Thursday, March 5, 2009

Parenting Fail?

I told my husband yesterday at lunchtime (why yes, he comes home for lunch almost every day) that a monkey could do a better job parenting our kids than I do. Everything with the kids these days is a battle~no one puts away toys, they're constantly fighting, the twins fight me on every diaper change or clothing change. It's enough to make me want to curl up into the fetal position and stay in bed all day. Instead I eat a lot of chocolate, drink too much coffee and count the hours until Doug is home and I can put the kids to bed and have a drink or two. Mother of the Year I am not.

Which belies the question~am I a parenting failure? Do I expect so much of my kids that I'm setting them up for failure? Am I so overwhelmed at the sheer volume of WORK it takes to raise these kids that I am screwing them up so much they'll need therapy when they're adults? Of course I don't have those answers, because if I did I wouldn't be writing this post and I'd be RICH RICH RICH from writing parenting books and going on talk shows like Ellen and Oprah.

We have been trying to encourage the older kids to help out around the house because quite frankly, we just can't do it all. By encourage I mean bribing them with money for doing certain chores. And it's a colossal failure. Instead of doing the chores on the chore chart, Meg will just pick A chore to do, and of course it's the one that just involves scooping four litter boxes. If you ask her to clean up her room (the deal is for every day her room STAYS clean she earns money), she throws herself on the floor and screams at you. We're not neat freaks by any stretch of the imagination, but we cannot walk in her room and neither can she.

So, should I just take on that chore for myself during naptimes? Or do I let her room rot under all the crap she refuses to put away? If I take on the chore myself, am I just teaching her that if she is lazy enough, Mama will do it all for her? Or is it just easier on my sanity to realize that she is lazy and that to save myself from further torture, I should just clean it myself? Or maybe that she isn't lazy, but the task is just too overwhelming for her very smart 8 year old mind to handle. Again, if I had the answers, I wouldn't be here.

All I do know is that I feel like I'm failing my kids. I don't want to be constantly stressed out. I want to have a harmonious house and maybe even a clean one at that. I want my kids to respect my decisions instead of telling me no all the time. Am I just asking too much? Should I just let it go and realize that I'm never going to get what I want? I think I'll have some more chocolate and try to figure it out.

11 comments:

Robyn said...

You are overworked, overwhelmed, underpaid and outnumbered. You're still there every day, loving those kids, so you defienitely can't call it a "fail."

I don't think Meg is lazy (necessarily), I think she is smart and knows what buttons to push. When my closet got messy, my mother used to take all the clothes laying on the floor and throw them all over my bed so I'd HAVE to clean them up. If that didn't work, they'd go into a trash bag. She might change her mind about cleaning if you start confiscating everything she leaves laying around...

Good luck. I'm sending you hugs (which is not as good as a cleaning crew, but it's the best I've got).

AndreAnna said...

I like Robyn's idea. My mother did something very similar when she reached her point. She's take her arm and clear everything off my dressers, take out all the drawers and dump them, and make one big pile in the middle of my room. I couldn't play or watch TV until it was all done and if it wasn't done by a set time, she'd take it all into trashbags to be thrown away. It worked.

And you are not a failure. You're a good mom.

LoriD said...

You're not failing. Your kids are all so young and I think what you describe is fairly normal.

Maybe Meg just doesn't know how to get started with her room. The two of you could work on it together - set the timer for 10 minutes and see how much you can get done in that time. Do the same the next day and the next until it's all done. When it's all clean, have her come up with solutions as to how she might keep it that way (e.g. purging some things, finding better places for others). I know every kid is different, but I think this would work for my daughter.

Hang in there and enjoy the chocolate!

Anonymous said...

Call Super Nanny.

Kellie said...

You are so NOT a failure! Don't ever think or say that.

Robyn and AndreAnna's mothers did the SAME thing my Mom did. If I didn't clean up by a set time, all the crap NOT put where it belonged went into trash bags.

