What to expect and how to be fair with mixed ages

(17 Posts)
littleraysofsunshine Wed 22-Jan-14 10:21:25

How do you do this?

In regards to being as fair as possible and treating them for their ages. In my case (3.2y and nearly 20m)

Also due with dc3 on Sunday so I'm just a hot mess at the minute with hormones.

I am usually relaxed, and mess is fine it's just when the not listening occurs, get every single toy out and not play with it, dinner times, bed times. Etc
We like to not set expectations as we just want a happy chilled family life but I also don't want our children to think it's ok to just not listen all the time

Trouble witg not setting expectations is they dont know what the boundaries are. I find boundaries make for, generally, less nagging, as they will grow up.knowing what behaviour you expect from them.

Dinner times - we operate an 'if you dont want it, get down, theres nothing else'
Bedtime - with the age gaps yours have, just put them all down at the same time, then re visit it when they are older (like 8/9yo)
Toys and tidying - keep stuff away, abd one thing gets put away before the next comes out. Try and turn tidying into a game, I.know.nurseries that play a 'tidy up song' so whenevrr that plays all the kids run round putting everything away, with a sticker each at the end

DeWe Wed 22-Jan-14 10:45:18

Not setting expectations doesn't make for happy chilled family life.

Children do like to know where the boundries are, and it makes them secure. Decide what matters to you, then have that as your boundry:
eg. Don't get down from the table until you have asked/finished.
One toy each out/expect all to be tidied at the end of the day.

There's a great book called Siblings Without Rivalry which addresses this - it's about keeping it fair but also age appropriate.

I think expectations are important and you probably set expectations without realising it - for example, holding hands or being in a pushchair/on reins is non negotiable by a busy road. That's an expectation of safe behaviour by roads - a very important one! You really need expectations/boundaries, and I'm a total soft wussy person who doesn't believe in punishment and that kind of thing.

It's possible to uphold a boundary just by upholding it. Mess can be fine but you don't want to live in chaos all the time and/or you want them to care for their toys rather than walking over them all the time, getting parts lost or dirty or broken. So you can make the expectation clear that they can make as much mess as they like as long as certain things are taken care of and/or the mess is cleared up by a certain time.

You're also saying you have problems with listening - OK, your expectation may not be "total, immediate obedience at all times" but it sounds like you have an expectation that they should listen and acknowledge what you say, which is fair.

Your oldest is at an age where you really need to figure out what your expectations are quick smart or you're in for a hellish 2-3 years battling, however laid back and happy you want things to be. I found this out the hard way shock. But yes - everyone has expectations, even if your expectations are "children make a mess, it's in their nature" - fine, but what age does this change because adults can't go around leaving places like a hurricane has been through.

Sorry for going on about books, but one which really helped me identify my expectations and whether they were fair and realistic is "When your kids push your buttons".

littleraysofsunshine Wed 22-Jan-14 12:32:29

I didn't mean we don't have any expectations. I just don't want to think "well am I expecting TOO much?" Iyswim.

We do say "if you're not eating then there isn't anything else, no pudding etc" but then when one has finished Nd the 19mo doesn't quite understand as much for example. Same with the tidying up. We always treat the same but I then feel like I'm expecting my 19mo to do the same as a 3yo. A very smart if not too smart three year old!

We always say nothing else comes out until you've packed away the things you've finished with. Sometimes it works. And some days they literally seem like they have blocked ears. Lol

littleraysofsunshine Wed 22-Jan-14 12:35:20

I think that's what I meant more than the word expectation. We don't punish. We try to validate their feelings, listen to them. But like you've said an I agree - expectations are key. I'm just not sure how to get the balance between the ages and being fair to each. Wasn't meant to mean that we don't have any.

We have expectations for bedtime but then we feel we're umming and areing if we're being fair to each. As when dd1 was dd2's age she was still an only child. And dd2 has never known to be treated like an only child etc

Ah I have the same problem. Never have confidence that my expectations are fair and then DS plays up to it. I think you need to decide what your expectations are in advance, discuss them with DH and then both stick to them - and keep your expectations consistent. Don't worry about what is fair. Worry about what you are expecting. If the expectations start to feel unfair or inappropriate, which of course they will in time, then you and DH can talk again and adjust them to something you feel is more appropriate. As they get older, it will be easier for your expectations for both of them to be more similar.

For example, if you've decided you expect them to put away toys which aren't part of the current game, you can't one day let them get everything out and ignore 90% of it, and say/do nothing, and another day get on their backs because they've got three things out at once which are all involved in some complicated game. It doesn't really matter if you address the issue of the toys being out in different ways depending on your mood/the situation etc, it's just important that your expectation is always the same. (And it can include exceptions like "Only one toy out at once when we have Great-Granny round" as long as you explain that it's a change from the norm and if age appropriate, why.)

Same with bedtime - set out your expectations with DH in advance, and of course they can be different for each child based on their age and personality, but then stick to them. It doesn't matter that DD2 doesn't know what it is to be an only child, she has a big sister, that's who she is. There's no point thinking "Oh, what did we do when DD1 was this age?" because they're not the same person, they have totally different needs and reactions even as babies. What's being fair to them is treating them as individuals, and not agonising about having to do things in the same way all the time. You love them both the same, and yes at times they will feel that you're being unfair about something, but that's just life - and part of being a sibling!

