Thursday, June 24, 2010

On Strike (Edited)

This school vacation has been far from a vacation and we're barely two weeks in. The kids have done nothing but bicker most days. They've been demanding and incredibly rude, both to me and each other. Their once-clean rooms and playroom are so trashed they can barely get into them, let alone actually play in them. The weather has been pretty uncooperative as well, which hasn't helped the situation.

Tuesday was my birthday and I asked the kids to help me tidy up the downstairs as our friends were coming for lunch. Their response was a resounding NO and they went off to play, leaving me frustrated and sad, and having a house to tidy myself. It got done, but it left a very sour taste in my mouth that my kids are so self centered that they couldn't even help me out for a bit.

So last night after I made them a quick dinner because Doug was running late, I announced that I was on strike. I told them that I do everything around here, from all the laundry to taking out the trash, making them meals and snacks and since they are not nice to me, I was done. I am exhausted at the end of the day from breaking up constant fights, unlocking their locked doors when they lock each other out, listening to them demand things from me without a simple thank you, and that I wasn't doing it anymore.  I know Annie and Izzie don't truly understand why I'm upset, but Meg and Drew are quite old enough to understand that we're a family and that families need to work together. Since my words don't mean anything to them, I'm hoping that this action does. They cleaned up the table last night and Meg vacuumed the floor, so that's a start.

But this isn't just about them cleaning (although truth be told, they really need to work on that). It's about their lack of respect for me, Doug, and for each other. In the last two weeks I've had things thrown at me in anger, been hit, kicked, screamed at and I have had enough. I refuse to take them to the grocery store after the rotten way they acted Monday, causing me to have to reprimand them at the deli and not hear the person asking me if I had been helped yet (which then caused said deli worker to COME AROUND THE DELI COUNTER to ask what I'd like to order, leaving me mortified). The kicker is that when they go places with Doug, they use their manners and behave like normal kids, but when they're with me, it's mayhem.

I don't know how successful this little experiment will be. The kids woke me before 7 this morning (again) banging and being much too loud, and then Meg was vacuuming the kitchen at 7:04. But Doug is on board and reminded the kids that they are on their own today. Meg got everyone breakfast and is, at this moment, cleaning up the living room. I'm sure their "enthusiasm" will wane soon. I'm not asking for them to make every meal and do all the chores. I'm asking for their respect. I'm asking for them to help when I ask them to help, for them to be polite to me and to each other, and for them to realize that this will be a much happier household if they do that. I'm tired of being the Mama who yells all the time, since yelling causes them to ignore me and do whatever they want anyway.  The kids have almost no special privileges, so there isn't anything we can take away from them. So we're taking me away from them. I'm not going anywhere of course, and I'll be here to keep them safe, but it's high time that they realize that a little respect goes a long way. A happy Mama makes for a much happier house.

Edit. I want to be clear that the goal of this is NOT because I need a break (which, of course I do. I am home, alone, with four kids for 12 hours or more a day). The goal is for them to realize that I am NOT a doormat and that I am tired of them thinking that they can walk all over me all the time and expect me to do everything. I love doing things for my kids when they are being nice and respectful, but I do not want to do things for people who whine, cry, fight and tell me that they hate me all the time.


Thia said...

Hugs. Hope you have a good day.

Suz said...

Suckage supreme! Hope it works for you - when the girls get too mouthy we give them pushups. 5 for the first offense, 10 for the second, 20 for the third. It breaks the cycle of whatever is happening, refocuses them on what they *should* have been doing, and encourages upper body strength (bonus).

Of course, my girls are 12 (but they've been doing this since age 7). Hang in there (I recommend coffee...and a shot of Bailey's).

LoriD said...

Ugh. We go through waves of this too. In a particularly memorable hissy-fit (mine) in the spring, I took away their playroom and converted it into a workshop for myself. The toys are still sitting in a giant heap in another room in the basement. We now have a rule that nothing happens on Saturday (no TV, video games, playdates, birthday parties, etc.) until their TV room and individual rooms are clean and tidy. There has been much protest, but I have stood by the rule. I think that's the key: make your threat and stick to it. It's hard.

(Your blog header is adorable!)

creative kerfuffle said...

going on strike sounds like a good idea. i wish my kids were more helpful too. i hate that when i ask them to help out or do a chore they either ask, how much money will you pay me, or roll their eyes and act like i've asked them to move the earth. blech.

AndreAnna said...

I hope it works out for you and you get a bit of a break.

Robyn said...


I hope the strike works and is not only a wake-up call to your kids, but lets them appreciate all that you do. It's one thing for our kids to depend on us, it's another to be taken for granted.

Keep us posted!

Suz said...

Hey, guess who had a kid doing pushups during the church festival tonight? Yep, me, worst mom ever. She back talked one too many times & POW got hit with 10. No mickey-mousing with 5. Little crapper.

Of course, she minded her p's and q's for the rest of the night, so it worked out for the best (I guess?)