to simply stop thinking for everyone?

(26 Posts)
NearMissAgain Sat 19-Jan-13 03:19:55

There are 5 of us in my family - me, DH and 3 dcs between 7 and 12. I don't work, so I do pretty much all the meal planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning (apart from tidying kids' rooms) washing and ironing. Fair enough, that's my job. DH and the DC's will help if I ask, but I'm honestly happy to do most of it.

What I'm beginning to resent more and more is that I seem to do a lot of the THINKING for everyone else. The dcs have school and homework and various hobbies/social events which require being ready at certain times with the right things in bags etc. For example one of them might be going to a swimming party and despite me telling them the time we are leaving they still won't have thought to pack a swimming bag or even be dressed when it's time to go. Then I get annoyed and we are late. This is obviously avoided if I do it for them and walk behind them to make sure they are doing what they're supposed to be doing but I don't think this is good for them in the long run. As soon as I turn my back they will be off doing something else. Even with homework, we have a routine and they have to do it but I couldn't let them out of my sight or they would be doing goodness knows what. Even DH can't seem to do anything without asking me 100 questions about how to do it.

I guess this wouldn't be a problem if I was happy to do it, but I'm obviously feeling resentful which is why I'm posting. Should I just start leaving them to it and be ready for the fall out?

Hmm. I feel like this sometimes but theres only DP and DD1. If there were two more I would definately be resentful.

Saying that you should leave them to it is easier than doing it. But maybe if they missed a swim party they would remember to pack a bag on time the next time.

I would feel like a total meanie doing that though so I know its hard.

NearMissAgain Sat 19-Jan-13 03:47:38

Well, one time DS did miss a party - he wasn't ready, refused to get himself ready and the whole thing spiralled into him losing it and screaming for ages so we basically were too late and missed it. I sent him to his room so he could be really bored and hopefully realise that it would have been better to cooperate, but it doesn't seem to have made much difference. I felt terrible for the birthday child. I sent an apology and told the mum exactly why DS wasn't there, then made him take the present to school and apologise again.

I see what you mean that's it's easier said than done.

I would give them notice that they needed to start using their brains as you were fed up with their stuff taking up houseroom in yours. Then batten down the hatches and let the fallout begin. They will screw up completely for a while, but the more you let that happen the quicker they will sort it out.

It sounds like what you would like to achieve is for your children to take on a little more responsibility and become more self sufficient which is absolutely the right thing to do.

However it won't happen automatically, they'll need training smile . I would start with regular clubs first and then build up to parties.

If it were me, I would sit them down and explain that the rules have changed and they are now responsible for getting their things ready in time for clubs and parties and if they don't they will miss them. An hour (to begin with) before a club, I would remind them that they need to get their things ready and if they are not sure tell them what that entails. Then I would give periodic warnings of how long it is before we have to leave and finally 10 mins before, tell them if they are not ready in 5 mins they won't be going. As the weeks go on, I would expect them to know what's needed and cut down on the time warnings so you eventually get to a point where you say 30 mins before, 'don't forget to get ready for x, we're leaving in 30 mins.'

Good luck!

NearMissAgain Sat 19-Jan-13 05:37:05

OK. They get ready for school without too much stress, because we do it everyday, so we can build on that. I have a box with snacks they can choose from to take for play time, so I will stop reminding them and if they forget, then they won't have a snack. Same with PE kits - they can get into trouble from the teacher. After-school swimming might be more difficult as they would probably be happy to miss that, so that would just be annoying for me as I've paid for it already. For other areas I will have to think carefully about what they are actually ready for - for example DD(12) is supposed to pay for the school lunches for the week on Monday mornings, but often forgets and leaves the money in her cubby hole, where it could easily go missing.

Not sure about DH though! I asked him to wrap a present for me and honestly it would have been easier to do it myself...."where's the paper?" (in the cupboard where it always is and where it's been since last time you asked)...."where's the tape?"...."have you seen the scissors?". Or if he goes shopping for 1 item I get 3 phone calls from him with questions about which kind of apples, or they don't have exactly what I asked for....just decide!!

Hyperballad Sat 19-Jan-13 05:47:54

I agree with porridge (and I know what to have for breakfast now).

I think if you make the sit down meeting really positive the kids could actually be quite excited about their new found accountability, maybe hats being too optimistic though!

In regards to DP, you could forget where the iron is whenever he needs a shirt doing. smile

Tell your DH how annoying that is and that he is to stop! Then refuse to answer the questions. Then do it back to him to demonstrate what he is doing, he probably has no idea how annoying it is.

