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What do you do when there is nothing left to do? - Page 2

post #21 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaSarah View Post
It has nothing to do with the stuff of it. It has everything to do with it being a gift. Someone took the time to think of them, to put love into something that they thought expressed who they were...and they treated it like crap. It breaks my heart for my mother in law, who gave of herself in this way, and they don't care. That bothers me. The thing is that the know what they are doing, but do it anyway.
Forcing them to pick up the gift isnt going to allow them to appreciate the "giving" of it. Im assuming what you mean here is you interpret their disregard for the toy as a disregard for the giving, and thus the person who gave it. I dont see how cleaning it up is going to appreciate the person. Kid slose puzzle pieces, toy parts anything! Whether its the day they get it, or 2 years later. We cant force our kids to be appreciative of gifts (its the same as forcing them to say they are sorry - its manipulation). You be appreciative to MIL for the gift, when she asks - say they play with, because they are! Through your appreciation, your kids will learn appreciation as well.
post #22 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca View Post


Tissues on the floor made me think of the time my co-leaders and I were frustrated with the Girl Scouts (6-11 years old) for being so messy when we spent a weekend in a lodge at camp. In addition to the tissues, they did things like spilling some juice and leaving it on the floor, strewing clothing including dirty underwear throughout the lodge, tracking in mud, and disappearing in the middle of a task as soon as the leader looked away. We were constantly asking them to clean up and help with chores, and we got a lot of snippy attitude. : So, at the next meeting after camp, we leaders presented two skits showing The Wrong Way and The Right Way. (This is a format kids really enjoy, and I think seeing Wrong first helps to reinforce the Right.) The other leaders pretended to be girls while I was their leader. I narrated my feelings to the audience: "Hey, that hurts my feelings! And now I have to pick up her slimy tissue, ewww!" When we did The Right Way, the "girls" still did the sloppy things but responded immediately and cheerfully to my requests and then didn't do those things again, and we ended with, "Wow, we're done cleaning up early, so we have time for an extra game!" We've done about 4 more camps since then and have a much easier time getting the girls to be neat in the first place and to do chores.

So, if you can get a few friends to pretend to be your daughters, you might try that approach!


I LOVE this! That's such a great idea to make it fun.

Hugs to the OP. I also feel that my emotional state rubs off on my kids so easily. You do have a lot on your plate right now, just be gentle to yourself and your kids. I also saw your picture, and you are a beautiful, loving family, just look at the sweet picture and imagine everyone embraced in light and love!

I am benefitting from all the good words you are getting too!
post #23 of 76
This may be totally out of left field and sound crazy. Also please understand that I don't mean it as a punishment. And I am not even looking at this as a discipline issue. If it was me in this situation, this is totally what I would do. And I would present it as "mommy is losing her mind so THIS is what we are doing". Not as "you are all horrible so this is what you get". I would make it all about me, and what I needed to feel better. And yes, I'm crazy, but if I'm the one taking care of the family then I will do what I have to do for ME and they can deal with it.

Anyway......

Take a vacation from the stuff !!!!!

I would rent a storage area for three months. Buy moving boxes. Go into the rooms and through the house pack up everything that drives me crazy, and everything that is extra and non-essential. Tape the boxes shut, load them into the van and put them in the storage area. Spend a month practicing all together at keeping the rooms neat while they are easy, stripped of all non-essential items except for a few very favorite things. Make beds everyday, vacuum once a week, put laundry away, not much else to do, keep it simple. When the rooms and the house are manageable with that level of stuff, bring home a box or two. Ease the stuff back into the house as you can all manage together keeping it in a state that you can be sane with. You all may find some of the stuff wasn't missed at all and can go to a different home now. Bring the stuff back gradually, only as much as you get cooperation with dealing with. Hopefully by the time you bring it all back you will have parted with some of it and you will all have become better at managing what is left.

I have actually done this....not for this situation, but when we had our entire house painted inside, while we lived in the basement, we rented storage and basically stripped our house of all nonessentials and brought them all back in gradually over an eight month period. It was freaking awesome !!!!!! Anytime I am overwhelmed by my stuff or our kids' stuff again, I am doing it again.

