Its been one of those weeks.
A week where I have been questioning my parenting abilities and looking at my sometimes crazed children with disbelief. With an 8 and 6 year old I feel like parenting, for the most part, is much easier. No more nighttime wakings (unless illness or a nightmare rears it ugly head) No more nappies, no more bottles and pureed food. We can reason with them, they understand everything and they can make their own decisions and dress themselves. All easier than toddler/babydom in my book.
But then you have this thing called 'free will' where they get to make choices (with guidance) and start to experience accountability for their actions.
We experienced that this week. After trying to reason with Josh that he should not be running around during Maddy's ice skating lesson, he defied that command and ran...straight into a toddler...stood just inches away from her Father. The look of horror on Joshua's face when the toddler started crying was intense. It became even more intense when her Father started berating him. He looked to me for help and I walked with him to apologise to the injured parties and face them himself. I think that was probably the hardest thing, thus far, that he has had to do.
He sat with me for the rest of the 30 minute ice skating lesson.
On the way home, I was mad. Yes mad at Josh for not listening and hurting a little girl, but more mad at myself for becoming lazy. I have become one of those parents that will shout from the other room for my kids to stop hurting each other, than get up and face them and hand them out consequences immediately.
The only reason Josh did not think twice about disobeying is because I had gotten lazy....
When we got home, I sent both kiddies to their bedrooms (yes Maddy was no angel that afternoon before skating either!) and I packed up every toy in the playroom. Every. single. toy.
Their job now was to earn those toys back, one by one - with obedience, respect and kindness. In addition to the new regieme, I printed out basic chore charts to go on the fridge. Detailing what I expected from them each day: make bed, brush teeth twice, no fighting... and an additional sheet of chores that would earn them extra pocket money - like sorting their laundry, tidying their closet, organising the playroom...
I was expecting tantrums and meltdowns at the lack of toys and newly imposed rules. But I actually got quite the opposite. The kids were excited at the thought of being able to earn more pocket money and set about completing their daily chores and working their way through the new ones. By the end of the day Maddy had earned $3.25 for all of the 50 and 25 cents extra chores she had done and Josh had earned $2.00
My kids felt empowered.
Today - spurred on by their enthusiasm, I am going to make something more permanent to go on the fridge to display their chores and give them more options for earning a little extra.
This whole experience has been a HUGE learning curve for me. I have never been a believer in punishing children physically (especially when it is to alleviate the anger and frustration from the parent) but I think somewhere along the way I let things slip and didn't have anything in place to help guide my children to make the right decisions (shouting 'stop hitting each other!' from the other room doesn't count!) I feel like we have a starting point now, one that we can build on. One that is helping both Mama and kids to learn.
The photos are of Auntie-made outfits for my new little Nephew, who I am sure will never give his parents the runaround quite like my little monsters! ;o)