So far it's working ok, but it's only week two! As for repeating myself, all the time! My kids get allowance too but since I never have it handy, they actually haven't gotten too into what they can get with it. Thus we don't have the "take me..." pleads yet, but I'm sure they are coming.

Did I mention we live in what amounts to a constant disaster state? None of us is any good at picking up as we go along, and we haven't figured out the tidying/chore part that well yet. I don't think I've made my own bed, except when expecting company, in decades. We all have comforters that at best get dragged up. Tuck in a sheet? But you're just going to untuck it later?! :)

In summary, you still might be eligible for mother of the year, if you want it!


ps--have any of you read the Wall St Journal column about "Chinese mothers", written by a Chinese American mother?

Anonymous said...

Until you have dropped an F bomb in that yelling/slamming mix you are still ahead of me in the rankings. At least my kids all had the good sense to look horrified.


Anonymous said...

Shauna...mine doesn't look horrified! I hate the early teens...UGGH!

Connie F-G

jennyb said...

Have you ever heard of Love and Logic? I use to hate mornings, and chores, and allowances. Now, I don't let them get to me. You should check it out.

JennyB said...

I would give my children an envelope at the begining of the week. Everytime they did not do their chore, I would not yell, or remind or explain. I would simply do it, but pay myself. I would subtract it from the amount of allowance they were suppose to get. At the end of the week, whatever was left is what they got for their allowance. My daughter would get a healthy amount of money, but the other kid....Not so much. I would hand it to them and thank them for contributing to the family. This eventually started to hit home pretty hard. It is a logical consequence.

Leeann said...

Reading all these comments gives me a ton of great ideas. Now if only I were any good at following through!

I don't impose rules on the eldest (girl, 15) because her computer is so necessary for school that it is tough to police her electronic time. She has a laptop but it stays on the main level of the house b/c she was using it at night w/o permission when it was in her room.

The other two children have electronics time after 7 PM on school days and from 8-10AM on weekends plus at my discretion. My youngest in particular really needed those rules set for him b/c he cannot stop thinking about getting electronic time w/o that rule.

I am mostly successful with the calm, no yelling rule in the mornings. in the evenings, I unravel.

1dreamr said...

Hang in there. Motherhood is the hardest job of them all, and we are SO hard on ourselves. You're a great mom - don't forget that.

Jenn Freeman said...

must be the time of year, coming off break, relaxed rules from the holidays, etc, because we are going through the same here. Smaller scale. In fact Oona has even said to strangers, "my mommy says I am deaf". Let me know if the meeting helps.

Random said...

I know I'm super late to the party here, but as regards the allowance thing, the boys probably have savings accounts or something similar. Have you considered depositing their allowance (or whatever percentage of it they've earned after the week is over and the chores are tallied) directly into it? That way they have all the money, their bank books or statements help them to know how much they've got, and there's nothing physical to burn a hole in their pockets. It's a lot harder to get excited about instantly spending $5 from your bank account than $5 in your pocket... and to be honest, $5 in the bank looks smaller, too - it's less worthwhile to run out and spend it.