Monday, June 23, 2014

Are my Expectations really that New?

My children welcomed it with laughter, tears, fear, disbelief and a whole basketful of other emotions.  They tried to shake off the whole new family system that my husband and I introduced to them the night before we left town for the week.  Yes, we strategically planned dropping this new plan on them and then leaving town. But was the new plan really all that new?

My children claim it is ruining their life.  It's an embarrassment.  It's just plain silly.  Maybe if you just heard me tell you that I gave my children a contract, which details family expectations, and I expect them to sign it and live by it.  You might also think it's a bit extreme or that it's too much control.  Why not just talk with your children/  Why not just work with them on a daily basis?  Why not show them what you expect and hold them accountable?  All great ideas.  I have to say that over the last twenty plus years of parenting, I have tried almost every method of getting the simple things accomplished.

I do admit that I am extremely proud of the individuals my children are becoming.  I do believe that they give me so many reasons to believe what they tell me and trust them.  I count my blessings every day.  So why the long six page document detailing family expectations?  I have a disconnect when it comes to doing the every day activities that we need to do to be respectful of others in the house and take care of the things that God has provided for us.

Still a little confused...Let me give  you a few examples.  I have trouble with my children understanding what is expected when I say "pick up your room" or "keep your bathroom tidy".  It was a constant battle.  Them;  My room is clean.  Me:  No it is not.  So, let's just put it in writing what I expect.  Make your bed.  Pick the the trash off the floor and put in the trashcan.  Hang up any clothes that you try on and decide you aren't going to wear.  Put shoes in the shoe rack in your closet.  Hang up all wet towels on a hook.  Do not leave wet towels on the floor or in a laundry basket.  Put away all clean clothes on the day they are washed.  If you hang dry clothes, put them away before you go to bed (or in the morning if they are wet when you go to bed).  Or What about the bathroom.......Do not leave empty toilet paper rolls on the ground.  Throw empty toilet paper rolls away.  Throw empty shampoo bottles away when empty.  Pick up hair int he sink/shower and put in the trashcan.  Keep the counters cleaned and rinse out sink after your brush your teeth.

Now you may call me a bit OCD and I am fine with that label as I spend all day, every day, being their maid and servant.  They feel like it is my job to pick up after them.  I did teach them to pick up their toys after they were finished playing but now they believe it's my job.  I was told, "What else do you have to do?"

Since my children were not able to perform the simple tasks of taking care of their self (even though they are fully capable of doing so) despite years of my efforts, it was time to detail out all expectations even if it seemed trivial.  So in addition to basic tasks of keeping their room and bathroom tidy, this list of expectations all included respect, communication, cell phone usage, laundry, chores, curfews and all other basic house rules.  The bottom line was if you completed all these times, you would continue to keep all the existing privilege that you currently have which include cell phones, hanging out with friends, TV, Computer, etc.  In addition to the current privileges, you would also receive an allowance.  If you did not fully participate in the family expectations, then you would not get the privilege or the allowance.  It was not an either or thing, they both went together.

You participate fully; you got privileges AND allowance.  You did not participate fully; You received NEITHER privileges OR Allowance.

These incentives have not worked before; however, now the Allowance will be the only money that I will give my children for social and other activities.  I will no longer give them money to go to the movies, go to snow cones, go to dinner with friends or any other activity.  They have to budget their money.  In addition to the allowance, I established a clothing allowance.  Each child receives a set dollar amount every three months.  They can buy any clothing item they need/want from shoes, undies, tops, jeans, jewelry, etc.  The only money I will distribute for clothes will be this clothing allowance.

We currently remain in the trial period where I am training them on how I will be evaluating their activities.  I believe it is good to get feedback and even though they are still a little frustrated, it will be better for them to hear the feed back now then be startled in a week.

I remain hopeful that this additional document will assist my children is doing all the every day activities that I have expected of them all along.  The new clothing allowance will be an adjustment. I actually look forward to it.   I feel very beat up every time we go to the mall.  Now they can decide if they have enough money and save it if they want something special.  I will still shop with them, but instead they will have to pull the money out of their wallet.  Don't be confused.  I still pay for their social activities and their clothes.  The only difference is that now I am giving them the power of making more decisions on how to use and budget money.

Like I said, I have tried many ways to accomplish this same goal.  I've even re-implemented some of the same ideas (i.e. issuing certain colored towels to each child).  So I don't give up.  Yes, parenting is hard and may not be successful the first time or even the fifth time.  However, I believe God did put all five of these children in my care.  He trusted me to never give up.  God doesn't give up on me.  So I won't give up on teaching my children and hoping they "get" what I feel is best for them.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Just what God ordered....Sisterly Love!

