We are into the second week of school and the second week of my “Back to School Plan”. I wanted to have something in place to make our mornings as stress free- no mostly fight free- as possible. I, also, wanted a more effective way for “chores” to be accomplished before school. My kids are early risers and so there are some mornings where they literally have over an hour and half until it’s time for us to head to the bus stop. And I learned from the past that once extracurricular activities start, our after school times/evenings are broken up which results in ME doing it.
The plan isn’t this amazing plan that works miracles! There are no cutsie images. I don’t even have a color-coded chart. It is SIMPLE. They each have a mini clip board. I have a list of things they must do before the TV can be turned on (this is the only electronic allowed in the morning). Included on the list is ONE chore. That’s it….ONE chore. It is a simple 5 minute max chore.
Is it working? To a degree. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to remind them (ha!) and I was hoping for continuity. I will settle for what I have seen so far~
Everyone is dressed.
Everyone has eaten breakfast (AND they help each other).
Everyone has their teeth and hair brushed.
Everyone’s bag is packed.
Everyone STILL needs to be reminded of the ONE CHORE.
Baby steps. That is what I keep telling myself. Baby steps.
Another first day of school is in the books and we survived! It was definitely a day filled with a lot of emotions and some surprise reactions to the day.
I was quite proud of myself for making sure I had myself organized to start the day. I started my “Back to School Plan” (I will share in an upcoming blog) and I even had dinner started before 8:00 am! Woohoo for me! I think that shocked the hell out of my kids! But no amount of planning could prepare me for how each of my VERY different children would handle their own emotions of the day.
Ella completely shocked me. She didn’t need reminders to get moving and she didn’t even pull out her iPad! I was anticipating a full on anxiety attack. Her behavior the night before all pointed toward one. She is on the Safety Patrol Team and she started first thing this week which meant leaving the house early, dropping her off, and getting back for the other two to take the bus. Yes I wanted Hunter and especially Gracie to ride the bus to school because it was Gracie’s first time and have you ever been to morning drop off at a school???? Ella is very reserved and it is hard to get her to show any emotion yet alone verbalize anything. She asked me to walk her to the door and as we were walking, she grabbed my hand! I thought here we go. She is going to lose it. I was completely wrong! I asked her if she was nervous and she was calm and said a little. I gave her a hug and kiss and whispered “I love you” and to my pleasant surprise, she looked at me and smiled and said “I love you too”. I walked back to the van (thankfully with sunglasses on) and tears of pure joy filled my eyes. For today, she was OK and that is HUGE for us. For today, she had a light in her eyes that made her look even more beautiful. For today, in her world, all was good.
Hunter who is my calm, cool, and collective boy was struggling to hide his fear. He had been dreading the start of school. He knew none of his buddies were with him and knew he really didn’t know anyone in his class very well. But he put on a brave face and was the first to be ready and the first to be out of the van to head to the bus stop. But as the neighborhood kids slowly came, I watched my fun-loving boy turn into the school boy who lost all his confidence toward the end of last year. My heart ached. I knew he didn’t want to go. I knew he was being the boy who puts everyone else first. He made sure to include Gracie in the bus stop fun. He survived the day. But he was miserable. Bed couldn’t come fast enough for him. He doesn’t want to go back. He cried at bedtime and when I asked him why, he just looked at me and said he didn’t know. For him, he is afraid. For him, he wants summer all year. So for him, I will continue to help him find the good in each day.
And finally my sweet and sassy girl, Miss Gracie shocked the hell out of me! She was ready and she was very impatient waiting for the morning to get to the point when the bus was going to take her to the “big kids’ school”. She practically kicked Ella out of the van when we dropped her off. Just like Hunter, she was ready to get out at the bus stop and hang out with the kids. But as more kids came, the quieter she became and stood by me- no latched onto me. The bus pulled up across the street and her face changed. I took her hand and said how she gets to go on the bus first since she is in kindergarten. So I put her in line and as I back away our eyes meet and her little brown eyes were filled with tears!!!!! What?!?? Tears?!?? Are you kidding me?!?? Ella and Hunter couldn’t get on that bus fast enough when they started kindergarten. Gracie was my free spirit and I want to be like the big kids child. And here we are as the bus pulls up and I am trying to keep myself together for her. She is like me…she took a deep breath and managed an adorable smile and got on that bus! She sat down and I tapped on the window and she couldn’t look at me. I watched her keep looking up and then down….she didn’t want tears to fall down her face. The bus drove off and I just had to get in the van…tears just started flowing. But she is ready for another day. She told me as we laid on the couch to cuddle this afternoon that she kept saying to herself “Don’t cry” over and over again. Just melts my heart.
