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.