Everybody needs a sister!  My children have a bunch of sisters that they honestly aren't too excited about these days, but I see hope of appreciate of each other the older they get.  Last weekend, I met my sister in the Windy City of Chicago.  It's nickname didn't let me down.  I'm a southern gal so I do my hair.  When I say "do my hair", I mean I wash, blow dry, use product, curl, straighten parts and then use more product to keep it in place.  Well, all the hair product in the world didn't help.  I looked rugged as soon as I stepped outside and not in a good way.

The wind didn't hinder my weekend.  My sister and I have been trying to plan a weekend getaway ever since my parents passed last year.  2013 was a tough year for us, but we grew closer and began to enjoy each other's differences in ways we never had before.  

On Friday, I was at the mercy of the airlines and then traffic.  Neither were friendly but we made it.  Every outing took three times as long as expected but it didn't affect our outlook.  We missed dinner but didn't miss the Jerry Seinfeld show.  We laughed and laughed throughout his entire show.  Have to say, he's still funny!  All weekend, we had a little retail therapy, spa therapy, food therapy and of course, sister therapy.  It was so nice to share parts of life that only a sister would understand or that you knew you could trust.  

My sister and I still don't necessarily see life from the same set of glasses all the time.  We still approach circumstances differently but the perspective is reassuring and calming.  I would venture to guess she doesn't understand why I do what I do and that's fine.  God made us totally unique.  However, God made us family.  He has divine purpose in making us sisters.  Our diverse life experiences may be vastly different at times or align perfectly at others.  However, God uses all our experiences to shape our perspective so that we can share it with each other.  I'm thankful for her and our weekend getaway.  

If you have time to share a weekend with your sister, brother, best friend, do it.  God has them in your life for a reason.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why Can't I Explain How I spend by Day as a Mom?

A Mom's day never ends. What do you do as a Mom all day?  Ask any Mom and I would bet they would agree fill their days with caring for their children, making their home cozy and nurturing all the relationships in their life.  The list may be long and exhausting but one of the most fulfilling jobs ever.  However, do you really have the opportunity to do what you are supposed to be doing as a Mom?

Ever thought if you are truly fulfilling your duties as a Mom?  I'm not trying to make any Mom feel guilty as I know, as a mom of five, that we, Moms, do our best in the given situations.  So don't every let yourself go down the guilty road.  That road leads no where.

So recently I analyzed my expectations of my children.  I realized that my expectations were higher than what my children produced.  Meaning, over the years, I taught my children pick up after themselves, wash their own clothes, clean bathrooms and so many other normal household and personal responsibilities.  However, my children weren't doing them.  

So what does that mean?  Of course, I tried to go down the road that leads no where positive....the guilty road.  However, someone reminded me that I did do my job.  My children aren't doing their job. 

How does this affect my daily activities as a Mom?  As many moms, I find myself exhausted.  I can't even explain my exhaustion to my husband.  I can't explain how I spend my days.  I used to work as a CFO of a company.  I thought I was fatigued and tired from the daily grind of working plus being a mom; however, I could identify the cause of my exhaustion and my lack of productivity.  So why am I not as productive as I should be?

I had one of those "ah ha" moments.  I spend my days doing all the things I supposedly taught and expected my children to do.  I am not holding them accountable.  So I spend my days doing everything my children should have done.....picking up the dishes on the desk, picking up the clothes they took out of their backpack, picking up the laundry they left on the stairs, picking up all the shoes, cleaning all the dishes they left out (even if in the sink) and the list goes on and on. I spend my day doing their responsibilities then I do mine.  I don't even have the time or energy to do mine the way they should be done.  

So what's next? Looks like I go back the beginning.  I go back to reminding my children exactly what I expect.  Give them a detailed list of everything they should already know.  It's nothing new.  They know what to do.  They always have known.  So I need to get serious and get back to my Mommy business.  They need to be in the children business and perform the reasonable responsibilities of being a member of the family and living in the house.  I will get then be able to get back to the Mom duties that I am currently neglecting.

I have failed in the past.  Obviously, I have done a poor job of making them accountable and responsible.  So I start fresh.  I show them they do have privileges of being a member of the family.  They have a beautiful home to live in.  I feed them.  They have a phone.  They play competitive sports and travel with it.  They train with personal trainers.  They spend time with their friends.  They life the high life.  So it's not too much to expect them to perform the simple tasks of being personally responsible for themselves and being respectful of their family. 

