Parenting a teenager is hard
Shit, parenting is hard
You have to put on pause you, as an individual, and give, and give and give, and give some more. But not pausing all of you, as an individual or giving all of yourself, or you'll loose your shit.
This balance - it's hard.
I've always struggled with balance because I'm such a this or that kind of person. That happy, fuzzy, gray area is some place I pass through as I go from this, to that. Finding balance is something that I still struggle with to this day.
Do you know what drives me batty?
My kids asking me questions while I'm trying to be. Like, this just happened as I typing. My 9 year old is making lunch, he wanted to know if he could watch Loony Tunes while he eats. But, it doesn't end there.
"Can I play video games?"
"Can I watch TV?"
"Do we have to go anywhere tonight?"
"Can I go play with my friends?"
"Can I go outside?"
My knee jerk answer to all of these questions and more, while I am trying to be, is "no".
Well, that's a damn good question. I don't wholly know the answer, but I do know that in the moment I want everything to stop.
But, this is not a good place to be. It fosters irritable children and ever increasing anger in me, in addition to frustration all around. I didn't like the path that I was on so I decided to take a little detour. This is what I did:
REBT - Dave has been talking about this for months and I've just nodded my head, half listening to him, because seriously - I don't need another thing on my plate. But, when shit isn't working, you need to change it. So, I went to a workshop and started implimenting the "I prefer" line with the boys.
SPS - I found this link over at Mt. Hope Chronicles via a round about search through Simple Homeschool. I downloaded and printed SPS for myself, at first. After the REBT workshop I printed two additional copies, one for each boy.
This is what we do -
In the morning I work with Cody first (he's the first up and to leave). After he eats breakfast he fills out a page in his SPS and I use REBT for the section "if I could live today over again", reiterating that as humans we fail, that does not make us failures though. So, looking back on the previous day I'll ask his questions like did you think negatively about yourself or another person, did you have expectations of yourself or another person that did not pan out, were you irritable or angry or in an all around shitty mood, etc... And then after he fills out the whole page, I say
"So, after you finish Project 1 (2 & 3), as well as your To Do List, you can then enjoy whatever. But keep in mind that we have whatever appointment(s) so you may not get to do everything that you want, and that is okay. Remember that you would prefer to not be (whatever he wrote in the if I could live today over again"), but realize that it's okay if you feel this way, you are only human."
...and then he goes upstairs and finishes getting ready for school.
I repeat this same thing with Chris when he is finished with his breakfast, too.
Then I let it go.
They know what they need to complete in order to enjoy the things they want to enjoy. If they don't complete their Projects or To Do's, then they don't get to enjoy what they have listed.
Now, keep in mind, we are talking about Schoolwork and Homework and Chores, for Projects and To Do's...stuff they should be doing already. There is something about this writing it down thing that works, though. By having them write it out in the morning before they even start their day, they know what is expected of them because we have gone over it together.
And, there have been days where they didn't get to enjoy anything that they listed. And, that is okay. Because it's not the end of the world and disappointment is tolerable, though I understand they would prefer not to be disappointed or feel those feelings, it's okay and everything will be fine.
What does this allow me?
Time to do this; time to read a book; time to sit in quite with tea; time to not feel like I'm a tightly wound clock.