Updated: Jun 2, 2020
Hello Ladies, I hope everyone’s Memorial Day was jovial despite the quarantine circumstances. What did you all do? We had a quiet Memorial Day. My dad made my favorite dad dish, chicken Florentine over linguini. I ate like three bowls (don’t judge me, if you’ve ever had his chicken Florentine you would have done it too. I regret nothing.) I have been having an amazing mom week. My daughter and I got into a nice routine. Our old routine was usually comprised of my little princess waking my fiancé and me up at an ungodly hour of the morning. The reason for the awakening; she’s hungry, thirsty, tired, has to potty, or just wants to know if we are awake. Let me tell you, there is no one thirstier than a child who is supposed to be asleep. Once the washing up was done, we would do breakfast, then school work, followed by tantrums about school work. Then the battle royale over naptime ensues. I like to think I am a progressive mom, who thinks outside the box. So obviously I thought, “poor baby being quarantined away from her friends must be so stressful for her let me just put this stressful school work away. We can work on it another time.” By the first week of May, I found her neglected homework camouflaged amongst the mess that was my work paperwork. Her three weeks’ worth of homework stacked upon my desk, was a prominently displayed accusation of my taking the ineffective lenient approach because it was easier not because it was better.
Well Trained Mom
The week before Memorial Day, I found Carmen’s homework buried under work paperwork on my desk. I instantly felt embarrassed. How did I manage to let Carmen’s homework get away from me to this extent? In truth, my daughter had me well-trained because my older boys would never have gotten away with neglecting their studies. They would have screamed, cried, and gotten an attitude, and when they were done, they would have done their homework. It was not about playing favorites or treating my sons differently than my daughter. It was about trying a different parenting approach. I wanted to make sure my daughter did not hate school. I wanted her to associate learning with something positive. When she screamed and threw tantrums, I thought I was being progressive. I was reinforcing the idea that school is lovely and positive. Learning is supposed to be a fun experience. Unfortunately, the situation was not fun for me, nor was it getting any better. The moment that I found three weeks’ worth of Carmen’s homework, I realized that I was being duped by a beautiful and extremely intelligent five-year-old.
Are You Done?
The very next day, I decided that it was time to put my foot down when she woke me up at 5:30 in the morning. She wanted to remind me to feed her (because you know… we need to be reminded sometimes; yes, this is sarcasm.) Instead of having her wash up and play for a while, I sent her back to bed. She screamed and woke up the entire house. When I asked her if she was done, she looked at me like I just betrayed her in the worst way. I started to feel bad. I looked at her face and saw the hurt in her eyes. Her lower lip poked out ever so slightly and began quiver. My resolve began to falter. Was I ruining her childhood? Am I going to be the reason my daughter will hate school, like inappropriate men, and tell her therapist in detail how I ruined her life? (Yes, that escalated from zero to therapist quickly.) The caterwauling continued, and I thought of her three weeks’ worth of homework that she expertly trained me to ignore. This was for her own good I have to stick to my guns. I told her more firmly to get back in bed. She eventually stopped crying and went back to bed. For the first time since the quarantine, my fiancé and I were able to sleep past 7am. I woke her up around 8am fed her, and got her started on her school work. The tantrums began, and once again, I asked her, “Are you done yet?” She was not amused, but I stuck with it. Amidst the shrieks, she paused to take a breath. Then she would look at me to see if there was a reaction. I told her that it’s okay to feel frustrated, it’s okay to cry, but when she is done, she will complete her homework. Sufficed to say, this brought on more crying. My sons decided that based on their extensive parenting experience, that they would give me parenting tips. “Give her Pa Pow! No, no, she should stand in the corner! Maaaaaawwmmm! Can’t we just give her what she wants? This isn’t fair to any of us, I am trying to study!” Again, my resolve began to falter. It’s easy to plan on being tough, it’s completely different to follow through when the tantrums start. I was beginning to feel frustrated as 30 minutes of tantrums turned into an hour of tantrums. Between her screams and the boys’ complaints, I wanted to give in. If only for the sake of restoring the harmony of the household. My stomach tightened, and I was trying not to yell. I could feel my temper rising, and the icing on the cake was Jonathan beginning to show signs of agitation. I was about to have two full-blown tantrums on my hands. I sent Jonathan to his safe place, and I took a break too. I let Carmen have a recess while I went to my room to breathe and relax.
I took a break from my baby and asked myself if I was doing this mom thing all wrong. I put my foot down, and now she’s miserable, I am miserable, and everyone in the house is miserable. How did we get here? I focused on inhaling and exhaling. I stopped thinking about what I may be doing wrong at the moment, and I focused on all the things I am doing right. My daughter is loved. She has high expectations of everyone around her. Not if, but when we get these tantrums under control, she will also be an amazing student. I spent the next 30 min with my eyes closed, breathing in and out. 30 min turned into an hour of pure relaxation. (Okay, I fell asleep, but sleeping counts as relaxation.)
Usually, I would take this break and decide that whatever the issue is, it is not worth upsetting my daughter and possibly ruining her childhood, life, or her psyche. My threenager has surpassed fournado. She was now a full blow fivenager who had conquered my household. My queendom was usurped by my very own princess. I told myself, this day would be different because I am rebelling against my tiny tyrant. The Mom Rebellion would continue, and my dainty dictator would be deposed. I took a deep breath, stepped out of my room, and sent my baby right back to the table to finish her work.
Surrendering to the Momarchy
My daughter sat at the table and did her homework quietly. There was some fussing in the beginning, but once I reminded her that no matter how much she cries, homework was happening, she settled in and did it. I fed her lunch and gave her a popsicle for doing a great job on her homework. Then the moment of truth, I was about to send her to take a nap, and I braced for the tantrums. However, she was so exhausted from the tantrums she threw earlier in the day, she got up and took herself to bed. Victory! I repeated this process daily until it was what she expected every single day. Naps are still touch and go situation, but we are getting there. There is less of a fight from her to do her homework, she enjoys it now, and I am enjoying my hard-won peace.
There is no right way to mom. Most of it is trial and error, and we never get it right the first time. The important thing is not to be afraid to reset and switch gears. When something you are trying is not working, do not wait until you have three weeks’ worth of homework sitting on your desk, and your child screaming in your face before you switch tactics. Try new things, keep things that work toss things that don’t. Do not listen to the tiny voice inside of you that says you are doing it wrong. Definitely do not listen to judgey moms. You are merely exploring your mom options, and every mom’s journey is different. Thank you so much for joining me for Mom Monday. Join me today and every Monday, and as always, ladies, you are doing just fine.
How did you deal with the idea of structure during Quarantine? Tell me below!