So the time has come.  The children won't know what hit them.  I have neglected my duty as a mom.  They took advantage of me by not doing what was expected and they put me in a position where I need to write out every rule no matter how obvious the rule.  So watch out!  In order to receive privileges, they must fulfill family expectations.  Sounds easy, doesn't it?  It is in theory so I'm in for change!  It's back to basics for my family....It's never too late.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Controlling Patience or Using it for Good

I'm not patient.  What do you mean your not patient?  Are you not patient with people?  Are you not patient with how tasks are performed?  At what times do you lack patience?

This is an actual conversation I had last week.  What does I lack patience really mean?  It could mean,"You are driving me nutty."  It could mean that "I don't have time for that."  It could mean "I don't have the ability to endure the current circumstances."  I could mean, "This situation is annoying me beyond my ability to cope."  I decided to try and understand how this person ticked.  He is a person of very few words so I started my twenty questions.  I attempted to play the game but with sincerity.  I did really want to understand.

During this conversation, he disclosed that he gets frustrated when things aren't done the way he wants them done, when he wants them done.  He also told me that this lack of patience was not meant in a selfish manner.  He just wanted things done a certain way and got extremely frustrated if it didn't happen the way he hoped.

I realize controlling this emotion can be very difficult.  It gets the best of most of us, sometimes on a daily basis.   However, I had never truly thought about lack of patience.  As a mother of five children, I have prayed for patience many times.  Obviously I haven't learned patience myself as God still gives me plenty of opportunities to learn patience.  However, what is the worse thing that will happen when this "lack of patience" kicks in?

I even experience this "lack of patience" just this past weekend.  I went to a Mexican restaurant with my middle girls and their families during a volleyball camp.  We had approximately forty five minutes to order, eat and return to the camp.  The waiter had difficulty understanding our orders and my question if this timetable was even possible.  So I sat and my patience with the situation was thin.  I believe circumstances were out of my control.  They weren't going as I had planned.  So I was stressed and I was not patient with the staff.  I did control my emotions to the point that I sat and the stress was visible on my face.

So what was the worse thing that can ever happen?  In my life, when my patience goes berserk it's all because I am out of control.  That's a selfish approach to life.  I am not really in control of life now am I?  It is selfish of me to think that I can control everything and that my way is best.  It's selfish to think that "lack of patience" wasn't intended to be selfish.  It is selfish if you want something done your way or else you throw a fit....throw a "I'm so not  patient with you or with this situation" fit.

Just remember that God is the one who is always in control.  He gives us today and everyday as a gift.  He blesses us daily and provides for us.  We may not understand why circumstances happen.  They may even frustrate you but God has purpose in every exciting moment, every sad moment, every frustrating moment and every unexpected moment.  He uses every single moment for His good.  So just remember the next time you feel your patience growing thin that God is using you at that very moment.  He needs you to let Him shine not the expected selfishness.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Shine On!

Life keeps happening.  I can't stop it, but I needed a break.  I couldn't squeeze in one more project, even if it would release my emotions.  I didn't see the value of sharing my life as a mom of five so I didn't.  You will see that over the last year I haven't shared much.  I debated about the worth of my thoughts and my intentions.  I honestly believe I shared for selfish reasons. So I stopped.   I have even considered deleting my blog and throwing away all my published books that sit on the top shelf in my closet.  My I hope my words don't sting my family when they actually read my life lessons.

So today, I decided to pull up my journal and I reminisced over the last year.  Last year was incredibly tough for me.  I am proud that I kept myself together as well as I did.  Both my parents joined our Heavenly Father within four months of each other.  I managed and closed the estate.  My family had no idea the true impact that loss had on me personally.  I attempted to share a couple times with them, but they couldn't relate.  I know they did their very best and I'm sure I did my "Mommy" thing and controlled the situation without letting them know how my heart truly felt.  I was strong for them.  

The more I learn of God and His true character, I realize that He made me relational and I'm not living up to my true potential as a child of God in that aspect of my life....well in many aspects, but that one in particular.  I am self sufficient and am not vulnerable.  I open my heart to Jesus, but even then it's not enough.  I am not as relational as God intended with the wonderful people that He put in my life.  

Last week, Jesus welcomed an amazing woman into Heaven.  I met her about a year ago in my church bible study.  She's a woman that was the approximate age of my mother.  The light of Christ shined through her so bright that everyone who met her couldn't help but see Him.  She didn't know me before but she welcomed me with open arms.  I can honestly say she represented the love of Christ.

So let your light shine so that everyone you meet can see Jesus!  Shine On!!!


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