Do you find Monday mornings to be as overwhelming as I do? After a relaxing weekend, Monday comes into my room, super early, and smacks me in the face with a fist full of anxiety. On Mondays, the overwhelm is legitimate, because there are so many things to do: laundry, house keeping, school with the kids, and my Monday blog post. Generally, I just put my head down and get to work. After all, Mondays are Mondays. In the end, I get enough done and all is good in my world.
But then there are other days, when I look at my schedule and it appears to be smooth sailing. Suddenly, several urgent things pop up and I become overwhelmed. Panic sets in. I don’t have a plan, and I begin wondering how I’m going to get everything done by the end of the day. I scramble to get those tasks completed, all along, knowing there is no chance that I will. Then, suddenly I find myself done with everything by noon, and I laugh at myself for grossly over estimating how difficult my day looked just a few hours ago.
I have OCD, and chaos, unplanned events, and lack of order in general cause me to get anxious. It used to be worse, but I seem to be figuring it out. As embarrassing as it is, I include the above information because I want to show how sometimes those things we perceive as weaknesses or afflictions can serve as a means of helping others with theirs. If it wasn’t for my own anxiety, I would probably never been able to help my son with his. Here is our story.
We all have tasks that we don’t want to do. That goes for adults and especially, children, but one of my kids has a melt down every time I give him a sizable task. At first I thought he was just being lazy, and I got really frustrated with him. He wasn’t pulling his fair share with chores, keeping his room clean, doing laundry, etc.
The Status Quo Wasn’t Working
We have a plan for doing laundry. We need to do a better job implementing it because when we follow through, it works great. Everyone has their assigned laundry day. My oldest does her laundry on Mondays. My youngest does hers on Saturdays. You get the idea. I really like this system because it makes it really simple to get the laundry from hamper to closet or drawer. There is no sorting required. The kids just grab their basket and go to their room and put away their clothes.
Recently, we returned from a long camping trip and we had massive amounts of laundry. I sorted ALL of it, and put each kid’s laundry in their basket and called them in to get their laundry to put away. When I gave my little fella his basket, he came unglued. This wasn’t a surprise as he often has meltdowns when I give him a task or chore. Normally I would beg, cajole and then threaten him, to no avail. This would result in me yelling and him crying, followed by a stalemate.
I’m not sure why, but this time it dawned on me that he might not be lazy, or defiant. Perhaps he is just being just like me. Maybe the tasks are overwhelming him and he is panicking.
So We Tried Something Different
Instead of getting frustrated with him, I decided to try breaking down the task into smaller components, to see if we could beat the overwhelm.
- The first thing I did was assure him that we could work on his laundry together.
- We sorted his laundry on the bed in my room because it is a larger surface which made his pile look smaller. Also, my bed didn’t have piles of pillows and blankets contributing to the chaos
- I asked him to separate just his pants from the pile. I didn’t mention anything about the entire job, just separating the pants.
- Once he separated out the pants, I asked him to do his shirts, PJs, underwear and socks etc.
- We worked on one thing at a time, never mentioning the entire task.
- When he had his six smaller piles I asked him to put away just his pants, and then his shirts etc, until the job was complete.
- When he finished the task, I made sure that he realized all that he accomplished and how easy it was.
- Most importantly, I assured him that I would help him the next time he had to put away laundry.
Three Things I Learned
- I learned that I can’t just assume that my kid’s behavior is motivated by laziness or defiance.
- It may take more of my time, but working along side of my kids as they do their tasks is worth it.
- I need to get angry less often when my kids flip their lids. Instead, I need to figure out the cause and remove it.
- If I hadn’t faced my own challenges with anxiety and OCD I may never have understood why my son came unglued.
Do you ever get the feeling that God made you the way you are and gave you the experiences that He did for a reason? I didn’t always think so, but then I became the parent of six kids. Each one of them seems to have one or two of my “quirks.” A couple of them are super emotional like me, and are prone to frequent melt downs. One of my kids is prone to pleasure seeking behaviors, such as over eating. And I have the son in the story above, who struggles with anxiety.
I guess my afflictions make me the perfect person to be the father of my children. I’m not exactly thrilled that I struggle with the things that I do, but I am thankful that I am able to use my experiences in a way that will help my children to grow, adapt and thrive.
Do you have personality traits that you see in your own kids? Do you see them facing your same struggles and obstacles? How have you come along side them to solve the problem? I’d love to hear your stories!
By the way, we are super excited to announce the winner of our Giving Tuesday Thankful Giveaway is:
and her charity of choice is
Great Falls Children’s Receiving Home
A giant congratulations to Rita and big thank you to all of you who participated in our giveaway. We had such fun organizing it and we have plans to do lots more contests and giveaways! To be sure that you are in the loop on future giveaways, be sure to sign up for our newsletter by clicking this link.