Gentile discipline for large families - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 08-09-2011, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have 4 boys ages 7, 4.5, 2.5, and 6mths. They are good kids but I am overwhelmed with the usual daily duties. The advice I see seems fitting for a family of maybe 1 or 2 kids but I have a hard time implementing them in my case. It basically boils down to time, and my nerves. With 4, I no longer have to option to blow off things like laundry and emptying the dishwasher because the sheer volume of it all makes it impossible. I can't say"no laundry today in favor of -fill in the blank-. If my 2yo decides he wants run away when I need to get his shoes on, there is not enough time in the day to make a silly game out of it umpteen times a day. I don't have time for long talks and discussions over every little thing. I'm pulled in 4 directions constantly and my nerves are exposed and frayed because of it.
I need some ideas for discipline for big families so I can stop the cycle of irritation, yelling, remorse for yelling, then apologizing. My kids deserve better and I want to enjoy them more.

Any help?
Thanks
Amy

Mama to DS1 (4/04) DS2 (HBAC 11/06) DS3 (HBAC 12/08) DS4 (HBAC 1/11). Wife to one handsome hard working DH.
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#2 of 9 Old 08-09-2011, 02:40 PM
 
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I am curious, too. I will soon have 3 boys.


Mama of 3 little boys - DS1 4/08, DS2 4/09, DS3 12/11

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#3 of 9 Old 08-09-2011, 05:24 PM
 
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Well, I will put in a caveat here that I don't do as loose of "gentle discipline" as many do here.  I try very hard not to spank out of anger or frustration, with 99% success rate.  Yelling, I don't do quite as well.  I have a very loose expectation for housekeeping.

 

First of all, you are at the crisis point, both in where you're at, as well as the ages of your kids.  As they get older, especially the older 2, it will get better.  If they don't get cheerfully into the car seat, the choice I offer is to get in cheerfully or get in cranky, they still have to get in.  I don't let them take a lot of time and mess around.  I feel very comfortable walking away from a situation which would escalate into a power struggle and I try to save overriding for things like getting into the carseat when we're in a hurry.

 

I try to start the dishwasher every night before I go to bed, and I have a loose schedule for laundry.  I try to schedule at least an hour per day for food preparation.  I personally try to eat fairly healthy for lots of reasons, but I lose it easily when I've had too much sugar and not enough balanced protein and vegetables.  I often eat dinner *before* calling my children to the table, or we go ahead and start after one call because the rest "aren't interested."  We try to pick our battles and be relaxed.

 

I try to get the main rooms all cleaned up once per week, and their rooms are usually a mess.  We try to get everything really clean a few times per year, but it is a constant struggle for us.  Usually decluttering helps.

 

I have 5 kids, 12, 11, 7, 5 and 2.  It is very very hard when the baby is little; it gets easier, IMO, after the baby is 1.  I also found parenting to be some level of easier when the oldest was 8 and 9 instead of 6 and 7.

 

Most of all, I'm just posting to say that we've been where you are, and I didn't necessarily find going to 5 was harder than going to 4, except trying to accommodate the needs of an infant with the schedule of a middle schooler.  IDK if you're also homeschooling; my kids attend school, but they're having a great summer, playing together.  We try to get out of the house several times per week when they're all here; it's better and at least then they're not trashing the house.  Hang in there, muddle through.  If you can get help with *something* it can really help.  We have help with mowing our lawn this year, and it has given me back 2 hours in my week.  It's a big deal!  :)  Maybe a mother's helper can help you find some sanity 2 afternoons per week or something like that.  Good luck.

