Tuesday, October 9, 2012

5 Stupid Battles I Stopped Fighting

I'm done!
I've recently had an epiphany. You see, there are some things I find myself saying all the time. Flush the potty. Stop picking on your brother. Don't forget to wear pants. And honestly, I'm tired of it.

There are really important battles to fight as a parent, and lots of them. I will always nag remind my kids to work hard, use their manners and look out for people that are smaller than them or who need help. But when the constant nagging is about some crap that's not all that important to begin with, I'm done. Here are a five examples of battles that I've been fighting for years that I've decided just don't matter anymore.

Picking up the dirty socks. I have finally accepted that my children will never put them away. I can't even tell you how many disgusting, filthy kids socks I find on my floor on any given day. It is in the hundreds. Hundreds of socks, most of them damp and about half of them almost black on the bottom. And in the most random places you can imagine. The boy socks are so dirty that you might be able to use them to grow potatoes. And this vast number defies logic because technically there are only six kid feet in this house. Are they changing their socks multiple times per day in order to discard them later? For fun? Is it a game they play with me? Where do the socks come from? I mean, on pool days where everyone in the family only wears flip flops - I STILL FIND SOCKS. Can someone please explain this to me?

The TV at dinner time. Let me be clear, we don't eat in front of the TV. I'm talking about needing it on to distract my kids so that I can cook dinner. We only eat in front of the TV on really special occasions - like when I have PMS or when daddy is out of town. So every night around the same time, the TV goes on so that I can cook. Don't judge me, Gwenyth. I don't have any help and by 6:00pm my patience is paper thin.

But the presence of the TV turns my otherwise bright children into slack-jawed idiots who have also lost the ability to hear. Let me amend that last statement, "lost the ability to hear anything that is not the TV".  I say, "It's time for dinner!" and I get no response. I say it louder. Nothing. I yell from the kitchen. I may hear some murmuring. I yell louder, in the mean mommy voice. I then hear louder murmuring, usually for me to be quiet. Then I stomp into the family room, turn off the TV and then watch them glare at me, gulping like surprised lemmings.

My life is much easier now. I don't even bother with the escalating choruses of "Please come to the table", culminating with the Demon Mommy Voice of Doom. I just turn it off and wait for their brains to fall back into their heads. Eventually they make it to the table.


My son does not want to go anywhere until he gets there.
I have spent the past two years confused about something. My son begs me to sign him up for say, baseball. So I spend the money and get him on a team. Then two days later I say: "It's time for baseball! Grab your glove and bat!" and this is what I get (see image to the right). I may also be greeted with foot stomping, door slamming, eye rolling and if the fancy strikes him, the ever popular Tears of Furious Anger. I also get this a lot: "I wish [insert name of activity that I just begged you to sign me up for] was never even invented!"

I seriously don't understand this. Because approximately 2 seconds after we arrive at whatever the activity is, I get this from him:

http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/090/603/258witx.gif?1293746728
Yay! Baseball! Best thing ever in the entire universe including cyberspace!
I now just ignore the whining and just shove him in the car until his crappy mood passes. It's like the pre-game tantrum is part of his process. We all roll our eyes at him and ignore him and it actually seems to pass faster now. Also, he recently apologized for being such a turd and he thought this write-up of his behavior was hilarious. So maybe we're actually making progress, who knows?

What to pack for lunch. My kids don't seem to understand that I can barely pull a meal out of my butt to serve in our house, let alone create a meal that is healthy, well-balanced and lunch box stable. But then throw their outlandish requests on top of it and I stand at the kitchen counter in the morning looking flabbergasted, arguing with a small person as the minutes before school tick down. No, I can't pack you a hot piece of pizza because it will be cold by noon and I happen to know you won't eat cold pizza. No, you can't have an ice cream cone in your lunch box because it will be ice cream soup by lunchtime. No, I can't pack you zucchini casserole. I don't even know how to make that. Now I don't even ask - I just make. Sunbutter and banana sandwich it is. BOOM. Done.
  
