You guys, having my kids home for the summer has been both wonderful and exhausting. Wonderfully exhausting. Exhaustingly wonderful.
But, above all, it's been eye opening.
The other day, as I was relishing in my role as "The Chore Monitor," inspecting whether my kids' chore completion passed my high standards, my own hypocrisy was thrown right in my face. Which got me paying attention and noting the many things I require of my kiddos that I, as an adult, fail to do.
Here are just a few examples of how I’m a total hypocrite.
Clean Your Room
Parents from the beginning of time have been imploring their kids to clean their rooms, pick up their toys, or some version of, “Your things are everywhere and it’s driving me crazy!”
We fondly remember our homes before kids. Remember that? When a living room stayed cleaned for weeks instead of hours and when the only person to blame for a disaster was ourselves?
Now, there’s all this STUFF.
Each family member added to the mix multiplies the clutter factor exponentially and keeping it under control becomes a full-time job.
Cleaning your room is on my kids’ daily chore list. No more piles of toys or clothes. No dirty socks on the floor or books strewn about. A neat and tidy space to begin the day is the goal.
And then there’s my bedroom.
After several weeks of vacation and all the packing, re-packing and laundry associated, my bedroom has reached an all-time low. Unmade bed, piles of clothes, shoes, collections of things to return, used tissues, books, jewelry, piles to drop off at Goodwill, frames waiting to be hung on the walls.
Deep down, I’d like my bedroom to be an oasis. A tranquil escape from reality. A glorious place of rest and refreshment.
But, apparently I don’t like that idea as much as I like A MILLION OTHER THINGS.
Partially I blame the fact that I’m also responsible for several (read: all) other rooms in our home. I pick up the kitchen, family room, bathrooms, etc. and by the time my bedroom comes up on the list, I’m exhausted. And since no one but my husband and me even see our bedroom, it’s always last on the list.
So, as I yell at my kids to get their rooms picked up, I silently close the door to mine hoping they won’t notice.
No More Screen Time
It feels like my kids and I are in a constant, screen-time tug-o’-war. They want more, I want less and we’re in ongoing negotiations about the subject.
I can tell when my kids have had too much screen time. Their eyes glaze over, they absolutely lose their minds over the smallest of issues, and they suddenly forget how to do anything that isn’t electronically-wired. Go outside? Too hot. Play with their toys? They’re boring. Use their imagination? Huh?
Nothing drives me more bonkers than trying to talk with my children and they can’t be bothered to look up from the screen. “Pause the game and look at me,” is my polite request. Polite until I've said it 10 times and then the scary mom voice comes out and everyone is terrified. I have zero tolerance for screens and their effects on my kids.
How often is my head buried in my phone? Looking down, scrolling through the screen, I guiltily nod and mumble agreement at all the right times while my kids tell me stories, all the while mindlessly catching up on who knows what email, tweet, or post.
I haven't watched a tv show or movie at home with my full attention in months. It’s 10 pm and my husband wisely heads up to bed while I continue pinning or online shopping.
Then the endless, digital rabbit trails suck me into a time vacuum and suddenly it’s 11:20 pm, my phone lost power and I collapse bleary-eyed into bed only to wake up cranky, sure to lose my patience with my kids multiple times throughout the day.
I’ve become equally dependent on screens for entertainment. A little downtime between appointments? Phone. Eating lunch by myself? Phone. Something to fill the quiet while I get ready for the day? Phone.
As I order my kids off the computer/tablet/video game deck, I think I need a self-imposed, technology time out, too.
Finish Your Chores Before You Play
Work hard, play hard. Fun is always a great incentive for finishing up the tasks which need to be done and, as a mom, I require my kids to get their chores completed before they move on to something fun whether that be playing outside, screen time, day camps or a family adventure. There’s nothing like the sense of accomplishment and freedom that comes with not having work hanging over your head while you’re trying to enjoy yourself.
But, I really need to do a better job mothering myself these days.
I’ve had a landscaping project on the back burner for three months now. Half-way completed, it stares me in the face each time I come home.
