Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Today's Musing: Handling Sibling Relationships

Sometime ago I turned to my husband and said,

"I'm not even sure my children like each other."

I have three boys (one stepson who went off college this year). My boys are ages 3, 7 and 8. Each one of my spicy boys have their own unique, personality and I'll be honest, I'll sometimes look at one of those shows (the Duggars or some other multiple family) and think,

"how the h*ll do they do it?"

But we are not the Duggars. We are a bit more crazy.

And after what has felt like a large period where my husband and I were breaking up fights more and more, we finally feel like we can breathe a little. Like I can sit down on the couch with my boys and get through a show without,

I don't want to watch this!

Spencer is bothering me!

Carson kicked me!

Preston won't be quiet! I can't even hear!

It wasn't that I sprinkled magical fairy dust on my kids at night or I prayed away their bad moods, bad attitudes away (although, trust me, I do pray a lot about this), but I've slowly learned to embrace each one of my boys, for who they are, And that my friends, is a lot harder than it seems.

So low and behold, I've finally wrapped my head around life concepts (I really hate using the word "tips"), which are constantly changing, as my boys grow, but by truly living out these concepts, they have truly changed our relationship with our children and have also, in return, allowed my husband and I to connect with each one of our boys, in our own way.

1. Don't let go of the small stuff. I found that I was consistently letting go of the small stuff. A bad word here. A small argument there. Hitting. I would give a quick reprimand and let it go. My reasoning was that they would be able to solve the problem themselves, between each other. But within minutes, the something small would escalate into something much bigger. So now my boys know we have a zero tolerance policy in the areas of hitting, bad words, or other bad behaviors. And it was definitely an adjustment. And it's not easy at first. Especially when it's a quick argument here, or a bad word mumbled under their breath, but when they see that there are consequences even for the smallest things, it does gradually start to shift.

2.  We all need our space. There is a block of time--after school--before dinner, where things can get very hairy. The boys are overtired from school, sometimes hungry and dreading homework. I know this is the time the fighting will usually begin. So when my kids come home from school, they get their "me time." It's the time I separate them, put them in different parts of the house. And writing that looks funny, but it isn't that big of deal. Carson likes to play in our front yard, Spencer enjoys winding down to some after school cartoons, and Preston will typically be around me, just playing. I found this 30 minute wind down is really helpful to simply decompress from a full day of school.

3. Each child is different, so should their consequences be. As a parent, I'm sure we can all attest to the idea that each child is different. Gradually I've found that punishing them in the same way just does not work. I can send Spencer to his room and he's miserable yet if I were to do the same thing for Carson, he shrugs his shoulders and "hangs out in his room." Learn what makes your child tick.

4. Find a common denominator. My kids love soccer. It's in their blood. And they love to play not just on the weekends, but everyday. They run around outside, sweat it out and yes, they do still fight out there, but it gets quickly squash. As important as their "me time," is, I also think it's important to find an activity they can all enjoy together. And it doesn't have to a be sport. My kids also enjoy a group bath and snuggling up to a good movie.

Keep it simple.

5. Sometimes it is okay to let go of the small stuff. Putting my kids to bed can be a big pain in the ass. Sorry there is no other way to put it. But then a moment happens. That moment when I get out of bed fuming, ready to bark at the boys, and threaten how many things I'm going to take away from them the next day because I still hear noises.

And then I put my head to the door and I hear it.

No fighting. 


Talking silly stuff. 

How sneaky. 

And then I realize, maybe it is okay. It's okay, to let go of the stuff you know is binding them.

The stuff you know they'll remember when they are can even close your eyes and if you concentrate hard enough, you can hear them say...

"Do you remember when we used to drive Mom and Dad crazy with our late night bed-tents?!!"

 Have a good Wednesday friends! And if you have any experiences you would like to share, please...would love to hear them!

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