Mom . . . Mom . . . Mom, Mom, Mom, MOM!!!! Anyone else ready to change their name? I was first in line for name changing until I realized that the interruptions were my own fault. WHAT?!?!? Yep – the interruptions were my fault. Huh? How?
- I hadn’t given clear boundaries about when and how to interrupt.
The boys would come to me every time they found a bug, needed to use the restroom, imagined someone was picking on them and so forth. And as if that wasn’t frustrating enough, they would YELL from across the house. Adrenaline rush – crash – irradiation that follows, every time. Now, we have a simple set of boundaries, we call it blood, flood or brick walls. During independent work time, the boys may come to me if there is visible blood, if there is a flood of water, beverage or bodily fluid or if they are up against a brick wall. To be considered up against a brick wall, they need to have spent time considering the struggle and have at least two ways they have tried to figure it out on their own before coming to me. There is also no more yelling for mom across the house. When you need her, you come to the room she is in and wait. Moments after they come into the room – often I need to finish the sentence I’m writing or ask the person on the phone to wait for one moment – I ask “blood, flood or brick wall.” They respond and we go from there. If there is an answer with anything except blood, flood or brick wall, I remind them of the boundaries and send them on their way. With this system in place, everyone feels seen, heard and calm. It has served us well for over a year now.
- I didn’t make sure the boys had the tools and materials they needed before they were sent off to be independent.
How would you feel if someone asked you to bake a cake and then left you without any ingredients or utensils to use? Frustrated, yes? Would you go and ask the person for the tools you needed? I think you would. Yet, we sometimes ask our children to go and do something but we do not make sure they have the tools and materials they need. Then, when they come back to us, we are agitated. Does your child have a pencil? Is it sharp? Where is the workbook? Is there a website you need to open for him or do you need to help her plug the mouse into the computer? Do they mentally have the tools they need? Did you take the time to make sure they know and understand the directions? Has the concept been well introduced and is he at a level of independent application? If you’ve been around for a minute, you know that I’m a huge advocate for making sure you have all your ducks in a row for the week on Sunday. This helps me to know that there are not going to be moments where I haven’t provided the tools and materials. We also take time before we head off to independent work to review the directions, expectations and I check in to see if they feel confident in the skills they are being asked to work on.
- I failed to help them practice working on their own.
Believe it or not, people are not born knowing how to do all the things by themselves – we need to be taught. Learning to work independently is no different. Though setting aside a week or so to teach your children to work independently may seem like a huge commitment, I want you consider how much time it will give you back once they feel know what to do. Take the time. Sit next to them. Yes, you can be working on something separate; as long as, you can stop frequently to provide reminders, help, prompts, redirection, etc, but please take the time.
- I was asking them to work independently too long without a break or a check in with me.
We are social beings. The length of time a child can work without taking a break or checking in will vary by age. My oldest can easily go about 90 minutes, where my second grader lasts about an hour and my kindergartener goes about 30 minutes. Mind you, those times are when school is involved. All of them can play independently much longer. Schedule in breaks. Create check-in times and stick with them.
So, there you have it. I created my own frustration. I created my own mess. Then I stepped back, saw what was going on a made a change. You can do the same. Keep it smart. Keep it simple. Keep the name Mom.