Oh, I have all kinds of excuses:
- The weather has been HOT, HOT, HOT this summer.
- I’m lacking vision for how to best fill the space.
- We need different/better tools for the job.
But the truth is: I’d simply rather go to the pool.
I’d like to organize our basement storage room and rearrange our office, too. But, I’ve chosen to play instead.
I tell myself that I’ll tackle these projects once the weather turns cooler, the kids go back to school, and there’s no more fun to be had, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that right now, TODAY, I’m doing A LOT of playing with many of my chores left undone.
Be Ready To Go On Time
Punctuality isn’t just a good habit, it’s a wonderful character trait. Showing up on time communicates how much you value others and their time.
I’m the time keeper in the family, knowing when we need to leave and how long it will take to get out the door. I’m often heard giving “10 minutes until we’re leaving” warnings followed by “Hurry up!” (x 100 ). Nothing can get me hotter than coming downstairs to leave and one of the kids is still sitting on the couch playing electronics in his pajamas!
But, while I’m generally a pretty punctual person...
...I’m guilty of trying to squeeze in that last email or final wipe down of a counter or last laundry load switch before I leave. It’s these final tasks that put me five minutes behind schedule.
When my kids cause us to be late, I’m livid. When I’m late, I’m full of grace. Hypocrite!
Keep Your Things Organized
Last spring my son couldn’t find one of his soccer socks. We had one tall, red sock, but not a second. His first game of the season was just days away and he was in panic mode. I joined him in his search efforts all the while offering running commentary about how his soccer socks were supposed to be stored in his closet with the rest of his uniform and if he’d only put the socks with the rest of the uniform we wouldn’t be spending the past hour looking for them.
We never found the sock. We had to buy a new pair for $10. (The sock was found six months later behind his dresser.) I was so irritated about the missing sock and my son’s total lack of organization of his things.
Until a few weeks later...
...when I searched high and low in my own room for my favorite pair of earrings. And a few days after that when I couldn’t find the new book of stamps I’d just purchased. And then there was the second birthday present I had to buy for my son’s friend because the first one was “temporarily misplaced.”
Every time I launch into a lecture about organization, I should hold a mirror up to myself and take a deep, hard look.
Say You’re Sorry
If I ask my kids to apologize to each other once a day, I do it 50 times a day. It’s the soundtrack of our lives:
- “Tell your sister you’re sorry and ask her to forgive you.”
- “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
- “I forgive you.”
- Repeat, repeat, repeat.
We’re not perfect at enforcing this, but we encourage our kids to settle their issues immediately and not let their frustrations, hurts, or anger build.
And then there’s me.
My husband is always quick to apologize and take responsibility for situations in our marriage. And for a lot of years, I let him. Previously I’d been in a dating relationship where I was blamed for everything, so it was very refreshing to have someone own his stuff and sincerely apologize for it.
But, because we all know it takes two to tango, I certainly had a share in the disagreement. I knew it. He knew it. Yet, I was all too often happy to let my husband own the lion’s share of the responsibility. “Oh, you’re gonna take the blame? Cool, I’ll let you.”
Now, I’ve come a long ways since those early years of marriage and I’m now willing to accept responsibility for my own contributing actions. But, I’m not always too quick to do so.
I want to be mad first. I want to feel entitled and right and superior first.
It’s gross. It’s immature.
I’m sure there are a dozen other areas where I’m a hypocritical parent, but these are the ones jumping out to me right now.
Wow. Parenting is a funny thing, isn’t it? You glimpse both your best and worst qualities on an hourly basis. The inconsistency between my parenting rules and my personal adherence to those rules is eye-opening.
And there’s part of me that feels kind of sheepish and vows to do better.
But, the other part of me says, "Who am I kidding? If I haven’t figured out a home organization plan by now, it ain't happening."
But, my kids? They still have a chance, right?
So, I’ll admonish, cajole, remind and threaten as needed. After all, my goal is to raise a better version of myself.
Hey, kids: Do as I say and not as I do and you’ll be sure to live a successful, fulfilled, hypocrisy-free life. Now, go clean your room!