My job is not to be the friend or a coach to my kids. Coaches only have the kids for two hours and they send them home!
For years, I was constantly trying to stay on top of getting the house clean. It was something that eluded me. First because I had no mommy mentors to speak of-- my mom had four kids but my older sisters only had 2 and 3 each and are in their 50's and we have nothing in common. Second because people would give us things and I felt bad not using them even though they were just cast-offs. Sometimes people dropped stuff by in the middle of the night and my kids hauled the stuff in. I hated it then and I am not interested in it now!
The rental house was too small for us and again, we had a problem post fire that everyone wanted to give us stuff that we didn't need. I literally felt like I was drowning. I got good at turning people down by simply saying thank you, but that we didn't need anything but if they didn't need it, I'd be happy to help them get it over to the local thrift store.
In our new house, order is paramount to me. The former owners did a terrific job painting this house that we now own. (I think the former lady of the house was an interior designer.) I love having space and energy flows well.
The epiphany that I had the other day has really opened my eyes. I have a few kids struggling in school and I realized that if I can't knit simple lace or stay focused in knitting entrelac, they can't study. (Tea pauses for everyone to nod their approval, then she runs when they want to slap her for not figuring this out before.) But now it isn't about Mom make the miscreants behave so she can stay sane. This is far bigger than my sanity: the kids have to behave in a manner that doesn't take away from their siblings being able to learn, and they have to exhibit study skills that their younger siblings should emulate.
As I have shed junk I am also having the kids shed attitudes that I believe inhibbit their abilities to learn. I made the mistake of letting Cloud have a friend over a couple of weeks ago and she let her chores go saying as she was getting ready for her friend to come over that she couldn't do them and they didn't get done. Well, she had time to do them between coming home and her friend coming over. Another son went to a friends' house and again it was, "Sorry! I'm getting ready to go! I am going to Mike's house!" No, he still had to do his chores! So they have to give me six weeks of chores and homework done consistently well so that they are habits before friends come over or they join friends. I am not being a jerk about this as much as they seem to think I am being one!
When my two eldest children were in high school, by the way they cried when my husband made them study chemistry and math, you'd think he was physically torturing them. I saw a clip on youtube of that mother with 8 kids on DWTS ans how she whined the whole time and my eldest daughters made her look tame by how they said that their step father was not thinking about how they learned-- my husband's brain is wired like theirs and knew how to teach them, it is part of his job to teach complete idiots how to operate their computers. I'd run out of my bedroom begging my husband to stop and to let them fail. Seriously, they had the whine down better than a new baby that legitimately needed Mommy. (My husband fortunately ignored me.) I should have stopped them in their tracks on the whining and said, "This is not how you are to respond to your step father or how you behave in this family. You may leave the table after you understand what you are learning."
We just had parent teacher conferences and found out more about what the kids are learning. PTC's are always informative. My kids are doing well, but they could do A work if they just put in a little more effort. Habits make people, so they have to learn now.
I believe that with a clean environment, you can focus on what you need to do with school work. My parents had a cleaning lady come over a few times a week, but I had to fold a load of laundry every day when I got home and I was making amazing dinners from the time I was 14 onwards. (OK, I didn't learn to vacuum till I was 18, but that's another story!) It is a headache to chase after kids with chores. I hate nagging. . . but it's not nagging; it is called parenting. I am having to make lists of what everyone does and I hate doing this. What I am realizing is that with one or two kids, you probably don't need lists. You know if the work is done or not and who with was assigned to. I need a list to keep me on track, and with seven independent variables, they need it just as bad as a group! I will be putting ours into a book with page protectors in th kitchen. Each kid will have a list and dates and then in the back of the binder will be room specific information.
On room specific information, it is almost funny why it is needed. I know that as a teenager, my mom had to ride me on what cleaning the bathroom meant. With my own kids, they are the same. If I tell Cloud that she is to clean the bathroom, she cleans the vanity, the mirror and the toilet seat (not the lid or the rim.) If I tell Guy to clean the bathroom, he put's Cloud's make-up in her room and he sometimes cleans the rim of the toilet. They ignore trash and toys on the floor and toys left by the younger kids that are in the tub, they don't change out the trash. If there is toothpaste in the sink, they don't even wipe it up. They are not lazy! These kids are happy to help neighbors with their fences and unload groceries for friends parents. They have to be taught and they have to be reminded.
My husband and I have fought over him staying up watching Power Rangers at 10:30 at night on a school night because the kids stay up. (I am winning.) By having a set time for bed and the kids seeing that I am strict with it, they are already managing their time better.
Last night my husband took the kids to a harvest festival and I stayed home to clean. I didn't mind it. I changed the little kids' sheets and today the older ones will have me standing in their rooms while they change sheets and pick up under their beds.
This will all come togther, but this isn't easy. The beauty of it is that it isn't supposed to be easy but that as parents, this is what we do.