On the way home from work yesterday, I was mulling over the fact that I have been yelling at the kids a bit recently. Because their dad is travelling at the moment, there is more for me to do and because I am commuting instead of him taking me to work and picking me up, I have less time to do it all in.
The kids are also missing their dad, but especially Little Man who is close to him and can play up when he is away. So the mixture of tiredness, feeling rushed and moany kids has set me off a couple of times – leading to yelling and saying things I don’t mean and then feeling terrible.
I used to shout quite a bit when the older three were little, probably because I was a little stressed with three children under 5. As they got older I found for a long time I didn't need to shout and that I could take a more laid back reasonable approach with my children – firm boundaries but open to negotiation if this was done in a respectful way.
Recently I seem to be at it again. It’s embarrassing because I suspect the neighbours can hear it, which I can live with because I remember when their kids were younger and we could here them yelling. What’s more embarrassing is that their grandmother is staying with us and is probably thinking I've lost my mind, or the plot and we are all behaving like crazy people. But the embarrassment I can live with. The thing that bothers me is the thought of teaching my children that this is how you deal with people – get angry and shout at them. I know full well from my own experience how these behaviours pass down through generations, internalised and then regurgitated when our children are presented with similar situations themselves, almost as if they are automatic reactions to that situation.
Anyway, on the way home from work, feeling guilty, I decided I would try and find a way to manage our days until their Dad comes home that was a little gentler. I got home, listened to their various grumbles from their day and told them I had a proposal and that they should get an ice pole each and come and listen. That got their interest piqued.
So we all huddled around on my bed and I suggested that if they do their daily Arabic lesson, daily tuition, put their things away and manage to keep their hands to themselves, they could have half an hour computer time each evening. Heck, they could even play games and I wouldn't say a thing. They loved this idea. We did spend the whole evening with everyone squabbling about how much homework someone else had compared to them or that they were running out of time to go on the computer before bedtime. But I felt good about stepping back and trying something different.
I don’t usually allow computer use on workdays unless its for school homework, but I decided that relaxing the rules was okay if it gave me a bit of peace during Ramadan and motivated the children to manage the things they needed to do without constant reminders. I think it’s a blessing with children, that you can get really angry or say something that you shouldn't have and the next day they have forgotten and you can start again. Wouldn't it be good if adults could be like that?