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post #24 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaSarah View Post
This is part of it. I have two four month olds and when I am alone, it is to clean someone else's house. My husband is awesome with giving me time, but I clean about seven times a month, and it adds up. I don't often get three hours alone to do nothing. I miss that. I know that it will come again, and I love babies...but I sure there is stress with the constant needing of me.


I have one kid and I clean maybe once a month. I think I've cleaned the bathroom thoroughly twice since we moved here in late May (second time was yesterday...I still need to clean the OTHER bathroom). 7 times a month is like superhero work to me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaSarah View Post
It has nothing to do with the stuff of it. It has everything to do with it being a gift. Someone took the time to think of them, to put love into something that they thought expressed who they were...and they treated it like crap. It breaks my heart for my mother in law, who gave of herself in this way, and they don't care. That bothers me. The thing is that the know what they are doing, but do it anyway.
Does it bother your mother in law?

I think it really takes being an adult to be able to look at a gift in the way you want them to. I can look at some of our wedding gifts and think "so and so gave me that", but I know that hubby doesn't do that. And if I were to break the bright green candlesticks that x gave us, or the cauliflower-shaped soup tureen that y gave us (both gifts that I really actually DO like even though I never would have picked them!) I wouldn't think "oh I just smashed x or y", I would think "drat, I broke that object". So even though I think of the giver, I don't associate the item breaking with doing anything bad, or not appreciating the giver. And I don't think all people EVER think of gifts in that way, and I don't think many kids out there do it at all.


Good luck!
post #25 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaSarah View Post
It has nothing to do with the stuff of it. It has everything to do with it being a gift. Someone took the time to think of them, to put love into something that they thought expressed who they were...and they treated it like crap. It breaks my heart for my mother in law, who gave of herself in this way, and they don't care. That bothers me. The thing is that the know what they are doing, but do it anyway.
I don't want to sound like ganging up but... they are so LITTLE. They don't get it yet. It's okay that they don't get it.

Why is this bothering you so much; any ideas? Is it that you burnt out cleaning? that it's been hard to clean? That you haven't felt loved and supported? Why is this the hill you are dying on with your kids right now?

You are an awesome mom I'm sure - just breathe. It will be ok. They will appreciate things in the future.
post #26 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaSarah View Post
It has nothing to do with the stuff of it. It has everything to do with it being a gift. Someone took the time to think of them, to put love into something that they thought expressed who they were...and they treated it like crap. It breaks my heart for my mother in law, who gave of herself in this way, and they don't care. That bothers me. The thing is that the know what they are doing, but do it anyway.
As a person who lets things I really like and appreciate "rest" on my closet floor for periods of time, I have to say--it doesn't mean they don't care about the gift. When I get messy and disorganized, even at almost 40, it usually means that I am overloaded. Too much on my plate to take the 30 seconds to get my clothes on their hangers in my closet, so they heap on the floor. Jewelry sometimes falls out of the box and gets tangled up. It can get pretty bad.

Upthread you said they are great and funny and wonderful kids--we are all pretty overloaded this time of year. YOU need a break, and they need one too--probably from the sugar and all the disruptions of the holiday season.

And I totally agree with the stuff posts--the holidays are always a great time to declutter. If they are really not taking care of their things, take away most everything but the basics and see how much they are capable of taking care of. I don't mean it in a punitive way, just that this time of year if you're not pretty ruthless with the decluttering it is very easy to get overwhelmed.

Hang in there and I hope you feel better soon.
post #27 of 76
I have such respect for you!... firstly, for having the courage to talk about this, & secondly for being a mom to so many children! I can barely do it with one! I'm a single parent... and a person who probably was not cut out to be a parent, but this is where I am, so I'm trying. My son is approaching three, & it is quite difficult, but I bow down to what you must have to deal with on a regular basis.
post #28 of 76
It is honestly mid blowing how many similarities we have going on right now.

