Posted by: sblanck | October 2, 2013

“Mom – Stop Helping”

It happens from time to time.  I slip back into my old ways and start doing more for the kids again.  Whatever the reason  – it tends to happen every so often   This busy fall being one of those times.   I thought the girls were ok with it – maybe even appreciated the help.  I was wrong.

Yesterday, Emily gave me an EARFUL when her sister came to breakfast in Emily’s socks.

“Mom – every time you try to help me and do some of my laundry – my clothes end up in Annie’s room!  It makes me so mad.  Stop helping!”

OMG.  She’s totally right.   Totally.  I had always heard Vickie use the phrase “interfering” referring to us involved in our kids lives.   I never saw it until just now.   I was totally interfering with Emily’s need to be in charge of her stuff.  I look back on a number of “interfering” issues this fall where my helping was preventing them from making choices and decisions that worked for them.  (The best example is setting their alarms for the first day of school.  I set them but didn’t do it right.   We arrived at school 30 minutes after it started.  The girls were so upset with me – and had they known how to call me an interfering bitch – they would have!)

I’ve come far enough now that I can have a talk with Emily that starts with me apologizing.   It’s not that I can’t help her EVER AGAIN.  It’s just that it needs to be initiated by her.  I’ve got to have her let me know when she is having a particularly busy day.  I won’t assume to know when she can and cannot handle what is thrown at her.

More practice and patience….

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Posted by: sblanck | January 10, 2013

Figuring it Out

We have had an interesting week here with transportation…..

Emily takes a public bus to her school two towns away.  She LOVES it.  Feels so independent and grown up.  She has had a lot of stress about missing the bus – often yelling at me to drive faster or her sister to “stop being distracted”.  It got so bad that I had her run through what would happen if she did miss the bus and how she would get to school.    That hasn’t happened yet, but Monday she DID forget her bus pass.   In the beginning of the school year she had a special pocket where she kept it and even a little plastic sleeve to keep it in.  I had also given her an emergency fund of $3.  Well the novelty of having her own responsibilities has worn off.  I think the $3 was spent ages ago at the candy store – (arguably a real emergency – who am i to judge!)   Back to Monday…..

“Mom – I forgot my bus pass!”

Me – pulling over…..”Ok  – I have no money but we can go home and get money or the pass”

“No  – keep going!  We’ll miss the bus! (insert anxiety)”

“ok”

We get there and the bus is already there and waiting.  I encourage her to talk to Ellen the driver but she wont’. 

I say “Ellen we have a problem.  Emily forgot something”.(really wishing I wasn’t saying anything but good information gathered here on areas of future training.)

Emily pipes up – “I forgot my pass”.Ellen just smiles and says ” Well you better just get on the bus then !”  Emily smiles at me and hops on the bus.  I wave and think to myself that it has yet to dawn on her there are two more bus rides home to figure out.   I have been “practicing” this duct tape parenting for so long that I’m not tempted to call school or a friend to bail her out.  But I am damn curious about what she is going to do.  Also – truthfully –  there is a big pang in my stomach about how her day is going to be spent worrying about the ride home.  (Days later I recounted the story to Vicki who said “What’s wrong with a little suffering or worrying?”  I don’t know!  Why was I so worried for her to be in pain?  Sometimes that drives us to our best solutions!  But we are so programmed to shield and protect and bubble wrap our kids in this culture.   More opportunities for me to practice!)

During the day on Monday, I texted a fellow Duct Tape Mamma  who reassured me that all would be fine and that she would indeed figure this out.   And it was.  Turns out she borrowed the $2 needed to pay for the bus fare from a friend.  Emily said she did squirm whenever she thought about it and was worried about what would happen.  She was prepared to talk to the drivers (who I’m sure all know her from riding the bus every day) and explain that her pass was at home and didn’t expire for two more weeks.   However in her (and my) world – owing your friend $2 is easier than having to ask a stranger for a favor. 

I told her how much I appreciated her courage.  We talked about her being nervous and what else she could have done.  She came up with a few others and I added one.  Good thing we did because at the bus stop this morning she realized she didn’t have her pass again.  She did pull $1 out of her backpack for her morning ride.  A few minutes after the bus pulled out, Annie found her pass on the back seat of the car.   She’ll be fine.  Damn curious what she’ll do to get home today.  And we’ll see if she wants to do anything differently tomorrow.  Maybe but maybe not.  And that will be fine.  More practice. 

ps – Annie just walked in the door and told me she left her backpack on the bus.  We talked about a few options but she didn’t like any of them.   She is off playing so we will see what happens with her backpack.  I honestly don’t know.   Which is awesome. 

