We were housebound today,It was really frosty, Alan usually travels to work on a scooter but didn't fancy skating to work so took the car. We live in a village with a very minimal bus service.
Emily and I have had a lot on lately and had we had the car I would of been doing the weekly shop today so in many ways it was ideal not to feel we had to go and do anything and take the opportunity to chill out (no pun intended)
I am usually very good at pacing myself after all these years but this time of year things kind of take over as I am not the most organised when it comes to Christmas. Strangely I am a very organised kind of person but big events like this and birthdays or family get togethers I always leave till the last moment and then it's all a panic......
We had been out yesterday morning and bought our tree for the living room and decorated it .Today we got out the false tree I was given last year and put it up in the sun room. We always used to have a false tree but over the last 6 or 7 years have had real ones and I do prefer them, they give a different feel .Never the less we spend a lot of time in this part of the house ( this sounds grand , we don't live in a manor with loads of rooms but have extended over the years so we have an open plan kitchen, dining room and sun room) and it seemed a shame not to have a tree in here.
Emily was very keen to put it all together and Beauty also decided to join in although she wasn't as much of a help as she was trying to eat the baubles and make off with the branches whilst our back was turned!!!
The day has been really bright and it got quite hot in there as the sun streamed through the windows but it was nice to do it and although the tree is very old and a bit sparse it gives a bit of Christmas cheer.
We also spent a long time making and putting up snowflakes around the light above the dining table and in the window around our flashing Rudolph ,he isn't flashing yet as Alan has to plug him in behind a cupboard . It is not the easiest of jobs but he will hopefully do it when he gets out of his bath. He needed warming up as there has been no heating on at his office and he was frozen so he took Beauty for a walk and is now relaxing and getting warm whilst I take the opportunity to do this whilst Milly has eaten her tea listening to a story tape we got from the library and is now drawing.
We had the usual wrangle about Emily tidying her room this afternoon.
I have tried many approaches from leaving it messy to see if she would get fed up , she didn't really bother too much but after about three weeks and not been able to find the toys she needed to play we spent two whole days sorting out all the storage box's and cleaning from top to bottom. It stays clean for a short while then looks like a bomb has hit.
We have had family meetings and set contract style agreements which have been worked out with all party's happy and rewards in place, she works well for the financial reward or works toward a treat but in the end Alan and I didn't feel right about it ,it seemed too much like bribery and wasn't getting what we required which was to do it willingly and because she saw the benefit for all of us to work together as a team.
I have been reading a lot about taking children seriously and also the joyfully rejoycing website and thought I had come up with a plan. Over the last few weeks I have resisted nagging, when I have asked Emily to do something, clear a plate ,set the table etc, if she has not done it I have just gone and done it and have tried to clear away without the usual feeling of resentment and do it with love, along side this I have offered to help and to do things for her ,sounds a bit soft but that change in thinking on my part and no nagging have meant miraculously she has started to help when asked with no fuss.
I can't quite get there with the bedroom which is sometimes a mammoth task and fell into the trap of getting her to do it by herself , oh well lesson learnt it went on for a lot longer than it needed to with Emily trying every trick to get out of it and me not backing down and had I just swallowed the feeling of needing to win this battle due to my own tiredness we could probably of got it done in half the time and could of had some fun whilst doing it....
It sounds so easy when you read these things, it all seems to make sense and really clicks but add into the mix tiredness and a list of other things requiring your attention and it can all fall apart.
Must try harder cos I know it can work and it feels right to do it in this way. I think some people might see this as permissive parenting,it isn't about not having boundaries and giving in to avoid conflict at any cost, I see it much more as a case of treating Emily in a way I would wish to be treated and in doing so I think it brings out the best in both . I know for a fact that if there was a massive job I had to do and someone helped me with love in their heart I would find it very easy to help them in the future.That might seem a bit simplistic I hope you get the point. It seems to me to be about respect. Lets just say that it is a very different way to my upbringing ,it is something I feel strongly about but It is not easy.
Whilst I have been doing this (with breaks for tea and cleaning up etc) Milly has continued to draw lots and lots of different pictures and we have been chatting , she is listening to a story cd the second one this afternooon ,she has also just been doing a word search in her Felicity Wishes magazine ,she has kept asking me for help but the amazing thing for me is that she started doing it through choice .
Emily has difficulty reading and writing and when she left school she ran a mile from anything to do with either, her confidence has returned and as there is no pressure to do either and help is always on hand with no questions asked she now will do something that is difficult for her but she is stretching herself with no outside coercion.
It might seem a small step, but for us it is a huge leap and an indication for me that we are doing the right thing. Emily is to be assesed for Dyslexia, that process was started whilst at school,and it is unlikely that we will take up any specialst help , I wonder if she actually just needs to learn at her own pace and will be interested to see her progress over the coming months. We have already noticed significant changes in her spelling( she left school with a spelling age of zero) and although the words are incorrectly spelt they are much easier to work out . Again for us the encouraging thing is her willingness to give things a go and not be afraid to get things wrong.
It is 9.00 and she is tired but is working her way through her magazine , not so long ago she had a set bedtime, now things have become more flexible and she has a choice, it is in these areas that we find our lives changing . There are nights when we will encourage her into bed earlier if she has been tired and cranky , rather than an actual decision to allow her free choice I think it will happen gradually, it seems to be an organic process.