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#4 of 9 Old 08-09-2011, 06:01 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Phoebe View Post

I have 4 boys ages 7, 4.5, 2.5, and 6mths. They are good kids but I am overwhelmed with the usual daily duties. The advice I see seems fitting for a family of maybe 1 or 2 kids but I have a hard time implementing them in my case. It basically boils down to time, and my nerves. With 4, I no longer have to option to blow off things like laundry and emptying the dishwasher because the sheer volume of it all makes it impossible. I can't say"no laundry today in favor of -fill in the blank-. If my 2yo decides he wants run away when I need to get his shoes on, there is not enough time in the day to make a silly game out of it umpteen times a day. I don't have time for long talks and discussions over every little thing. I'm pulled in 4 directions constantly and my nerves are exposed and frayed because of it.
I need some ideas for discipline for big families so I can stop the cycle of irritation, yelling, remorse for yelling, then apologizing. My kids deserve better and I want to enjoy them more.

Any help?
Thanks
Amy


:hugs: Amy,

I'm not the best person to answer this question because I don't practice "Gentle Discipline" entirely as described by many (although I am MUCH moreso than how I was raised).  I am inferring from your post, however, that you may be confusing GD with a subcategory called Consensual Living. (If Timmy doesn't want to put on his shoes, he doesn't have to.)  I do not practice CL with my chidlren.  What may give me some qualification to answer your post, however, is that I do have a large family.

 

I think a key to understanding discipline (as opposed to punishment) is that the whole point of discipline is to train and guide - not to harshly punish, but not to cajole and plead with either.

 

So, going off of the examples you gave...  I think one way to deal with the large logistical load of living in a large family is to keep the Littles with you.  While I know this is tiresome at first, I think it is less time-consuming than trying to do your work independently and having to put out fires with the youngsters every 15 minutes.  While I am expecting #7, only 4 live at home presently: 18yo DS, 5yo DS, 3yo DD, and 1yo DD.  (My 2 older DDs are out of the house.)  3yo and 1yo spend a lot of time helping Mommy with laundry and dishes.  I know where they are and if I'm directing them, there is less chance of hassles that derail me away from the work for long periods of time.

 

As far as getting a Little to get his shoes on when told, I don't cajole either.  It's time to leave, you need your shoes on, period.  Two year olds are living beings that deserve to be raised with their dignity intact.  They are not, however, 22yos who can be reasoned with.  Natural consequences don't even work that well with 2yos because their memory banks and attention-spans are so short. 

 

<<I'm pulled in 4 directions constantly and my nerves are exposed and frayed because of it.
I need some ideas for discipline for big families so I can stop the cycle of irritation, yelling, remorse for yelling, then apologizing. My kids deserve better and I want to enjoy them more.>>

 

So, when I'm doing this right (which is definitely not all the time - I'm 10 weeks pregnant right now and fatigue and nausea often get the better of me), I don't let the cycle start.  I try to stop before the irritation sets in.  First, I try to make sure everyone is eating and sleeping before the lack thereof creates a crisis (including ME!)  I try to schedule as little as possible during this season of life.  The reality is that I cannot be running to town, appointments, or on errands several times a week.  It is not our family's season for homeschool co-op or any kind of lessons outside the home.  It is our season for getting a good foundation with these Littles and maintaining the homefront so we are all happier.  Even as recently as 2 years ago our home was the family gathering place for all major holidays.  That's on hiatus for a season.  Here recently, since the Morning Sickness kicked in and the dishwasher broke, we've taken to using paper plates for most meals and cereal for breakfast (I usually cook a hot breakfast).  What works for me is scaling back to the bare essentials so I am at my best for the children right now.  As they grow and this season passes, then I can reassess and see what can be added back on.  (Oh, I would also employ everyone but the 6mo in the work.  The 7yo is definitely old enough to empty the dishwasher if he can reach where the dishes go.  He is old enough to set and clear tables, sweep, etc..  The 4.5yo is old enough to empty the bathroom trashcans, etc...  The 3 oldest are certainly old enough to help sort laundry and to put away their folded laundry and even match socks.  The 7yo should be able to fold clothes that aren't too complex.  Lots of time and energy go into training, but in 5yo you'll be breathing SO much easier!)

 

Good luck, Mama - and hang in there!  This, too, shall pass!


