My kids are rambunctious. Most of the time I enjoy it. I can look at their seemingly endless energy and enthusiasm (and screeching) as proof that they’re getting enough sleep, eating enough good foods, and enjoying life in this family. Sometimes it can be a bit much and we have a bad day. Saturday was a bad day.
It was one of those days that me and the kids were not quite in sync. I usually clean the house on Fridays and then have movie night that night. Cleaning my house is a lot of work. Not because it’s so big or so dirty, but because it requires me to leave the room the kids are in for a few minutes at a time. I have to keep running to see what the fighting/crying/yelling is about. It’s exhausting. Hence, movie night so they will sit on their butts for an hour and half and I can rest. This week, I cleaned on Saturday. No movie night.
It was also one of those days the two older girls got together and decided to be just flat out disobedient. (Penny is too young to plot against me.) I’ve noticed they do it every once in a while. No matter what I ask, they both say no, consequences be damned. It’s not uncommon for one of them to tell me no, but the other one will help and then gets praised which makes the first one start helping (yes, I use praise to manipulate my children into doing what I want). But every once in a while, one of them says no, and I see the other get this look of solidarity on her face. Then I know it’s on. They’re attempting a coup. And I know I cannot lose my position as dictator. Some days, it’s just one or two battles before they give up. Saturday, they almost won.
Please keep the toys off the floor so I can vacuum. No. I need to vacuum so Penny doesn’t eat all the Cheerios you guys dumped on the carpet. Please keep your toys off the carpet. No. You can put your toys on the hardwood floor until I’m done then go back on the carpet. No! If you don’t keep them off the ground, I’m going to throw them out. Okay. Fine! I’m throwing out your princess Barbies! No! No! No! (crying and screaming and picking up the Barbies but nothing else). STOP PUTTING YOUR TOYS ON THE CARPET I NEED TO VACUUM! NO! GO TO YOUR ROOM! (stomping and door slamming) Then I have to pick the freakin’ toys up off the carpet so I can vacuum.
I was told no more times than I can count. Ella screamed for forty-five minutes fighting her nap. Penny was woken by her unruly sisters from both her naps and got less than a half hour nap each time. I gave dozens of time outs. I threw out toys and took away t.v. time and story time before bed. I threatened not to ever feed them ever again after they smeared food all over my kitchen, again. (I think they saw through my bluff on that one). And my throat was starting to hurt from all the yelling. I collapsed to my knees, pounded my fists on the carpet, and screamed, I JUST WANT YOU TO DO WHAT I SAY JUST BECAUSE I SAID SO! I”M THE MOTHER, THAT’S HOW IT WORKS! (Yep, I threw a temper tantrum. And I’m proud of it. If those girls think they have the market cornered on drama and temper tantrums, they ain’t seen nothing yet. They get it from me, and I’ve had a lot more practice.)
In the moments of stunned silence that followed my little performance (I do expect an Oscar nomination), while I lay eyes closed with my forehead on the ground, I had a moment of clarity. I realized how very exhausted I am of yelling.
I hate it. I hate that raising my voice is the only way my kids will listen to me. I hate asking nicely for something simple, like pick your toys up or don’t write with crayon on anything other than paper, over and over and over, and being ignored. I hate being one of those moms who yells all the time. I don’t want to. I don’t want my kids to learn that from me or grow up in a house of yelling.
Unfortunately, my moment of clarity was only a moment, and it’s going to take a lot more than a moment to come up with a solution. Does anyone have anything that works to get your kids to listen? I’m out of both ideas and patience.