NearMissAgain Sat 19-Jan-13 09:20:22

I think DH is worried about getting the wrong thing when shopping - he doesn't want to disappoint me, which is sweet really, but annoying, and I have asked him to stop and will continue. Shouldn't moan too much about him because he's great really. I think we are just very much in "roles" of him working and me doing everything else. It didn't used to be like this but things change and sometimes I guess we just need to adjust the balance of responsibilities.

ledkr Sat 19-Jan-13 09:28:07

Yes I use the same phrase. It becomes especially apparent on holiday where it's me thinking what we need to take to the pool/ beach where we eat or visit and it drives me mad. I've always had to do it cis need stuff for babies but this year the youngest will be 2.5 so I am leaving my watch here and reading my book. If we get to the beach with no swimmers/drinks/armbands then i shall read with even more intensity grin

Bigwuss Sat 19-Jan-13 09:33:24

How about a board/calendar with weekly activities on with a space for parties etc. then you can have the mantra that I have, have you checked the board for everything you need? And then, after a while, stop reminding them. If they forget school stuff, let school deal with it.

Get them trained to add their own activities.

Or go away for a few days and leave them to it. That works wondersgrin

Bluebell99 Sat 19-Jan-13 09:34:28

Gosh my family are exactly the same ! Even down to my dh phoning me from m &s and talking me through the entire process of buying a pair of school trousers for example. And they never put things away so finding uniforms and kit is always more difficult than it should be.

Adversecamber Sat 19-Jan-13 09:40:28

Only three of us so I would imagine with two extra dc it would be kind of stressful.

At 7 I think dc do need reminding but your 12 year old should be able to remember stuff.

You are a bit like my sis she looked after everyone so well it meant they just expected it and I think your last post is a good idea.

dizzy77 Sat 19-Jan-13 09:40:31

I'm not sure about the kids as DS is not yet 2 but there are some interesting ideas up there.

I think I got from here the approach I use when DH asks me questions he could easily work out or find out: selective deafness or "I don't know, what do you think?". Also "oh" and "hmmm", followed by silence, have come in very useful too.

dizzy77 Sat 19-Jan-13 09:43:40

It also means putting up with some of DH's choices if they're not exactly the same ones i'd have made: if he comes back with the wrong sort of apples (but they're apples, and they're edible), accept. If they're the sort the kids don't like you might end up with a freezer full of pie or purée.

RavenVonChaos Sat 19-Jan-13 09:44:59

Same here. But I think the answer is in your first paragraph.

If you split the household chores amongst everyone then some of your burden will be alleviated. Which will make you feel appreciated and part of a team. Then the thinking part won't seem like such a burden.

I have tried many ways. The kids now have a comprehensive morning and evening list. Including homework, cleaning teeth, and packing bag for the next day.

If I don't get enough notice for trips, outings etc sometimes the answer is. "Sorry you left it too late"

DP is a doer not a thinker. So I have given up with him. He will do anything I tell him. Eg. I booked tickets for dd2 to go ice skating today. He was told last night that's his task this pm.

I find it all very difficult and frustrating, but my new approach seems to be working okay.

Good luck

fuckadoodlepoopoo Sat 19-Jan-13 09:51:41

I think you need to gradually start to hand over responsibility to them for their own stuff they have going on.

It will be in their best interests in the long run! (my siblings had everything done for them and then couldn't function as adults)

Just a gentle reminder "don't forget you have the swimming party later and i won't be getting your bag ready, if you're not ready on time we won't go" and stick to it.

As for dh just tell him to stop asking you bloody questions cos you're not his bloody mother!

DontmindifIdo Sat 19-Jan-13 09:55:08

with your DH, remember these are new things for him to do/think about, he is worried about getting it wrong, in the same way my DH when he first had DS to himself would ask me constaintly "does he need a drink/nappy changed/a nap?" rather than make the decision himself. The only thing that fixed it was being left with DS more and more until he got confident enough.

so if your DH regularly does the shopping he won't have to ask which apples, if he reguarly wraps pressies for birthday gifts and you have set places where wrapping paper, sisscors, sellotape is he'll know (this I found hard, when it's just your job to do this sort of stuff, you remember where you put stuff last time, however if other people are going to do this stuff too, you have to keep things in set places, and it's not good enough that you know where they are!).

And finally, don't complain if he/your DCs get things slightly wrong. If he gets a different type of apples than you'd want, if the DC's don't pack the bags they way you would etc do not complain about it, or you'll reinforce the idea they have to check or they'll get it wrong.

CobOnTheCorn Sat 19-Jan-13 10:18:13

I think creating lists etc is the way forward. You may have to do all the work upfront but then hopefully you can remind them to refer to list when something is happening. This might not work for one off events but regular things like snacks for school, after school, swimming etc could have standard checklists.

