Fatherhood

SHOUTING doesn’t work #fatherhood

(In case you didn’t know I am seeing if I can not shout at my children for a year)

It’s been a while.

Since my last post we’ve had what seems like several school holidays, school exams, some family health scares and amongst all of it…yes some shouting.

I truly believe by not sticking to regular blogging I shouted more as it had served as a more constant reminder.

And by sharing my “journey” with my boys they could also remind me not to lose my temper.

Incidentally I recently came across Kelly of IdealistMom’s elastic band trick (applies to dad’s too!) to prevent losing your temper with your children.

So in the last few months we had a trip to Disney Land Paris, parent’s evening, swimming lessons, haircuts, dentist appointments, our 16-month old nephew stay over for a (long!) weekend all of which resulted in various learning experiences.

I know shouting doesn’t work (in our house anyway) and just creates more tension and angst. Yet I found myself doing it more often whether it was asking the boys to help clear up after dinner, do their homework, help one another out or just to go to bed.

Then we had the cowardly bomb attack at the Manchester Arena in May and nothing else seemed quite as important.

An horrific event for so many people, not least the friends and family of the victims, and shouting at my children just wasn’t necessary.

I had intended to write in the days that followed but for whatever reason didn’t.

Shouting at my children was not something I wanted to do but it still happened a bit and my writing fell behind.

Time to get back into it – blogging not shouting!

 

Standard
Fatherhood

Shoe Shopping – I may well shout #fatherhood

(In case you didn’t know I am seeing if I can not shout at my children for a year)

Had it been school shoes I would have had more sympathy.

Or smart shoes, going-out shoes or any type of formal shoes.

But we’d gone out – not on a long, exhausting, boring all-types-of-footwear shopping trip – solely (no pun intended) new-trainers-shopping for the boys.

So any type of trainers for them to pick.

For the record I detest shopping and avoid it at all costs but when it is local and we’re only going for one or two items as was the case, then I don’t mind and certainly wouldn’t be grumpy to influence the boys or give them any excuse to be moody about it.

In fact I was positively upbeat about it and reminding them how cool it was to be able to pick a new pair of trainers.

To be fair it wasn’t all of them kicking up a fuss – just the eldest, Josh.

Eventually when he found a pair – or rather when we had found a pair he agreed to try on – I asked him to walk up to the shoe mirror and back so he could check he was happy with how they looked and we could observe how they fit and how he walked in them.

This was obviously an unrealistic and over-ambitious request but finally he shuffled along awkwardly making it virtually impossible to judge whether they were comfortable or appeared to fit correctly.

Yet when he reached the mirror and seemed satisfied they met his requirements, he refused to walk back.

Josh, just come here to change back into your old shoes

Come on, if you want them, you have to walk back

JUST WALK BACK JOSH!

Instead of walking back so I could benefit from the frontal view, mostly to spite me I’m sure but either way just to be as difficult as he possibly could, he went down on all fours (yes he put his hands on the floor of the Nike Outlet shop!) and crawled back.

He obviously thought he was being clever and funny.

I was not impressed.

Admittedly it was quite amusing and I do often admire his stubbornness and I reassure myself it is a trait that will stand him in good stead at some point in life.

But not right now and not when he is using it against me!

However I didn’t shout – mostly because it was in public and there are too many CCTVs, smart phones and sneering on-lookers otherwise I might have threatened not to buy his trainers.

Sometimes I just honestly don’t understand what goes through his mind.

I know we are not meant to but I always felt I would be more understanding of and to my boys.

Is it just me or anyone else struggle to comprehend their kids?

 

 

 

Standard
Fatherhood

Don’t forget your swimming kit and I won’t shout #fatherhood

(In case you didn’t know I am seeing if I can not shout at my children for a year)

dont-forget

Monday mornings, don’t you just love them?

If what you do in the morning sets the tone for the day, does what you do on the first day of the week set the tone for the remainder?

I’m not really sure but after a couple of later nights over the weekend the boys are usually harder to get out of bed on a Monday.

