Friday, January 6, 2012

one of those “assess and improve” times.

last year (feels weird to type that out), I did some assessing, and decided to make some changes.  now this happened to be one of those times when I saw something wasn’t working and I needed to fix it, instead of waiting and making it a new year’s resolution (bleh!), I made it a goal right then and there.

now, I cannot take full credit for this change.  someone who I am very blessed to know and have in my life, was inspired to share some information with me, and that information was just what I needed to hear at just the right time.

three girls is something that I never dreamed I would have to deal with.  for some reason, I thought I would have boys.  maybe one girl, after all, that pattern seemed to work out pretty awesomely for my mom and dad.  I never really got along with girls.  I found them to be a little too dramatic and catty for my taste.  I got along just fine with boys, and my brothers were my best friends.  if I had the choice, to play with a girl friend in my neighborhood, or to hang out and play g.i. joes with my brothers, I would pick playing with my brothers.

don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being a girl, I like to do some girlie things, but to be surrounded by girls?  not exactly something I thought I could handle.

so you might be able to imagine the shock when I was told I was having a girl the first time around.  I was so sure little lynn was going to be a boy.  (I still have little boy clothes with tags on them, in my cedar chest, that is how certain I was that I was going to have boys.)  then, there came ashley.  I was hoping for a boy, because I was freaked out (!!!) about having a second girl.  how would a mother daughter-daughter relationship work out with two girls?!  but we adapted, and really couldn’t picture life any other way.  the fact that peyton was yet another girl, seemed to come as no surprise.  if we were to have one more (just one more merrill?!?) we would most definitely want another girl.  we have a system established here.

but as the years have come and gone, the drama has seemed to increase.  life progressing certainly doesn’t help in that area.  with progression came school, homework, extra-curricular activities, friends, different personalities developing, and lots of emotion associated with them all.

now, I’ve always known that I take after my dad more than I do my mom, so it seemed as though the patience thing just wasn’t in me.  oh, I tried, and usually failed miserably by the end of the day.  I prayed, I fasted, how I tried!!!

this last year, it seemed that the volume to life in our home was always set to yell, and I was the one yelling.  I hated it.

again, there were the attempts to change, but I always fell to my old ways, not that it worked and provided the results I desired.  I think the girls became experts at ignoring me which only made me yell louder.

I was not the kind of mother I wanted to be.

it was the day after ashley’s birthday.  I went out to play volleyball with friends and have some much needed time out of the house.  I was feeling like a horrible mom.  there was a constant prayer in my head and in my heart, pleading to be better, to find something that would help me.

that is where my inspired friend comes in.

sometimes, after a physically exerting game of volleyball (hahaha…), we would leave and go get ourselves a cold treat.  (frosties at wendy’s are the best.  try a chocolate frosty float with orange soda.  really.  you are welcome.)  that night, we were having our treat, talking about things that were going on in our lives, doing what good friends do best, listening and supporting.  she had just attended a parenting conference and was telling me about some of the techniques they discussed.  this was what I needed to hear.

no yelling.  speak slow and low.  don’t toss out punishments or consequences with anger or emotion, think about them for a while.  find the best, fool-proof one and stick to it!  let consequences happen.  don’t rescue your kids.  take deep breaths.  lots of deep breaths.

so many more things were said, and it was just what I needed.

I promised myself that from that point on I would not yell at my girls.

I haven’t yelled (out of anger) since that day.  That was three months ago.

the girls listen to me now.  they take me more seriously, because I sound sane.

I have yelled, to call them to dinner, stuff like that, but never out of anger.  when I yell for those things, they listen to me!!  I get a response!

while I was painting peyton’s room, she was admiring my handiwork and backed-up in awe towards the wet wall.  when I yelled her name, to get her attention, so she wouldn’t pinkify her clothes, she ran to me.  see, they listen now that yelling isn’t a part of their everyday existence.

what is even more amazing to me, is how easy it has been.  yelling is no longer my first reaction to any situation.

I have taken such deep breaths, I have nearly lost consciousness. 

I have rolled my eyes (while my back was turned, of course!) so far that they have nearly gone up inside my head.

I have talked so slowly, and so lowly, I swear they have stopped breathing to better hear me.

my punishments are so well thought out and calculated, my children are actually fearful of consequences.

ashley has always been the one to push the limits when it comes to my threats.  she questions every single detail.  she learned a lesson the hard way one sunday.

she was being a complete stink.  merrill was home with peyton who wasn’t feeling well, so it was me, playing single mom at church and ashley was misbehaving.  I have a problem with certain behavior in the chapel and will not put up with it so she was warned to cut it out.  if she didn’t, we would clean out her room when we got home.  I would leave only her bed and clothing in her room.  but she pushed it.