The other thing as well is that it's important to make sure your expectations ARE heard, which means that if they're not listening then you need to try something else. It's good to set out expectations in advance and often they then just need a reminder. If in the moment it's not happening then you can make it happen which might be by helping them or might be some kind of related consequence like "You can tidy these up or I'm going to tidy them up but they're going away for a while". I don't like generic punishments and try to use something which teaches the lesson as a primary point rather than hurting as a primary point, but at 3 you will get the boundary pushing and sometimes it's necessary especially for behaviour like rudeness or physical violence where you can't really use something related - I wish I'd realised this earlier. I use something really token and non-frightening, in our case screen bans. Of course you can also deal with the behaviour in an empathetic way as well, but I found that actually despite what all of the "gentle parenting" sites say I just needed something to put on top to say "Actually, no that wasn't OK." because me saying "I won't let you speak to me like that" kind of still was letting him speak to me like that, and I wasn't about to hit him back.

Sorry to use the word "expectation" about a million times BTW! Just a huge revelation for me with the When Your Kids Push Your Buttons book, and a very very useful way to talk about behaviour management without going into "rules" and "naughtiness" or "good/bad behaviour" and "defiance" and all of the other terms which fly around.

littleraysofsunshine Wed 22-Jan-14 17:07:21

My main thing is that I end up Iain a high tone when asking all the time. We always make sure we say tidy up before something else comes out. And after about five times asking unsuccessfully I will (hormonally) end up saying "well it's all going in a bag in the cupboard" then they start to tidy but then put it all in a jumbled way not where they know where it goes.

The past two days have been awful. Really not helping that I'm fed up and due to give birth anyday.

littleraysofsunshine Wed 22-Jan-14 17:07:37

shouty not high

littleraysofsunshine Wed 22-Jan-14 17:12:50

And the way in feeling so heavy now I have a short patience. Which I feel terrible saying, I just feel I would manage better and not be so worn out once I'm not carrying this football type bump lol

They are usually such delightful irks who play beautifully. It's just the tidying up situation. With an added sibling hair pulling situation by dd2 against poor dd1s lovely locks. i swear twy sense baby is coming!! It's also been more HARDWORK since they've not been sleeping well or waking at 5am!!

littleraysofsunshine Thu 23-Jan-14 12:41:03

I just find she just ignores what I say. If I ask something she will either not respond or do the opposite. And I'm fed up of hearing myself repeat her name shock

That's a lovely normal 3 year old trait I'm afraid! smile

Firstly give yourself a break - being shouty and hormonal is perfectly understandable in your condition! You probably will manage much better once you're not pregnant and have got over the initial newborn bit. But, seriously, expect chaos for a bit and don't beat yourself up when everything isn't perfect!

Secondly stop asking five times. They know that they have five times of you asking before they have to do something, hence, they're never going to do it the first time. I find it works best to set the limit first and say "You can bring toys in here but they need to be tidied up before bedtime." Then remind/ask them at strategic times - hey kids, it's nearly dinner time, do you want to tidy up your toys before dinner or after dinner? If they say after then you say OK, you have to do it as fast as you can when I say, then! I wouldn't worry about it being jumbled - it being away is more important. Then you remind again but don't ask them to do it multiple times the same time if that makes sense (so, multiple times at various points through the day OK, multiple times at bedtime extending bedtime by half an hour, not OK) When it gets to the last part they get one chance and then you threaten to put it all in a bin bag or whatever.

littleraysofsunshine Thu 23-Jan-14 16:30:40

True.

The recent thing I've found (and noticed more since being shattered) is that she is always waiting for the next thing. Or expecting something.

Today: she had preschool. We came home for lunch but not before she asked me what we were doing first. I then said well dd2 needs a nap, we need lunch and we both also need rest time. (She's been getting up at 5:30/40am.) then she kept asking to do things. So we made cakes, before we finished she asked what we were doing next! Then Grampy popped in and she now associates him with bringing her a little chocolate or cheese or jelly as he did once. Then she interrupts our complete conversation.

She is usually very chilled but it's as if she's on overdrive! Then I end up snapping and saying please just calm! My energy levels are Zero at the minute then I feel like the worst mum for not playing with her/them all day long on the floor being silly as I am huge now where I'm due. confused

I found the age of three really, hugely hard. I think it's just a bit of a culture shock because (in my experience) whatever approach you choose before this just sort of works, and then suddenly they get this attitude and boundary pushing and it's hard.

You don't have to sit and play with them, surely the point of having two is that they play together so you don't have to grin It's good for them to be able to entertain themselves and/or each other without adult input. You can still do things with them, but that doesn't have to be sitting on the floor being silly.

She might also be tired from preschool if she's being totally manic, although I think most 3 year olds are manic. I know TV is supposed to be some kind of mind poison but I found it helpful to introduce a period of quiet sitting down in the afternoons which usually involved TV. Normal (though annoying) as well for 3yos to dominate adult conversation and become almost possessive over your attention. They do like to know what's coming next and it can help to talk over what is happening in your day. I don't think it's a bad thing to encourage them to play in their rooms or if you have another room like a playroom or dining room, to give you some space during the day, as well as playing in the main family room.

littleraysofsunshine Thu 23-Jan-14 17:33:21

She's very tired from preschool most days but won't give in for a nap. Plus waking up at 5:30-45am isn't helping.

This is where I'm thinking that starting preschool everyday has changed things as she usually plays nicely with me, or alone, or with dd2. But the past two weeks (since starting preschool.) on and off they are just seeming so tired and snappy. And wanting my attention more and more. And expecting things all the time.

It could be an age thing or it could be preschool. TV instead of nap - unless TV hypes her up more? It seems to be the only thing that makes my 5yo sit still hmm

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now