How about a family calendar and sit down once per week (all of you) when you point out who has what coming up and that they need to start thinking how to prepare.

I agree you shouldn't have to do all the thinking but I dod think you need to teach them how, rather than just hand ot straight over to them. These are really useful skills for them to develop as they grown older.

CobOnTheCorn Sat 19-Jan-13 10:19:18

Oh I also meant to say that I know Flylady has something on her website for involving children in chores but I haven't used it myself (dc are too young), Could be worth a look.

dayshiftdoris Sat 19-Jan-13 10:23:58

My son has ASD so live to plan and I do organise a lot for him...

However I resent the club thing... especially swimming as packing a bag for it is SO simple...

My son, as part of his work system for after school has to do a job and I make it the job he needs to do - he is motivated as he is not allowed his choose time without having done a job... I do homework in the same way and can set him a task and leave him to it!

Lafaminute Sat 19-Jan-13 10:24:50

Advice from a parenting course: tell the child what they need to do eg pack your swimming bag, we will be leaving the house at 2:15. Then at 2:15 get into the car and arrive at swiiming for 2:30. If child is in car with swimming stuff good and well, if he/she isn't well you can't say they didn't get fair warning. The theory was to make them take responsibility for being where they need to be. In fairness it was meant for older children than 7 but I thought it sounded good....

NearMissAgain Sat 19-Jan-13 12:37:47

Great suggestions, so thanks all.

The dcs' school timetables are all on the fridge, so they can check those for PE days, and I can write their after-school clubs on there too.

I don't expect as much from the 7yo, although she is actually more organised than the 10yo, who has a "chaotic" personality. He finds it hard to remember more than one instruction at a time and drives me mad going up and down the stairs fetching things in the mornings - one sock, the other sock, brush teeth, shoes, random item he "needs" to bring to school...and downstairs wandering around aimlessly in between in each one.

Bigwuss I did go away for a week once and of course they managed fine, but it was holidays so they were doing fun activities every day (far more than I could be bothered doing). Can't imagine it going so well with the usual routine to stick to. From the photos it looked like DD2 went a whole week without brushing her hair (she has the tangliest hair in the world), although when they collected me from the airport DH had asked a neighbour to sort DD's hair out so I wouldn't tell him off!

RavenVonChaos I agree about the late notice for trips etc but that is a hard one as I always feel so guilty! My DH sounds like yours - he doesn't mind having things sprung on him whereas I get stressed if I don't know what I'm doing in advance.

I need to think more about the chores. At the moment they just help when I ask which works in a way as it's flexible but still involves me noticing things need doing. For example they would never think to clean up popcorn that's been dropped while watching a film - they just don't seem to notice - but will do it if I ask. In theory they know one of the house rules is "clean up after yourself" - I am waiting for the day when they just do it!

Dizzy you reminded me that DH does that too - asks me questions that he could work out the answer to if he used his brain! Typically something like "How many days is it since I did that online order?" - he just can't be bothered to work it out himself! I tell him that I will not do his thinking - it's not even me who wants to know the answer!

LatteLady Sat 19-Jan-13 13:02:47

I think it has always been like this... my mother used to say to me, "when I die and they look at my brains, they will be shrivelled up through use... yours LL will be brand spanking new and never used."

I feel like this now about a 21 yr old in the office, who took the posters to a Board meeting, but failed to pick up the agenda, minutes and other Board papers... just lucky that I spotted them sat on her desk.

You can either suck it up and continue to think for them or let it go t*ts up to remind them that they too have brains they should be exercising on occasion.

DontmindifIdo Sat 19-Jan-13 13:36:17

My mum, when she went back to work, made a table up of housework jobs, there was a column for each day of the week with a list underneath, such as "cook dinner, wash up and wipe surfaces after dinner, hoover, polish, clean bathroom" etc - each day had at least 6 jobs (there was 4 of us in total). The deal was everyone had to pick one thing of the list every night, there were easier ones like "polish downstairs" or "hoover living room" which were clearly there for me and DB, but it made it clear there was chores that needed doing daily.

It might stop you having to nag, they have to do something from the list, there's no excuse of "I didn't know what needed to be done."

RavenVonChaos Sat 19-Jan-13 16:01:00

Agree with a lot of what has been said. Children need to be given their chores from very early on....toddlers helping to put toys away etc. etc. My 7 year old is more capable than I realised, and is happy to help with chores at the moment. My 10 year old is very capable but just beginning pre-teen attitude and then I have an 18 year old who is capable of international travel, complicated nail extensions, but fails to change the bloody loo roll. Ha Ha, We have done baking today and its a right mess now......guess what, no kids to be seen after licking the bowl.

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