Who knows what this school year will hold for all of us. There will be some struggles and triumphs. But I am determined to help them get through them all because they are the ones who will help me get through them.
Is it just me or did this summer completely fly by? I was looking at the calendar and realized in 4 short weeks school will start! I have no idea how this happened. We have done nothing I had hoped to do yet. Not that there was much planned because I really wanted this summer to be unstructured and to focus on the little things. And we have been doing just that. A lot of swimming and spending quality time with their grandparents and sitting down every night at the table for dinner. I have to say that is the one thing I miss when our life is constantly go-go-go~ sitting as a family for dinner every night. We have been able to have great conversations and uninterrupted family time during these meals. And there has been that much complaining from Mr. Picky Eater either!
But I have so many other little things I wanted to do~
Date Night with each of them
Sparklers (on my counter since the 4th of July weekend)
Time to make these last 4 weeks count!
I am continuing my quest to whip my kids into shape due to my laziness of parenting over several months. YES I am owning responsibility for it. I had been lazy about enforcing chores and responsibilities. Bottom line the only excuse I have is I just would get frustrated and it was easier to do it myself. So the past 5 weeks I have been on top of them and I haven’t made it easy for them either.
I had instituted a dreaded chore chart that I absolutely hate. I don’t hate it because I don’t want them to do it. I hate it because I am still reminding them to do what is asked, I truly feel they should do some of it without being paid, they seem not to really care, and let’s be honest it is additional work on parents. But I have been changing it weekly and reminding them on a regular basis of what they have to do throughout the week. Some weeks were better than others however they have only received an allowance 1 out of the 5 weeks and it was only a portion of their allowance. PITIFUL! But like I said I am not making this easy. Expectations and standards are set high and they know it.
Our “How Full is Your Bucket” project~ let’s just say I think their buckets have holes in them! We are on week 2 of empty buckets. They each have earned 1 reward from it though. But it seems ever since earning the 1st reward they wanted, they have checked out.
So what to do, what to do?
The past week, I have declined pretty much every request. Can we go get ice cream…”no”. Can I get some nail polish? A pack of gum? That would be “no”. I have even (and this sounds horrible) been putting them in situations where they are going to want something just so I can say “no”. I know….very cruel of me. But it is working! They asked me the other night why I have been saying “no” to everything and I simply said that even though they may not come out and say “no” to me, their actions are saying it each and every time they don’t complete a chore, argue about putting your clothes away, telling me “I’ll do it later”, etc. And I have hit them where it hurts too….lost a couple afternoons of swimming as well as no technology (which is currently happening as I type this).
Is this really the correct way of handling this? Is there a better way? Should I not be so tough on them? I am sure there are better ways and I am sure I am making it too hard. But I want them to finally wake up and realize things what I have been teaching them since they were able to learn, everything is a privilege and they need to start appreciating what they have and me.
Parenting is such a tough job and so many times I have moments where I feel like I am screwing them up and they will grow up to hate me. I have moments where I will lay in bed at night and cry and just want to give up. It certainly would be a lot easier to just give in. But I am their mom and it is my job to teach them. If I don’t, I have failed them. So as hard as this is, I need to take each day- OK each hour – as they come and breathe. I need to keep on them and keep enforcing the dreaded chore chart. I need to keep teaching them with a side of “no”.
The endless week and weekend of craziness have come to close and now I feel summer can officially begin. My goal is to do some unexpected fun thing each day. Today I surprised the kids with ice cream for lunch. They thought, for a brief moment, I was the “BEST mom in the world”. It was short-lived, as will anything a parent does, and the whine came back later in the evening. But I enjoyed sitting in the ice cream shoppe and just gobbling down ice cream and chatting with the kids. They were laughing hysterically as some elderly man began to talk to us and asked if he could be one of my kids because I allow them to eat ice cream for lunch 😉
I want this summer to be about simple things. The simple things that can create a lasting memory. Life and every day responsibilities seem to consume me sometimes. I forget to enjoy the every day moments I am given to spend with my children. If I can schedule summer tutoring, summer camps, doctor appointments, etc I certainly can schedule in moments that will become lasting memories. My goal is for these simple moments to be just that…simple.
Ice Cream for lunch/dinner
Water Balloon Fight
Camp Out in the living room
Catch lightning bugs
Explore the creek
Sit outside and look at the stars
Go for a walk
What are some simple things you like to do with your family?