August 10, 2011

Reelin' It In

So it's summer, right?  Kind of hard to tell around here with how not hot and only occasionally sunny it's been.

However, according to the calendar it is indeed summer and the kids are out of school.  It is a time for playing, frolicking and generally running amok all day long (if it isn't raining).  I am a mom who firmly believes in kids being kids.  I want them to have a fun and carefree-as-possible childhood.  Yet I also know I must balance this with all the motherly things I am obligated to teach my children during their childhood so that once they turn 18 and magically become adults, they will have some clue how to operate out in the world.

Because I am aiming for both carefree and well-behaved children, this, like every damn last thing in life, requires a balance.  Well, we got off balance since school ended.

I'd say since around the 4th of July we have been allowing way too much consumption of soda and other junk food, as well as inconsistent sleeping arrangements and a general lack of a daily routine.  I mean, there's been some sense of a routine, especially because we spend most of our time at home (due to my inability to drive; I always feel I need to remind people of this), but it's surely been vague.

My son pretty much started losing his mind.  I kid you not.  AJ is 5 1/2.  My daughter had a hard time with the inconsistency of school breaks at his age, so I should have known better.  Camryn is 11 now and doing just fine with summer.  But AJ?  Not so much.

He has been having ugly temper tantrums where he will yell and scream and stomp, slam, hit and throw things.  And he will do it for a really long time before he relents because he is a stubborn and prideful male.  Partly his inherent personality, partly his age and that autonomy crap he's got going on, and partly a lack of parenting.

Wait.  What?  Did I just admit to lazy parenting?

Ouch.  That stings.

Hi.  My name is Jennifer, my husband's name is Mark, and we've been slacker parents this summer.

In our defense, I think where we run into problems is with how much older Camryn is than AJ.  We tend to choose our parenting tactics based on her age first, his second.  And because he has a much older sibling, AJ is somewhat older than his chronological age in regards to many things.  But his emotions?  Whole other matter.

All of this came to a head on Sunday when I swear AJ woke up having a tantrum.  He cried.  I cried.  Camryn tip-toed around.  Mark came home from work and I said the dreaded words, "We need to talk."

So we talked, agreed things needed to change and came up with a plan.  I typed up a list of rules and consequences.  We called the kids in and we basically had a "family meeting".  After reading each rule we discussed the particulars.  You know how literal kids are.  Camryn took dictation, writing everything down in her little notebook.  AJ wanted examples.  But he was such a cute little dude about it, sitting just like his dad, nodding and saying "yeah".  THIS is the boy I know and love!

I thought I would share our list for your consideration:


TV and video games will be OFF between Noon and 6:00 PM

(unless it’s raining).  *We need some leeway here due to where we live. That, and I'm not doing crafts with them all afternoon!  I'm just not THAT mom.

Soda and other junk food only on weekends IF we’ve had a good week.

You will sleep in your own beds.  *They had been sleeping together a lot.

You will wear helmets when riding your bikes or the motor scooter - or you won’t ride them.  *I wasn't super worried about this until recently. My friend Jessica was appalled that I didn't make my kids wear helmets and my mom gave me a guilt trip. Of course, they're right. But I never wore a helmet and I honestly felt like a hypocrite.

You will not have a tantrum, yell, scream, hit or throw things.

Watch your attitude and be respectful.

Be Polite - say please and thank you and excuse me.

Do Not Lie.  *I cannot stand lying liars who lie! Makes me clench my teeth and make my hands into fists and my kids will not be liars!

You may not fight with each other - no yelling and screaming or hitting and kicking.  *I know siblings fight, but they don't have to go to the extreme.

Listen and do what you are told.

No eating or drinking in the loft.  *AJ constantly asks. He's a slob.

Clean up after yourselves.

These rules are subject to change at any time.


Added chores
Loss of a privilege
Loss of a favorite toy or activity
Loss of weekend treats
Grounding to your room
Writing name or sentences repeating
Standing facing a corner

I printed two copies and put one on the fridge and one upstairs between their rooms.

There have been a couple minor hiccups, but mostly so far so good.  AJ still gets frustrated, but hasn't had any tantrums.  They both messed up Sunday night at bedtime (Cami was rude and AJ hit her), so they had to clean their rooms and the loft yesterday.  But I'm really hopeful that we've turned a corner and gotten back on track.

Has this kind of thing ever happened to you?  Have you ever had to admit you screwed up as a parent?  Please tell me I'm not the only one!

PS: Linking this up as my post of the week with Bruna for Let's BEE Friends!

Let's BEE Friends


  1. I was reading the list and thinking, "Really? You really think you just write a list and you suddenly have angel kids?" LOL!!

    It seems to be working, tho! I'm VERY impressed that AJ actually has reduced his tantrums.

    Tantrums are usually an out of control emotional outburst that does not have forethought and pre-planning and all you can do later is apologize and take your medicine.

    The fact that he is controlling his tantrums means he WAS using forethought and saw them as a means to an end to controlling you. Interesting!

    But, no, I never made any mistakes in parenting, you know that!

  2. Oh girl- I screw up all the time!

    That's great that you saw what was happening and made a change!

  3. Of course I've made mistakes! It's the beauty of being a parent. Or, you know, human.

    I think you took a good approach though. I like the idea of a rule chart with consequences listed. I'm thinking of "stealing" your idea for my almost-5-year-old. He's always talking about the "rules" at pre-K so maybe he'd grasp the idea easier than I thought.


  4. I have NEVER made a parenting mistake. The fact that I am not a parent is a minor, inconsequential detail.

  5. I'm with Shell...I screw up all the time!
    My 3 older kids have all been sleeping in the same room for weeks, calling it a "slumber party". It's really so cute, and they have the best time (even though they stay up WAY too late).
    I LOVE the writing sentences thing...I might have to implement that!

  6. Oh summer is so hard! Seriously we love order and routine and just today I threw my hands up and said ENOUGH! I am not a short order cook and maid! We re-did our chore chart and are going to try to stick to it. Thankfully there is only 12 more days until school starts, not that I;m counting :-)

  7. Way to take control of the house! I've been letting too many things slide this summer too. I'm usually really strict about bedtimes, but this summer the girls have been running wild. I just hope I can get them back on track before school starts! I keep telling myself it doesn't matter b/c the time change is going to throw them off anyway once we're back in Japan, but seriously -- it's getting out of hand!

  8. I dare someone to say that they don't screw up! We all do it!

    I am going to have to print this and show my daughter. She thinks that we are the only parents in the world that still make their children do chores.

  9. I dare someone to say that they don't screw up! We all do it!

    I am going to have to print this and show my daughter. She thinks that we are the only parents in the world that still make their children do chores.

  10. Been kinda lazy this summer, too. Which is really bad as my son has BPD/ADHD/ODD and really needs routine and structure. On the upside, I've got them helping w/chores by paying them $0.25 a chore. I fairly often admit to screwing up. Like the other night I was fed up w/son's whining. He's 9 and I sometimes forget he struggles w/other things) and told him he was a selfish spoiled brat in re: his need for someone to be in the room w/him while he went to sleep. BUT I did apologize to him and tell him I was wrong to say that and pointed out that we all struggle with something. Thanks for sharing this!

  11. Nobody ever is a perfect parent...doesn't exist! :> Very cool that you've found the problem and a way to help. Every kidlet responds differently and I'm glad yours is responding well. 'Cause tantrums are Never fun!! :>

  12. I think what you did was great setting a meeting and coming up with rules and consequences.

    Families should have regular family meetings so that things/issues can be discussed and dealt with as a family unit. We have yet to do this in our family but it's something I've been thinking about!