 

Posted by: sblanck | November 2, 2012

More Reasons for Duct Tape

This Fall I’ve been reading the new book by Vicki Hoefle – Duct Tape PImagearenting.   Although I’m not new to the program – I’m floored by how much it has helped me.  Just the reminders about the importance of backing out and keeping my mouth shut!    And while I KNOW to keep my mouth shut – I don’t always do it and have fallen back into reminding, etc.  These two stories are just more reasons to keep the duct tape handy.

A few weeks back Emily had forgotten her karate uniform.  She is usually good about all this stuff and forgetting was not a pattern – so I said I would bring it in the car when I picked her up for her class.  Well….. I forgot.  She was MAD!  I don’t blame her.  I can’t quite remember what happened after that  – other than her being mad and me feeling bad.  I’m guessing she got over it, had her class, and we moved on.  HOWEVER!  I  am now BANNED from ever being involved in her karate uniform moving forward.  I’ve offered to have her just leave it in the car so she doesn’t have to have yet another thing stuffed into her “very full, zipper is breaking” backpack.  Yet having been burned, she is more content to carry it herself.   “You might switch cars mom, and then what??!”   I remember Vicki once told us to act sort of dumb sometimes so your kids will be so glad they were there to save the day.  Mission accomplished on this one.  Just wish I had been “acting”!

We were rolling down the hill to school with Annie last week and she –  out of the blue!  – said “Mom, I’m much better at remembering when someone doesn’t remind me.”  WOW.  I’m still learning this stuff and she’s 8 and has it all figured out.  I recovered my senses, steered back onto the pavement, and asked her what this was all about.  Turns out the Principle reminds them every Thursday to wear their school tee’s on Fridays.  Well this particular Thursday,he didn’t mention it and she remembered her shirt on Friday.  I had so much to add but I did my best to apply mental duct tape and turn up the radio.  Savoring this little nugget. 

I have a far way to go as there are loads of examples where I do say too much – but this is a great reminder for me to keep the tape in the top drawer.  

 

If you haven’t read it – check it out. 
http://tinyurl.com/ducttapeparenting

 

Posted by: sblanck | April 18, 2012

You’re Stupid But I Do Love You

Our Monday afternoon was like any other afternoon – full of highs and lows…..  started off with the lows.  The conversation in the backseat on the way home from dance went something like this.

“You’re stupid”  “No , you’re stupid”  “You’re an idiot” “You’re a bigger idiot”

You get the picture.  I was in the front seat doing my best not to react.  Doing my best NOT to get sucked into the negative cloud in my back seat.  Doing my best not to worry that my kids were going to hate each other in their 20’s and make the next 10 years of our lives a living hell.    We all walked through the door a little tense and, bless him, Geoff had dinner ready.  ALSO,  he had really kindly washed their lunchboxes as a special treat.

After dinner we talked about when to have our family meeting that night.  We have great meetings but fall short on having them at a certain time every week.  We also neglect to  set the time for the next week.  They do happen often but need a better schedule.  This Monday – with the meeting looming,  Annie sat down to write her appreciations and I did to.  I’ve always LOVED that time after the family meeting because the kids are so full of good vibes from the appreciations and problem solving.  They want to play games, have fun, contribute to the family, anything.  It’s kids on crack I like to say (I might need to tweak this a bit).  Annie wrote her appreciations and even noted the contributions she wanted to choose for the week.  Emily then asked me to snuggle on the couch while she read.   I’ve been really looking for ways to connect with her so although 20 things needed to get done, I grabbed a book and joined her.  The reading timer went off and I jumped up to reset it (as requested) and snuggled in with Annie for the next 10 minutes of reading.

We all then discovered that Emily had fallen asleep on the couch.  Out cold.  And just about then, the kid crack kicked in for Annie.  She switched from “you’re an idiot” to “awww – how can I help you.   She got both girls lunch boxes and proceeded to make two lunches.  Not identical , but with real thought to what her sister liked to eat!  She cleaned up, wiped down the counters, recorded her reading and headed up to bed.  I was hanging out with her the whole time.  NOT once did I get her usual “mmmmmmoooooommm, will you do my lunch for me?”.  It was just awesome to be with her.  She was cheerful and engaged.

We missed our family meeting that night but on Tuesday when we had it – My appreciation to her was for being such a rock star on Monday.   I asked her later what was different about Monday other than her usual lunch making escapades (louder, slower, not quite as fun).

“I don’t know Mom, I was just feeling stronger”.

