This morning I went to work. I have been looking forward to this day since the last day I went to work, 10 days ago. Before you think it's because I have the best job in the world, it is merely because the school holidays are beginning to take their toll. As a mother of 3 children ranging from 7 to 12, I have been subjected to 9 consecutive days (just to make it clear, that's 8am til approx 10pm) of bickering, squabbling, physical violence, viscious name-calling and downright unkind behaviour. Despite it taking me one hour to drop my 3 darlings off at the various willing friends who had
been cajoled into having
volunteered to look after them for the day, it was well worth
it. I managed to get 6 hours of time to myself with no crying, tale-telling, doors slamming or raised voices. Bliss.
Now here's the thing.....some days I am fully accepting of the situation. I understand that anyone who is forced to be in the company of the same person, day in day out, will sometimes get annoyed and frustrated with said person. Even as adults, it's not always easy to control our emotions/tempers in an environment like this and on occasion it will inevitably lead to irrational/unacceptable behaviour. But then there are the other days, like yesterday, when I wonder where I'm going wrong. Why is it that other people's children offer encouraging sentiments to one another, provide a supportive arm around the shoulder when they have hurt themselves, when mine just laugh at the one who is in pain or worse still, get cross because he/she is holding up our departure or crying so loudly that they can't hear the TV?!
As you may have gathered from my opening gambit, yesterday took sibling rivalry to a new level. It started at about midday with the odd disagreement, escalating into a spectacular crescendo which finally saw them throwing food at one another during tea-time. This is all after the incident where DD1's finger was bent backwards (still hurting a day later) and DD2 received a kick in the head (that wasn't from me, just to clarify!)
At this point you might be picturing me as one of those rather weak mothers, the ones whose children are running wild while they seem fairly out of control. Having said that, on more than one occasion this week, my children's behaviour really would have been better suited to the wild animal park, particularly during what looked like 'feeding time at the zoo' yesterday! However, I am naturally a relatively strict parent; I like to think of myself as 'firm but fair'. I have tried many things in an attempt to encourage love and respect for one another. During our last 'Family Meeting' for example, we introduced a chart. Yes, another chart, but children really do love nothing better than being given a goal and seeing a reward for it, even if it is only a tick! We included every family member on this chart and left space for people to give a tick to someone who did or said anything kind/helpful. There was also space to add a cross, for anyone who had done something that wasn't quite so nice. I thought that this chart would encourage kinder behaviour but in reality, the only person putting any ticks on was me and the rest of the chart looked something like this:
X - For saying 'get out of my face'
X - For calling me an idiot
X - For spitting at me
X - For calling me 'stressy'
So the upshot is, I need advice. I've tried ignoring the behaviour (which led to a food-fight), punishing it (the failed behaviour chart) and I've even quoted Jesus' words: "be kind to one another" but to no avail. Please tell me that I am not the only mother to experience this kind of behaviour? All memories of my kids getting along together whilst on holiday 2 weeks ago, have been blown out of the water!
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