As night falls, silence rings through my ears like church bells on a Sunday. Finally able to relax for a moment. The kids are asleep. The sink is full, toys are strewn across the living room floor and there are still unwashed clothes scattered across the house.
I’m exhausted and comfortable with the idea of neglecting my duties for the night. Leaving the battlefield of chores for a phantom clean up crew.
It’s a pipe dream. The dishes, clothes and minefield of toys will still be there in the morning. There’s a good chance, in my groggy state I’ll step on one of those Lego landmines, end up clutching my foot, while mumbling cuss words as I hobble up the stairs to bed.
So I heave myself out of my chair and start to go to task. Gathering the clothes, collecing the toys and finally start the wax on wax off process we call dishes.
As I work my way through, I can’t help but think, there has to be an easier way to keep some semblance of clean, or at least tidy around this place.
It dawns on me that I’m letting some of my principals slide and I haven’t been doing my best to instill them in those little monkeys.
Here are the 5 I find most important…
They needed to understand that I am not here to only serve them. So the rule became, that as long as what I requested of them was completed, then and only then would I entertain their requests.
Each of them has a job that they help Dad with. My 10 year old cooks tacos, or sloppy jos on the weekends, for the rest of the family. Supervised of course. My 7 year old helps me clean the car. My 6 year old helps me with the laundry.
My kids like to fib. They don’t want to get in trouble and I understand that. But from time to time they try to blame someone else for their wrong doing. I have adapted a policy that if they tell the truth the first time, the consequence will be swift and minimal in accordance with the level of fib. If that doesn’t happen a major privilege is lost for 24 hrs or until they can explain why they lied, why it was wrong and what the impact was on others it.
4 Self Discipline
There are aspects of life we all like to go through and there are others we don’t. As a kid, especially my stubborn troupe, It’s even harder to stay focused on an activity that doesn’t completely engulf all of their senses. But they need to learn to get through it and put forth their best effort. My son had an issue with reading, where he didn’t want to, so he said he couldn’t. I would catch him reading video titles on youtube from time to time. So I would make him read the titles when we watched together. No matter how mad or how upset he got. I wouldn’t budge, we’d wait until he put his best effort out.
I try to instill this by example. If I get overly mad or frustrated with them I make a point of apologizing as soon as possible and explaining myself. I always try to make it clear that no matter the trouble they are in I love them. I just have to guide them in the right direction and that’s not always easy. And it’s definitely not black and white.
It seems to me that the world has gotten a bit soft. We try our best to protect our kids and remove the obstacles in their way. Nerfing any and every aspect of perceived negative influence we can.
No one likes a strict heavy hand ruling the house. However no one wants to be the enforcer any more either. When I look back, the people that left lasting impressions were the ones that knew how to push my buttons, in order to teach and get the results they wanted.
Not every interaction is going to be comfortable. A little bit of adversity can help build adaptive problem solving skills. Trust me those little minds need a balanced diet of guidance.