Ok, so I'm having one of those days. It doesn't help that my allergies have been knocking me down for almost a week now. I have had a very busy two weeks in which I have come to realize many things about myself. Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with this new information and I'm so worn out tired that I don't even know where to start. But if I don't start today I will lose the motivation to do anything about it, so I'm going to ramble on this blog for a bit. :)
I enjoyed two wonderful kid free weekends with my hubby. The house was clean, quiet, peaceful. Nathan and I could actually have a conversation without kids screaming, fighting, spilling, breaking, slamming, crying, or any other nerve shattering noise. It was blissfully wonderful. A tiny and I do mean tiny part of me felt guilty for not missing my children, but in my defense I was very busy at camp and had 20 something girls to mother so there wasn't time to miss them.
At camp I realized a very important truth about my relationship with my children. My epiphany came on a night when several girls were angry with me for a simple mistake. I had the first level girls and many of them were very homesick. At our camp the girls slept in cabins with their levels not wards, and so many sisters were split up. Some had a VERY hard time with this. One girl would sit in our cabin as late as possible crying every night and begging me to let her stay with her sister. I wanted to let her, but we did not have any extra beds and the rules were they needed to stay in their own cabins to sleep. There are lots of good reasons for this, but I didn't even think about them until Friday, and this is why.
During the week a leader told me that on Friday nights, the last night of camp, the girls could switch cabins and sleep with their friends. So each night that I had to separate the two sisters I would say, "it is just a few more nights until Friday, hang in there" or something similar. Friday night came and these sisters and a few friends took their things and went to another cabin. I knew where they were so I didn't think much about it until it was time for lights out. I had 2 cabins of girls (don't worry their were lots of other leaders helping) and I had gone to the other cabin to say goodnight. One of the leaders mentioned that the one girl was missing and would I please walk her over. I told her where she was and learned that I had been misinformed as to the Friday "tradition" of switching cabins.
Well, I felt horrible and slightly terrified because now I had to fix it and I am not good at being firm when it comes to things like this. I was smart enough to ask this other leader to come with me because I knew my weakness. These girls were really defiant and rude when we found them and told them what needed to happen. I felt horrible and tried to explain that I had the wrong information and apologized but that is not what they wanted to hear. They were very angry with me and it hurt my feelings because I really wanted them to be happy and have a good time at camp. I had also gone out of my way to try and be friends with the first level girl and give her hope that it would all be worth it. I also just hate it when people are mad at me, always have been and always will be.
The same thing happens in my home with my children. I love them so much and want them to be happy and have the things they want. They know this, and they know how to take advantage of it. They love and respect me, but they do not respect my authority as the parent. They do not believe me when I say "no" because they know if they throw a tantrum I will eventually give in. They can go for hours and it wears me down! Plus, I can clean it faster and better anyway, right?
The problem is that they get away with it, don't learn anything, and I wear myself out trying to keep everyone happy. But, I'm not happy. So I need to be a better parent when it comes to "This is the family rule, end of discussion" Do you know what I mean? Maybe it is because I read that Parenting with Love and Logic book so long ago. I'm always trying to explain why I said what I said and what the consequences are so they can make a good choice. Unfortunately, it seems to be a waste of time. They are kids and all they need to know is that it is the way it is Because I Said So. My kids talk to me in ways that I never would have dreamed of talking to my parents. I would have been smacked into next week.
So what am I going to do about it? Any ideas? I'm making a detailed daily schedule in the hopes that getting organized with our time will help. I'm also going to print out our family rules so that no one can say they "forgot" or just "didn't know". But what are my consequences? We don't do sleep overs so I can't take that away. We have put a lock on the TV so they can't watch it anyway. They have very few toys and they seem to like being "sent to their room". The only thing left is to take away the Wii, which I do every time they fight over it anyway. I'm at a loss as to how to make the change be affective. There has to be consequences, but what? No pool? I'll die! Please post any suggestions you might have.
I thought that I could start a positive reinforcement that I am borrowing from camp--Her majesty of the day--what the girls fondly called the commode award. I'll have to call it something else since I have boys too. But you can earn this by getting all your chores done without complaining and by being obedient. You then get to ask each member of the family to do something for you--such as clear your plate for you after dinner, bring something to you, pick the show of the night, etc. I can see my kids really getting into that so we will have to have a whole set of rules just for that. Any thoughts?