When there is only one parent to do everything, every bit of help is appreciated. Now I’m not suggesting you have to hire a cook, cleaner and gardener, though very tempting, as that isn’t financially viable. But there are a few things that I am tackling in my children. Not because I am a power hungry, neat freak overbearing mother, but because it will ultimately help me. Bear in mind though that every child, parent and situation are unique so these are just ideas that I have found to work or are working. Be realistic in what you want to achieve and remember you can’t expect any child to be neater, tidier or more organised if you aren’t. They learn from you.
Whinging – Pet hate and can’t stand it. It’s my rules is this one is a no go.
Bedroom tidying – So far I have not found a way to claim the danger money needed to go in there.
Organisation skills – If they are more organised, they and I spend less time getting the simplest things done.
Dawdling – I don’t have time to wait for someone who takes their time.
Chores – I can only do so much and remain sane. Every chore they do is one less I have to fit in.
Separately they are not that huge a thing but if you’re running a house single handily and have a child that’s whiney, doesn’t tidy their room, unorganised, dawdles and runs a mile at the mere mention of a chore, then you probably have the average child. Times that by how many children you have and it’s a recipe for one very worn out, physically and mentally, parent.
So how am I tackling these 5 things?
Whinging – Some mothers manage to breed the rare breed of a whinge-less child. They cope with anything that is thrown at them and goes on to be adults with the same nature. From bad haircuts to earthquakes, nothing sets them off. But then there are the rest of us who has a child that whines. It’s annoying, soul destroying and apparently done because it gets them what they want. I know I am guilty of giving in when they go on and on.
Instead, I am now trying this:
First I told them my new rules – Ask properly I will answer; whinge and I will ignore.
Then I ignore them when they are whining.
I also point out they are whinging and remind them that I won’t answer to whining, calmly removing myself from the situation.
This one is still a work in progress but has noticed that although the whining hasn’t stopped altogether, the amount of time they whinge has dramatically decreased.
Bedroom Tidying – Those who are followers of my site will know this has got me stressed out on many occasions. I confess to being totally jealous and full of envy of all you mums with perfect tidy homes. But I am starting to have a breakthrough on this. Not quite at the ‘break out the champagne to celebrate another mountain conquered’ stage, but I am less skittish when unexpected guests turn up.
First I explained to my kids what I expected of them and why. Saying I want their room tidy because I’m a neat freak wouldn’t make sense to them and they are more likely to rebel. For mine, I explained that …
- it’s nicer to get into a bed that’s made instead of a bed that’s still unmade,
- food and dirty plates attracts all sorts of wildlife,
- tidy toys make it easier to find,
- dirty clothes in the wash bin means I get to wash them and they don’t have to wear smelly clothes
Tailoring it to each child and knowing what makes them tick helped. Now they know what is expected of them and the benefits of why.
Over one of the holidays, I suggested we got a head start. Using a timer so they knew there was an end, child and I would tackle one box or one cupboard each day. When I came across, to me, a box of junk I asked what they wanted to keep. Not what they wanted to throw. Wording it that way halved the time it took and doubled the contents of the recycle bag.
On weekly basis, I, use the carrot trick and ask them to tidy their room whilst I’m making them lunch. Though I have to time it right. Not hungry and not much tidying gets done; starving hungry and they stuff their things anywhere in a rush and risk fainting.
I smile and praise a lot when they do something without being asked. Even the small things that to you and I would seem insignificant.
Organised – I have lost count how many times I have had to get forgotten swimming kits, lunches and football kits to distraught kids at school. Or when they go to their dads, dropped of forgotten items needed for the following day. So now my two are older I am tackling this pet peeve too.
First I lay down the rules. Forget something and they will be doing swimming in the swimming trunks from lost property (ewe) Forget your belt and you will spend all day holding your trousers up. Forget your homework and your teacher will tell you off etc.
We are now getting into the routine of when I’m cooking tea they have to get their stuff ready for the next day. Few minutes before they are about to zoom out the door I remind them to stop and recheck they have everything. This is putting the organising, checking and consequences onto their shoulders. I just do the reminding.
We have also started a family desk diary. If it’s not in the diary (sleepovers, parties etc) it doesn’t happen.
My two are old enough to start facing consequences and to plan ahead. Yes, I have to remind them to check things but it is easier to remind then to run around after them with forgotten things.
I have found that getting the dreamer one to set their alarm clock earlier helps. They can then go at their pace. I also make sure they have everything organised for the morning the night before. It does take a huge amount of patience to just gently nudge in the right direction but it is a calmer routine since they have been getting up earlier.
The deliberate dawdler is also made to get up the same time as dreamy. With them though I have found announcing we are leaving in 10 minutes and meaning it and then leaving at the precise time helps. It did take a few “leaving without you” for them to get the message. The key, I have found, is to be firm, positive, and precise with the time. They soon got the message that I meant business and are cutting down on their dawdling deliberately.
NB would just clarify I never left without them but walked slow enough to the car that they managed to catch me up in time.
Chores – I divorced when my two were young and if I knew then what I know now, I would have been more switched on to this one. When they are younger you can capitalise on their eagerness to be helpful. Yes, the chores would have to be basic, done together and often redone. But I would have been installing into them from an early age to help around the house. Instead, I am rather late on this one but thankfully we are in the age of the mobile phone and my two are keen to earn credit for their phones.
We sat down and worked out a list of chores together and what each chore could be paid. Each time they complete a chore they add the amount to an ongoing chart so they can see how close they are to earning their top up.
Now I got a bit more cunning with this by adding in two mum clauses. If they do an act of kindness, a chore without being asked or especially good I add an amount to the chart. I also can cross off amounts if they misbehave. No with these two clauses in mind, I also had the foresight to work out a lot of this before we all sat down. I worked out how many times they were likely to do chores, how much they could earn each month so that they would also need to earn a few mum clauses to reach their top up each month.
It would be good to hear some of your parenting tips, they may even help other single mums who may be struggling.