Lean in real close. Let me tell you a secret.
Today was hard. As a pregnant mama of a handful of kids under age 7, I struggled today. I’m sitting here at 8 p.m. and seriously contemplating just going to sleep. It was definitely a Monday with a fussy baby, a whiny toddler, and even the “big” kids who didn’t want to cooperate. I even had a hard time hauling my 8 months pregnant self around the house to do regular chores, you know, like picking up Cheetos off the floor. If you’ve ever been 8 months pregnant you know how hard it is to bend over.
Parenting a bunch of kids is hard, parenting one kid is hard. Throw in some homeschool and it is very hard.
My husband and I used to joke around before we had kids. He has this laid-back, non-confrontational personality. I’m very Type A and tend to be a little explosive sometimes. I always said I would be the disciplinarian, and he would be the push-over.
Guess what? I’m the push-over and sometimes my kids don’t listen to me.
I try to build in regular clean-up times throughout our day. Since we homeschool, when I say I’m with all my kids all the time, I truly mean it. When you have a band of preschoolers parading through your house while you’re teaching reading and addition, things get a whole lot of messy. I’m talking an overturned Little Tikes table in the middle of the floor. The little blue chairs that go with it are haphazardly flung halfway across the room. There’s LEGO duplos hiding in the most mysterious places, and if I’m not careful, cereal bar may end up smooshed into the carpet. So, yeah, I try to get the kids to regularly clean up before the chaos overwhelms me.
It usually goes something like this:
Me: “Kids, it’s time to clean up. Let’s pick up the living room before we have lunch.”
Kids: I get a couple of sideways glances, and they continue playing.
Me: A little louder this time, “If you don’t get this mess picked up, you won’t get to play video games for the rest of the day!”
This usually gets my oldest to start moving, albeit slowly.
Me: “Okay, that’s it. No video games for the rest of the day, no video games tomorrow, and now you can go sit in your rooms by yourselves!”
My oldest begins quickly picking up the mess, while my five year old usually collapses into a sobbing heap and mutters something about me being the meanest mama ever.
When my husband is home, all he has to say is, “Clean up!” and they do it without missing a beat.
Geez. I’ve come up with a few theories on why they obey him the first time, and why I have such a hard time getting them to listen. Someone tell me it’s not just me.
It’s my voice
I don’t have a very authoritative voice. I’m soft spoken, and I don’t tend to make demands very well. I also have an issue with trying to explain things. Rather than just saying, “Clean up,” I tend to say why we need to clean up. I may even go on a rant about how the messy house makes me feel overwhelmed. Unfortunately, all that talk goes in one ear and out the other.
I don’t follow through
I don’t follow through with punishment very well. My kids have known me long enough to know this. They know they can get away with stuff from me. My husband always follows through. I shouldn’t give in so easily, and I know it’s my weakness.
I’m naturally a nurturer
I’m their mother. The one they come to for comfort. If they get hurt, I’m the first one they run to, not their dad. I really think they associate me more with gentleness and their father with firmness. It’s just the natural order of our family.
We are working on obedience. I’m not just their mother, but I’m their teacher, and it is so, so important that I have that authority in our home, especially when Dad isn’t there. I’m having to rethink the way I word things. Here’s the not so secret secret, honestly, I do think there’s always one parent you can get away with more stuff with, and one parent you just can’t.
Who is the disciplinarian in your house?