I actually told my oldest two I was kicking them out. They had 5 mins to pack a bag and get on the front porch.

Which was followed by me and begging for their forgiveness.

They even started packing the bag :
post #29 of 76
And my 3 having issues are ds just turned 9, dd will be 7, and ds just turned 4.
post #30 of 76
I think you are totally overwhelmed. I can't even imagine having two little babies with 3 older kids! I agree that your kids leaving stuff a mess doesn't necessarily mean that they don't appreciate their things. I tend to be pretty unorganized myself. I'm sorry I don't have any good advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelBee View Post
It is honestly mid blowing how many similarities we have going on right now.

I actually told my oldest two I was kicking them out. They had 5 mins to pack a bag and get on the front porch.

Which was followed by me and begging for their forgiveness.

They even started packing the bag :
I'm sorry if this sounds insensitive, but this made me laugh out loud. I know it was probably pretty traumatic in the moment, but hopefully it'll be something you can all look back and laugh at in the future.
post #31 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama_b View Post

I'm sorry if this sounds insensitive, but this made me laugh out loud. I know it was probably pretty traumatic in the moment, but hopefully it'll be something you can all look back and laugh at in the future.
We actually have laughed about it since

I just want to make sure it does not happen again.
post #32 of 76
I don't have advice, but did want to commiserate with the OP. I also get very stressed when my home is unkept. And I haven't figured out how to keep my three (mostly the boys, DD is pretty neat) from destoying all my efforts on a daily basis. I can have the house spotless at 10:00 am, and by 10:30 - in the time it took me to get the potatoes peeled and the stew for dinner in the crock pot, they can have made huge messes in every room of the house. It is mind-blowing how constant the messes are.

It's not necessarily that they have too much stuff either. Each child has one bed - not unreasonable, right? But do you know how infuriating it is to have them haul the mattresses off of the bed and drag the sheets and comforters into another room and then when you tell them they need to put their beds back together, they aren't able to get the mattresses back on the bed and can't pull the fitted sheet over the corner. Or maybe they left their own bed intact and destroyed their sister's bed. And it's the third time that month they've done it.

I also find that although my kids like to make huge messes, they prefer to play in a clean room. So they'll destroy the playroom. Then destroy their bedrooms. Then destroy the hall. Next they destroy the living room. And the entire house is a disaster. And I am ready to explode because I don't have a single peaceful spot for myself.

I joke with DH that I don't want a pedometer. I want a gadget that measures how many times a day I bend over to pick something off the floor (underwear, a shoe, three legos, an apple core, homework paper, a playmobil man, another shoe - and that's just one trip up the stairs).

I've reached the point where I can keep up with the kids' messes a little better, but if I had two babies to take care of, I would be losing my mind.

Oh, and your description of the children as Dahl children and your not-so-nice feelings towards them - I totally identify with those feelings. In the grand scheme of things, I know I am not a rotten mother, but boy some days I feel like one. Those are the days I find myself muttering, "only fifteen more years, only fifteen more years." Unfortunately you've eighteen years left.
post #33 of 76
I guess I'm going to be somewhat a voice of dissent here.

To me, 7 and 8 is plenty old to start learning consideration for other people.

Not taking care of a beautiful gift is IMO inconsiderate to the giver. It's not about the thing, it is about the person. While it is probably true that they didn't mean any disrespect to their grandma, that just shows that they haven't yet learned that trashing a gift will very likely make the giver feel bad. So you have to teach them that.

Not picking up after oneself is inconsiderate to the OP. Obviously they should not be spending all day cleaning house, but just little things like taking their plate to the sink when they are done eating is totally within their mental abilities and is a start to teach consideration for others.

I understand the theory that children learn by example and if we model the behaviors we desire (for example, we put our plates in the sink) they will eventually catch on, but I also believe that all children are different and this method works better with some children than with others. I raised my dd very much with that philosophy but her personality is such that she doesn't really pick up on people's emotions and social cues and needs things spelled out to her more. She also much prefers to have things done for her than to do them herself. You know how people say that around 3-4 kids will want to try to tie their own shoelaces? She never did. She'd have me tie them for her today if I would (she is 8) LOL. It's just who she is.

