Wednesday, 21 May 2014

the horrifying magnification provided by a second pair of eyes and how it can spur action

After 6 years of sole parenting, I'd like to think I've got it sussed.  And I do. Mostly. Some of the time. Occasionally.

The same things grind me down each day (no doubt the same things that grind down every parent, sole or not actually but that's beside the point).  Bath times. Bedtimes. Getting up times. Homework times. Meal times. Chore times.

I find myself, MOST times, ''getting through''.  Usually with too much cajoling, often too much whining (theirs) and grizzling (mine) and, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit, too often with rather more temper testing than I would prefer.

But get through we do.  The children leave the house fed and dressed, with homework done.   Their rooms are clean and tidy.  Bedtimes...well that's another story for another day...but mainly they are in bed before I am.    Yet still...I yearn for calmer routine. Less of me growling, less of them resisting my requests.

I get through, and put up with more than I probably should, mainly because I'm the only adult in the house. Most of the time, there's no one here to a/ back me up, b/ take over or c/ tell me off give me better ideas, for how I'm directing the traffic.  It's only when there IS another adult nearby that my shortcomings as the grownup in the house get thrown into sharp relief and I face the gruesome reality of how stressed I can become at those crucial mealtime/bedtime/cleaning time-poor moments.

I've put a few things in place as a result of some previous highlighted moments...and I'll admit its a continual learning curve.  FDH used to (actually no, not used to, STILL DOES) tell me that the reason there is stress in my house is because I am as bad as the kids: I answer back, raise my voice, get grumpy and generally can be disagreeable when things aren't going they way I want them to.  Well, yes, that's probably true actually - but heck, I'm the grown up here - sure I shouldn't have to do all those things in the first place (yeah yeah I GET that) but I reckon if anyone should be allowed to get iffy, it should be me.

So what to do?  This morning it happened again.  Son was being particularly uncooperative. Daughter was compliant enough but grimly enjoying co-parenting son with me (by way of echoing barked instructions and being generally bossy).  Which results in squabbling. Which results in me grizzling some more. and so on. And so on.  You get the picture.

Ordinarily I'd GET THROUGH but today, I had my young man here (a rare occurrence mid week) , and with a second pair of eyes on the scene I realised just how inadequate my morning routine was, (I really didn't think it was until now...), and how ineffective my parenting style could be. Am I being hard on myself? Yes, probably. But when I found myself mid-rant, and wishing I could wind the clock back and hour to start the day again, I knew something was gonna give.  

It's a bit shaming.  Embarrassing.  AWKWARD!!!! But I happen to quite like having that other set of eyes around the some more things are going to have to change.  And it's probably going to be easier to change my own actions and attitudes than than change my kids.

So, because I believe that writing things down makes them more likely to happen - and because I'm going to be printing the list out and putting it on the fridge, our new morning rules include:

- The TV does not, under any circumstances, get turned on before school
- Children are to be fully dressed before coming out of their bedroom
- Breakfast is compulsory if you are a minor and must be eaten at the table
- Tooth brushing is also compulsory before leaving the house

I'm hopeful that these four simple rules might make for a calmer weekday morning.  They have all been in place before but somehow get muddied...or something...and the end result is me nagging repeatedly - and it must be said, ineffectively, for action.

Time will tell.