Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Treating my kids like strangers

There's been some head butting going on at our house lately.
Kids are having some cranky moments.  It's bound to happen I suppose, especially with this many people and this many different personalities all under one roof and breathing the same air.   Throw whole tween/teen thing into the mix (hormones anyone?), and the fun things that come with the rest of the age spread, and the crazy of preschooler, toddler and baby, and obviously there are going to be some disagreements along the way.

Most of the time we make them work it out on their own, and almost every time it is within minutes that we find the affected parties have gone from worst enemies back to best buds.
But man, the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth before they get back to being bff's again is just not pleasant.
I find myself frequently pointing out that they would never treat their friends that way.  They would never treat complete strangers the way they treat each other sometimes.

I understand why; this is the safe place.  Family is where you know you will always be loved no matter what you do or say.  Home is where you can let your guard down, let your insecurities out, vent your frustrations...and I'm glad that it is that way.  I'm glad that they feel like we can talk about things and hash things out no matter what they are.  I hope that they always feel like home is that safe place.  Obviously I'd prefer there be a little less hashing of each other along the way, but it seems par for the course with siblings for the most part.

Well, despite the fact that I feel like I'm usually pretty good with the kids, fairly patient with whatever issues they may happen to come up with, I've found that my patience is wearing a little thin lately.  I'm sure it's due partly to the back-to-school changes and having to make sure everyone is out the door on time every day, in bed on time every night, getting the assigned reading/spelling/math/etc homework done each night and the process of keeping easily distracted kids focused on said homework,  and keeping all those dang papers in order!  And the emails now too.  (While email is my preferred line of communication, middle school teachers times 16 (8 for each kid), plus 4 grade school kids, plus papers coming home can be a tad bit overwhelming some days!)  There are many mornings I get up and really miss homeschooling.
(Also there are 161 school days left till next summer vacation, but who's counting?)

But now I've found that I'm getting snippy with the kids.  I hate it when I do that.

So I issued myself a challenge.
Treat my kids like strangers.  Or anyone else really.
Would I snap at someone else for doing what my kid just did?  Would I let that choice get to me if it was a stranger who made it and not one of my kids?  Would I lose patience while helping with homework if it was some other kid sitting here and not one of mine?  Hmm...the answer is almost always no.  Interesting food for thought.

Of course taking into account the fact that it is my job as their parent to guide them and teach them and correct them whereas that is not my responsibility with some random person I don't know, I've still realized that I could be doing better as their mom.  I could be more patient, I could correct more gently, I could speak more kindly.

I did great yesterday.  I did pretty darn good today until that universal witching hour of roughly 6pm when it all came crashing down like it does so many nights.  Tomorrow evening I hope to do much better than I did tonight.

For now I'll reflect on where I went wrong and what I can do to fix it.  Then I will go look at my sleeping little angels, and (hopefully) sleeping not-so-little angels and remind myself of how much I love them and why I want to do better tomorrow.



XLMIC said...

I've been looking at this in myself lately, too. It feels so much better to be the kind of person I WANT to be.

Wishing you the best with treating your kids like strangers :)