The homework barometer. At our house, we come home from school and we knock our homework out of the way first. We do this because we've found that if we wait, it either doesn't get done or it takes ten times longer than it has to and usually degenerates into what my Grandmom Joyce calls "a Polish picnic". I have no idea what goes on at a Polish picnic but based on her derisive tone, it's not an efficiently run operation. I will pretty much do anything to avoid that Polish picnic. It is extremely unpleasant and makes me want to jab sharpened pencils into my face.

But every once in a while, despite my best efforts, I find myself there. For some reason, a set of math problems that took 5 minutes yesterday, takes an hour today and involves moaning and wailing. Rather than fight them on getting it done, I send them outside to run around and I put the homework away. Either it doesn't get done or it gets done early the next morning. Sometimes they even come back inside and they're all - where's my homework? - like I stole it or something. But the bottom line is, they're in elementary school, they're normally really good about homework and their teachers know that. So on the days that they're not - I don't even bother anymore.

Maybe not fighting my kids on all this stuff represents a failure on my part. A lowering of standards or expectations. Maybe - but who cares? I've never aimed for perfection, I've usually aimed for good enough. I've aimed for goals like: happy kids and dirty house, because that is attainable for me. Trying to do both just makes us all miserable. Now excuse me...I have 8 billion socks to wash.

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

41 comments:

  1. I think if we want to stay somewhat sane as moms, we all have to do this at some point. It's just not worth it. Yay, less drama!

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  2. Ha..the socks! what is with the socks?
    This past summer I told the two boys that for every sock, shoe, pair of undies I found lying around and not in the hamper they would have to pay me $1 for each item.
    I am going to Disney World...yeah.
    Cheers, Sausage.

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  3. Standing up and applauding this ENTIRE post!! Oh my Jesus, I loved it so. Everything about it! Because you are totally 100% right. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that old definition of insanity, because seriously why would I think for a moment that the same old crazy mom routine would suddenly work when it hasn't EVER before??!!

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  4. The teachers at the school where my 1st and 3rd grader go said to never let the homework get difficult. If they are not up to doing it or get frustrated, then it is time to stop. :D Good job!

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  5. Holy crap, woman. You nailed it.

    I no longer demand SO MANY THINGS. I am a slacker mom, but they seem ok with it, and they seem to be growing up at least as well as the kids of the Gwyneths.

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  6. I am right there with you! I recently decided to stop banging my head against a wall, and let the small things go. Survival is key!

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  7. My kids spend too much time in front of media too, yet I can't get them to step away when it's just us. As much as they love board games, they've lost 80% of the pieces. When a friend is around though, they do things other than stare at screens- which makes me happy.

    The sock thing- I HATE the sock problem. My husband also contributes to the nonsense. And because we're so busy during the week, we tend to clean only on weekends so man do they pile up! Along with the dishes.. *sigh* My kids for some reason also strip to their skivvies when they get home from school. I have no idea why. The 5 YO goes in to go potty and comes out pantless and prefers to stay that way. The almost 9 year old needs to pick a wedgie so bad that his pants are on the floor. wtf is that about?

    Anyway, your not alone.

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  8. Everything here happens in my house!! I especially like the comment about lunch because I'm reading this post instead of standing in the kitchen pondering what to pack. Cullen requested 'bad ham and bad cheese' today... I have NO IDEA what that means!

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  9. Socks. I hate them. Kid socks are my personal nemesis. They suck. What the hell happens to them? They just freaking vanish, but only one at a time. I decided that I would go and buy about 1000 white pairs of socks. I did this two months ago. I figured that if I did this if a sock vanished I would still be able to match it to another sock because they are all the same. I am down to about 10 pairs of kid/baby socks. I don't under stand it. I just don't get it.

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  10. My Mom used to call the piles of socks "Offering to the Sock Gods" We had altars of socks everywhere

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  11. Oh believe me - I've pretty much let these go too. Love.

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  12. Wait a sec. You mean we're NOT supposed to eat in front of the TV? Are you sure?

