Monday, March 22, 2010

Co-regulation...My Supports

If you read regularly, which I hope you do, you will recall that my last "practical tips" post was more of an airing the laundry post in which I began to try to understand my lack of calm demeanor leading up to dinner time. I had started by identifying my triggers:
    • Being interrupted mid-task.
    • Having to re-do it.
    • Prolonged noise.
    • Misdirected Expectations.
That was a Monday, of course. Tuesday, I will admit was no was in fact worse. Wednesday I went to work. I began to realize that I should approach this in the same manner that I would address any behavioral problem with my daughter, except the techniques would be applied to myself and my environment. Here are the most relevant ideas:

Effective praise: For me this means telling other people about my success, which I'm doing here and have also shared at a couple of other parent meetings. If I've learned something that I think can be helpful I love sharing it with other parents. Check.

Stay calm: A big chunk of this is devoted toward realizing that if I'm not successful the first time around (ahem...Tuesday) I can keep trying (Wednesday!). I have learned that eventually I'll figure something out and it will be fine, and I just have to remind myself of that often. And take deep breaths. Lots.

Rules that work: New rules for Mommy - no computer time from 4p.m. until kids are in bed. That is harder than it sounds. It's so tempting to run into the office just to check e-mail really quick, but that is exactly the time when I need MOST to be paying attention to where the kids are at physically, emotionally, and socially. Also - treat dinner time the way I do when we have company. If it can be done ahead of time, do it, and make every effort to have it to the table on time (still working the bugs out on this...)
New rules for Kids - when Mommy's making dinner we need to be happy and quiet. When I first explained this to the kids (Wednesday!) their response was amazing. My oldest daughter in particular was like, " mean that's not a good time to run around and be noisy??" Lightbulb moment for really is good to explain your expectations, even if they seem obvious.

Physical supports:
A little carbo-loading never hurt anyone. The kids get a snack mid-afternoon to hopefully ward off pre-dinner hungry grumpies. Mommy should get a snack, too. I'm trying to be healthy about this. Usually I'm eating a bit of cheese if I'm feeling a lack of protein, and a handful of whole-grain plain jane tortilla chips (so I won't eat a whole bag full!) It really helps keep my mood more even.
Enter the busy box!

Modified idea from two different sources. I had recently bought each child a new pair of shoes. I took their respective shoe boxes and personalized them with glitter glue and construction paper. You wouldn't have to get this fancy. I just thought it would make it more fun and I kind of like this sort of thing. Inside each child's box I placed items that I thought would be entertaining, but quiet. Mostly toys that had drifted to the bottom of the toy box. There is no food allowed in these (right before dinner!). If I put something particularly attractive to my kids (like super balls) then each child gets one to avoid fist fights. On the other hand each had something that they individually like: cars for the boy, stickers for oldest daughter, etc. When I showed them to the kids I explained that these are only for when Mommy's making dinner, that they are to help us be quiet and happy, and that we would clean them up and put them away before dinner (still working the bugs out...). Results:

  • Wednesday: worked like a charm
  • Thursday: still amazingly good
  • Friday: I was out at a meeting, but my husband used them and was duly impressed
  • Saturday: My husband and I had a date night and the couple who watched our kids said they are definitely copying this idea...

You get the picture. I do not use these every night. Sometimes Mommy's rule #2 and afternoon T.V. time are all I need to help get dinner on the table in a peaceable fashion. I have traded a few toys in/out to keep it fresh and more interesting. The twins are still totally into these. The oldest sometimes doesn't want hers, but will still find something quiet to do while the babies enjoy theirs, and THAT is the whole point. She has learned what I expect and is finding ways to meet the expectation either within or outside of her busy box.

Dinner time has become much more enjoyable in our home to figure out the housework and laundry.

Thrilled to be participating again in the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.

Credit where it is due: I learned about these and other techniques I am currently using with my daughter from two wonderful people, Clarissa Montanaro and Robin Hauge. Please contact them at clarissamontanaro-AT-gmail-DOT-com for more information.

1 comment:

se7en said...

Oh I like you rule #3!!! Stay away from that computer... the mail will still be there later!!! Just lately I have had to stay off the computer during school time as well. I used to pop onto my computer whenever I had a moment - but I have discovered that moment would be at least half an hour by the time I got everyone back from the associated mini-break while "the mother person" wasn't looking!!! stay focused and we finish earlier and I get more "legitimate" time later!!!


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