As I write this, BJ and Ava are sitting on the floor eating ‘fairy’ biscuits and watching ABC 4 Kids. I had to change the the channel using the DVD controls, which means going up and down through the numbers rather than just pressing two two, like BJ suggested. It’s a first world problem really, but so annoying because it means that once again, the kids have misplaced the TV controls.
I should also add that the lounge is a complete disaster zone. There are blankets and couch cushions everywhere. An opened cars box with its contents spread all over the car mat. A couple of prams are scattered throughout, ad well as one shoe, one book, a school note, three teddy bears and a pair of knickers.
Pretty much an average day with kids right? It certainly is here, and yet….
Like most mothers, I have had enough of tidying up errant toys, or picking up clothes on the bathroom floor. I’m over cups everywhere, sometimes half full of water, and water itself all over my bathroom floor. And if I have to have one more morning characterised by the search for the ‘other’ shoe, I may just cry.
Now at this point, I’m sure you’re either nodding your head in agreement, or possibly judging me on my terrible parenting skills, cause everyone knows you need to teach kids to put things away when they are done. I think that’s in the parenting 101 course I forgot to take.
My problem with the above idea, is that it’s often easier said than done. With four kids a part time job, a fairly time consuming blog (will get back to everyone’s comments soon) and all the other things I try and squeeze in (did I mention I’m learning to knit?), chasing everyone up to make sure they put it all away is exhausting. Plus, lets face it, most days it’s easier just to pick it all up yourself.
And the other days are marked by tears and tantrums and lots of yelling.
From me of course.
Sadly, the ‘other days’ are all too much in abundance these days.
Which begs the question, what am I missing?
I’ve been thinking lately about going back to basics. Rather than getting caught up in all the ‘big thinking’ that I spend a lot of time doing, and which has its place, I need to focus on the basic simple things. The stuff that just needs to get done.
In terms of child rearing, one of my basics is that I give my children a reason why they need to do things. Rather than a blanket order, they need some thing installed in their wee little brains that will help them to make the right choice again in the future.
In terms of cleaning and tidying up after yourself, my reason has always been to show respect to those that come behind you. So if you use the bathroom, someone else will use it later, and they probably don’t want to see what your poo looks like. #truestory
Add to that a layer of respect and love to what mum and dad do for you. If I’ve spent hours ironing and washing your clothes, it’s going to make me very sad to see them on the bedroom floor. So the feelings of others is important too.
But there has to be more, and it wasn’t until Boatman pointed it out this weekend that it all clicked for me.
I wrote about making a positive change to human slaves the other week. In writing that post, I discovered that I personally, have about 73 slaves in other countries working for me. Doing all sorts of things that I don’t even think about, to make my life easier.
I’ve been wondering how to reduce that number, or at the very least not abuse it, and yet I do constantly. And most of it comes down to mess, at the basis.
You see, leaving a mess really comes down to a lack of respect, but also apathy. Our family is so blessed, we think nothing of all the wonderful things we own. We just don’t care.
I forget to wash out plastic containers and they grow things, and so I throw them out. Because the thought of cleaning out the contents makes me dry reach a little.
BJ and Ava are always losing shoes, because I don’t encourage them to make sure they are put away. Because I don’t follow through on my instructions to put shoes away, and get distracted by things like Facebook, or the dishes. Then, when we go out, and we are shoeless,I buy them new ones. Cause they need shoes and it’s not negotiable. Except that in doing so I’m teaching them that you don’t need to look after stuff, because it’s all replaceable.
As a parent, I’m doing nothing to encourage a respect for the value of property, the money mum and dad earn to buy it, and the people who manufacture it, often in horrible environments.
And that’s not ok.
For a long time, we’ve been more concerned with our kids happiness than their respect. We buy Bridie new ear plugs all the time because she can’t swim without them and we don’t want her to miss out. But at seven years old, she is more than capable of putting them away and realising their importance herself. They only way she won’t learn, is by us continuing to make it ok for her not too.
So my tactic has changed now. This morning I informed Taylah that she would not receive any new clothes until Christmas (unless completely necessary), because she doesn’t look after the ones she has. Bridie was given a similar warning.
BJ has a shoe box right near the front door and he is going to be made put his shoes away as soon as he enters the house. If he loses them, then he sits in the pram or trolley when we go out. Which is kind of ridiculous when you’re a five year old boy.
Ava will jut be reminded over and over and over again to put things away, straight away with a happy heart.
Broken toys that have been abused will not be replaced. Hair ties that are lost will be at the expense of their wearer.
A change has to happen, and not just for my sanity, because at first it won’t be. Any kind of change in action and attitude is hard work for everyone. But I don’t want to be a person that cannot be trusted with their blessings, and I certainly don’t want that for my kids.
Now if your will excuse me, I’ve got a house to tidy.