This day was no exception and I suppose it makes it more frustrating when it’s only the first day of the week but I suppose they may be more tired on a Monday than by the end of the week.

Or do I just create an excuse for them regardless – tired from the weekend or by the end of the week are they tired from a week of school?

I must admit I pressed the snooze button on my alarm twice too but I was still up and ready in plenty of time.

It’s nearly freezing outside but the house feels lovely and warm, I was just tired from playing football the day before – the boys didn’t leave the house all Sunday so what’s their excuse?

It seems most of my issues revolve around trying to wake the boys up and have them ready to leave the house on time.

So an earlier bed time is the simple cure-all?

If only it were that simple!

Anyway having managed to leave the house roughly on time we actually arrived at school early (I still forgot to hand in a letter to the school office!) which felt like a novel experience although in this cold weather there is a lot to be said for arriving just in time to avoid waiting outside a classroom for the teachers to open the door. Only another year or two of that until Rafi is old enough to be left to go in himself.

As I waited for one of his teacher’s to let them in, I glanced across and saw Avi, who had been lining up to go in to school, wandering over.

Perhaps he wanted to give me another goodbye hug. Maybe he was checking who was picking him up that afternoon. Or could it have been he thought I had tried to communicate with him as I smiled at him from across the playground?

No, he let me know he – or did he say we or even I – had forgotten his swimming kit and he didn’t fancy borrowing a pair from the school’s spare supply or lost property (in my day we called it the skeg keg).

He asked me to go home which is in the opposite direction to the office but the thought of him being made to wear someone else’s long-forgotten, lost swimming trunks meant I would have driven to London and back to pick up his swimming kit.

I was tempted to blurt out something along the lines of:-

If you hadn’t taken so long to get up we’d have had more time to get ready and not forget your swimming kit. Now I have to go back home and bring it into school and I have got work to do you know!

But I didn’t – maybe I’ll save that as leverage another day.

So I went home and picked up his swimming kit checking the towel, swimming shorts, goggles and emollient cream were all in the bag and took it in for him. The bonus was I then remembered to hand in the letter to the school office – it’s the small wins that count!

It was only yesterday I was joking that with him that he had two full-time slaves in his parents and often it can feel like that but I guess we don’t do it for the recognition! Some day he and his brothers will appreciate what we do for them.

Now if they’d all just wake up and get dressed when I ask them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Fatherhood

Blocked Toilets, Snow and Ice – Now Try Not Shouting #fatherhood

(In case you didn’t know I am seeing if I can not shout at my children for a year)

There’s nothing like a domestic disturbance to test your patience.

Well, mine anyway.

After seemingly having a blocked drain, resulting in the toilet not fully flushing away the very stuff toilets are meant to flush away, I decided not to bother lifting the outside manhole cover to check whilst it was still light (because it was raining – a lot!).

As the rather impressive, gurgling noises from the bathroom sink and bath subsided and the flush appeared to be functioning again, I thought it must have been a small obstruction that had now cleared.

So I made the most of the house, all warm and cosy with the heating on continuous to counter the icy winds outside..

Classic mistake as later that evening when it had become a lot winder, wetter and darker, the build up of “chocolate logs” had once again rendered the toilets out of action.

So not for the first time out I went with my limited array of tools to lift the manhole cover to confirm the location of the problem.

The sight and smell that hit me as I removed the cover told me all I needed to know – the water was full of floaters and so I knew I had to call someone out to unblock it.

The choice was either try and find someone to come out that evening which would mean paying over the odds or book someone for the following day and disrupt my work plans.

As it happens no one was able to come out that evening and it seemed we could get through another day if we limited the number of times we flushed the toilets and had quick showers instead of bathing the boys to reduce the volume of water going down the drains.

So I booked someone we’d used before and he agreed to come out at 2pm the following day which suited me as I had a meeting in Manchester until that time so having made sure someone could pick up the boys from school I thought at least it would have been sorted the next day.

