Yup, each of us reached the end of our rope yesterday. I made a list 20 items too ambitious. Dad got a little disoriented when reality set back in. And my kids, both feeling neglected for a week, we’re off. The whole family had a hard time adjusting to Mom being back – which meant duties, chores, budgets, responsibilities, and rules were now back in place. And leave it to me to hit the ground running!
It was bad. Me and Dad fought about what needed to be tended to first, both expecting each others help. My daughter wined for the better portion of the day, and wanted someone to hold her. Then my son… whoa! (Let me preface… my son is an angel child: kind independent, tender hearted, helpful, all good things, and rarely, very rarely gets in trouble.) My son lost it! He screamed and told me I’m the worst mom ever, ever! Prob three times.
Let’s back the train up… the morning started great, did some tidying up, made breakfast, did some intentional homeschool time, focusing on: love, kindness, being a helper, and giving. Then the kids had some free time before lunch. As I served lunch I asked my son to put away his iPad, that was the moment…
This iPad that carried us through a week of helplessness – that we all depended on for a week. Anyway, he was in his trance and I was the evil mom insisting he join us for lunch.
“Son, time to turn the iPad off. You can have it back after lunch.”
“Nooooooo! I don’t want to turn it off!”
“Please listen and turn the iPad off its time for lunch. If you choose not to listen you won’t get it back after lunch.”
“No! I’m going to watch it while I eat my lunch”
“I’m sorry honey, that is not what I’m asking of you. Please make a good choice, and put the iPad away.”
“No, I wont! You’re the worst mom ever!” (First one)
“Son, you don’t mean that, please go to your room and calm down. You can come out when you have a better attitude and want to listen.”
“Ok I’ll go to my room but I’m bringing my iPad.”
“No… you definitely aren’t going to be able to use your iPad today. Not when you act like this.”
“I want my iPad, you’re the worst mom ever!” (Second one)
“Please go to your room now or you’ll have more things taken away. -waited while he tantrumed – ok, then I’m taking away tv and iPad for a week.”
“No!!! I want shows and iPad!”
“Go to your room or more things will be taken away… -waited while he tantrumed more- ok, no treats for a week, which means no Valentines treats this week.”
“No! I’ll only go to my room if I can have shows and treats back!”
“No, son, this is not a negotiation, go to your room!”
“You’re the worst mom ever!! Ever!!” (Third one) As he slams the door to his room.
We’re actually very similar, so I know not to go in the room until we’ve both calm down and collect our thoughts. Calming down took him almost 30 min, but then he told me he was ready to talk. The first thing I asked was if he really thought I was the worst mom ever, and he crumbled into my arms and apologized.
“Look at me Son, did I make you mad? You are totally allowed to get mad at me! And say ‘Mom that makes me mad!!’ But you are not allowed to say hurtful things when you’re mad, that’s not loving or kind.” (You like how I remembered our lesson from the morning?)
I continued by apologizing for being absent all week while I was recovering. And I was sorry for making him mad. Then we practiced saying, “that makes me angry” and “errrr I’m mad” and “you’re making me upset”. You could see remorse and relief when I gave him words to match the feelings he was having a hard time expressing.
After we talked and exchanged I’m sorry’s I gave him an opportunity to earn back the three things that were taken away. If he did a chore for each thing taken away (tv, iPad, and treats) he could have them back tomorrow. He was serious about doing the chores well and earning these things back. He thoroughly vacuumed, made all the beds after the bedding was cleaned, and did the dishes after dinner.
I think it’s so important for us as parents to judge what is actually happening, the things underlying, not what is being said or done. With my son, he has always needed us to give him words. When he was 1 we taught him sign language and I truly believe we avoided the screaming stage bc he felt like he could communicate. Then when he was more vocal we had to teach him “no thank you” because he was cautious and we found him whining out of fear constantly, there were things that were outside his comfort zone that he didn’t want to do- and that was ok. And today, as an almost 5 year old, he needed words to know how to say I made him mad, that he missed me, and that I was throwing him off.
Today I toned it back… I’m learning too.