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#5 of 9 Old 08-10-2011, 06:01 AM
 
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I don't think you have to blow off things like dishes and laundry in order to practice GD.  I don't think GD is about long discussions either, especially with young children.  It sounds like you feel overwhelmed in general, so perhaps you need to take a bit of time to take care of yourself-get as much sleep as you can and have your dh and kids pitch in to help out.  My youngest is 7 and could certainly put dishes in a dishwasher(if we had one;)) and unload it.  The 4.5 and 7 y/o could help sort laundry and do general picking up.  If the 2 y/o runs away at shoe time, sure you can play a game but perhaps if time is short you stick the shoes in your purse or bag and go out the door.


Cathy mom to 13 y/o DD, 10 y/o DD, 7 y/o DS

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#6 of 9 Old 08-12-2011, 11:42 PM
 
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I have almost 7, 4.5, 2.5 and 8 months.  It's crazy...today I just about called sleeping night-shift Daddy from the fair because we were ready to leave and the oldest was well, taking himself back in...thankfully he turned around when he realized I really WAS NOT following him.

I agree, I just do not have time to sit and make absolutely everything CL.  I used to think this was the way to try and be and I just could not do it.  Sorry, it's not an option of whether or not you want to come when I call your name.  If I say it's time to take a shower, it is time, there's 2 showers and 7 of us, it is time!  Shoes are not optional.  Neither is allowing me to make sure your shoes and clothing fit.  Neither are diaper changes, and we ARE going to do it NOW--quickly, with a little game, maybe but NOT chasing around the house.  Nudity is not an option, I have a tall glass door and too many close neighbors for that.  Etc etc

 

The siblings fight....I accepted this as normal for awhile too.  Not anymore.  I can't take it and I'm not willing to live the rest of my life with people I do not want to be seen with in public.

 

Some here might say what I did today was mean.  I  had to do something.  The child in question took off into the fair instead of coming when called so I could talk to him, then when I decided we were leaving since my biggest safety rules had been broken, this one hit me and decided a seatbelt for the ride home was optional.  I had a screaming baby, exhausted toddler, and a buckled-and-behaving other child...I drove.  I then took the one who had followed the rules and the baby on a short outing to the library.  Point--when you are well past the age of 2 and can't follow basic respect and safety rules, your butt stays home.  And yup, I will drag said butt out of my vehicle if that's what it takes.


lovin DH since 1/04, best mom for my 3 boys 10/04, 11/08, 11/10 one girlie (1/07), one 13 wk (10/13) and 5/15 just your average multigenerational living family!!
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#7 of 9 Old 08-13-2011, 02:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peaceful_mama View Post

 

 

Some here might say what I did today was mean.  I  had to do something.  The child in question took off into the fair instead of coming when called so I could talk to him, then when I decided we were leaving since my biggest safety rules had been broken, this one hit me and decided a seatbelt for the ride home was optional.  I had a screaming baby, exhausted toddler, and a buckled-and-behaving other child...I drove.  I then took the one who had followed the rules and the baby on a short outing to the library.  Point--when you are well past the age of 2 and can't follow basic respect and safety rules, your butt stays home.  And yup, I will drag said butt out of my vehicle if that's what it takes.


Sounds like natural consequences to me.  "If you can't obey the rules when we're out in public together, you won't be going out in public with me."  We learn from lots of things - and discomfort is a good teacher.
 

 


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#8 of 9 Old 08-13-2011, 08:35 PM
 
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I only have two kids and I have a cleaner/nanny come five days a week (while both DH and I work full time) and I am frequently at my wits' end.  I think that A) you need to cut yourself some slack and let go of the guilt.  You are a human being and maybe they won't see that now, but in time they will and it certainly sounds like your love and commitment out weighs the yelling and anger, and B) get orgnaized and delegate.

 

There are some things you might be able to do to help manage the situation.

