Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mean Mom, That's Me!

I've been a really mean mom this week.

It started Tuesday night, when I asked the children nicely if they would be willing to do 10-minute clean up with me. 10 minute clean up is wonderful! We set the timer for 10 minutes and clean as fast as we can until the timer goes off. It's easy-cheesy, and makes my life blissful. But my first mistake was that I asked them if they were willing. Never ask a child if they are willing to clean. Ever.

I offered them a full hour of backyard playing before bedtime if they would help me.
"Grumblegrumblegrumblegrumble..." and they consented to help. I set the timer, counted down, and yelled "Go!"

Not one person moved. #1 sat on the living room floor, pouting. #2 stood there, holding her blanket. #3 looked confused. #4? He's exempt due to age.

It took me ten seconds to lose all control. All reason. I yelled at them all, turned off the timer and sent every child (sans #4) to their rooms. It was 6:10PM. They had to go to bed. No stories, no playing --pajamas and bed. The surprise? I didn't yell guilty things at them as they were getting changed like I'm prone to do. I just quietly cleaned up the house. Brandon wasn't around, as he had gone straight to Young Men's after work that night. I have a feeling if he'd been there he would have been able to convince them to clean easily. He's very persuasive.

Last night, I made a good dinner. I liked it; #1 liked it. I cooked oil, white balsamic vinegar, chicken strips, long green beans, and potatoes in a skillet. I topped it with cheese. Brandon loved it (later that night). #2 and #3 wouldn't even look at it. I told them they had to try their food tonight. I was tired of their picky ways and they needed to try it --not eat all of it. Just try it. #2 refused. #3 laughed and refused. Something inside of me finally snapped.

Yelling ensued. They got sent to their rooms. For the first time that I can remember, my daughter and son went to bed hungry.

In the 5 and 3 years I've made meals for them, I have put up with their sensitive palates. I have allowed them to skip things. But no more, I tell you. NO MORE! I'm tired of it, and so help me, if they turn up their noses one more time without trying something, they will have many more nights without food.

So, yeah. I'm mean. I'm meaner when I'm alone. When I don't have a husband to pass off the responsibility to in the dinner/evening hours, I seriously have many more problems. Personally, I think it's just sheer exhaustion of the 24/7 dealio I've got going on here. [*note to husband: I'm not trying to make you feel guilty! It's just reality right now.] I'm not sure how single mothers do it without going completely crazy. I go crazy! Crazy, I tell you. Crazy.

The upside? My kids know I'm serious. I have a feeling if I try 10 minute pick-up tonight, they'll be more willing. We'll have to wait and see...

Are you mean? Are you meaner without hubby around?

23 comments:

bythelbs said...

Yes. And sometimes yes.

I try to be nice, but sometimes you just have to let them know who is the alpha dog here! (I'm not trying to say you should train your children like dogs, but they need to know who is ultimately in charge. Right?)

Leslie said...

Yes...I can be mean...I'm sure my 5 year old thinks I am meaner than I really am. And yes...I get frustrated much more easily when I am flying solo. I'm feeling for ya sistah!

Ryan and Missy said...

I was picky, I still am a little, but as a kid I didn't even like PIZZA! And I threw fits if I didn't like something.

My parents took the same approach as you. They would explain that we weren't in a restaurant. If I didn't want to eat what was being served, I could go to bed.

I went to bed hungry a lot. It wasn't a big deal. Eventually I began trying the things I "didn't like" and, who knew, some of them were pretty good.

I'm still kind of picky today, but I'll try (almost) anything.

Grandma Rozla said...

Oh I remember the days - one time I was so frustrated with the kids that I took all their Christmas presents away - right out from under the tree as they sat there and watched. They were angels until Christmas after that. Some days, some weeks are just hard but try and laugh! And after all, going to bed early - well, that gives you some sanity time! You're great and your kids are great. They will survive a little hunger

Jessica said...

Oh yeah, I am so much meaner when I haven't had a sanity break in a while. And when my husband is later than I expect him, I get anxious, and then even MEANER to the poor kiddos.

We sent two of our girls to bed hungry one night for lack of cleaning. One couldn't have cared less, and the other cried like it was the end of the world. Not like I love to hear my kids cry, but it sure is a good barometer as to whether or not the punishment is effective.

My husband finished graduate school last spring, and plans to start business school this fall. I dread it, absolutely dread it! I have been so much more patient this past year with him not being in school. I know that the kids will suffer with the long nights without daddy and even when he is here but not really "here" because of all the schoolwork and studying.

I don't know how single moms can keep it together either.

Janelle said...

I'm a pushover and my kids know it. So when I push back they think I'm mean. I have a post about this. This is the same reason we can never have a dog. We are really bad trainers. Why do quiet moms seem to have better control? How can I become a quiet mom?

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

I'm definitely a yeller. And it is much harder not to let out a yell when DH isn't around to back me up...although, maybe I just end up yelling at him instead of the kids? ;) Anyway, we make our kids taste everything on their plates too. We're so mean.

Julie said...

Yes. And Yes. And I am really trying to be better. And sometimes I really lose it and spank. Unacceptable but effective.

Allie said...

Yes, I am mean. I set up a summer schedule and I have stuck to it. Everytime I hear them complain, I added another job. That lasted a day. I am meaner when Dh isnt around, but more in control of my emotions (im a yeller, too). I do better when I know his help isnt coming then when I expect it.
I am also in the mist of quitting my short order cook job too. You would think that asking them to eat what we are eating is like putting them on fear factor...tonight cockroaches...it gets the same reaction as enchladas...go figure! Good luck, I dont have any advice for the eating, but figured misery loves company!

Rochelleht said...