    *bangs head against the wall and sees another damp, dirty sock*

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  13. Why. I give up on the word why. Why do I have to brush my teeth? Why do we have to go to school? Why is black? Why are you crying while drinking wine?

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  14. So true. All of them. I'm right there with you on lunches (PB&J), homework (You don't do it, deal with the consequences), and picking up clothes.

    As they say in Risky Business "Sometimes you just have the say WTF!"

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  15. Where DO all the dirty socks come from? I started buying black ones for the boys because the white ones are all dirt colored...

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  16. Oh my gosh, YES. I sometimes worry about the things I let go. Like, should I really be letting this go right now? Yesterday I HAD to go to Target with both of my toddler kids and my cranky husband (I normally prefer my Target trips to be either alone [HA!] or with just one kid). Both kids were fresh from daycare, I was fresh from work, and no one was in the mood. We were enjoying a rare moment of peace in the midst of what ended up being a total cluster-you-know-what shopping trip, when my husband started harping on my son (almost 3) about not picking his nose. And I almost lost my shiz on him. "WHY are you bugging him about picking his nose!??! He was BEING QUIET!" And my husband stared at me like I was the crazy one??

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  17. I no longer stress about homework, either. He's in fourth grade - this will likely not affect his college applications.

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  18. I am forever amazed by the fact we appear to be the same person. You are, apparently, living my life...or I'm living yours. In any case, we rock. :)

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  19. THANK YOU for #5! IMHO, homework doesn't do anything for younger kids except prepare them to do homework in the higher grades, when it actually makes a difference! Most days, they get it done with minimal drama, but on the exceptional days when that's not possible because someone is in a snit, or Mercury is in retrograde, or for some other reason the evening snowballs into a giant cluster, it just doesn't get done, and that's OK. The world doesn't end. Thank you for saying it so that the rest of us know we're not the only ones who do it!

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  20. There is no other reply to this post except for a resounding... A-MEN!!!

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  21. I love "Demon Mommy Voice of Doom!" I do that all the time, with equivalent lack of success, and I *so* know better. Thanks for the reminder to let the little stuff go and regain some of my sanity.

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  22. I've recently given up the sock battle...with my thirty-year-old husband. *Le sigh* Also, if I don't put on the TV at dinner time, dinner is not ready until literally 9:30. Mind you, regular dinner time is 8:30 anyway because of our schedules, but still.

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  23. Is it wrong that when the 1 year old eats her discarded snack-leavings off the kitchen floor I'm all like "Thanks for helping!"? I also have decided that children's socks are laundry shrapnel...

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  24. Hahaha! A.) You're so smart to knock homework out of the way. We often find ourselves scrambling to finish homework as the bus is rounding the corner. B.) Some others I would add? -Wearing two-pieces again...mad props to you Valerie Bertinelli but this mama's trying to bring back bathing dresses. -Keeping our playroom clean? Do clean playrooms exist beyond television and the movies? Do tell! -Staying on top of my calendar. Inevitably each week I drop a ball. I'm beginning to be ok with that.

    Thanks for the laughs!

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  25. Lydia, didn't you know that sweat causes socks to breed? Kind of like Gremlins. I know this for a fact, because I've caught several in the birthing process this week. It's not pretty.

    And seriously? "Maybe not fighting my kids on all this stuff represents a failure on my part. A lowering of standards or expectations. Maybe -but who cares? I've never aimed for perfection, I've usually aimed for good enough. I've aimed for goals like: happy kids and dirty house, because that is attainable for me. Trying to do both just makes us all miserable. Now excuse me...I have 8 billion socks to wash."
    I totally yelled that really loudly in my husbands face this weekend when he was bitching at me because he couldn't find his own damn keys/socks/adult-sippy-cup. Moron.

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  26. Urban dictionary clears it up...

    polish picnic: A group of people sitting on lawn chairs in their driveway - usually drinking beer.
    "Check out that Polish picnic, they've been out there all day!"

