We just got back from a massive two week road trip.
Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Slovenia.
It was awesome. Not every moment, of course (I’m looking at you, food poisoning in Sarajevo). But a fun trip.
We took our Kinderwagon, but I was excited to have completely stoller-free days too. Like at Plitvice Falls, Lake Bled, Kotor, and the Postojna Cave. They did a lot of walking. (I was so proud.) We also did a lot of carrying. Natch.
When we busted out the stroller for a full day in Ljubljana, I was glad to have it, but I was also dreading it.
You see, the stroller is a huge help, but it can also be a hassle. Not because of the stroller itself, but because of my children. They sit close together in the Kinderwagon. This makes it great for fitting in tight spaces or onto public transportation. But it also means they bother each. Like all the time.
Sometimes I just grin and bear it. If they aren’t hurting each other, it’s probably OK, right?
Until they DO start hurting each other. And they won’t stop. And they just WON’T. LEAVE. EACH. OTHER. ALONE.
It stresses me out. It hampers my enjoyment of our otherwise lovely day. But what am I gonna do?
Well, this time I decided to try something else.
Before we set out, I outlined our “zero tolerance” strategy. I let them know that we would be not touching each other in the stroller today. Period.
This would involve a three strike system. If you touch your sibling, it will result in:
1) A verbal warning,
2) Being buckled in, and finally
3) Ejection from the stroller.
(Yes, I know the children should already be buckled in. Don’t hate.)
You can see this isn’t completely thought out. If the children are out the stroller, then what? The raging child is going to just walk calmly along?
But, thankfully, it didn’t come to that.
To our surprise and excitement, this system WORKED.
By the end of the day, Henry had gotten one verbal warning. That’s it.
We reminded them about the system, every time they got in the stroller, and it somehow worked.
I couldn’t help thinking, are we onto something here? I mean, this was one day, and I am under no illusions that this would have worked forever, but is this they key? Outlining clear consequences and then following through?
If so, what else could I be doing to make my life easier?
Such as fights around the house?
Frustration at mealtime? Or bedtime? Or bathtime?
So many times I just accept, “oh, this is the way it is” or “oh, they are kids, what can I expect?”
This stroller experiment made me think, “Maybe I can expect more. A lot more.”
I don’t know what form this zeal will take, but I’m planning to take a hard look at our routines. Is there an area of friction to tackle? If so, I’ll try to sit down with the kids and hash out a plan. These are the expectations. If you don’t do this, x, y, z consequences will follow.
And I know this seems logical and like what I should be doing anyway. But it’s hard, y’all. Sometimes we get so busy living life that designing a new system and putting it in place just seems beyond the realm of possibility.
I know this won’t work all the time. Or maybe even a little of the time. But maybe I’ll try to give them some expectations to rise to instead of assuming that they can’t or they are too little or kids are kids.
We shall see.
Have you had success on a plan like this? Do your kids rise to meet expectations or is it just too frustrating to try?
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