About ten days ago I wrote a particulary honest post about how life wasn’t going so well and that we needed to change things to make them better. Over the course of a Friday and Saturday, we – the four of us who can speak – talked, made list and discussed plans, all with the aim of making us all happier, day to day.
It was important to me that the children understand that we want them to be happy but also to understand that we didn’t mean life would suddenly be filled with presents, sweets and day trips.
Another thing I wanted to try to get through to the boys was that The Bavarian and I want to be happy too. That we sometimes need to do things that are not child-centered or that have the best interests of the children at heart but may not be things that make the children particularly happy, for example making sure that homework gets done.
I have to say, I was surprised at how well the children reacted. From the moment we began, it was as if a switch had been flipped. There was a little bit of bickering initially, but by and large they contributed their opinions without whinging, shouting or going off in a huff. Number One even wrote his own lists, and he is not a fan of writing.
We started off with an easy one – dinners. Number One and Number Two used both be very good eaters but over the past year or two they have become fussy. They still eat a good range of meals, but for a while now meal times have been a struggle with one or other of them no matter what has been served.
Thanks for our list-making, we now have at least 11 meals, 6 of which all five of us will eat. Of the other 5 meals, four of us will eat them.There will still be “I’ll have paste but no sauce” type mealtimes, but so far it has been A LOT better than it was.
The second list we worked on was what to do about holidays. Up till now we have mostly gone to Ireland on holiday to visit friends and family. We have had short breaks in Germany, Austria and Holland from time to time. What we have never done, even before we had the children, was go on a sun holiday. That, however, is something the boys have been asking for again and again.
Number Two wanted to go to Mexico or Thailand. Number One wanted somewhere where coconuts and mango grow. Without disappointing them terribly, I managed to convince them that Spain, Portugal or Italy would be better – quicker to get to, we’d have more money to spend there, etc. So a sun holiday is something we are looking into now.
The other areas The Bavarian and I knew we needed to tackle were the boys’ own needs and wants. We can’t stop them growing and developing, so we have to change our approach to each of them now and again. I won’t go into all the details here, but I will tell you how we went about things.
Before broaching the subject of what to change in their routines, I made a list myself of what I felt would benefit them. I made another list of what would make me happy. Then, when the children came home, I asked them for their opinons. Luckily our lists matched pretty well and we implemented the changes we could agree on. Some got shelved for another day.
Of everything we planned and discussed and did over those couple of days, the thing that made me happiest was when I asked Number One if he had any idea what could be on my own list “Things That Make Mammy Happy”. He looked down at the floor then looked up again at me shyly and said “When the children are happy”. It wasn’t what was written on my list, but the four points I had written down basically boiled down to that.
I was tempted to write this post several times since we tweeked our life and made those small changes. But I was afraid of jinxing things. But ten days in, I think it is safe to say that life is running more smoothly now. We’re in harmony again.