 

Developing a schedule and having a contigency plan is important when you have two, so I would say it would be double important with 4.  If everyone is well fed, and well rested, the energy to play nice and be nice is easier.  This might mean investing in a helper once a week or more to help with menial tasks, or to look after the LOs while you sleep.  Or it could look like enlisting your DH to take the odd night shift so you can sleep, and unwind. The motto in our house is a tired mommy is a cranky mommy.  The same goes for the kids.  The 7 yo can play restfully once a day and getting the over 2s to bed in time for them to have a solid 10-12 hours is really important.  Naps or quiet time is a great way to A) break up the day into manageable slots (I sometimes feel really overwhelmed if DD has her nap too early and I realize I have another 7 hours before she will be ready for bed...and again that's with just one more child of a much older age) I imagine your littlest isn't STTN yet,  but if you can coordinate at least one family nap/quiet time, it should give you time to sleep a little too.  Sleep deprivation does bad things to nice people. 

 

It's also very important for me to have snacks for me and the kids.  When I am thinking straight and want to make sure I have a good day out with the kids, I make sure I have a virtual grocery store in my purse.  Juice boxes, nuts, peanut butter crackers, fruit, chocolate (that's usually for me but can come in handy for bribing which I am not above resorting to when push comes to shove.), and I never wait until I hear "I'm hungry" because by then it is too late.  Game over.  Meltdown in T minus 10, 9, 8...

 

I also have had fights about shoes.  If my son wants to go out  without shoes, I pop them in my bag as a PP mentioned.  Then when he is strapped in, and I get in the front and put on some fun music and turn around and put them on.  At the age of 2.5 I found shoes were less annoying of a battle when he really loved his shoes.  I got him these white canvas tennis shoes and a pack of sharpies and let him decorate his own shoes.  He was much more keen to wear them then.  He also loves his rain boots because if he wears them he is allowed to splash in any puddles, so he's stoked to wear them.  I love rain boots too because it means absolutely no laces or pulling, just slip on and go.  Yes, he looks silly in shorts and a tank top and giant Red rubber boots, but then he's six, so who  cares? With DD it is such a hassle putting on shoes, sometimes, especially if we have an early departure the next day, I put them on her before bed (which she find HILLARIOUS) after her bath and let her sleep in them.  Then they are already on in the AM and no fighting or tantrums.

 

Keep them busy (well, the mobile one's anyway.)  My DS is just  more amicable when he is doing something to contribute to the home and family.  Read a book to your sister.  Tidy up the toys.  Weed the garden.  Wash the dishes.  The more he does the easier we get along and less likely he is to idly reach over and pinch his sister for no good reason.

 

I think using logical consequences (different from natural consequences, which are a direct cause and effect thing, these are logically linked to the action, like the example Peaceful mama gave..can't behave in public, you can't come out in public with me until you show me you can), and restorative justice rather than punitive measures and retalliation, is the best anyone can hope for as a parent.  I don't think you  need long conversations or game playing, but you may need more resources and routine.  I also really hope someone pays for you to get a house keeper to help you.

 

You're human, and you're nursing a new baby...your nerves are literally exposed and chaffed every day.  It's no wonder you feel overwhelmed.  This will pass, and your kids will forgive you the outbursts and frustration (at least by the time they have their own kids.).  As long as you keep questioning yourself, and reflecting on how to do better, you're doing great!  Don't let guilt take over.  Being human   is allowed.


Rebekah - mom to Ben 03/05 and Emily 01/10, a peace educator, and a veg*n and wife to Jamie.
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#9 of 9 Old 08-14-2011, 07:55 AM
 
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I have four kids - ages 8 1/2, 6 1/2, 4 and 16 months. We are a consensual living family. I can't imagine any other way. Life does get easier as the kids get older and can do more on their own. CL doesn't have to mean a long drawn out discussion about every single thing. It means working together and respecting everyone as a person in order to meet everyone's needs.


Mom to Eoin (11/02), Eilis (09/04), Eamon (07/07), and Ellery (04/10)
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