So recently I have started being much more explicit in my expectations of her. Simple things, like making her own snack if I am busy, putting her dishes in the sink, setting and clearing the table for dinner, vacuuming etc. There was some resistance at first but she is fine with it now. I strongly feel that this is important for her, so that she learns consideration for others as well as pitching in to help the family. And as long as I approach it positively, not punitively, she seems to actually enjoy having a role to play.

OP, I don't have any advice because it sounds like you have tried a lot of things, and you have 5 kids whereas I only have one. I don't feel like I have anything useful to offer . But I just wanted to say that I really understand how you feel, and that I think the behavior does need to be dealt with, not essential ignored and hope they will grow out of it. I kinda like the idea of sending all of their stuff into storage for a while, until you can regain some measure of sanity. Then there would have to be many heartfelt talks (if you haven't already) about how their actions affect other people in the family and how families need to be considerate of each other, along with clear expectations.
post #34 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by LionTigerBear View Post

I don't get why people are supposed to care so much about THINGS. Maybe your kids are wiser than the average American in that they get that STUFF is just STUFF no matter how much it cost. I would recommend encouraging this attitude of non-materialism by guiding them in getting rid of a bunch of stuff. It would make all of your lives easier.

And really, it REALLY IS just normal kids being kids. I don't know of any kids who treat their stuff with special care. EVERYTHING you've mentioned, every example, sounds typical to me. I'm sure neat kids exist-- I think I've heard stories before-- but it is not the norm. Really and truly.
But that is our duty as parents through example and training to assist them in figuring out how to care for there things and live in a cooperative home.

Stuff is just stuff. But being foolish and wasteful with their use is a sin. It is not a matter of coveting those things, however there is no reason to not care about them at all.

If one does not care for their things, they should not own them. There are people who would gratefully accept those items.

But to just jock it up as no big deal if they are careless with belongings I think is wrong.

THAT to me is actually materialism. Everything is replaceable and disposible......so why bother taking good care of it.
post #35 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
I guess I'm going to be somewhat a voice of dissent here.

To me, 7 and 8 is plenty old to start learning consideration for other people.

Not taking care of a beautiful gift is IMO inconsiderate to the giver. It's not about the thing, it is about the person.

Not picking up after oneself is inconsiderate to the OP. Obviously they should not be spending all day cleaning house, but just little things like taking their plate to the sink when they are done eating is totally within their mental abilities and is a start to teach consideration for others.

I understand the theory that children learn by example and if we model the behaviors we desire (for example, we put our plates in the sink) they will eventually catch on, but I also believe that all children are different and this method works better with some children than with others. I raised my dd very much with that philosophy but her personality is such that she doesn't really pick up on people's emotions and social cues and needs things spelled out to her more. She also much prefers to have things done for her than to do them herself. You know how people say that around 3-4 kids will want to try to tie their own shoelaces? She never did. She'd have me tie them for her today if I would (she is 8) LOL. It's just who she is.

So recently I have started being much more explicit in my expectations of her. Simple things, like making her own snack if I am busy, putting her dishes in the sink, setting and clearing the table for dinner etc. There was some resistance at first but she is fine with it now. I strongly feel that this is important for her, so that she learns consideration for others as well as pitching in to help the family. And as long as I approach it positively, not punitively, she seems to actually enjoy having a role to play.
I agree with everything you said
post #36 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaSarah View Post
This is part of it. I have two four month olds and when I am alone, it is to clean someone else's house. My husband is awesome with giving me time, but I clean about seven times a month, and it adds up. I don't often get three hours alone to do nothing. I miss that. I know that it will come again, and I love babies...but I sure there is stress with the constant needing of me.
Who's house are you cleaning? Is there a way to drop back to even 6x a month and take 2x (like once every other week) to do something alone? Even just sit in silence at Barnes and Noble or a library and read?

