After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sometimes I feel pretty brilliant

Lately I've been feeling like the kids have just been sucking every last bit of positive energy out of me.  They've been arguing, demanding, ignoring, mean little demons in those cute little bodies.  And on Sunday I was up to here.  Grace interrupted me and was being so rude while I was trying to talk to someone at church.  I took them all out to the car and poked her in the forehead to demonstrate how it felt when she interrupted me like that.

Not my best parenting moment, I'll admit.  But it's those moments that make me really sit back and look at what's been happening and come up with a new strategy.

This time it's an energy chart.  On Sunday night after they flat out ignored me for the umpteen-millionth time, I went up to their rooms that had not been cleaned after countless reminders and the entire day to do so and collected everything that was not put away.  Everything. 

And then I came back down stairs.  They weren't happy.  But I was less happy.  And they needed a way to earn back the laundry basket of their now precious treasures.

They had no ideas.  So we tabled the discussion and they went to bed.

Then I had a brilliant thought.  What if I made a chart to track mom's energy throughout the day.  Brent thought it would be a great lesson in mom's mood swings.  I told him it was a great lesson in cause and effect.

The next morning (Grace didn't have school because Idaho is cool and we get a 4 day Easter weekend) I sat them all down at the table and we had a little talk about mom's energy that went something like this: 

So, if you get up in the morning and I ask you to go potty before breakfast and you stomp your foot, cross your arms and yell, 'NO!', what does that do to mom's energy?

It goes down.

Yes!  And what happens if I ask you to go potty before breakfast and you say, "Okay, mom!" and then you run and do it?

It goes up.

Yes!  And what happens if Grace tries to talk to Calla and Calla ignores her on purpose?

It goes down.

Yes!  And what happens when I ask you to take your clean clothes upstairs and put them away and you ignore me or tell me you hate doing chores?

It goes down.

And what happens when mom's energy goes down too far?

It's not fun.

I think they understood. 

The deal:  They end in SAFE ZONE three days in a row and they can have their stuff back.

Here's the chart I made.  I can't spell "Energy" apparently.  But I got that fixed. 

(Yes, it says "DANGER ZONE   BEWARE")

The first day they were almost off the charts.  I almost passed out when I asked them if they were done playing with the blocks in the living room and heard, "Yes.  I'll go pick them up."  We had a great day.  Quilting, cookies, nobody yelling, only Violet crying because she always cries about everything from the fly dying on the floor to tripping on a sponge.  But honestly, I can handle one emotionally distraught child without getting too distraught.  It's multiple emotionally distraught children that I can't handle.

Yesterday was pretty good, too.

Today was a bit of a struggle.  Grace noticed this after she got home from school.  I'm sure she was wondering what on earth her sisters did all day.

Then she went down stairs and didn't practice her piano until two hours later when we had dinner to clean up and pajamas to get on and teeth to get brushed and books to get read.  That didn't help, either.

They BARELY made it.  Barely.  But they did.  And I didn't have that want-to-poke-you-in-the-forehead feeling today at all.  I'd say it's a pretty accurate chart since that feeling means they are definitely in the "DANGER ZONE."

Tonight Violet was crying because she fell down.  I told her that I was so tired of her crying ALL.THE.TIME.  She looked at me, stopped crying and said, "Does it make your thing go down?"

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