The previous posts I wrote on scheduling look lovely on paper. But what happens when you actually try to implement them? I know that in the long run, it works out. However, it can be really frustrating living in the now. We have had morning and evening routines for a long while now. But with being pregnant(which I don’t do well) and then hemorrhaging when the baby was born (which took months to recover from), our routines have been a bit loose. What follows is my account of this week tightning up the schedule. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, skip to the conclusion at the end. Enjoy!
The set up is: if our children do not finish their morning jobs by the time the timer goes off, they miss breakfast and they still have to do their morning jobs, they don’t get anything fun until they do. If they do not finish their evening jobs then they go to bed 30 minutes early and miss reading/game time with Mommy and Daddy.
Ages of the children: Grace–6 Ben–4 Faith–3
We foolishly forgot to set the timer. So the kids took forever to get everything done. We were worried about being late for Mass so we didn’t have them clean their room. We were going to have them clean it when we got home, but we forgot. We were both really naggy too. We are going to have to come up with a consequence for not getting ready on time since they don’t want to go to Mass. Maybe one of us stays home with the not ready child and they have to go to Spanish Mass?
Horrible! Horrible evening! No one got ready. They were loud and bouncing off the walls. We turned the timer off and just put them in bed. Too much noise!
Grace finishes her morning jobs without any help but with lots of whining. Lots of whining. You know the tune. “It’s not fair. Why do I have to clean my room? Why do I have to get dressed?” On and on and on. The funny thing about watching her is that the entire time that she is complaining she is doing her chores. I am happy that she just whines instead of screams, which is what she would have done a year ago.
Ben just sat on the floor of his room and cried the. whole. time! I tried to talk to him but it was completely pointless. So I let him cry. When there was about five minutes left, he comes and asks for help. Then there was more crying when the timer went off.
Faith was great. She cheerily threw away her pull-up, cleaned her room, and got dressed for the day. I think she was really hungry. She finished everything and there was still 20 minutes left on the timer. 😀
Grace looked like she was going to cooperate. There was very little crying or whining from her. She came back to the chart several times to see what was next. She is on the last step, not just that but the last part of the last step. All she has to do is put her shoes in the laundry room and she is done. She starts this argument about how shoes are not toys and so she shouldn’t have to put them away. We tell her that she can go to bed early if she wants. Apparently she wanted to go to bed early because she didn’t put her shoes away until after the timer went off.
Ben went into his room and played with cars. He played the whole time and was very upset that he wasn’t ready for bed on time.
Faith started getting ready, got about half way through and then kept collapsing at every word. She was tired. Very tired.
So all of our children went to bed early. The plus side is Joe and I get 30 more minutes of alone time!
Troubleshooting: I am wondering if Ben’s problem is that there are no pictures so he has to ask for help just to know what the next step is. I am going to spend tonight working on a new worksheet for him and see what happens tomorrow.
Grace and Ben decided that they didn’t need breakfast and only wanted to play with cars. I set the timer and ignored them. Then I realized that one of their morning jobs is to clean their room and maybe they are refusing to do any of their jobs because they really want to play with cars. I let them know that they can do their morning jobs and leave the cars on the floor. They promptly got done with all of their morning jobs. I was impressed. Faith was just as punctual as yesterday. She must really like breakfast. No crying this morning even though I had run out of time last night to make a picture chart for Ben.
Daylight savings time is kicking my butt. Everything in the last week has been an hour off. It’s like we didn’t really have daylight savings time, everything just sort of shifted. So dinner tonight was an hour later than it was supposed to be. Thus the children got started on bedtime routine an hour later. I was expecting lots of whining like last night but they didn’t do too badly. There was a lot of standing around on Ben’s part but he was still able to get his chores done. So, our living room actually got cleaned. Yay!
Another great morning. When the timer went off, only one child wasn’t finished with breakfast. There was very little whining.
This evening did not go well at all. Grace said that she was too tired to get ready on her own and that she was sick. Daddy helped her get ready and she was in bed way before the timer went off. She seemed to fall asleep immediately. Maybe she really wasn’t feeling well. Ben on the other hand laid on the couch singing this really annoying song over and over again, very loudly. I gave him one warning that if he didn’t start getting ready for bed I was going to put him in bed. He did not comply. He must have been tired too. He fell asleep quickly after being put to bed.
