Thursday, July 10, 2008

On Working Full-Time

I have completely lost my authority in the Trenches.

I have been loathe to voice this aloud, hoping it would get better.

It has gotten worse.

I'm finding that I typically have to resort to "Do I need to go get Daddy?" "That's it, I'm telling your father!" threats before I can garner some sort of halfhearted (if that) response from the boyz.

I'm not used to this. It certainly wasn't the way I was raised. Growing up, my Mom was the authority and the disciplinarian. We were scared of her, not Dad.

Notsomuch in my Trenches.

I hate the fact that I can ask, then yell, then threaten and NOTHING works. All Hubby has to do is enter the room and give a look, dammit, and the boyz instantly respond.

I'm gone all day. I get home. Excited for the brief amount of time I get to spend with my children during the week.

Happy to be there.

I walk into the house at night, and dinner is usually on the table (I KNOW. He's a good man, that Hubby 'o Mine). After dinner, I ask the boyz to help clean up. I ask again. And again.

Then bathtime. I demand their presence upstairs. I yell for them again. And again.

During bath, I must say, "No hitting." "No fighting." "No splashing." about 100 times.

Time for pj's. I insist they get dressed. Over and over.

By this time (or even before that), I'm frustrated and worn down. Hubby usually has to step in to get them to mind me.

Not happy to be there.

I get that with 3 boyz, there inevitably will be chaos. Fighting. Rough-housing. Constant demands for my attention. I know. But am I expecting too much simply yearning for my words to mean something?

And then the guilt sets in. I'm gone 12 hours a day.

Half the time, lately, I feel like an intruder in my own home. The routines run smoother without me. The boyz behave better when I'm not around.

So it's a vicious cycle: It's hard to be gone; it's hard to be there.

And I'm not quite sure how to break it. What I am sure of? That what I'm doing now--my behaviors, responses and attitude?


Any suggestions?

Sure, we may look cute...


Theresa said...

I know what you are saying. I am having the same problems myself. I hate to have to yell. I hate it. But they ignore me. I have been pulling out the "I'll call dad." Many times lately. I am thinking about going to work full time in the fall. I was wondering if that would effect them too. Never an easy answer. Let me know if you figure something out.

Anonymous said...

aww friend, how could those little brown eyes disappoint their mother. Since I'm only mother to great dane I can't offer advice except call Super Nanny.

I hate to read you are frustrated. At least they are listening to one of you. I can totally picture Hubby's stern face. Hang in there...

Paula Reece said...

Oh, honestly, I think you are living the East Coast version of my life.

3 boys. THREE boys. That pretty much says it all. They are so fun and so UN-FUN at the same time. I have completely given in to the "I'm calling Daddy" card. I use it every time now. I seem to have no effect on them. In fact, the only person that seems to get upset when I yell or lecture or ask something AGAIN and AGAIN is ME. The few times I have tried to get their attention--REALLY get their attention (Yes, I mean spank), they have actually LAUGHED.

It's so hard because I want so badly to raise them to be respectful and responsible adults who treat their wife with kindness and pull their weight in the relationship. But if they completely ignore my repeated orders to clean their rooms, take out the dog, pick up their toys, take a bath, and quit fighting, will they do the same to their wife someday too?

As for the working thing, I completely understand your conflicted feelings. Right now I'm working 4 days a week, so I'm not quite full-time, but I have been a full-time working mom the rest of my time as a mommy. I work partly because I like it and mostly because we cannot afford for me NOT to work. Staying home is not an option. Maybe that's easier because I don't have to wrestle with the decision, but it definitely comes with its fair share of guilt. Now that the older two are in school, it's a bit easier because I don't feel like I'm missing out on quite as much at home, but my little guy will be 4 in a month and the thought of him being a "big boy" soon and starting school makes me want to cry. I feel like I blinked and his toddler years were gone. What will I remember?

Anyway, sorry for this loooong post, but I just wanted you to know that I think there is guilt no matter WHAT we do as moms. And I think that it's important for your boys to see you happy, doing something you enjoy and contributing to the family. As for getting them to listen, if I figure it out, I'll let you know.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I wish that I could help but I got nothing. I am in the same boat as you but with only one boy and the daddy part ain't working so much either. I have to threaten that he can't go to his sitter's house the next day to get him in line.

Kris said...

It's not easy!!! I always joke to my friends that I should stop speaking in Chinese to them. I do think behavior cycles though. It's a change with summer here and no school. I have certainly had "Mommy Guilt" we all have but hang in there!

Unknown said...

I'm so sorry you are going through this. #1 your husband needs to back you up when they don't listen to you. #2 there needs to be consequences when they don't listen to you and immediate ones at that.

We use the "Smart Discipline" system at our house and this has helped with the exact same problem. I just bought the book, not the whole system...and made the chart etc. at home for both kids on dry erase magnet boards. If you are interested in this email has really done wonders at our house, and when things get bad, it is because WE have slacked off on the program. I've blogged about it a few times.

