This is the third post in this series. If you are jumping in right now, go back and read My Home is Out of Control and Getting My Home Back Step 1. It will make much more sense if you do!
OK, on with getting my home back… With my focus secure on God I am more calm and I can think much more clearly. Now it’s time to get some tangible ideas to help me do the work of getting my home back in control.
So, the next thing I do is consult my personal board of directors. This is a team of friends that I call on when I need some advise or guidance. I will give more details on how, and why, I constructed this personal board of directors in another post.
For this situation I went to three people on “the board”. The first, and most important, was the husband. He is always good at putting things in perspective for me and encouraging me. But, he also does this job with me on a daily basis and I needed him to know how I was feeling and we needed to work on a “plan” together. Even if I am the one with the children all day, I need him to have my back on this stuff. So at our Sunday evening “meeting” we discussed the demands on my time, the expectations people had of me and areas of frustration in the home. It was a really good talk and it got us on the same page.
The next one is a good friend that I can always count on to give me solid advise on just about anything. But she is particularly good with organizing thoughts and schedules and making sure I give myself grace – a beautiful combination, really. The third one is a seasoned mother who has all sorts of good ideas and will always lift me up in my struggles. So I knew in picking these three that I would come out equipped and supported!
From these three “meetings” I came away with a plan of attack:
1. Make a list of issues that need to be addresses. List out all of the things that are out of control. All of them. Get them out and on paper so you can sort through them.
2. Pick the one that bothers you the most. That was easy: for me it is disrespect. I aplore disrespect. Don’t disrespect me, our home or the things in it. It makes my head steam when someone puts me down, sasses me, blames me for their problems, doesn’t do what I have asked them to do and on and on. I realized that many things on my list fell under this category, so I decided it was a non-negotiable. There needed to be some consequences for any disrespectful act.
3. Assign consequences to your non-negotiable behaviors. I used my long list of grievances (number 1 above) and then put a consequence next to all the the ones that were disrespectful behaviors. I am only dealing with those for now. So, about half of my list has consequences assigned. This list is private, I do not share it with the children. But, it helps me to discipline on the fly. If I don’t do this, as soon as one child sasses me, I blubber and flubber around not knowing what to say. But if I have predetermined what I will do, it is easier for me to take appropriate, and less emotional action in the moment. I shared these with the husband only. The kids, well they get to find out as we go!! And my consequences are always as creative as possible. For instance, if you drag your feet, throw a fit and slobber all over yourself when we are trying to get out the door making us 5 minutes late for our destination, you get to sit around my kitchen with me for 5 minutes waiting to go outside and play with the kids on the street when we get home.
4. Take care of yourself. The best way to explain what I mean here is to tell you a story. The other night the bigs were fighting in their room after lights-out time. They were yelling and things were crashing down on the floor. It was getting late and I was having to continually go up to their room to deal with their nonsense. I was irritated and tired. I didn’t get to relax the way I like to in the evening at all. I went straight from mediating their fights to getting in bed and going to sleep.
Not a rejuvenating evening at all.
So the next morning, I woke them up and then went down to get breakfast and lunches prepared as usual. And that is when I got my brilliant idea. Now, my kids have never bought their lunch at school, not because I won’t let them, but because they DO NOT want to. They insists on not buying lunch at school because the lines are long and it cuts into their recess time.
So instead of rushing around getting lunches made that morning I grabbed $5 from each of the bigs “piggy banks” and left them for them on the counter where I usually put their lunch boxes. Then I grabbed some cereal, put it on the table and made myself a cup of hot tea. I sat at the table with my feet up and had a wonderful conversation with the kiddos. We talked about all sorts of things, plus we helped the bigs work out some of their issues. I have to tell you, I had a great breakfast. It was relaxing and enjoyable.
Then it was time to go to school and the bigs went to grab their lunch boxes. WHAT?
“Where are our lunches?”
“You forgot to pack them!”
“Mom, what have you been doing?”
“What are we going to do?”
I kindly pointed to their $5 bills sitting on the counter and said, “This is so sad. I didn’t have the energy to make them for you this morning since I was up last night dealing with your fighting. I knew you would understand so I took the money from your banks this morning so you can buy your own lunches and I could have a break. Hopefully I will get more rest tonight. Enjoy your day.”
Then I sent them out the door. That night the house was much more restful.
I gave them loving, logical consequences while taking care myself at the same time. It’s a win-win, isn’t it!
5. Call on reinforcements to help you stay the course. This part is the hardest for me. As time goes on I find myself getting lazy and letting go of my non-negotiables. Not following through with consequences. Only to get back to the same place of utter frustration. That’s why this step is solo important. I am going to call on my board to help me stay on track. When I have a bad day, I’m going to text one of them and tell them where I let things slide. I know the ones I have chosen will be incredibly supportive and encouraging. And that is all it takes for me – someone who understands, can see things clearly when I can’t and loves me no matter how messed up my home may be.
This is a great start to getting my home back in order. Once I have done these things the other stuff on my list seems less important somehow. But there are still some things I know I need to address for the sake of my children so we will come back to them.