Why did last night go so well and this night and Sunday night go so horribly. The only thing I can think of is that Tuesday, we ate dinner an hour late and I didn’t let them back outside. Perhaps going outside right before bed should be avoided. I will try that tomorrow night.
Wow the kids were whiny this morning. Grace was just plain rude. After a few minutes of her picking on the other children I told her that if her attitude didn’t improve she was going to be in her room for half an hour. No one wants to be around a meany pants. I set the timer and the kids just ignored me. I worked really really hard at not saying anything after the initial warning that I was setting the timer.
I remembered to keep the kids in the house after dinner. The evening went better. There were two problems. Faith(3) kept melting down and crying, we decided she was too tired and put her to bed before the timer went off. Grace got two new rules added to the routine. One: if you interrupt your siblings from getting ready then you go straight to bed. Two: If we decide you are dawdling then you go straight to bed. We gave her the warning tonight and we will try hard not to remind them tomorrow, just act. Isn’t it amazing how children can find holes in your best laid plan?
Much less whiny this morning. Why? I don’t know. Maybe they are getting used to the routine. Grace has stopped being so loud in her refusals. But she has started wandering the house and any child that gets in her path is called, “Baby” . Why does she do this? I don’t know but I find it frustrating. I am not sure what to do about it. Right now I calmly walk her to her room and tell her she can come out when ever she is ready to be nice. Maybe this is working, just really slowly. It’s hard not to freak out and yell. I know that won’t be helpful and just cause things to escalate. But it makes me so angry when one of children is being bullied, even if my own child is the bully.
The evening went great. Even Joy went right to sleep.
Hubby works on Saturdays. So, for us, Saturday is just another work day. The kids were all excited about playing one of their games. We added a new rule: if you are choosing to play and not do your chores than whatever you were playing with gets taken away for the day. I explained the new rule today and they didn’t have any problems getting ready for the day after that.
Grace was “off” all day. I don’t know what to do with her when she gets in these moods. Nothing will get her out of it. We probably should have just put her straight to bed, but we wanted to give her the choice to obey if she could. She chose not to. We probably should have acted sooner. It’s hard to know when to pull the “you’re going to bed early card”. I was impressed with how well she handled it. I asked her to walk with me to her room and explained why she was going to bed early. She started to scream but before she could really get going I told her, “You can go to bed with or without a song. Make your choice. If you keep screaming than you are choosing without.” I have been practicing saying these types of comments calmly without emotion for months now. I think it’s finally paying off. If she can’t get a rise out of me than she has less power. She was able to calm down and get her song (the theme song from The Last Unicorn).
While I am with Grace, Ben and Faith were getting ready for bed. Faith pretended to go to the bathroom and then in the middle of vacuuming was doing the potty dance. She still refused to try and go the bathroom until after the timer went off. So, Ben was the only one who got to play a game with Daddy.
I have gone a whole week of writing down the results of us trying to be more consistent in the morning and evening routines. I have learned a few things that might be useful to everyone.
* Raising kids is hard. Really, really, hard. When my kids do something I find really frustrating-like yell insults at me- I think, “I must be a terrible parent. No one else has kids yelling at them. And if they do, the parent is on top of it and knows how to fix it and the kid never does it again.” The reality is that they aren’t raising my kids, I am. Even though I am not a perfect parent, I am the best parent for my kids.
* It’s never going to be perfect. When I would get discouraged, I reminded myself of just how hard it used to be to put the kids to bed. It was a shock when Grace fell asleep less than an hour after being put to bed. And it wasn’t kids staring at the ceiling until they fell asleep, but lots of yelling or playing. It’s so much better now. As the kids age and we continue to grow as parents it will get even better.
* Being consistent is important. The days that my kids act the worst are the days that I am not following through on what I said I was going to do. As the week progressed, the routine went smoother.
* Keeping a journal is really helpful. After each routine, I wrote down what happened. This gave me a way to notice any patterns. I probably wouldn’t have known to keep the kids inside after dinner if I hadn’t been keeping track of their behavior. I was also able to look back when I was experiencing a problem
* Sharing the journal is helpful. I knew that I was going to be sharing this post at the end of the week. This helped me be more consistent than I might have been. Maybe I will find an accountability buddy to send how we did each week so that I can have that accountability after this post is finished. Or, if people are interested, I could pick a day to post one success and one struggle on the Blessedly Busy Facebook page.
Raising kids is hard. Just keep working at it and little by little you will see improvement. The journey is more important than the results.