restoring our energy

15 Jan restoring our energy

The kids have been bickering a lot the past few days. They’ve been moody and defiant, and I’ve yelled more than I’d like to admit. Yelling tends to make things worse, though. It stresses me out, which stresses them out, and their behavior deteriorates even more. So last night in the car, on the way home from one of the longest and craziest days we’ve had in a while, we talked about how it feels when everyone’s yelling and fighting. 
“It makes me sad,” Miles said.
“It makes me frustrated and angry,” B said.
“It makes me tired,” I said. “When you guys don’t listen, when you argue all the time, it really drains my energy.”
We’ve talked about the “energy drain” before. It’s a Love & Logic trick we learned a couple years ago. The kids know that when my energy is drained, I can’t do fun things with them. I can’t make their favorite dinner, drive them places, play games, or respond to all the little requests they make throughout the day. So I task them with thinking of ways to give Mama her energy back. 
Usually they respond by picking up toys or being extra kind to one another. But last night, B declared, “Mommy, I’m going to do all your jobs tomorrow morning before school. I’m going to make breakfast and make my lunch and get me and Miles ready for school.”
Her new school emphasizes independence and builds self-confidence by allowing the children to attempt complex tasks — everything from washing glass dishes and baking to writing in cursive and adding decimals to the thousandth place. 
I’m realizing that I am often an obstacle to my kids’ independence. I swoop in and complete tasks myself because it’s faster, it’s easier, and I know when I do it, the work will be completed to my satisfaction. I’m a micromanager, and it’s tough to succeed under a micromanager.
So, reluctantly I said, “Ok. You can do all my jobs in the morning, but you can’t use the oven or sharp knives without my help.”
This morning, B served me cereal in bed (2 different kinds mixed together, actually):

Then, she made Miles toast with almond butter and served him a bowl of Greek yogurt. She poured glasses of milk. She spilled. She cleaned up the spills. She sighed and said, “this is harder than I thought.” And, she kept going.

Miles wanted to help too. He fed the pets and asked if he could make juice.

In the end, B ran out of time, so we threw some food into her lunch box and left for school with her shoes in her hand and not on her feet. But she was proud of herself, and I was surprised and impressed by what she and Miles can accomplish when I get out of their way.

Tomorrow, she wants to go to her swim coaches’ houses and make breakfast for them. She acted out at practice yesterday, and she wants to give them their energy back. (Thankfully she doesn’t know where they live… I’m not sure they want a visitor at 6 a.m.!)

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