It’s not rocket science. But we miss these little things every day.  Annie probably walked in the door with steam coming out of her ears.  Then was given a nice little gesture by someone in the family.  A washed lunchbox.  Add the appreciations to that and it’s kids crack.  All hopped up on good vibes.  Stronger.  We’re all the same.  She could be 7 or 70.  Disarmed by a nice gesture and pumped up by doing some thing nice for someone else.  I loved this day.

Posted by: sblanck | February 2, 2012

Just Outside The Door

Our kids rock.  Amazing in so many ways.  For example, this morning getting out the door was  – FUN!  Even with a bowl of spilled milk and a lunch to be made.  They were calling ME to hurry from the car.  Progress.  However one area that needs some work is  cleaning up – and in their bedroom specifically.  The girls share a room and it’s become a dumping ground for just about everything.  Glancing across the post-apocalyptic scene that is their room, I’d say it’s mostly clothes.  But there are still Christmas presents, toys, trinkets, books, used tissues, and the odd piece of homework.   It’s been like this before – and I would head in there with a garbage bag thinking  “this is too much.  I’ve got to clean this up for them.  Too overwhelming.  I’ll help”.  I did love the opportunity to toss a lot off stuff (there is too much in there!) but we’d end up in the same place.  Over and over again.  So over Christmas break  – I stopped doing that……..you’ve got to change if you want them to do something differently.

To back up a bit (this part is more for me than you), I am not the tidiest individual.  My husband is neater than I am.   He has been after me to work on “clean up training” for a few years now – I’ve resisted.  I want my kids to know that there is more to life than a clean house.  There are great meals to be cooked, books to be read, trails to be hiked, bikes to be rode, etc!  However.  I have learned and realized a few things in the past few years.  My husband has to live in this house too – can’t just be the way  I want it to be.  Also – getting rid of the clutter and the mess gives us the space to enjoy each other.   It can be clean without being restrictive.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  And it doesn’t have to be “aggressively clean” (LOVE that phrase).  I’ve found I really really like it clean – just don’t want to be directed  – or direct them.

So – here we are.  Standing outside our girls bedroom.  Changing what we are doing.   You can barely see the floor.  There are clothes everywhere.  Wet towels.   They started to clean it last week  – Annie did a  great job – but Emily was overwhelmed.  Cried, fussed, lost her shit.  Dragged Annie down with her.  Yet, there have been small victories – “Mom, I have no underwear, can you help me do some laundry?”  Followed by me two days later “I need the dryer, would you guys be willing do get your stuff out of there”.   Done.

But it hasn’t changed.  Geoff and I have agreed – they have a choice to keep their room like this – but WE have a choice whether we go in or not.  So we haven’t gone in.  Much.  The kids hate that we can’t / won’t tuck them in.  WE hate it that we can’t tuck them in.  Geoff keeps asking when we can take it to the next level.  For now, I’m holding here.  I feel like this is enough for now  – we just need to stay our course.   I know that their life would be easier if they had a clean room.  But I won’t do it for them.  And this may take time.  Everyone has a choice here and until they want a different outcome, I’ll be just outside the door.  It’s funny how different you an approach an issue when you have acceptance.  There is no anger simmering under the surface. No passive aggressive bribes to get them to clean it.  Just calmness.  Well  – as calm as I can be.  (Calmness is not the first word used to describe me.  Or the 20th…)

I’m blogging about this to help us stay honest on this mission.  To tell you how hard this is.  Damn I’m anxious to run a vacuum in there.   But this is better.  I know that.  And this post will help us.  Like duct tape at their door holding us back when that calmness fades! 

 

Posted by: sblanck | December 21, 2011

Christmas For Me

This past  Saturday I went shopping with the girls.  It was such an amazing experience for me – on a few levels!  Realized how much they are starting to take ownership for parts of their lives – and (it’s not all roses!) found some stuff to work on.

Friday night they made their lists – hysterical by the way.

Checking her list

Off we went Saturday morning.  I told them I’d take them anywhere but they choose our small local toy shop.  Wanted time to wrap when we were done – huh.  Good thinking. I would have blown all of my time driving to Burlington.   I had no agenda that morning and was just able to wander around the store, chat with the owner and look at what they were picking out.  The lists were consulted, shopping baskets located, and items selected.  The owner Sally gives the girls a 5% discount when they come in paying for things (gifts) with their own money.  Love that positive reinforcement.  Emily spent $32 on her list and Annie spent $26.  They didn’t get everything on their list but did spend all of their money.  Home to wrap it up and they were fired up!

