I have said it before that being a parent is tough business. When we were pregnant with Isaac I had no idea what being a mom would really mean. I loved babies and had babysat as a teenager…so it would be a piece of cake loving on your own baby, right?
But sleepless nights and a colicky son that cried for hours at a time, quickly showed me that this thing wasn’t for the faint of heart.
It has been a few years since I have paced the hallways with a crying baby…but as I find myself in the thick of raising two toddlers along with 2 older boys, there is a new sound that has emerged inside my home.
Oh the whining! The fighting and hitting is awful too…but I don’t know that much else irritates this mama more than the constant whining and fussing.
Because Elijah and Karlena are so close in age (18 months) it seems to have magnified. There is 7 years between Isaac and Gabriel, and 5 years between Gabriel and Elijah. I just don’t remember it being THIS terrible with them.
And while Elijah and Karlena really do play well together at times, and I know they love each other, they also argue and bicker and fight and cry and fuss and bawl and whine.
The whining was threatening to push me over the edge on the way home from church on Sunday. Oh yes – even then!! I can leave church happy and filled because of worship and a good sermon, and want to scream myself silly after a 15 minute car ride home! 🙂
Because I am really trying to change my pattern of screaming at them when they are screaming at each other I decided to try something different this time.
I gave them jobs.
Elijah, who just turned 5, is interested in helping. I don’t always give him enough opportunities to be helpful but he loves the praise that comes with being a good helper. So we got home and we got right to work.
I asked him if he wanted to be a bog boy and help mom with some important work. He said yes and we set to task.
It wasn’t anything huge, and honestly I could have done it myself in 1 trip upstairs. It took him 3 trips, but he was very proud of himself for getting the work done. And he didn’t whine once during the entire process.
Once we had finished that task, I had him help me set the table for lunch.
Now the Type A, perfectionist personality in me cringes at a sloppy set table, but again this was a chance for him to learn. So we talked about where to put the fork, and Gabriel helped with the napkins…it wasn’t pretty but the whining had stopped.
Of course I was sure to praise him heavily during this time. Telling him how much I appreciated that he was being such a big helper and what a great job he was doing.
Kids LOVE to hear how awesome they are. Sometimes I forget that really. I get overwhelmed by the whining and fighting and I find myself focusing on everything they are doing wrong, instead of celebrating all they are doing well.
I know it isn’t a perfect plan. Sometimes asking them to help may cause more whining, oh heaven help us if it does!! But it is worth a try and might just give you a few more minutes of peace and sanity in your home!
What kind of jobs have you given your kids to do? Please leave them in the comments below so I can add to my list! 😉