1) Recycling! My guilt levels decreased by approximately 37% when I finally got this going. Self-recriminating statements have also taken a significant dip. And I am here to tell you: it's EASIER THAN IT LOOKS! I know many of you are from more forward-thinking areas, places that have had curbside recycling programs in place for years, but here in rural Idaho, they are harder to come by. But I finally made a call, found out that it was ridiculously cheap ($5/month!), purchased some stackable recycling containers (also available on Amazon), and stopped unnecessarily clogging up landfills. For those of you in Southeast Idaho, call Curbside Recycling for more info!
2) Routine Charts! This is one I have had in place for a while. I created it because I wanted Soren to be able to go through his morning routine without me prompting him every step of the way. Each thing he needs to do in the morning (ie, Brush Teeth, Comb Hair, Complete Homework) is represented by a picture and words on a card. The cards are attached to the chart by a little piece of yarn. When he completes a task, he flips the card over so we know it's been taken care of. Not gonna lie: there is still quite a bit of prompting, even if it's just, "What's next on your chart?", but at least he knows what he's expected to do before he's allowed any special privileges. I had initially made "AM" and "PM" charts for each of the boys, but the chart is way over Liam's head and I found that the evening one was more of a hassle than just hustling the boys through our evening routine, so we mostly just use the AM one for Soren. Our chart is obviously oft-used, and it wasn't really that gorgeous to begin with, but I'm sure you supermoms out there could make something beautiful-er if you were so inclined. Anyway, I share this purely because it's been helpful for us and I like to share any tiny little shred of light that I've had shed on this mysterious adventure called parenthood.
3) Dinner! But first, a confession: I totally suck at controlling meals in our home. It's pretty much a snack fest from dusk til dawn around this place, with the kids' preferences weighing in too heavily on the food selections we make. Hot dogs again? White bread and cheese again? Cereal again? Scrambled eggs again? Bananas again? More candy? Oooooookaaaaayyyyy. Guilt seizure. I was cooking meals but people would kind of come and go, eating when they felt like it, myself included. Also, I was a little mortified to discover that we hadn't really taught our kids any table manners.
So, to begin to address this issue, we had a big Family Home Evening about table manners and table-setting technique, and I've been doing this hog-wild crazy thing where I cook an evening meal, set the table, and we all sit down and eat together. And so far, it's been a success! Mealtimes are more pleasant, the kids seem more amenable to trying what has been prepared, and we all have a chance to practice our manners. Plus, I get this crazy high feeling from having identified a problem and figured out a way to correct it.
My plan is to keep working on this, using meal planning to help create a little better food structure here in the Skousen household.
Next Up in the QIA queue (not necessarily in this order): Potty-training Liam, night-time potty-training Soren, putting an end to whining and badgering, increasing prompt obedience, working on helping Soren stop and think before acting, cope with disappointment, and focus on following through with tasks without getting distracted. Also figuring out what's wrong with Liam's digestive system. And working with him on language development. And I'm thinking about implementing a new set of rules (Be Respectful. Be Responsible. Be Obedient.) and bringing items of concern to Family Home Evening for discussion/solution brainstorming.
Anyway, it seems like raising children is a little bit like sailing on a leaky ship. You plug up one leak and two more spring up. But I just keep reminding myself that I haven't failed if I'm still trying!