The thing about reaching the end of the rope is that then you have to find something else to hold onto.
I had gotten into the habit of treating my daughter like she’s a problem. She’s a problem, so I treat her as such. I treat her that way, she stops trying, she shows up in the dictionary next to the definition of “self-fulfilling prophecy.” Not good.
So I decided to take a leap of faith. Sunday night we discussed the New Regime.
1) Later bedtime. We’re not having enough family time, now that I’m back to work. But mornings have been so atrocious, I’ve been putting the kids to bed earlier and earlier on the assumption that they need more sleep. The solution? Later bedtime = more time to spend together. BUT. Screaming mornings = back to the old bedtime. It’s up to them.
2) Even later bedtime after a week. Half an hour later, to start. They get another half an hour if they show me this works. Same deal on mornings determining how late they get to stay up.
3) Immediate snack when we get home, while I get a few minutes to myself. Our evenings were suffering from two main problems: the kids were hungry and therefore cranky when we got home–and I felt it was too late for a snack, but I have not yet mastered snapping my fingers to make dinner voila! appear on the table at a moment’s notice–and I needed just a few minutes to look at the mail, listen to phone messages, etc. No more “you’ll ruin your dinner.” So what. They get a snack, the crankies are assuaged, and I get a little decompression window in return.
4) Dinner like civilized humans. We’re not going to get into how often I succumbed to “Okay, we’re all tired, you can eat in front of the TV.” Dinner at the table. The “best/worst part of my day” game. When I finish eating before them (I always finish before them), I can do dishes and tidy the kitchen but I must stay in there with them and give them my attention.
God, I love it when I’m brilliant.
1) They were thrilled. They were also angels this morning.
2) Interesting: this morning, Chickadee said she couldn’t wait for the new, full-hour-later bedtime. Tonight, as her eyelids drooped during our bedtime story, she noted that this was maybe late enough.
3) Despite a rather hearty snack when we walked in the door, both kids ate a pretty good dinner (for them, anyway… Monkey never eats). While they snacked, I sorted the mail, returned two phone calls, and took the trash out (which I have forgotten to do the last 2 trash days).
4) So dinner was a cozy affair. If I could’ve bottled the look on Chickadee’s face when I told her the best part of my day was that our morning was so much fun, I’d market it and retire. I love seeing my kid proud of herself.
Heck, I love seeing my kid, rather than a big bundle of emotions that flies around the house in a confused rage. I’m not naive enough to think that this is the ultimate turnaround and it’ll be smooth sailing from here, but I’ll take it.
It’s like seeing the crocuses poking up through the snow. It doesn’t mean winter is over, but it’s a promise that spring is coming.