1 September 2016

Combatting the end of holiday grump

It's no secret that I love the summer holidays with a deep and ardent passion. I find sending Boy to school a total wrench and with Toddler starting nursery this Autumn too, I am frantically holding on to every hour I have left with them over the next few days. 

All that aside, parenting two small boys full time is not all sunbeams and rainbows for this Mama. At the start of the holiday we had a fortnight of constant glee and over-excitement, purely because they were so delighted to spend time with each other all day every day. They couldn't go five minutes without wrestling each other to the floor giggling and screaming. It was incredibly sweet but, let's be honest here, it drove me crackers! 

It soon turned into a fairly stable atmosphere of camaraderie and we were all quite happy. Sure, we had our moments but on the whole they were puttering along quite nicely together. At one point they even made a Lego model without screaming!!

The last two weeks, however, have been hard work. I think the novelty factor of being at home every day has well and truly worn off for Boy and he is craving routine and possibly even his own space, away from his little hanger-on. 

Not only has he had his brother shadow his every move for the last 7 weeks, but his Mama has also let the rules slide because, hey, it's the holidays! And let's face it, letting the rules slide is just a recipe for disaster. 

It started with a naughty dinner infront of the TV. Then they got a little extra screen time. Then they had BBQ food every night for a fortnight (remember that fortnight of sun? It seems so long ago...!) Before we knew it we were skipping bath time, staying in our PJs until 10am and eating way too much sugar. 

Now, if these things occurred at your house they may not phase your children in the slightest. But in our house, it was inevitable and I should have known better. The slackening of the rules meant the sass arrived. 

Are you aware of the sass? The attitude. The answering back. The mini lawyer thing where they have an answer for every sentence you utter and simply do not hear the answer 'no'. The muttering under the breath. The deliberate defiance. It all arrived, literally overnight. And I'm ashamed to say it took me far too long to recognise it and correct my own approach. 

The sass is my parenting hotspot. It drives me insane. I will not stand for it. I struggle to breathe through it and ignore it. So I yelled. I threatened. I withdrew privileges. Nothing worked with the angry little fiend in front of me, we were just shouting over each other. It was ridiculous. So I cried. I drank some gin, had a massive cry and regrouped. I realised that Boy was acting out for some guidance and some boundaries and ultimately wanted his damn routine back. 

So. It may well be the holidays and I may well stand by my loathing of rushed mornings (curse you, school run!) but this helpful reminder is now displayed in our dining room...

Simple, but it helped me carve back control. The boys were both becoming 'bored' and demanding screen time and if I refused, they had total meltdowns. So I pulled out the tough love!

We had two days of extra fierce grumbling (no one likes it when 'new' rules are brought into force) but then, as if by magic, peace was restored. They knew the routine, they knew the expectations, I was consistent and firm and bam...happy boys. 

I'm not saying it's a piece of cake. Two boys 24/7 is bloody hard work and turning the TV on is easy, oh so easy. Some days I look at the clock and will 3pm movie time to roll around already!!

But this way everyone knows where they stand, we're getting our school work done before he gets tired and cranky, Boy has taken on the responsibility of emptying all the plastic items from the dishwasher each morning (my most hated job!) and I get that smug feeling from not letting my children watch too much TV (NB this smugness is purely self-validated, I don't give a shit how much TV your kids watch, it's a personal decision) 

So there you go. If your kids have entered the grumpy section of the summer hols, don't limp to the finish line disheartened and angry. Grab a felt tip pen, make a sign for the dining room and take control. You'll feel better by Sunday, I swear!

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