Last Sunday I sat down beside Andrew on our couch, a freshly poured glass of red wine swirling around in one hand, a book balanced in the other. I began to read. Out loud.
The girls had put on a performance earlier that afternoon, in our car, and while my weary nerves craved netflix, my desire to figure this out reigned clear. Figure what out, you may be wondering? How two kind hearted little souls could fight with the commitment of two professional MMA fighters while we tried every negotiation we could think of while sipping cold coffee and navigating through the most boring drive in the history of mankind. I knew what the problem was. They were bored.
Looking back I know we made a few key mistakes. We packed one portable dvd player, a bag of animal crackers and little else. It was only a 2 hour trip. We'd taken several much longer trips during the summer armed with an arsenal of distractions. It was totally our fault.
But then I started thinking. The fighting has been interspersed with blissful half hour bouts of agreement but it has still happening - all of the time. There has also been a return of the tantrum. My chest just started to burn thinking about how rod straight our one daughter gets when she's in the throws of a good freak out. I know this is normal. I don't expect perfection, but whenever something seems off for a while I get to the point where I can't handle it anymore.
That is the point when I reach for Discipline Without Distress. That night Andrew and I realized that we've been making life way harder for ourselves than it needs to be. Apparently our daughters should be doing duties.
Monday morning was Thanksgiving, and while no actual turkey factored into our day, we made it count for other (self serving) reasons. While the girls ate breakfast and we gulped coffee we introduced them to the wonderful world of familial duties. Starting small was how we began - asking Alice to tell us what needs to happen between the time she wakes up and when we leave for school. The next morning the difference was REMARKABLE.
It's now Wednesday and (fingers crossed) the duties have made a major dent in the boredom. Apparently there are cultures where the children don't have actual toys but just follow their parents around all day, helping with whatever the parent is doing. No sarcasm intended here, this just never dawned on my first world raised self.
Do your kids go through these bored phases too? Have you tried getting them to help you around the house? What's worked for you?
P.S. another awesome parenting book.