Poof! Problems Be Gone!

a-to-z-letters-pWhen the crazies take over my children and I’m about to lose it myself, I need a time out. While my kids burst into tears in anticipation of a dreaded time-out, I beg for one. Please, please, please send me to my room for the rest of the night! No television or video games for the rest of the week? All right! Grounded for a month? Bring it on! Go ahead and punish me:)

Actually instead of the typical scenario where I end up screaming at the kids and feeling horrible about losing my temper later, I’ve taken to giving myself a time-out to just take a deep breath and step away until I can get my emotions under control again. A couple weeks ago my youngest flipped out at dance class because her tap shoes hurt her feet. We tried on various pairs of used taps for sale at the dance studio, but none would suffice. She started throwing a huge tantrum and all the other mom’s were staring at us. I gave my daughter a choice of either wearing the taps she had and participating in her class or putting her tennis shoes back on so we could home. She flipped out even more and lay in the middle of the floor screaming about how she needed new shoes.

After trying to unsuccessfully reason with her (there was no where nearby that sold new tap shoes and class started ten mintues ago) I felt ready to explode. I told her I needed a time-out and went outside to sit on the steps. A few minutes later both daughters joined me outside. The tantrum-thrower still going at it in full force. I sent my oldest back inside to get her shoes and we walked to the car. She still wouldn’t put her shoes on so she walked in her stocking feet, sobbing about need new taps all the way.

The next week with tap shoes that fit perfectly she happily danced with her class. One of the women that worked at the dance studio told me that she admired how I’d handled the tap-shoe situation last week. She said instead of walking out she probably would have hauled her into the bathroom for a spanking. The thought did cross my mind briefly. I felt proud of myself though for not losing my cool.

Everyone needs time to chill out when problems seem overwhelming. Emotions get the best of us at one time or another. My girls especially get caught up in all-consuming dramas when things don’t go their way. About a month ago we created a “peace corner” AKA “Australia” in our living room. We named it “Australia” as that’s what my youngest’s kindergarten teacher named a similar corner in her classroom. I’m not sure why they call it “Australia,” but I’m guessing it has to do with Judith Viorst’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. If you’ve never read the book, the main character has a really bad day and after each bad thing that happens to him, he wants to run away to Australia.

Australia
Australia

Our “Australia” peace corner has bean bag chairs, pillows, stuffed animals, an iPod player with ear buds, a little water fountain, books, markers, papers and other quiet items in it. Now when one of the girls gets upset, they go chill to Australia until they calm themselves down. The new rule is if you’re crying and sobbing and carrying on about how unfair the world is or because you touched something that might make you sick, then you have to be in the peace corner. For the most part, the peace corner’s doing its job. We’ve had one or two incidents where both girls wanted to be in Australia at the same time and one morning where my youngest got mad and threw the bean bag chair across the room.  All in all though, the girls enjoy chilling out and regrouping in their safe, chill-out corner. Peace out!

 

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Sisterly Love (and Hate)

Growing up with my younger sister by two years, we were the best of friends. We loved to play together. We did everything together without a bitter word ever passing between us. We were the epitome of sisterly love.

And if you believe that, I have a private island in the South Pacific I’d like the sell you. In reality, sure there were times we got along well together, but mostly, we argued a lot. Back then, we really couldn’t agree on much of anything. Of course I was always right and she always started it! I can remember hearing my mother and grandmother saying, “Stop your bickering!” or “enough girls.”  But, we both had to have the last word and the argument would continue. At the time, I never really thought about how are arguing and constant picking at each other effected the ‘grown-ups’ around me until now.

I know God must be laughing at me now (along with my mother and grandmother) as I get my just rewards. I know have to argument-prone daughters of my own. At almost five years apart, you wouldn’t think they’d have anything to fight about. That they would actually get along with each other, but no. I think they live to antagonize each other and me. The youngest wakes up in the morning, reaches up and pulls her sister’s hair for no reason. And it begins:

“Mom, she pulled my hair!” the oldest one tattles.

“Well, she hit me first,” the little one defends herself.

“No I didn’t,” the older one retorts.

“Yes, you did!” she asserts back.

“No, I didn’t”

“Mom, I just lightly tapped her to get her to move off my shirt. Ouch! Mom she did it again!”

After a few moments, the words “That’s enough girls! Stop your bickering now!” spew out of my mouth. The constant picking at each other is like fingernails on a chalkboard to my nerves. They continue on with their argument though as if I hadn’t just told them to stop. It wouldn’t be half as bad if they didn’t keep dragging me into it. As the arguing escalates through the morning routine, I start to count to three. If I get to three, no TV in the evening. They hate that! It works way better than timeouts for me, plus I don’t have to watch the same episode of Shake it Up for the twentieth time.

One Saturday morning on our way back from running errands, their need to be right lost the television privileges from the rest of that day all the way to the Tuesday. By the time the lost Tuesday they were done fighting and were pleading with me for away to get their “Wizards of Waverly Place” fix back.

“What if we be good for the rest of the day?” they both begged.

“Well, I told them. You can’t earn back today, it’s gone. But, if you are good for the rest of the day and you help with the chores around the house, you can earn back your TV privileges.”

They were all over it! They were best friends for the rest of the day. In addition, they cleaned the bathroom sinks, the toilets and helped wipe down the tub. They picked up their stuff in the living room and cleaned up their room. It was AMAZING. We turned up the music and sang and danced as we powered through the chores. In the end, they earned back the three days of TV they lost, I didn’t have to listen to them argue and I got my bathrooms cleaned.

Hmmm…. Maybe their arguing isn’t so bad after all. They argue, I take away the TV and they earn it back by doing chores without complaining… I like it!!!

Back to my sister and me though, we are quite good friends now. We talk on the phone once or twice a week, we go on girls weekends when we can, and we rarely, if ever, argue. So, there is hope for my girls yet, that someday they will love their sister and value her, just as I do mine.