Laying Down the Law

I have had it. I try and I try to make myself clear to my children in my expectations. I try to give rewards when expectations are fulfilled. I have made out nice, type written, attractive-looking chore charts and lists. I have set timers and put on loud music. I have threatened, cajoled, promised, cried, screamed, pled, whispered, and begged in order to get things done.

All that ends now. I’m sticking with “The List” because when they follow The List, it works. But I’m serious this time. They don’t follow The List, they don’t get any privileges. None. We’re talking no screen time (computer or TV). No toys. No books. No friends. No park. No cub scouts. No sleepovers. No extra school activities. Nothing until The List has been completed.

I should not have to yell at my children 25 times in the space of 15 minutes to remind them to put on their clothes for school. I should not have to yell at them 25 times in the space of 15 minutes to brush their teeth. A 9 year old and a 6 year old are more than capable of picking out their own clothes and getting dressed. They don’t need me to sit in their room and make sure it’s getting done. I refuse to do it. And if that means they are late to school… so be it. I can not do everything for them. They know how to read. They know how to follow The List.

So why don’t they do it? Do they enjoy being late for school? Do they enjoy me being so upset that I lecture them the whole 4 miles drive to school? Do they enjoy having things taken away from them? I do not understand why they can’t just follow a few simple instructions.

I don’t like being the mom that has to yell in order to get anything done (and don’t tell me to whisper and talk calmly. I have tried that. Many, many times have I tried that. It. Doesn’t. Work. Maybe it works with your kids, but not mine.). I don’t like being the mom who’s last words as she drops her kids off to school are “run before the gate gets locked” rather than “have a good day! I love you!” I don’t like being the mom that never lets her kids invite friends over because they haven’t made their bed or picked up their Legos from three days ago. I don’t like being the mom that I am.

It’s my own fault. I do too much for them and can’t relinquish enough control. And then I just plain snap so easily. I want to be the nice, happy mom that is able to get her kids to fulfill the expectations without anger. I want this last month and a half of my pregnancy to be a joyful time with the three boys as we prepare for the baby. I don’t want to be full of stress and contention.

This morning I said to the boys that I’m laying down the law. They WILL do their chores. They WILL follow The List. Or they get nothing until The List has been completed. We’ll see how it goes. It feels like more of the same… I have been laying down the law for years. The boys do great for a few days… then go back to old habits. I let it happen.

Something’s got to change. Something’s got to give. I just don’t know what.

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3 responses to “Laying Down the Law

  1. Good luck. I find that when I simplify my own life, I can be calmer about enforcing the family rules. Kids don’t do the dishes? I guess we can eat peanut butter and jelly for a few meals until the kitchen is clean again. No big deal. BTDT. But if you have a list and make them follow it, it will get easier. Eventually.

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