You would think by now, 4 kids in, I would have learnt what I should and shouldn’t do. Parenting essentially should become easier right?! You know what works and what doesn’t. You have your family rhythm and you’ve created your own family’s do’s and don’ts. What is it the everybody says…..’after 3 they just slot right in!!!’ …well i’m here to tell you that no. No they do not just slot right in ha! The first 6 months of Jemima’s life we were wondering what the heck we had done?! 3 was a dream! Why did we go and rock the boat…but then that 6 months past and everything seemed to settle down and I carried on parenting like I always did….or so I thought!
(lets fast forward for a minute)
The last month or so, things have got progressively harder with Jemima. The whining and whinging has escalated, the level of demanding has increased and just generally a bit chaotic. But the last few weeks have been next level. The tantrums and plot losing when she doesn’t get her own way, the screeching at children wherever we go and the sudden refusal to go to bed have been hard. To the point where I actually don’t want to go anywhere with her because it’s so full on and sometimes quite embarassing. It causes stress at home which in turn means I haven’t been able to be the best mum to the other kids. Now, a lot of people would say that this is just a phase or it’s part of being 2 and its hard for them to communicate etc etc etc…maybe. Maybe there is an element of truth to that. But I strongly believe that isn’t the case..it dawned on me the last few days that I have made one key mistake which I did not do with my other kids.
When Jemima turned about 1, she started exercising her will and personality etc. Which is fine but here is when I should have started some good habits and disciplines. But being so busy with all the other girls and everything else in life, it became easier to give in to her demands straight away to keep her happy which kept everything moving. A few examples :
1. When my older girls were little, and they had say a wine biscuit for a snack. That was it. They had A wine biscuit. And then you needed to have fruit or whatever else but you were not having anymore biscuits. That was the rule from the get go. With Jemima, one would turn into a few as she wanted another one. I needed to carry on with dinner or I wanted to sit down and chat to a friend for a minute and so it became easier for me to just let her have another one. And another one. (oh the shame). So she learnt that basically, she could have what she wanted just as long as she grizzled or whinged a bit, because I would give it to her to keep her entertained.
2. Sharing. In general, my girls have been good with sharing. They have learnt that they can play together or that they can wait until someone is finished with what they might like to play with and then they can have a turn. Or we set a time and say after 5 minutes you need to give your sister a turn. Now when Jemima arrived and she started joining in with playing, I didn’t seem to stick to that same routine. With 3 other kids, housework, homechooling and everything to deal with it became easier for me to just make the girls give her what she wanted to play with and get something else. Because in my head, they can just find something else, Jemima is happy and it kept the peace. But what did it do? It made Jemima entitled. It made her think that anything she wanted she could have if she just made a bit of noise. And that extended out to when we went to play groups or anything. If someone had something she wanted, it would be made known. Because at home, I would tell the girls to just give it to her. To keep the peace and to make life easier.
So what have I done? I’ve created a rod for my back. I’ve created these habits and behaviours from what at first just seems like harmless day to day things. But they become part of all aspects of life. Suddenly she doesn’t just expect toys at her demand but she expects me to be at her demand and her beck and call. She gets older and these habits start to become a problem. They start to affect day to day life and all of us in it. Our children are not in charge. But she thinks she is and I’ve lost the control that I have always had. The day’s become stressful, you aren’t enjoying your children and gaining that control back is REALLY hard. Its gruelling and it’s going to take time. But just like a lot of things….recognising it is the first step right?! She isn’t a bad child, or naughty and this isn’t just the way she is. She is a product of my teaching (or lack of, lets be honest haha) and impressions and basically I did spoil her in the wrong way.
I recognise now that the key mistake I made, was giving in to this little youngest child for the sake of a bit of peace and smooth sailing but in actual fact it has done a lot more damage than if I had put the effort in in the beginning. It’s not easy to do that. Especially when you have a lot of other children demanding your time. But man, it is worth it! We are not there yet. Our journey of gaining back control is only just beginning and it’s going to be tough. But I encourage you all, if you’re in the same boat as me. It’s worth it to start now. And if you’re not there yet…learn from my mistake and don’t make it for yourself! And for me : there is always hope.
I’ll leave you with this great scripture.
Train up a child in the way he should go. And when he is old he will not depart from it – Proverbs 22:6