Grace hasn't eaten dinner in years. She just goes to be hungry every single night and waits it out until breakfast.

bythelbs said...

"Grace hasn't eaten dinner in years."

That's awesome. I like you, Rochelle.

Amanda said...

Good for you, Cheryl! No mom should be a short-order cook. My kids regularly go to bed hungry...

And yes, I am a mean mom, and sometimes I am meaner when DH is gone.

Ann said...

Our rule is you have to TRY what we make. If you don't like it, you don't have to eat it. And if you want something else, you have to make it yourself and clean up whatever mess you made. A lot of times if one of the kids doesn't like the main course, they end up eating a bunch of the side dish. We always have a snack before bed too. But it's always a healthy snack. So if one child didn't eat a very good dinner, I sometimes give them extra cantelope, apples, or whatever it is we're having for snack that night. I just can't handle the thought of my kids going to bed with an empty stomach. But I know my son has...there have been times he's refused to eat dinner, and then refused to eat the snack too. So those nights, he went to bed hungry.

I think it depends a lot on the kids as to what works for each one. My brother tried the "going to bed hungry" thing with his super-picky daughter. Well, she'd end up waking up at 1 or 2 in the morning crying because her tummy hurt. And they were good for a while, they'd take her downstairs and heat up dinner, and she'd usually refuse to eat it. So they'd take her back to bed and she'd be up crying again in a couple of hours. Nobody wants to deal with that for an extended period. So they gave up with her.

Right now, our kids all seem to be in a "good eating" phase, but it was only a few months ago we were dealing with a "bad/not eating" phase with our son. Do all kids go through "eating" phases, or is it just mine?

April J. said...

I would say yes and yes. Hubby knows how to protect the kids from my wrath and helps thm "run away" until sanity and reason set back in. I was just telling a friend that I am just a mean mom and I am mostly OK with it. Then she corrected me and said no you are an experienced mom. So remember that next time you think you are mean, you are experienced and are putting an end to behavior before its too late!

I will get off my high horse now!

Summer said...

Hubby and I try to be equally mean. lol!
We decided a while ago that we didn't want our relationship with the kids to be a "wait till your father gets home" one. Luckily our ideas of proper discipline are basically the same so if one of the kids does something inappropriate whoever is around handles it.

As for dinner, we have been very strict on that point. It was too stressful fighting with them so our rule for a long while has been if they don't eat their dinner they go to bed hungry. I also think I've made them more amenable to whatever we serve by not giving them any snacks after 3:30p.m. and we usually have dinner at 6:30p.m. so by then they're good and hungry.

Leslie said...

Just going to chime in again to tell you about a brilliant plan my mom came up with when we were kids. She told us we could each choose 1 food that we didn't have to eat - then if she made that for dinner, we didn't have to eat that. She gave us a couple of days to think about what we were going to choose as our "no no" food. We all came up with all sorts of crazy stuff she didn't make or would never have made us eat anyway (I choose Zucchini - I had never had it in my 5 year old life, she never made anything with zucchini at that time, my older sister choose pop corn which she didn't like - as if my mom was going to make her eat popcorn - you get the picture). So...we all had a food we could say no to and everything else we had to try and we could not complain about it. Mom says it was very effective.

Leslie said...

chose, by the way...not choose...sorry 'bout that.

Julie said...

And my solution to the eating thing (I've never cooked something separate for my kids -- it never crossed my mind) is that I make sure at least one thing on the dinner menu is something they'll eat (like bread or fruit or something). They have to eat as many bites total as their age of whatever else is on the plate. And then at least once a week, I try to make something I know everyone likes (spaghetti or something like that). That way I know they're getting their bellies full sometimes! Good luck! Not every trick works for every kid, but ideas are always nice....

Tortuga said...

Parenting is hard! For being single with only nieces and nephews - I think most mothers out there try their best. I like the alternative plans that were given - having an "no food" selection. That's a great idea! I'm glad it worked :)
I know I'm not an expert, but in my line of work - in what I was doing prior to my job now, I found a website that was very helpful for many parents that were raising young children. It gave great tips. If anyone is interested in viewing it and looking for ways to help their children from potty training to homework, please take a look at this site = http://www.parenting-ed.org/parenting_handouts.htm

A lot of parents that I gave this to, thought it was very helpful and wished they had it sooner. I hope it comes in handy. (there is even a section in there about mealtime behaviors :))

Never A True Aggie said...

I'm mean too. Sometimes I am meaner than I should be. I need to work on being FIRM and not just mean. I think that is what you are doing. I am meaner too when Don is not here, or when I am just way too tired.

Jamie J said...

Yes and mostly yes. I lose it more easily when Spencer is late or not home for the night. We have a rule that you have to try it at least. And if it's something I know she likes but might not feel like eating at the moment I make her eat 3 bites because she's three. I try not to make a big deal out of meal times and if she doesn't want to eat and has satisfied the requirements she can get down. I don't make her anything else and she doesn't get anything else after dinner. I'm sure she goes to bed hungry but hasn't ever complained about it. When I was a kid I was a very picky eater and would spend hours at the table at night because my parents wouldn't let me get down until I finished my food. I was too stubborn to ever eat and they were too strict to back down. It wasn't a good thing.

TaLaisa said...

Yes! and absolutely yes!

I don't know how single moms do it either!!!! Wowsers! I'm doing nights alone while my hubby is working the 3-1 shift and then days alone while he sleeps (with the added stress of keeping 2 little boys 'quiet'). And it is kicking my can, hard!

I'm yelling a lot more than I used to and 100x more than I'd like to.

Amber said...

I was just thinking about this yesterday. I am not meaner without the hubby around but there are certain days when I am completely fine with their stubbornness and other days, I snap. I think it's called hormones. :-)