This picture sort of sums it all up for me – The awesomeness.  First of all  – there was a list.  Somewhere along the way she figured out it was a good idea to be organized and plan it all out.  Second – It’s all her decision.  No comment or suggestions by me.  This used to be hard – but now it’s easy.  Ever since I doubted the success of the Vermont shaped ornament and cookie cutter set only to be told by the mom that it was her daughter’s favorite gift.  Third – this isn’t just money they found.  They had to attend family meeting to get it, put it away, then hang onto it for a number of weeks.   There is still some training to be done – what to do about the people who you didn’t have enough money to buy for?  You can see my husband and I were ALREADY getting pictures : ) I’m not sure who else will get bumped but I can already see the wheels turning when they talked about bringing their presents into school.  “But I don’t have anything for my teacher yet!”  We’ll have to stay tuned for how that turns out….I don’t think Mr. Wolf is getting a wolf either.

There were some challenges too.  We went to the post office after this and Emily realized she still had on a mood ring from the store.   “No problem honey – it’s a mistake and we’ll just go tell Sally.”  If she could have said “HELL NO Mom!”  – she would have.  She flipped at the prospect of HER going back into the store.  I tired to point out that it was a mistake and an honest one and that Sally would understand.  She wasn’t having any of it and I realized I needed to shut up – and fast.  I drove back to the store trying really hard to keep my mouth shut.  It was clear she had a very mistaken belief about what happens to good girls who make mistakes.   I sat in the parking lot while she freaked and her sister tried to tell her that it had happened to her before and it was really no big deal.  I frantically racked my brain and texted my Vicki Jr. friend to figure out how to handle this.   Eventually decided that the ring needed to go back but I had to respect Emily’s choice.  Not bringing this ring back did not necessarily mean she would turn to a life of crime.  At least not tomorrow.

“I am bringing  this ring back into Sally.  You can come with me  – and you don’t have to talk but you do need to hear what she says.  If you are not willing to do that, I’m not willing to go shopping with you anymore.”  I’m not sure that was the right approach but it’s done and I’m sticking to it for now.  I really struggled with understanding her need to not walk in there and the desire to have her see that Sally would be APPRECIATIVE  – not mad at her.    Emily chose to stay in the car  and Annie and I went in.  Sally’s words – “It happens!”  We told Emily what Sally said and then changed the subject to something else.

Later we were having a nice cuddle and I asked her about the incident.  “Mom, I just couldn’t go in  – I just couldn’t!”  I get it.  I threw in a couple of things about good people vs bad choices and let it be.  I will have to create some situations that help guide her out of this mistaken belief.  Give her space and time to find the courage to walk in that store.   She’ll get there – Look how far they’ve come!

Happy Holidays to you all –  S

Posted by: sblanck | November 8, 2011

What do we really want??

So I’ve been heavy into Parenting on Track lately – conference call with some friends starting the program Monday nights and Wednesday nights attending the Parenting on Track – Part 2.   This is for people who have been using the program for a few years now.  Designed to dive in a little deeper and tweak our behavior as we’ve all fallen into our old habits again.  It’s been amazing.   Love it!  Run don’t walk to sign up when she offers it again.

In the first class – we went around the room and talked about what is still tripping us up.  I confessed that I still nag and remind and direct.  BIG TIME.   After a few minutes of peeling back the layers – it became clear that I’m still outcome focused.  I still want to get out of the house on time, want the house clean, want my little solders marching in a line out the door in the morning.  Happily damn it!    I want control.   It seems so obvious – but you’d be surprised how long this took me to arrive at this conclusion!

But if you make me choose – screw the control, I’d choose the relationship.   Remaining outcome focused will never ever give me the relationship.  It will give me distant angry, sassy (yup), unconnected kids.  That’s not what I want.  Clean house – yeah that would be great – but I now know, if I don’t give up all of that, I’ll never get the relationship.  And I’ve been working on the control thing for a long time and it’s not so easy to shake. Even now when my brain is finally on board, my mouth still needs a leash.  So on we go.

Yesterday in a snuggle on the couch, Annie did a roadmap for her afternoon.  It so inspired her (read: made her feel so capable!)  that before bed, she did one for the morning.  I saw her consult every item and check them all off when complete.  We had a great night and morning and today she left it up on the counter ” Mom- so much better than a wipe board” (which I realize I have been pushing) .     Yes we left the house happily, on-time.  But we got there through me putting on-time as priority 2….or 10.  And putting the relationship as #1.   Not easy but worth it.

 

Posted by: sblanck | October 18, 2011

Do Nothing Say Nothing – 2011

We did it.  We survived!  More than that  – we rocked.  I really, really had to do this again. I was desperate to get a new morning and afternoon routine.  Didn’t even have to be new – any routine!  I knew I was hovering and reminding and all that bad stuff.  So DNSN before the routines….

