We have a lot of kids around here. Seven of them ranging in age from ten to nineteen. It gets really stressful having this many people in the house, but not for reasons you might assume.
Funnily enough, it’s not the kids who stress me out. It’s my husband, God bless him.
Poor G has these expectations that kids will actually put their dishes in the dishwasher instead of leaving them in the sink. He has expectations that they will pick up their water bottles and lunch kits and clothes and books and put them all away neatly and tidily every single day without them ever being asked. He has expectations that they will effectively communicate what they need before their looming deadline forces them into a last minute panic episode that results in late night oil changes and tire rotations.
Poor G. Life is sometimes hard for him.
Being a mom has helped me lower my expectations and standards to a more realistic level. I know that the only time everything will actually be cleaned and put away with no prompting is when they want something. I also know that expecting the teenagers around here to actually engage their pre-frontal cortex enough to plan ahead and prioritize their communication with us is a pipe dream.
Our house is special in that we have one kid that earns the “The worst communicator in the world…I mean if the house was on fire would you even let us know?!” award.
Our house is special in that we have two kids that are on prescription medication to manage their ADHD/other psychological disorders. Any parent who manages kids with ADHD knows that you’re lucky if they can find their lunch kit, jacket, car keys and homework; let alone put them away.
G is one of those people who is particular about dishes in dishwashers, tidy counters, picked up jackets, closed cupboard doors, car keys in the bowl, cereal boxes put away and the like. I am too, but in a more relaxed manner because I wish to maintain my sanity. G goes a little crazy every day because even though I keep the house as clean as possible…well..there’s kids that live here. They destroy tidiness in about 2.5 seconds.
But….the kids that live here buy special eggnog from the grocery store for us because they know we like it. They pick us flowers and draw us pictures that say “to the best mom/dad ever!”. They give us hugs and use sarcastic humour to show us they love us and that we matter to them. They ask us to spend time watching movies with them or if we will join them in the hot tub to just talk and hang out.
I had a conversation with G about our kids.
We decided that perspective is key. We need to keep in mind what these kids are actually capable of. Can they all follow the same amount of instructions as their siblings? Are our expectations of them realistic? What do we need to do to remember their individual needs and accommodate for different brains and personalities?
And most importantly, where are their hearts? For the most part are they actually trying to please us? Are they good kids who have terrible organization skills and faulty memories? Are they normal kids that forget about rinsing their dishes because their brain is concentrating on sports or friends or homework?
They don’t get to be lazy or disrespectful. They don’t get to not do their chores or put away their dishes. We don’t need to give up and just be their resentful servants. We need to keep teaching them, coaxing them, encouraging them. We need to make sure that our expectations are realistic.
And we need to make sure our attitude as their parents, teachers, and encouragers is right.
Easier said than done, right!
Good luck out there. May your cereal boxes make it back on the shelf.