I lost my shit this morning. There was yelling. There were tears. And then there was the guilt over losing my shit.
But you know what else happened? My kids actually finished their chores. They picked up their clothes. The cleaned the cups and bowls that were growing mold on their bedroom floor. They cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed the living room. In other words, they did what needed to be done in the first place.
These chores aren’t a surprise. My kids know what they need to do. It’s written down right in front of them and the chores don’t really change. So why does it take me turning into Medusa with eyes bugging out of my head and my voice hoarse from yelling for them to actually listen?
I’ve tried it all. We use an app for their chores so they have them written down. I give firm reminders. We take away their phones and dole out other consequences (granted my husband is much better at this than me). So why does it take me losing my shit for anything to get done?
By now the cycle is predictable: Ask kids to do something. Kids ignore you. Ask kids 15 more times. Kids still ignore you. Lose your shit. Kids finally listen. Feel terrible. Rinse and repeat.
I wish I could say it was just my kids, but the truth is, it’s not. I don’t even listen to myself. I know that I need to practice self-care. I should meditate and turn off the news and stop doomscrolling. And yet it took a full-blown emotional breakdown about a month ago for me to realize that I need to actually do these things instead of just reminding myself that I should do them. After spending an entire day sobbing (yes, an entire day), I finally listened to myself. I got myself back into therapy. I downloaded a meditation app. I limited my time on Facebook and news websites.
But it shouldn’t have taken a full emotional breakdown for me to listen to myself. Just like it shouldn’t take me going all Clark Griswold on Christmas Eve for my kids to pick up their clothes, finish their homework, and load the damn dishwasher.
I just shouldn’t. But it does. And I’m not really sure why.
I mean, I’m aware of the “love and logic” approach to all this. I’ve heard all the advice about the importance of consequences and boundaries. I know all of this. And yet somewhere between knowing it and doing it, everything breaks down.
How do we break out of this cycle?
I’d love to just say something once and have people listen. Then again, I apparently don’t even listen to myself. So…
Maybe it’s because we’re so tired of this hamster wheel of pandemic life with no end in sight. Add on the general exhaustion from saying the same damn things all the time. We’re tired of giving constant reminders to not act like slobs and to pick up their damn clothes, to put the toilet seat down, and to put your damn phone away.
I know that I sound like the wah-wa-wa-wa-wah teacher in all the Charlie Brown shows. Honestly, I’m even annoying myself. And I’m totally over it.
But if I don’t remind everyone of everything, will anything get done? Or will the dirty bowls start growing legs? Will the crusty toothpaste in the bathroom sink turn into concrete? And more importantly, if my kids don’t figure out how clean up after themselves now will they turn into sloppy, lazy adults?
It’s all so frustrating. I don’t want to nag. It feels absolutely terrible. And yet if I don’t lose my shit every now and then, things get sloppy. And I’ll be damned if my kids are gonna turn into privileged a-holes who don’t clean up after themselves. Not to mention that I’m sick of the crumbs and the dirty clothes and the crusty plates and missing spoons. (Seriously, where do all the spoons go?!)
I don’t have a solution. I suppose I could be better with the boundaries and consequences. But I am who I am. Boundaries and consequences are a challenge. Losing my shit now and then comes more naturally.
Maybe one day things will change. Maybe my kids will eventually figure out how to use that chores app we all downloaded. Maybe one day they’ll pick up their dirty socks without being asked, and they’ll turn in their homework on time without being reminded a million times. Maybe one day I’ll get better at doling out consequences and setting boundaries. Maybe.
In the meantime, I’ll be over here nagging and badgering and, yes, occasionally losing my shit. Which means I’ll also be over here forgiving myself – and my kids – for being imperfect works in progress.