It’s 4pm and I am enjoying the relaxing end of day process homeschooling parents everywhere all look forward to:
…getting the kids to clean up.
My kids tend to keep our house sparkling clean, and listen to me when I begin this most favorite process of mine, everyday of the week …(except Monday through Sunday).
No, reality is that I have normal kids, who make normal messes.
So I begin taking inventory of the house:
Next to the front door are boots, complete with their own pile of dirt, to keep the outside fun going inside of our house.
Our dining room table is host to 3 trays of watercolor paints, 27 paintbrushes, 2 glue guns, a sauntering gun, and eleventy billion sheets of paper.
The living room has been turned into a fort the size of a circus tent.
There are enough books on the couches, floors, and stairs to supply a library.
Every pillow was repurposed for a pillow fight mid afternoon and is lying strewn about the house like helium-less balloons.
Practically every dish in the house is piled onto and around the kitchen sink and every counter space available.
Not to mention the floor that is carpeted in random dirty socks, forgotten toys, and crumbled snacks.
Wow, we really know how to make a mess in my home!
And it’s fine, I don’t need to hyperventilate…yet…
The mess is not a problem; it’s just time to clean it all up.
Surely everyone else in this family will enjoy having a clean house as much as I will right?!
Amazingly, my priorities are not my children’s priorities.
They didn’t skip their childhood and go straight to being a 35 year old mother who cares about the state of her house.
They selfishly stayed 12,11,8,8,7, and 4 today.
They don’t care about dirty socks and squished grapes on the floor.
They just want to play.
So my invitations to begin cleaning up fall on seemingly deaf ears.
And that’s when the sneaky thoughts show up.
I’m sure you have thoughts like my sneaky thoughts because I am a normal mom with normal kids.
These sneaky thoughts seem so innocent and lovely... They speak to a utopia world where flowers are blooming, soft music is playing, unicorns are prancing, and nothing is a mess EVER.
They are sneaky because we often don’t think they are thoughts. We think they are pure, noble desires.
They sound like this:
My kids should listen to me.
They should come when I call them.
They should focus on their job.
They should finish their zone without being distracted.
They should clean happily.
They should want to help.
(Also there should be a rainbow and glitter that doesn’t make a mess because this is a dream world remember!)
The problem with these thoughts, is that when my kids don’t comply with this perfect version of them that I have created, I feel disappointed, frustrated, and show up more like the creepy witch in the movie Tangled - manipulating, forcing, and singing “Mother Knows Best!”
Then I’m snapping at my kids, threatening to throw everything away, and hiding in my closet eating stale chips in a rage.
What happened here?
What leads me to the point of freaking out?
I had a fantasy of what my kids “should” do and it didn’t match reality. That’s it.
Thinking things should be different than they are, sets me up to feel terrible.
It is a flawed system and it isn't working.
What if I told you that the opposite really is true right now?
Your kids shouldn’t listen to you, yet.
They shouldn’t come when you call, yet.
They shouldn’t focus on their jobs, yet.
They should totally get distracted.
They should be completely grumpy.
And they shouldn’t want to help at all.
Do you know how I know it is true? Because they are.
Whatever your kids are doing, let them.
None of it is a problem.
What is a problem is thinking that they should be different than they are.
Your kids are right on track for learning how to listen, learning how to come, learning how to focus, learning how to be happy, learning to love helping.
They will get there.
If I could personally guarantee it, what would change for you?
Instead of being a cranky, frustrated mother, you could be happy.
What would change if you were happy?
You could be patient, loving, and kind as you work. You could teach, praise effort, hold firm to your standards, and practice behavior with your kids, without feeling terrible.
Your kids would be free to focus on learning, instead of on mom having a moment.
This is the way to create an environment that fosters learning: You have to believe that your kids are learning FIRST.
Believing that your kids will learn helps you create the environment that will allow them to learn.
You don’t have to believe the sneaky thoughts any longer, (unless you need some alone time in your closet, because sometimes we all do 🤣).
Set yourself and your kids free, by believing that they will learn.
Then you’ll make it happen.
You’ve got this!
P.S. Join the facebook community for homeschooling parents who want to enjoy homeschooling here.