It was ugly, messy and late.  I was definitely stressed, but other times when I was blissfully enjoying my new role of  “fun lady in the corner”!   It always hard – but it’s also kind of wonderful because instead of cleaning the kitchen while passively-aggressively shouting “it’s 7:10 time to get upstairs”, I was laying on my daughter’s bed with her and hearing all these great details about her day.    The mess – omg the mess.  It was epic.  Food left out for days , dishes balancing in stacks, clothes on every floor surface.  It really did look like a frat house on a Monday morning (minus the stale beer smell but replaced with stale milk.)  The good news is that these amazing kids  did surprise me in more than a few ways.

There was great cooperation on their parts when I was unavailable to help.  They spoke to me in the nicest voices (thinking it would get more help) with tons of “would you be willing’s”!  They choose to clear their plates (days later but still!).  Annie did her wipe board  – and included every compartment of her lunchbox – not just a word that says “lunch”.  There was resiliency  – the whining just fizzled into silence when it got no reaction from me.    Things they didn’t think they could do – turned into things they could do (lunch making, finding missing clothes, locating backpack).  Really cool – and very eye opening to me to see how my “help” is truly, honestly, downright “interference”.  People were really happy and calm.  Interesting….  A few photo’s of the cooperation and the ensuing mess.

When we were all done – we had a meeting to talk about what happened and what surprised them, etc.  It was too long (again….too much talking by me!) but I got some big whoppers on video … Mostly from my 6 year old!  I know only three of you read this blog so I had the courage to upload the hard evidence of my inability to keep my mouth shut!  Video One & Video Two.

Now onwards.  I heard an amazing tele-class through the forum a month or so ago and it hit me hard.  (Sometimes you just have to be in the right state of mind to have a message FINALLY sink in.)  I get it now – it’s not about being on time.  It’s not about a clean house.  It’s not about them doing their contribution.  It’s about your relationship with them.  The rest will (magically?) fall into place when they feel capable, engaged in their lives, adored by those they live with.

Something like that!

Posted by: sblanck | September 27, 2011

Do Nothing, Say Nothing…. Again.

My two sisters and some friends bought the Parenting On Track DVD / CD set this summer and I promised we’d go through the program together.  We’re starting now.  Do Nothing  Say Nothing.  This week terrifies me.   My older sister asked ” I already know it’s going to be a disaster – so can’t I just go with that information??”   I totally get it – I feel the same way – I’m literally bracing myself.  But  I have learned that it’s so much more than that.  It’s figuring out what happens when you shut your trap.  Yes they’ll fall apart – but then what?

We had another “not so great” morning this morning.  The kids noodled, they didn’t do anything, I directed & reminded (in the most clever ways I could think of in an effort to justify me speaking!) and we they were super late.  Annie is an Eagle (learned this from one of Vicki’s mom retreats.  Fabulous.  Jump on it if she offers them again!)  Annie (like her mother) will do just about anything not to be embarrassed.   Being late is one of those things that will embarrass you so I avoid it all costs.   So I get it when Annie won’t walk to her classroom.  But I can’t fix it for her.   It was awful watching her be restrained by her teacher and turning my back to walk away.   Motivation I kept telling myself.  Motivation.

I thought that after school today would be the perfect day to spend some time creating a morning routine.  But it’s not. It’s a great reason to start Do Nothing Say Nothing.  I need information.  More information.   Here we go.  Fastening my seat belt and getting my duct tape.

Posted by: sblanck | September 21, 2011

Just sayin….

It’s Hard.

It’s hard to watch your child scream and cry because they are not ready for bed.

It’s hard to watch a rock get tossed in the air when it’s time to make their lunch.

It’s hard to watch when it’s 7:49, everyone is in the kitchen and school starts in one minute.

It’s hard to watch your child spend the afternoon in their room because maybe their plan to do homework RIGHT after snack is easier said than done.

however……

It’s awesome to watch them work together to get out the door to school.  Checking to see if a sister forgot something and grabbing it for them when they did.

It’s awesome to watch your kids figure out a different solution for packing their lunch when they really don’t want to clean their lunchbox.

It’s awesome to see them catch themselves in a statement that I would have corrected.  – “Molly forgot my sweater…. I mean I forgot my sweater.”

It’s awesome to hear their appreciations for each other.  “thank you for sharing that toy with me”  & “thank you for helping me wake up”.

It’s hard but it’s worth it.  Just sayin’.

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