(mind you the kid just had a birthday!!  birthday = lots of new, super fun stuff.)

“will you leave my light?  will you leave my curtains?”  a little giggle was added after each question.  “will you leave me door?  what about my carpet?”  I warned her again to stop, and she didn’t, so we left and sat in the foyer where she continued. 

“seriously, will I have a light mom?”

she thought she was hilarious.

I warned her again, that if she kept it up, we would go home where she would have to sit in her empty room for the same amount of time that we would have been in sacrament meeting, and I didn’t want to go home without taking the sacrament.

but because she likes to push it, she kept it up.

now I had a choice: I could let her continue to act this way, and ignore it, not follow through with my punishment of having her sit in her empty room for the duration of sacrament meeting, or I could follow through, take her home, make her sit in her empty room for and hour and stare at all the emptiness.

I stuck to it.  she did not want to go.  we went down that hall, lynn leading out, me dragging ashley as she promised and cried that she would be good.  she begged and pleaded as I nearly pulled her arm out of its socket.  once we were outside, I lugged her up onto my hip and carried her like a sack of very uncooperative potatoes.

she was afraid now.  pretty sure she regretted her earlier behavior.

once we were home, I made her sit on the stairs as she watched me, merrill, lynn, and peyton, clean out her room and take everything downstairs to one of the unfinished bedrooms.  trip after trip past her with her beloved belongings, her face progressively fell sadder and sadder.  then, she got to sit in that empty room for an hour and fifteen minutes.  at the end of her sentence, I went in and explained to her just what she did, what consequence I laid out, and how I followed through with it.  I also explained to her that she would have chances to earn back her belongings everyday.

if she got out of bed without protesting and got ready for school without me nagging her, she would get to pick out one of her belongings.

if she came home from school, got her homework done without complaining, she would get to pick out another.

if she behaved well the rest of the evening, following rules, respecting others, and getting ready for bed without problems, she would get to pick out a third item before bedtime.

if she did other things that were pleasing during the day, there would be more chances to retrieve her belongings.

that first night, she had the chance to earn two belongings back, and I picked that number purposefully.  I knew she would want a doll or stuffed animal to sleep with, and I knew she would most definitely want her music to fall asleep to.  merrill and I would be the judges of how many she got to pick out.  she needed to be respectful of others for the rest of the evening (one) and get ready for bed without complaint (two).

she only earned one, because the kid has issues with boundaries, so she was sad to only have a doll to snuggle and no music. 

the next day, you know she was doing everything she was expected to do, and the first thing she picked out of the basement was her cd player.

she still has stuff to earn back out of that basement, and that is because I am sticking to it! 

I am so proud of myself.

I am not doing it alone, I pray for help everyday.  it is a huge help though, that I made the decision to change.

I also have to credit that one amazing friend, who shared what she had learned, not even knowing how awful I felt about where I was.  she was truly inspired.

the spirit in our home is not always the best, we all still need to improve how we react, but it is so much better.

it feels so good to not yell.


Julie said...

I am so proud of you (and amazed). I am still working on that whole not yelling thing. Because you have shown me it can be done, I will try harder (everyday). Way to go, Min!

Tiffany said...

Thanks for sharing! I'm having a similar situation with my kiddos and this has given me some good ideas where to start. Hopefully I can get rid of the yelling too!

BookwormMom said...

I would never picture you as a yeller, you have always seemed so unflappable to me...the kind of mom I want to be.

I'm glad you've found a solution, that works, and I still want to be you when I grow up. :)

T-Fam said...

Thanks Mindy for sharing this!! I have problems yelling and always fell bad after I do yell. I am going to start doing this also. Thanks again!!

Ally's Corner said...

Love that you share things like this on your blog. You show your real life and that is one reason I like you so much.

Jenny said...

What a great post! Haven't read blogs in so long, but yours was one of the first I went too! Take care!

Jenny said...

PS I was just called as primary pres. I am trying to recall all the wonderful training you gave me :)

Carrie said...

Way to stick to your guns! I'm proud of you.

Bonnie said...

I am so glad you shared this. I also am not a girl that is into drama so it will be interesting when my girls (maybe just Lexi, but hopefully I will have more) grow and what kind of interactions we have. That is so awesome that you have gone so long without yelling, that you are able to have the fortitude to change. Reminds me of the changes Grandpa made in his life. When he decided he wanted to change something he would just change it. That being said, I don't think we as young mothers should be too hard on ourselves. I think having kids can be the most challenging thing you can do. I heard someone in my ward talk about what it was like to have small children and how she would often lose her patience and then feel bad. I was so surprised to hear that come from her, she is the person I think of whenever the gift of charity is discussed, a true saint. So anyway love ya