The book is cheap and a VERY quick read.

amanda said...

wish i had some real advice...but all i got is revenge.

pretty sure you have an arm load of pictures that can be shown to girlfriends and future wives someday.

i know, that didn't help.

how bout a hug?

Amy said...

I cannot offer any advice. I remember doing this to my mom. My sister and I would be horrible and we just didn't fear anything she came up with, even spanking us. My dad, who never laid one hand on us, would walk in and say "behave" and we did it instantly. I can't explain it. She hated it.

Janet said...

I'm here all day and my kids have been craptastic listeners since school let out. I blame summer.

Anonymous said...

I could;ve written this post. My husband says the kids are great when he's home w/ them, but I get home and all hell breaks loose. I think part of it is that I don't have the patience I used to after dealing with work stuff all day, some is the guilt I feel and that I want to have "fun" time with them when I get home and some is them trying to get my attention in any way possible since they don't see me as much anymore.
I haven't figured out any solutions, but big hugs to you!

This Mom said...

The thing that seems to work with my boys, I have 3,as well, plus 2 girls :0), is to stop yelling. Walk over to them get at thier level look them right in the eye and tell them what I want. I do this once and while I am there I tell the the consiquence of what will happen if they don't do what they are being asked. Sometimes it takes more time than yelling but I usually get the response that I want. Especially if they have had the consequence before. For example, no video games, no treats, no story at bed time, or going to bed early. What ever their point of value is. They know that I mean what I say. I stay home with my kids and there are time because I am home all the time I feel like they ignore me. So don't think they ignore you because you work. they just ignore us because we are the MOM. Does that make you feel better? Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

We went through a bad phase of this in the wintertime, somewhere around January or February. Rather than simply killing the children and starting fresh (and a good thing, too, seeing as how we're not having much luck on that front), we got little calendars and hung them side-by-side on the wall. At the end of each day, each kid got a "grade" - a happy face, an "mmm" face (flat mouth) or a sad face. We had a vacation planned for March, so we tallied the faces for souvenir money, but good old-fashioned sibling rivalry helped, too - "Oh, look, somebody got lots of happy faces this week!"

They were totally based on *niceness*, not chores or homework or whatever. Just simple courtesy, listening, being non-irritating.

It didn't work overnight, and some days it didn't work at all... but after a week or so, it became part of the household vocabulary - "Oh, that's sounding like an mmm-face right there, how could you do it differently for a happy face today?"

It has since faded out, but we'll use it or something like it again as needed. My kids - and my style - don't seem to go well with constant behavior charts or marble jars or whatever, but when things feel out of control, having a visual/tangible display of their behavior seems to help everybody.

Enough babbling yet?

Manic Mommy said...

Thank God for Shannon because like every other commenter, I'm comin' up empty. I'm home full time too and thinking the kids were far better behaved when they were with the sitter. Maybe it's me?

Anyway, my only small bit of advice is that I've started a sticker chart for each of them that includes things like "does what is asked the first time" and "whole day of good behavior". when the whole chart is filled, they get 'a special treat'

It's only day two, but the five year old is *pumped* especially since he had input into the categories.

iheartchocolate said...

You know what is weird, I have noticed this around my house too. If my husband is home, he says something ONCE, with me, it's like 10 times. Even my teenager is more afraid of him. I think, if they know you are going to act quickly with any consequences (i'd crack some tails in my house) then maybe they would listen to you. Not that you don't, but I don't. I am lazy about it. I need to take my own advice I think.

Shauna Loves Chocolate said...

The boyz WILL get used to this new arrangement and they will 'come around.' This is likely their way of expressing that they aren't happy with the change (they miss you, too). But, it will get better. Because kids are resilient.

MarĂ­a said...

I have no advice, only hugs.


Mom of 5 said...

It's the same in my house. Daddy says things ONCE and they listen. I have to repeat myself over and over. It even works on baby when she won't go to bed at night. He goes in there once and tells her to lay down, and she's immediately silent.

I just do the best I can. I know they are good kids. My proof is the absolute praise I get every time they visit someone else. they have good manners. They listen, they clean up after themselves. Somehow, my lessons and nagging are sinking in. I just wish I could get the same behavior out of them that everyone else gets.

I have no advice. If there's a magic cure to this, I'm all eyes and ears.

In (Not So) Perfect Balance said...

Wow, at first I thought you were talking about my life (but then I read the all boyz). I have NO IDEA why my kids scatter when they hear my hubby bark and literally don't glance my way at mine or why boys INSIST on roughhousing.

What I do know-this is why wine was invented.

Hang in there! I have NO suggestions. SO helpful. I know. However, I emphathize b/c I live the same life. :o) It is good to know we are all going down together.

MB :o)


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