I've recently realized that my frustration with my kids has gotten way out of control, to the point that I'm saying really unkind things to them and yelling at them a lot. I also have decided to stop spanking and start being more compassionate toward my children. I've always shown them affection and told them I love them, but then would turn around and get angry and overwhelmed, and snap at them. I'm doing well with the no-spanking thing, but the no yelling thing is so much harder. It's become an ingrained habit.
The main problem is that my family is big. I have six children, all under ten, and I unschool. So it can get pretty loud and crazy sometimes. When the noise becomes to much, and kids are calling for my attention, and someone is crying, and someone else is tugging on my shirt, that's when I end up snapping at the nearest kid, who usually wasn't doing anything wrong, or nothing major, anyway. It makes me feel really bad. I know they don't feel like we listen to them, and there's never enough time to spend with each of them.
We used to belong to a conservative christian church that mandated every aspect of our lives, including requiring wives to be "quiverfull", popping out babies even if we couldn't afford it, it risked our lives, and we felt like the worst mothers in the world. We've escaped that life, and now I'd like to hear from other parents who have been where we've been--who were told that they had to spank their kids, that it was necessary, that you had to control every aspect of their lives to make them into good little soldiers, etc. I'd like to know how they handled the transition, and how they un-indoctrinated themselves from all the crap that they'd been brainwashed with over the years. I'm already a control freak-- add all that brainwashing into the mix, and I feel like I've basically been subconsciously programmed to take any and all freedom and choice away from my kids.
I want to learn how to let go, and give them more freedom and individuality. But asking for advice from moms who only have one or two kids doesn't help a lot. The typical "gentle parenting" answer when a child doesn't want to clean up and go eat is "let them eat what they want, when they want." Well...umm...that doesn't work for a family of eight. What if they all want different food? What if they all want to eat at different times? I'd like to not have to set up a cot next to the stove! And when they throw a fit because they need extra attention, I try to give it to them, but if I'm changing a poopy diaper, and someone is crying because someone else hit them, and a child comes up to me, having a meltdown, it's just not possible to stop everything and give that child all my attention. I used to be a mom of two children...it's a whole different situation, and what worked in that setting DOES NOT work in a family this size.
So I'd really like to know how other moms like me have handled it. (If there are any!) Trying to start attachment parenting/gentle parenting this late in the game, after ruling with an iron fist for ten years is a real challenge. How can I step aside and let them have some freedom, yet still keep enough order in the house that mealtime isn't complete chaos---and all without yelling or spanking?