Re-programming

January 8, 2010

Growing up in a Bed & Breakfast means that our children have a few different rules than other children.  Want to watch television quietly in the mornings while we get breakfast ready?  No problem!  (Approved shows, of course!)  About to throw a tantrum because you want chocolate chips something?  Here you go!

Last January, when the boys switched schools and had to be out the door at 7:10 instead of 8:30, our bedtime routine changed.  We switched from putting the girls to bed first and then the boys, to letting the girls watch tv in our bed while I would go upstairs with the boys at seven and read with them.  By the time I came back downstairs, the girls would be asleep in our bed and we would move them back into their own.  This worked, especially as the boys were making the transition to their new school and needed some extra attention.  Before we knew it,  it was guest season and we continued with the new routine as it made life quieter simpler when we had to be dealing with people in the evening.

It has been a week since the last of our guests and company have been here.

Re-programming time.

The older three all had to go through this.  Evan & Alex had the consistency that “no meant no” right from the start since they were four & two when we started the B&B.  We had already laid the groundwork.  If they acted up in the grocery store, we left.  If they acted up at church, they got taken into the “crying room”.  If they threw a tantrum at home, we would walk away and leave them to cry until they were finished, but we didn’t give in.  A story that gets told over & over in our family folklore is the time when we had first moved here and I gave the boys a time-out in their room “until their father got home” (thinking that he should be pulling in the driveway at any time).  When I called him, he was still 45 minutes away.  I got my book and sat outside their door, listening to them play, but they stayed in there until their father got home!

Sarah’s re-programming happened sooner than Olivia’s since Olivia was born just four days after Sarah’s second birthday.  I spent most of that pregnancy on bed-rest  and Sarah spent most of that time with my parents.

Olivia is learning that it’s a tough world.  When she says she wants chocolate chips or marshmallows for breakfast, she’s told “no”.  If she wants to scream and have a tantrum, that’s fine – we just leave her there until she gets tired of screaming.  (It only took two days to re-program that one!)

Last night, she learned the injustice of the fact that if you don’t eat your fish, you don’t get a rice krispie square.  This was especially traumatic because her brothers and sister ate every bite of their fish – even had seconds – so got to eat their dessert while she still had fish on her plate.

It was purely a battle of wills, because she likes fish.  I think she’s learning that as stubborn as she is, her mother is more!  (She had to get it somewhere…)

Eventually, she accepted the fact that she wasn’t getting what she wanted.  She never did eat her fish, but she also didn’t have any dessert.

D’Arcy had to go out to a Cub planning meeting, so I took the four kids upstairs to get them ready for bed.  They all got their pj’s on, and the boys got settled into their room with their books before lights out.  Sarah, Olivia & I all settled in on the top bunk and read three stories.  When I finished reading, Sarah turned over ready to go to sleep, and I told Olivia it was time to go down to her bed.

Well.

She started to wail & flail and was not going to go to her bed.  I picked her up and carried her down the ladder and attempted to put her into her bed.  No, she wanted to go to my bed.  I told her she could go to my bed, but that there would not be any television.  (I’d better add at this point that she’s been going to sleep in her own bed for about a week, but with one of us cuddling with her – this was my first night putting all four to bed by myself since the old new routine started.)  I tucked her into our bed in the dark and told her I had to go and tuck the boys in.

While I was in the boys’ room, I heard Olivia get out of our bed and head downstairs to find Daddy.  I spent the next 20 minutes going between rooms and up & down stairs until finally D’Arcy arrived home.  By that time, I had the boys & Sarah settled and D’Arcy put Olivia into her own bed.  She cried that she wanted Mommy to cuddle, so I laid down with her.   She turned off the tears, gave me a sweet smile and fell asleep immediately!

I guess sometimes we both have to “win”!

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