In the end I left my meeting later than planned and I was slightly conflicted as to my most pressing priority in that I needed to use the toilet (yes a number two), would always prefer to go at home rather than any public loo, but hadn’t been to the bank to withdraw the cash for the contractor plus I had some business cheques to pay in, all the while I was conscious if I were to arrive late he may have left to go to another job.

I actually arrived at home a full 45 minutes later than planned (combination of deciding to take the Metro to my meeting and leaving my car in the office car park, needlessly delaying me plus I always underestimate how long it actually takes to arrive anyway) but I figured the contractor had my number as we had exchanged numerous calls and text messages confirming the appointment so he could always have called me if he arrived and was wondering where I was. Plus he didn’t actually need anyone to be in as access was via the outside manhole cover. He just preferred me to be there so he could show me what he could see on the camera. stressed

I reasoned that had I called him to say I was running late, whether or not he was already there waiting at my house, he might ditch me for another job.

So I chose to do nothing but then thought perhaps he had arrived on time and given it a few minutes decided to leave and it occurred to me it’s possible he received numerous calls and texts that he hadn’t actually got my number.

I waited longer not daring to tell my wife when she rang for a progress update that I might have missed our meeting, simply telling her I was still waiting to hear from him.

As it happens the toilet appeared to be flushing perfectly well by this time but we agreed it was still worth him checking and putting a camera down to investigate so we could establish the cause once and for all.

And she did at least give me the go-ahead to proceed and “test out” the toilet with my impending Forrest Gump.

As time ticked on I decided to give him a quick call and to my relief he was profusely apologetic in that he had been caught up on only his first job of the day which was taking longer than he expected and that he would be in touch as soon as he was on his way to me.

I next heard from him a few hours later to ask if he could come back the following day as he was particularly tired from that one job.

Having already messed up that afternoon for me from a work perspective plus there was the added commitments of any number of activities (football, youth club etc) I wasn’t prepared to waste another day waiting in but offered him a few alternatives over the next few days.

I actually became quite paranoid as I didn’t hear back for a couple of days (yes he didn’t answer my call or respond to the one text I sent) but there was no immediate rush as the toilet was working and quite frankly I was busy and was still slightly behind schedule with some work commitments.

Eventually he texted back and we agreed Friday afternoon, which whilst not perfect at least proved he wasn’t ignoring me and would ensure it was sorted for the weekend.

All the while, and of course none of this was related to my boys, did little to eradicate the feelings of frustration and annoyance at me missing time I should have been working along with the inconvenience of blocked drains and having to pay for it to be unblocked and investigated.

It’s just unfortunate that when you are in that sort of mood, the behaviour (the bad stuff) of your children is more noticeable and vexing.

That same few days we had the first snow of the winter and it was by no means heavy, thick or long-lasting but it was enough to make the roads closest to our house dangerous and the traffic overall worse.

So that morning when Josh was particularly slow (slow is actually a speed far greater than the pace he actually dressed himself and come downstairs!), knowing that if we didn’t leave early we would almost certainly be late for school.

Josh actually had the cheek to turn his nose up at the croissant I had made for his breakfast, preferring to go to school without eating any breakfast because “it was cold”.

A few days have passed and I could easily convince myself I didn’t shout but the reality is I couldn’t believe on the first day there has been any snow for a year, Josh repeatedly went back to sleep instead of getting ready.

It wasn’t just one or two reminders but at least eight occasions when I had to actually run up the stairs (both sets as his room is a loft conversion) to make sure he was sitting upright and putting his clothes on.

But it was a build up of the blocked drain and the snow – always someone else’s fault you see!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Fatherhood

Back-to-School was OK but Homework Made Me Angry #fatherhood

Homework

It was a good job the other schools weren’t back yet.

The first morning after the Christmas break wasn’t as hectic as I’d feared it might be but school bags and uniforms had all been neatly laid out the night before (see how long that lasts!)

We left the house slightly later than I’d planned and the sub-zero temperatures meant we were further delayed as the windscreen defrosted.

However there hadn’t been much need for shouting, just a few gentle reminders to the boys to get out of bed.

