Wednesday, June 22, 2011


In my years of teaching, managing computer labs, babysitting, and working with jr. high delinquints, I've picked up really useful discipline strategies. I'd even go so far as to say that you could put me in front of a class of chimpanzees and I could teach them a trick or two. BUT. I can't handle my own 3 kids.

I don't know what it is, but sometimes I am actually afraid of them. Afraid of setting them off into tantrums and whining that seem to last for days. Afraid that they will hate me forever. Afraid that I will really mess up in raising them and they will end up in years of therapy (and send me the bills). I guess I must be afraid because I actually don't have any clue what I'm doing.

There are women who have their entire days, weeks, months, summers, years, etc. planned out. They know what they are going to be doing at 9:15 and where they will be going at 3:45. They know when Johnny naps and when Johnny wakes up. They know that Suzy will go to bed at 7 and sleep a full 12 hours.

Then there are women like me who know that Maggie will wake up grumpy after 7 hours of sleep. Coleman will refuse to get dressed, and run away down the street naked. Will will try to fix his own breakfast, spilling a gallon of milk on the carpeted dining room floor. Then while you're busy cleaning up that mess Maggie will cry and beg and plead to go to the park and when you say "Not now honey, maybe after lunch." she will scream at you, "You always say that! I want to go now! I'm going in 1 minute." And when you say "No honey we have to clean up this mess," she will scream, "FINE! then I'm not going to be Maggie anymore." You will scratch your head because that didn't even make sense. And then the neighbor will call to tell you that they were driving down the road and saw a naked Coleman sitting on top of your SUV.

I would love to be a planned person rather than the frazzled mom who is just trying to keep it together (which is one of the reasons I'm so excited about my preschool--it will give the planner and teacher in me the organization I crave). But how do I get there in my day to day life? How do I get Maggie to fall asleep at a decent hour and stay asleep for 11 hours? How do you plan activities for your kids that don't leave you exhausted?

How do you keep it together during these summer kid-filled days?


Rob said...

I don't. That is why I just spent until midnight cleaning my house while my kiddos slept, because I cannot get it done while they are awake. If I do get anything done while they are playing I feel guilty for not spending more one on one time with them. If I do let the house go and be with my kids then I feel guilty in my awful house and feel like a let down of a home maker. It will all work out, I just have to keep telling myself that and enjoy the moments when my kids are happy and then when they are all asleep at the same time. _Diedre Gray (Rob's wife)

alex said...

This sounds all too familiar.. I completely feel the same way you do, and completely agree with Diedre (great help I am, right?!). We take it one day at a time- one hour at a time- and strive for some normalcy. As for the naked running down the street, I just don't see why a little coverage won't hurt...

" They're just shorts for goodness sake!!!"

We need to get our chaotic schedules together at least once and a while and let our kids go wild in our backyard. And I won't even mind if the kids are in their skivvies... :)

jww said...

Well, if I've learned anything, it's that people who seem put together either a) AREN'T or b) are a complete mess in some other area. Also, as a self-proclaimed psycho-planner who knows what I'm doing at 10:15, I almost found that to be more frustrating some days because *I* had a plan and my kid wasn't cooperating. There's something to be said for planning, but there's a lot more to be said (in my opinion) to have the gift of going with the flow. I wish I had some advice about how to get Maggie to fall asleep and stay asleep for 11 hours, because it seems to me that getting enough sleep would make a world of difference in her attitude and ability to not get so upset at things--but it seems, too, like some kids are pretty good sleepers and others will fight it to the death. I pretty much got good sleepers because I got angry with them if they didn't. So I'm not sure that's advice I'd pass on! Anyway, I hope someone has a better-advised comment than this one. :) But I [heart] you! :)

Beth said...

Look at these great comments! Best advice ever!

Vhari said...

I'm right there with you Megs and the worst of it all is that I thought I was going to be so good at the discipline thing. HA HA! I have my own exhibitionist and I spend a good deal of time putting my kids back into their beds 30 times and sending them to time out a handful of times in those 30 times. I think your kids are beautiful, fun and dang cute and I think they have an even better mother. You're doing awesome Megs. I'd want you for my mom.

Tia said...