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  27. testify sister, I agree with every one of those things, and to my list I would add that I have given up on them eating a serving of vegetables, because they then force themselves to vomit. If we continue they are going to make lifetime movies about how Mommy made them bulimic over lima beans.

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  28. Oh the socks. I only have one pair of kid feet (and one pair of husband feet), and yet I have hundreds of socks too. It is some sort of sock conspiracy.

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  29. thank you. no seriously. I need a constant reminder to pick my battles. I've been recovering from surgery for 3 weeks and my dh has been in charge, I have to admit there is way less yelling than normal (although he has lost his shiz way more often than usual lol). next week it goes back to me being in charge and I am determined to not yell. a week into my recovery we went to a long awaited specialist appt for my son's ADD and that was one thing she stressed (that and to make my own appt lol). we've given up nagging and most of the trolling for a way more effective method, positive enforcement and a token system-do good things get a token to be used towards video games, treats, etc and losing them for doing rotten things and once they are fine they lose other things. it's working and I feel much calmer.

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  30. I think not fighting them on these things leads to less stress for you and your kids, which can only be a good thing. I can relate to ALL of these but particularly the Lunch Packing, oh lord how I hate it! Whenever my very picky 11 year old says "I don't want you to pack me X",or "can you make me Y?" I say "You are more than welcome to pack your own lunch". Which is usually met with a glare or eyeroll and walking away. If she gets hungry enough, whatever I pack will taste delicious!

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  31. Thanks for writing! I don't know why it takes us so long to figure out what's not working... We instituted bed times about a year in to our second child when we notice no one had slept for six months. Just this past week I hit my sock limit.

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  32. My son does the same thing with having a fit when it's time to go to his events and things. What is that?!

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  33. Argh, those socks! My little one takes after her daddy, and they both manage to wad/roll their socks as they peel them off their broad Barney Rubble feet. So the socks either end up coming out of the dryer in the same damp ball they went in as, or I have to (*gag*) unroll them...just imagine the debris of wood chips and Gold Bond powder bits that fly at my face in the process!

    As for the TV at dinner, I just switch it over to the kids' music channel during mealtime. That's her cue to wash her hands when she's done throwing a TV withdrawal tantrum.

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  34. With ya on # 3. My son is a pain in the neck. Complain, complain, complain and then he loves it. I realized I just had to ignore him. I got sick of the complaining about lunch so now I have the kids make there own. Problem solved.

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  35. With ya on # 3. My sone would complain, complain, complain & then he'd love it. And on the lunch front I got tired of listening to their gripes so I had them pack their lunches themselves. Problem solved.

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  36. Gahhh!!! Love this Lydia. You are my lifeline many days! As a sid note...I teach highs school AP courses and I use the "we're not looking for perfection people...just good enough" line every day!

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  37. I never got asked what I wanted for lunch??? I don't even want my son know he could have that choice... haha and on that note.. What the What is sunbutter??? I am intrigued.

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  38. Amen to all of it! I'm so glad I'm not the only one! (Except I don't budge on the homework thing. Get over it kid, that's life. Sometimes we gotta do things we don't want to do. Suck it up!). The baseball comment? ROTFL! You might as well have been writing about my son & soccer. Holy Moses. :/
    And I got so sick of the morning countdown meltdowns that my kids (now 9 & 10) make their lunch themselves! All I have to do is drag myself out of bed in enough time to inspect what they've packed and make sure they really did brush their teeth like they told me they did. Out the door they go! Fabulousness.

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  39. Yes, yes, yes, YES!, and even yesser. I have three boys, two of whom are in high school and the youngest of whom is in second grade. He has a friend whose parents are about my age (born in the '60s), but he is his parents' one and only. Friend's mom was bemoaning the "battle" she had with her son over doing the summer homework packet that our school sends home. I laughed and said, I don't make them do it until it starts counting for a grade (middle school). It hadn't occurred to her to skip it. I'm hoping that my skipping it won't diminish my darling son's chances of getting into Yale, but hey, like you say, you've got to pick your battles.

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