The second day was not quite as smooth but, with it being a Friday, when, for some reason the roads are usually always quieter, we left later but arrived at school earlier.

It was after school though that things took a turn for the worse.

Firstly Avi, who came home feeling unwell, had fallen asleep and didn’t want to eat anything, but would later make several exacting demands.

But of course he refused every option offered to him.

By about 10 o’clock after being told of the same choice of available food for the umpteenth time, he snapped.

He lashed out at me and called me a few names and I responded by telling him in no uncertain terms I wouldn’t stand for that sort of behaviour and lack of respect, regardless of how ill he felt.

Although it was only the next day that he pointed out that I’d shouted – and Josh was quick to back him up.

So it’s not that I’ve failed so early on – it wasn’t so much a challenge I’d set myself to not shout (at my children) for a year but a genuine attempt to improve my parenting, the behaviour of my boys, create a better home environment as well as lower my stress levels.

However it shows how hard it can be despite best intentions and endeavours.

My patience was further tested when it was time to do homework.

It’s amazing to think how something as short and simple as the Christmas break had made me forget about the pain of homework.

For when the boys receive homework that means we as parents have work to do.

Please start your homework

The sooner you start the quicker it will be done

Once you’ve finished you can play

You might as well do it all and finish your homework rather than leave it to later in the week

This is what homework starts out like at our house.

I won’t go in to the unnecessary detail of how Josh made it a long, drawn-out process of negotiation and having slept since then I’ve calmed down and forgotten some of the minutiae.

Even me calling it negotiation creates the wrong impression, a much better version than the reality.

It wasn’t a full-blown tantrum but he was on the floor refusing to do his work and even after I’d found a website for him which would shorten the time required to complete his assignment, he refused to accept the relevant information was there to the point where I actually felt my blood was close to boiling point.

So he wasted more time arguing the whole Internet was devoid of what he was looking for rather than just accept what I had already found.

Anyway when he finally saw sense and allowed me to re-find the website it took him about five minutes to actually do that subject.

Which is always my point – he and his brothers can spend so much more time complaining and avoiding the work than just doing it.

Oh well it was done in the end and wasn’t left until 9pm on Sunday night which is at least an improvement.

 

 

Standard
Fatherhood

What Was I Thinking? #fatherhood

frustration

A supermarket trip with all three of them?

What was I thinking?

Clearly I wasn’t thinking at all as I usually try to avoid going to the supermarket (or any kind of shop) on my own with all three of my boys.

Now I don’t think I shouted; I certainly raised my voice but I don’t think I shouted. The boys didn’t seem to notice I was losing my cool but I don’t think I will ask them whether I shouted.

They’ll only be smug about it and what’s that saying about not asking questions you don’t want to hear the answer to.

Either I have been lulled into the false sense of security as a non-shouting parent that all would be well or perhaps because I thought I only needed to pick up a few items that we’d be in and out so quickly there wouldn’t be much opportunity to wind me up.

Standard practice is to inform them not to bother asking for anything.

Not that I am mean but it’s annoying and distracting and if one starts pestering for something then the others feel aggrieved that they are missing out and are compelled to ask for something of at least equal worth (usually measured by its size or their need for it as opposed to actual cost).

As we were just popping in – it was after Rafi’s swimming lesson so saved me having to come back out later – I neglected to re-affirm the normal commandment.

Josh did ask for something and Avi joked about random treats he wanted (they all did ask for Creme Eggs worrying there wouldn’t be any left by Easter) but I assured them we had enough treats in from Christmas to last weeks.

However it wasn’t the asking for items that would me up and it wasn’t so much the climbing on the trolley (at first) or the irritating attempts to push it for me but the squabbling.

Josh thought he would act as peacekeeper trying to prevent Avi from running into Rafi as he skated on his Heelys.

This caused him and Avi to argue as he was taking more of a pre-emptive strike approach.

I told him to leave it to me to sort out and gave him a stern warning.

Suffice to say he obeyed me for all of about 5 seconds before resuming the exact activity I had just warned him to stop.

