Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Standing down...

The military has a term that has made its way into our home courtesy of Superman, who served in the Army before I knew him. It is "standing down". Basically, as I understand it, what it means is to simply stop acting and reassess the situation before you. Yesterday in the Nagle household, we needed to stand down. Things weren't going well and I needed to honestly assess why. Mindfulness was desperately needed. Some of the causes were obvious and some weren't so obvious. In my honesty, I need to also admit that some of the conclusions I reached were personally painful...areas where it was my own lack of follow through and consistency that were causing the problems.

I believe that positive change requires honest assessment, even when it ends up making me look or feel badly about the role I am playing in any given situation (in this case, there was definitely some of that). So, after a painful night of introspection and study, I woke up this morning with a plan to tackle the situation and I thought I'd share it with you.

First, though, my assessment of the situation, including how I've created most of the problems myself.

The truth of the matter is I have failed to provide a strong enough example of personal discipline during the past month and a half. The Nagle family is always faced with the urge to live life as one big party from Thanksgiving to Easter because we go from Thanksgiving to Superman's birthday to Christmas to New Years to Valentine's Day to Valiant's birthday to Charming's birthday to Buttercup's birthday to Easter. It really is five months of parties and celebrations. Add to this the irregular school schedule their friends have during this period and you have a recipe for chaos...which we've been living in. How do I add to the problem? Too often, I have given in to temptation to sleep a little longer, go out a litte more, play a little more, and the quality of our days has reflected that decline in my standards.

The chores my children are supposed to do haven't been getting done in a timely or quality manner. Oh, the decline wasn't all at once, but it has gone on long enough that the lack of results is telling. If the chores matter enough for me to assign them, then they need to matter enough for me to give consequences when they don't get done well...or at all...or under duress...or, I'm embarrassed to say, they've fibbed and said they did them when they didn't and cried the "I forgot about that one" cry. This is where I have failed them by accepting what should have been unacceptable.

Valiant is 13 now and, honestly, needs me to be holding him more accountable, not less, if he is going to become the man we see in him and the man he wants himself to be. In order to hold him accountable, though, I must hold myself accountable or my credibility is shaky (see, we're uncomfortably back to me). He has academic goals he wants to meet, but the work has to be consistently dedicated to those goals regularly or they will fall to the wayside. My lack of consistency can hurt him and his future.

Finally, I remembered why I stopped exercising. It was too difficult to get exercise in along side of homeschooling and caring for the home and the family. Work seems to cease while I clean up, shower, and get dressed after exercising and the rhythm of the day never seems to recover. Instead of feeling good about taking care of myself, I end up feeling like it messes up the whole day.

So, that was assessment of the current situation. In a nutshell...we've become lazy.

Remember, though, I said I woke up with a plan, and here it is, 1:40 p.m. and the plan has been implemented.

First thing, I set an alarm and got up this morning at 8:00 o'clock and got the kids up at the same time. Then I immediately got on my exercise clothes and had them do the same things, followed up by bed-making. We met downstairs and had breakfast (oatmeal, if you're interested). As soon as breakfast was done, I informed my children that all their chores were to be done. Yep, first thing...and they were done with minimal attitude (perhaps raising my voice last night lasted through until the morning!).

Then we went to the school room and had a meeting which I began...with an apology. You read that correctly, I started my academic meeting with my homeschooled children by apologizing. I apologized for failing to be a good leader. I apologized for failing to inspire them by my example. I apologized for letting them come to believe that the things I want and hope for them are not important enough for me to pursue with consistency and dedication. Then, I told them it was time for us to change how we do things from the beginning of the day to the end of the day.

And together we worked out a new schedule which takes into account Monday malaise and Friday's eagerness to be done. We've taken into account our desire to start joining the homeschool group at the MAC every Wednesday afternoon. We've taken into account the kids' desire to be done in time to play with the "afterschool" time their friends have. We've taken into account PE, art, and history, as well as science, typing, Spanish, spelling, reading, and math. PE will now follow computer time, which makes perfect sense when you think of the desire kids feel to move around after sitting still for an hour. Lunch will follow PE and showers and our desk time will happen after lunch. Serious cleaning will be limited to Mondays and Fridays and a little less schoolwork will be scheduled for those days.

Finally, from myself and from them, I will not accept excuses, prevarication, or "fibs". I will not have a sliding scale of expectations. We have some serious ground to regain with some hard work ahead of us, but these kids are worth the very best I have to give and as long as I behave as the mother they deserve, we'll be fine.


Anonymous said...

I was so with you until you said you set the alarm for 8 am... For those of us who leave the house for school by 7:15, it's hard to sympathize. :)

I think what you are describing is frankly normal for the human race. Our ancestors, the ancient ones who lived in caves, would hunt during the late summer and store up berries, food, etc for winter. Because hunting was poor and foraging even poorer in winter months, they would have conserved energy by resting (alot). On pretty, warm days, they would have went out to hunt in hopes that animals were out as well. (Explains why we feel more energetic on warm winter days and less so on cold rainy days.) As soon as spring arrived, they would have started looking for food again. Agrarian societies would have begun planting food. That explains why we become more energetic and more nesting in the early spring.

At least that's my theory on why we act the way we do. Your kids (and you) are just relying on their natural instincts to conserve energy by doing very little in these late winter months.

But you were right to take things into hand. That's what we moms do.
Currently mine are getting off easy. #1 is coming off a sinus bug. #2 has pneumonia, and #3 is smart enough to lay low. LOL

Had today off to take #2 to the doctor so I got some things done around here that have been put off for a while. Reinforced the idea that I want to work less next year. I feel so rested tonight despite a trip to the doctor's and cleaning house and laundry for 5 hours. Still didn't get the kitchen floor mopped, but the rest is clean, so it's on my list for tomorrow.

Sorry for the long comment, haven't talked to anyone but the nurse all day. LOL

50s Housewife said...

I know how you feel. It's hard for me to keep to a schedule in the summertime. I tend to want to sleep late and let things slide.

n3isme said...

Have I ever mentioned how much I admire you? Well, I do - a lot - and in no small part due to the sometimes harsh or painful-seeming way you taught me to doggedly pursue anything that I wanted. It wasn't fun, but it is a skill that I vastly appreciate having, as it makes my life much easier.

Erin said...

Generations, I clarified the situation via email, but suffice it to say, we don't set the alarm for 8 a.m.! 50s, I know, but this is the dead of winter! N3, you're so sweet, I might keep you til your birthday - maybe!