My sister was dealing with a similar issue with my nephew. He's 6, but he's old enough to know he needs to help out. If he didn't do his chores, he'd lost the right to play his games or watch tv. He learned pretty quickly...the hard way ;)

Hang in there. You have SO much to deal with during a typical day, I can't imagine how you get through it. I have ONE child and constantly feel like I'm a failure.

Big hugs :)

creative kerfuffle said...

ditto the other's advice. however, i've also come to realize that my kids will never keep their rooms as clean as i think they should (and i didn't keep mine as clean as my mom thought i should). and i basically quit stressing over it. i'm not a neat freak either, but i do like the house clean. if their rooms aren't as clean as i like at least i'm not sleeping in there.

Thia said...

I think the idea of working together to get her room clean is a good one. Declutter along the way. A place for everything and everything in its place and all that. I do remember that once I hit the teen years (maybe even before), my room was given over to me. That meant I did my own laundry. No clean clothes, it was my own fault. Broke something b/c I stepped on it...my fault. I soon learned!
Over all, hugs and chocolate for you. I think we all feel this way at times and thankfull they pass. Just hang in there, do the best you can, you'll all survive. Or so I've heard from those who have gone before us. I hope they're right.

Anonymous said...

All of your commentors are on the right track. The web site I highly recommend you look at is called Flylady.net. The best part about it is that it is FREE! (If you want to receive her FREE daily emails of inspiration and testimonials you may want to consider setting up a separate email account because the emails come in fast and furious and there can be a LOT of them!)

Flylady's homepage is LONG, but it is WELL worth the investment of your time to see how the "babysteps" of this system CAN make your home into a harmonious place for all of you 15 minutes at a time. The key is that you can't do all of it at once, otherwise you will burn out and be right back where you are now which is a place that doesn't sound like it FEELS good.

I truly wish that Flylady had existed when my kids were small. They are now 21, 19 and 16. I have executed the plan pretty well since 2002. Just the mental changes that come with realizing that you are not alone lead to better feelings creeping in and before you know it you are in a much better place.

I wish you the best of luck in your parenting journey. I know it is not easy, but in the end it is all so worth it. And believe it or not I can honestly say that I can't believe how quickly the time went with my kids.

It gives me great pleasure that my two who are in college are choosing to come home (instead of going somewhere wild and crazy)over their spring breaks to hang out with us in their comfortable and peaceful home environment.

You will get there too!!
NT in NJ

Hotch Potchery said...

My kids are awesome, smart, funny, talented PIGS. My mom griped at us all the time about a clean house, and I hated her for it. I decided clean rooms were not a fight I chose to fight.

However, the highschool kid is so bad, every once in awhile we give him 3 days to do a complete overhaul, or no car, no money, no XBox, no nothing.

Like Dr. Phil says (I don't really buy a lot of his crap, but this one I do), you have to figure out her "currency"...some possession, some outing that she holds dear is the key to keeping her room the way you want her to!

It is normal to feel parenting fails when our kids act up, or behave inappropriately, but no monkey will those those kids like you do, and ultimately, that is the most important part in my book.

Hotch Potchery said...

will LOVE those kids...whoops I need to start using the preview feature.

Astarte said...

No, you're not a failure. You're a SAHM at the end of winter. Josie used to throw herself down and sob when she had to clean her room, too! I actually have a photo of her passed out on her bed, face down, with her head under her pillow because she screamed herself right to sleep!!! I found with her that it was helpful to give her either zones to clean, or tell her specific things to pick so she didn't get overwhelmed. I've tried the trash thing, too, when she went through a phase of hiding her mess in gift bags in her closet - I only had to do it once, because the bag I found had her favorite My Little Pony and shirt in it. Maybe you could compromise, like help her get it to a more manageable state, and then every night before bed, while you read to her or something, she cleans up the day's mess? That's what I do now, and it helps.

Don't be so hard on yourself. Spring will be here soon, and you'll be able to get outside where everything seems to matter less.