He had earlier chosen some Crusha drink which I didn’t really want to buy but with them going back to school I thought maybe it was a good idea to have something that he (and Rafi) wanted in the morning to make breakfast a bit more fun (and that I could bribe them with if they weren’t quick enough at getting dressed).

I think I had stipulated if Josh wasn’t down in time in the morning he wouldn’t be able to have any of it so I felt the power very much rested with me.

Anyway after I’d had to intervene with his terrible peace-keeping role I took the bottle of Crusha out of the trolley and stuck it back on the nearest shelf and continued down the aisle.

After I noticed he’d picked it back up, I took it from him but I already started to feel bad (I’m way too soft!) for not letting him have it.

I thought I’d see how his behaviour was for the rest of the time there before deciding but as I approached the tills I realised I’d dropped off my coat with my wallet inside at home before going to Rafi’s swimming lesson.

Just as I thought what a waste of time it had been, Josh redeemed himself (although it’s only now I realised that as I certainly wasn’t thinking it at the time) by pointing out I could use Apple Pay.

So that was a great relief until I realised the limit to paying with Apple Pay was £30 and we’d scanned everything on the self-service tills and we were up to £48.

So by the time we’d cancelled £18 of items (with the attendant having to come and authorise each one in between dealing with other people’s issues on the other self-service tills) and put them through as a second transaction (which in the process made me miss out on the Morrison’s Match & More Points available from a voucher for spending £30 in one transaction!), I had put through the bottle of Crusha without noticing.

So all was well in the end and later at home Josh came and apologised so maybe this non-shouting (assuming I definitely didn’t shout) is working.

Who knows but bigger challenges lie ahead as the first back-to-school day dawns nearer…

 

 

 

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Standard
Fatherhood

One more day until the kids are back at school!

shouting-man

It’s amazing what a difference a day makes.

After a seemingly solid start, the reality of the imminent ending of the Christmas holidays has hit home and the boys are ever-so-slightly more…challenging.

Or could it be that as the rest of the world resumes after the festive break and I am trying to work from home until the boys are back at school?

I still don’t think I’ve shouted although I must have come close.

There’s one more day of this until they are back in school and it is a shame.

I’m not really looking forward to it as I really enjoy watching films together and playing various games and then them being able to sleep in.

But it’s back to the rigours of the morning school run including the inevitable tough first few days when the boys are still in “holiday mode.”

On the one hand with them being back in routine at home and at school whilst I am at work, it should mean normality and less shouting.

However it is very much the school day mornings when most of the arguing and screaming takes place and precisely the times I am trying to make calmer and better so it will be a good test.

Start as I mean to go on and all that – if I can’t refrain from shouting on the first day back at school, the first real test, then I haven’t got much chance of making it through the rest of the year so I’ll stay positive.

Early nights for them – and me – will be key!

 

 

 

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Standard
Fatherhood

Shhhhhh! Don’t shout at the children

shouting-man

So I’ve told my three boys (aged 11, 9 and 6) that I am not going to shout at them for the next year.

I’ve also pointed out it’s not a challenge for them to try to catch me out or an excuse for them to try and get away with certain behaviour knowing I won’t scream.

Previously I have felt frustrated, stressed-out and angry that I was having to roar each morning just to make sure they were all out of bed or dressing themselves or brushing their teeth.

And I’m really not the roaring type.

We often have the windows open and my wife, Laura, would point out the neighbours must think there’s a raving, howling lunatic in our house or our boys are exceptionally troublesome.

The boys are not even close to being exceptionally troublesome.

I no longer want to inflict my bellowing instructions on my boys, I don’t want my mornings to start with such unnecessary stress and I certainly don’t want Social Services to pay a visit thinking my children are at risk from an angry adult.

So a full year of (relative) calm. That’s the plan.

It’s only been a couple of days and New Year’s Eve already tested me.

Josh (11) and Avi (9) wanted to stay up for the midnight fireworks whilst Laura and Rafi (6) had gone to bed already.