I obviously have no advice from personal experience, but I consider everything you wrote to be perfectly normal. The ones who "appear" to be scheduled, planned and put together are just lying. I've always considered my sisters to be the greatest examples of a put together set of Mom's and they all have enough stories about their kids pooping on the neighbors lawn, refusing to bathe for a week, dumping flour and sugar all over the kitchen, or cutting the neighbors pony tail off to fill a set of encyclopedia britanica books.
"Life's a shitter, don't be a quitter" - that's Trina's motto and she'll repeat it to you as many times as you need to hear it. :)

Tigersue said...

I think the only thing I can say is kids need consistency. My girls got to bed between 7 and 7:30 most days. Gasp, even in the summer. I know they are cranky if they don't get to bed. I don't care if they don't go to sleep, they can read, they can chatter, but they need to be in bed. I have always done that, my sanity needed it, and their too. Kids need the rest.

As to the other, remember you are the parent, some power struggles aren't needed, but don't let them get away with temper tantrums. I can say the naughty spot is my friend. Kids really want a parent, not a friend. Hopefully they grow into accepting us as friends but if they do not get the discipline now they may get it later on in a very hard way. I think more kids are messed up by permissive parents than parents that use loving discipline.

Also remember they are little. If cole doesn't want to get dressed, let him run around the house naked, but tell him outside if for clothes. Then give the other kids tons of praise for getting dressed. It isn't unusual for kids not not want to get dressed.

Help Will make his breakfast by having the milk in a container he can use to pour out of, it will empower him and take stress off your shoulders.

As for Maggie, don't let her talk to you that way. If you allow it she will learn that it is okay to treat you with disrespect. Doesn't mean you have to get angry back but teach her consequence. "You talk to me you sit in the naughty spot until you can say sorry." If she keeps it up let her know the fun at the park will be taken away.

For the most part I don't do a lot of activities with my kids. I don't do well in the summer heat so I pretty much stay at home.

I don't plan much, I'm too tired at this stage of life, but kids do need to be kids. You have your hands full with your crew. Give yourself a pat on the back. You are doing better than you think you are.

Brielle said...

I'm feeling like this too - this blog post really made me think about how I"m handling my 4 little monsters:

Cheeseboy said...

I'm with you. I totally know how you feel.

None, and I repeat, NONE of the tricks that work every time with my first graders work with my own kids. And I think I know why...

They know me too well. They can call my bluff.

K said...

Do you really believe there are moms who actually know their schedules? Umm. Yeah. Moms who go to work. they know when they have to be there. They don't know when they're actually going to get there.

Can you really believe that you are alone, instead of being just like the rest of us? Granted - you've got some strong personalities. I never had a fit thrower like Mags - but Chz came close. But would you trade her for somebody else's quiet child? I already know the answer to that.

I will tell you that for me, life with little children was a hell of fatigue, guilt, falling short, frustrated love, helplessness, chaos and discouragement. I don't babysit now because the thought of being alone with young children gives me real anxiety.

Did I love them? Of course. Did I work my hind end off? You bet your life. Was it worth it in the end? Oh, yeah. Did those years go by in a flash? Not at the time, but looking back, yes - they felt long. Then they were gone.

What you need is to set up boundaries. You set up a safe environment and you let them play inside of it while you stand guard. You can't read, think or watch TV, but you don't have to do the entertaining. They can entertain themselves. And when you say "No," you don't need to add the "honey" to it. That's almost like an apology. When you say no, that's it. And if there's a fit thrown, you put the kid on the time out chair. That nanny person has her good points.

You don't take disrespect and you don't get afraid of the kids. As a teacher, you have mystique and outside authority. As mother, we're sometimes afraid to lay down the law on our own. But our own need it more than anybody. We don't have mystique and we don't have a school around us giving us clout. We have to make our own.

She may never sleep that long. Chaz never did. But she will grow up and mellow out, if you keep her within bounds and teach her rules. And Coleman? Buy a dog harness. And lock the doors. You just do what you have to do to keep them safe and preserve their sanity. It they end up sending you the therapy bills, send them back with a note that says, "At least you're still alive."

Love and authority can live in the same woman. In fact, they must. And stop painting the world in rosy colors - we're all failing. That's mortality. In the end - well, in the end - if we've REALLY done our best - we're okay. But exhaustion comes with the deal.

remember that you are loved. And that you drove your mom nuts sometimes too.