How long can the babies be without you?
post #37 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaSarah View Post
Thank you for this whole entire post. It is so very very true. I am expecting too much from them and from myself. I do have self loathing in the sense that I am gross. I have the worst body image and I won't go into because I will manage to offend someone in describing my body. I hate it.
Just to let you know.....I think you are truly beautiful! I looked through pics here and on your website and actually said to dh "Damn...she is a hot pregnant lady!"

And what is even better......having the priveledge of talking to you on the phone just made your more beautiful! You can tell through your words that the Holy Spirit dwells in you.

You are a beautiful daughter of the Most High....both inside and out!

Do not forget that!
post #38 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelBee View Post
But that is our duty as parents through example and training to assist them in figuring out how to care for there things and live in a cooperative home.
post #39 of 76
I think there is a balance to strike between caring too much, and caring too little, for material objects.

Here is our approach, for what it may be worth to you:

Our family lives a very simple life in terms of material things and we do *not* have room to keep anything that isn't special or useful. We live in a very tiny home, less than 600 square feet. We don't keep gifts just because they are beautiful or expensive.

My basic approach is that I feel ds should be clearly grateful in the moment a giver is giving him a gift. He understands to say 'thank you' and handle the gift respectfully in front of the giver.

If the gift has considerable value, and he does not want it, there are several things he may do depending on the circumstances. He may offer it back to the giver if that is appropriate (such as an heirloom another grandchild might want). He might donate the item or re-gift it to someone he knows can use it. If appropriate (such as a new unopened board game he already has) he might exchange it at the store for something different, or even sell it online and use the money for something he wants--this option would only be done in certain situations, if the relationship with the giver made us certain this was a good option.

For inexpensive common items (such as a deck of cards, a yo-yo, or something like that) I really don't keep track of what ds does with it. He may cut them up for an art project, hang the yo-yo in a tree as a decoration--there is a point at which I think micro-managing what your child does with their possessions becomes unhealthy. Some parents do care too much for things, to the point that the child's creativity and sense of control is harmed.

For all 'in between' items--things that are nice, which ds wants to keep, and use for their original purpose, I only ask that ds make an effort to keep them in usable condition. I'm not going to nit-pick if he wrinkles pages in a book, or bends the cover, but I will ask that he not draw in it with markers. That kind of thing.

For all 'common' items and all 'necessity' items, like markers, clay, scissors, kitchen items, blankets, pillows, food, the car, the bike, towels etc. that is a discipline issue, in the sense that we do have house rules, and ds is expected to learn and follow our example, and common items may not be ruined because a person was caught up in impulsive fun or indifferent laziness. *Those* are the items which I really stay on top of day to day, give reminders, lead by example, and make a consistent effort to instill in ds a sense of respectfulness and value.

I am going to say that 9 times out of 10 the problem I see with many children is that they are given ENTIRELY to many possessions. Also, children are growing and going through developmental changes all the time. They outgrow things in a way adults don't. So you will see them prize an object for a year, and then let it fall apart. But some of that is developmental. They need an adult to recognize the change, and perhaps say "You don't seem to use xyz anymore. Do you think little cousin Billy would like to borrow it for awhile?". I find ds had an easier time letting go if it was a 'loan' (which he almost never wanted back), rather than having to give up all ownership.
post #40 of 76
Quote:
And really, it REALLY IS just normal kids being kids. I don't know of any kids who treat their stuff with special care. EVERYTHING you've mentioned, every example, sounds typical to me. I'm sure neat kids exist-- I think I've heard stories before-- but it is not the norm. Really and truly.
LTB, I think this is a very American (or wealthy country) attitude. In my experience, in countries where kids don't have a ton of stuff the children do very much take care of their things because it is all they have. I agree with AngelBee that the disregard for things that you see around you is a product of having too much stuff and considering it all replaceable.

Also this idea that children are incapable of certain behaviors is very American. In many countries, 7 and 8 year olds are in total charge of the younger children in the family and they are able to handle the responsibility. I do not consider this a good thing, don't get me wrong, but to say that that age isn't developmentally capable of taking care of things is demonstrably untrue.
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