I came home the other night from work, and the house was a mess. Every day, in the morning, I remind my kids to take care of their lunch boxes right when they get home. This way there isn’t a yogurt that they didn’t eat for lunch sitting unrefrigerated for hours.
The kids lunch boxes were still in their backpacks. I could tell, because I could see the backpacks lying open. Just thrown down on the floor. The blankets and pillows from the couches were spread out haphazardly too.
The thing that pushed me over the edge was the kitchen. There were dishes and glasses everywhere. I took a deep breath, and got down to cleaning up. My self talk while cleaning was “These kids never listen to me” and “I just wish they were more proactive about seeing what could be done to clean up.” When the kids came in from playing outside, they could tell I was upset. My Daughter asked me what was wrong. I caught myself. I didn’t get mad, yell or freak out. I paused.
I told her that I am upset with myself for not setting expectations clearly enough. I also thought that those expectations were a too intense for the kids. I realized that these expectations were selfish. What kids are “proactive” about cleaning anything? Yes I am a broken record. I ask them to do the same thing each day. Over and over. But all this came to me in a flash, as I answered my Daughters question.
All of my stress was my own doing.
I had several Open Loops from the work day that were playing in my subconscious. Earlier in the day, I had to partially complete a task, and promise myself I’d get to the rest of it after the kids were in bed. There’s an interesting issue we’re working on at Rigging Dojo. It’s taking up too many of our cycles. I was upset about those things more than the state of the house.
It’s a long tail. By being calm and consistent, the kids will understand, eventually. I just need to keep setting the example. The reward comes later. The reward is me seeing them understand as they get more independent themselves.
The time will run out. How many more times am I going to be able to say the same thing over and over? The kids are growing up quickly. All kids do. How many more times am I going to be able to wait for the bus with my son? How many more times will I get to ask my daughter if she’s unpacked her lunch box? Before I know it, they’ll be old enough to move out on their own. Blink and you miss it.
Help them help me. I need to help them understand what I want them to do. Setting the example and explaining why is important. Also, I need to find better ways of engaging them in the boring old routines of prepping for the day and cleaning up after it. I’m seriously considering backlogs and sprint. Agile family lifestyle. Yeah, I have issues.
The days are long and repetitive. The months and years fly by. One day, the kids will be not around to hear me repeat myself over and over. I need to find ways to cherish these times and broken records.
Broken Records image by Kymberly Janisch. Used via a Creative Commons License. Unmodified.