Angela said...

I am placing my bets on you being the most funny, amazing mom ever! Kids will drive you nuts. That's why you take advantage of all those grandparents/siblings around you and take a breather! Let them handle bedtime and go out. You'll come back stronger and realize you know already know how to handle the problems you face.

Plus - the pool is your friend in the summer. Bring a lunch and let them run crazy for hours. Literally. Hours. Then take the long way home and they'll be sleeping by the time you get there! Bliss!

Kati said...

I have so SOOOO many thoughts on this and as I look back at all the advice I have been given, impressions, or read, or talks that have been given, I realized that those pieces of advice are like stepping stones. I have picked and experimented and prayed and picked and prayed and experimented time and time again. And I will continue to do so forever I assume. Motherhood is so personal and NO two moms are alike. And for good reason. God sent you those three kiddos. YOU. And he trusts you. As a mom you are carving society. What you do is a big deal and I am quite confident that those kids need ezactly what you give. After all the advice and council you have been given, you will likely find what works for you and as you pray for guidance, you will recieve it. Heavenly Father cares about you and your kids and he is there to guide you and help you. Have faith and confidence Megan. Love ya!

Tigersue said...

I saw these two links today and thought of you. Enjoy!!!!! You are not crazy, just busy, and overwhelmed.

EmmaP said...

Ummm. I don't. I don't keep it together. I worry all the time about how much I am "screwing up" my kids. But then I remember that all I can do is the bast I can and that God will make a way where there is no way... even if it seems nearly impossible at the moment in time.

I used to be more organized. But, now, I just try to live in the moment. And now - when my kids ask me, "why can't we--?" I say, "Because I am a slacker mom. And I am a slacker mom because I love you!" Haha. I go on to tell them that my slackerness and inability to stay organized and "buttoned" up will prepare them for the real world in learning to deal with disappointment and constant change, and to think for themselves.

1) He was on top of the SUV... He wasn't running down the street. Take joy in knowing that you taught him boundaries.

2) She doesn't want to be Maggie the rest of the day. Take joy in knowing that you taught her to be creative.

3) He wants to fix his own breakfast. Take joy in that he will not grow up to be lazy, always waiting on someone else to tell him what to do.

4) Take JOY -- because you are doing it soooo much better than I ever could! :)


InkMom said...

Hasn't anyone told you the secret to happiness when you have twins is to lower your standards? When your kids are as young as yours are, survival is an extremely admirable goal. And as organized and perfectionist as I am in most other areas of my life, we really just kind of go with the flow at our house in the summer. Sometimes, I love that -- that we can just do whatever, whenever, and if my kids go off on some creative tangent, I can let them do it without feeling the need to adhere to a schedule. But we are occasionally at loose ends, and I long for the structure of school days. No worries, though -- they go back to school in two weeks (the twins do -- everyone else is still too little for school) and then I will go to the grocery store again, since I would rather not eat than take them all four with me. Hang in there -- you're about to get over the twin difficulty hump. They really do get a lot easier, all of a sudden.

JJ said...

When you feel like you need a break from the kids get a mothers helper from the neighborhood. a 10-12 yr old girl or boy who needs to get babysitting experience but also has you in the house. Have him/her keep the kids entertained while you are cleaning or straitening up. It will give you a moment or 2 of free time to yourself or a moment to clean something without the little hands making things worse.

My Oatmeal Kisses said...

I'm with pretty much everyone. When I am doing fun stuff with my kids, my house is a MESS. The thing that's really helped Mae is responsibility. The girl loves it! So yesterday she asked if she could watch one more T.V. show and I said, if you clean the bathroom. I went in there and helped her, but she felt successful. She watched a show, I had free time, and I didn't feel guilty because she had earned it.

P.S. I have no idea how you keep up with those sweet twins, and spitfire Maggie. And Mae talks to me like that all the time, we're sorta working on it.


Andrea said...

Loved this post. Sums up my life. However, in your great preschool planning, you might want to check out my homeschool blog. I'm not advertising as I'm pretty sure your readers have finished with this post. I put together units for my little homeschool based on literature and I have a ton of book ideas on the blog.

I know, I know--you've probably got it already mapped out in your head just like I've got next year's homeschool mapped out in mine, but if it will help, the address is

Good luck to us both! :)


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