We’d played a few board games, it was now after midnight and were mid-way through playing the Logo Board Game and they were just becoming a bit too giddy.

They weren’t really doing anything wrong but being a bit loud (the others were asleep) and silly, prolonging the game whilst I was ready to go to bed myself.

It didn’t help that they both suffer from mild asthma and too much laughter makes them chesty (and the whole house has had a cough and a cold recently which makes it worse) and asthma attacks scare me.

But the more I try to get them to calm them down and encourage them not to laugh, it simply stokes the fires further.

They may joke that I am being a Victor Meldrew and I realise it’s another example of me being tired and losing patience with them whilst they are just children mutually amused by something.

I don’t think I shouted but I noticed I was becoming more angry. Fortunately the game was soon over and we could wish each other a Happy New Year again before going to bed.

For the record and before anyone thinks it might have been a factor I was the winner of the Logo Board Game!

 

 

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Standard
Fatherhood

A Full Year of Not Shouting At My Kids

shouting-man

Really this could and perhaps should have started on 01/01/2017 but it isn’t a New Year’s Resolution.

It’s a genuine attempt to be a better dad, to try to ensure my children respect me rather than fear me (they do neither at the moment of course) and lower my stress levels.

The more I shout the worse I feel and as my (loud) voice is mostly ignored by my children it is largely futile.

Originally I thought a 100-day challenge of refraining from shouting was a good idea but with us being on the cusp of a new year I decided to go for the full 365 days (I actually just checked it wasn’t a leap year!)

Since new habits are not always easily formed but once established they are easier to keep, my hope is to teach my boys that I nor they need to raise our voices to express our feelings, to be heard or to

Some ground-rules though (even though I have already started not shouting); whilst watching football and in particular City, starting with the trip to Liverpool, so long as none of them turns the channel over or the TV off at a crucial time I shall not shout (at them).

It happens from time to time when a button gets pressed by mistake and in the heat of the moment I may let out a little shriek but I am going to try to remember TV nowadays let’s you rewind and they show replays and highlights so it’s not such a big deal even if it does happen.

Also as I said previously should the safety or well-being of any of them or indeed any other person be at risk and the only way of averting the danger is screaming at one of my boys, then I shall not hesitate.

Other than that I am already beginning to enjoy this challenge. I feel calmer and have explained to my three boys that there will be no shouting but they will receive a warning and then the appropriate punishment (usually a ban from any electronic device).

Previously they would have a warning (or eight) followed by a scale of verbal scoldings.

Now they know they can’t wait for a scream to know I am serious.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Standard
Fatherhood

365 Days of Not Shouting (at my kids)

shouting-man

As a calm and pretty laid back type of person I often recount that the only people I shout at are my children.

They are not particularly naughty but for some reason they really know how to push me to the edge!

Recently I was chatting with someone and telling him this fact and his reply stopped me in my tracks and really made me think.

He asked me whether the shouting actually worked.

Wow! Such a simple and obvious question but I hadn’t ever considered it.

I had become so used to shouting louder and angrier to make my children listen and do as they had been told that I hadn’t really considered how effective it had been.

The fact that I needed to increase the volume and ferocity seemed to suggest it wasn’t working particularly well.

“Get out of bed! We’re going to be late for school!”

“Hurry Up!”

“Stop doing that!”

“Why can’t you just listen and behave?”

It probably sounds very familiar to most parents. Often they are being slow, or fighting with a sibling, or being too wild and loud. Other times it could be when I am just trying to concentrate (or go to the toilet in peace!) or if I am hungry, tired, stressed and can’t cope with a little person not listening to me.

Either way it struck me that I shouldn’t ever need to shout, that it was affecting me more than them (ever felt you’d done a full day before you’ve even dropped your children off at school?) and I felt I would be a better dad if I could avoid shouting at all.

So I decided to go a full year without shouting at my children (except for any instance where it is necessary to save them or another person from serious harm!)

I’ll keep you updated on my progress and any comments or shared experiences will be most welcome.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Standard