What I never imagined being when I grew up was a sergeant major - and this is from someone who grew up in the Salvation Army where every corps has one... Yet, I find myself seriously considering putting 'sergeant major' under the field for 'employment' in the national census next Tuesday night. Why? Well, because I've just written up and implemented a routine in this home which any bootcamp leader would be proud of.
I always wanted lots of children, but somehow I thought I would be able to wing it. You know, pop a few out, tell them how the world works and trust them to just play along according to the mutually agreed up rules.
Yeah, I was dreaming.
Some children can apparently be modelled for and then will, by osmosis, just start acting like the adults around them, and self-regulate their behaviour. So far, none of my children has been like these magical children I keep hearing about.
Well, okay, maybe they are and maybe I've just been a less than admirable model? Let's examine that possibility for a second. Yes, yes, it is true, I can be messy. My bedroom is not a room I can let people into without notice ninety percent of the time... That said, I do regularly pick up after myself. I can only take so much visual clutter and then I have to do a mass tidy.
More over, on the whole, I habitually put things away in communal living areas, anyway - at least into neat clusters to be dealt with later. So, there is some modelling of the kinds of habits I would like my boys to develop.
I don't know - their dad isn't a complete slob either, his biggest problem is probably that he would prefer to do for them than wait for them to do for themselves.
Whatever the case, as the years have passed, our home seems to have cut a fairly deep groove around practices of them (the boys) doing as little as possible and us (the parents) engaging in a considerable amount of nagging, and even yelling to get some co-operation on the 'keeping out community functioning' front.
Mornings are the worst. Dave tends to barricade himself in the kitchen each morning and (v e r y slowly) serves up breakfast to each child in turn - in the dining room. This is followed by much chiding as each child drags his heels eating breakfast, brushing teeth, and getting dressed. Erik and Luey are supposed to make their own school lunches, but Dave makes Luey's because Luey 'takes so long' (I wonder why he does that? Might it have something to do with convincing his dad it's easier to just let dad make his lunch?).
Yesterday morning, Dave was screeching at the boys so forcefully I thought he might keel over from a heart attack or burst blood vessel!
So, yesterday I sat myself down and wrote a morning and afternoon/evening routine. Then when the boys came home we had our (recently implemented) afternoon family conference, and I laid down the new law.
I've decided to employ the law of proximity for communication - the closer you are to someone the more likely they are to pay attention to what you are trying to communicate - and get up and deal with the boys in the morning myself (yes, I have been lucky enough to get an extra lie-in in the morning while Dave sorted the boys before school - this is a leftover habit from when the boys would wake me throughout the night for feeds). They will all eat breakfast together in the kitchen with me.
Then brush their teeth, while I make Bryn's lunch. Then Erik and Luey will make their lunches while I make sure all forms are filed away in respective bags and reading logs are signed.
Then the boys will tidy their rooms and the lounge room before they can watch television before school.
This morning I implemented this - and lo and behold, there were no arguments, there was no yelling, and no dragging of heels. In the end they had 45 minutes for television watching! Even the boys were impressed with that.
In the afternoon, it's home, family conference to catch up with school notices and events or requirements. Then homework, if applicable, or free time, then cooking dinner and setting the table and tidying the lounge room (everyone has some job allocated to them). Then dinner. After dinner Erik and Luey do the dishes and take the rubbish out while I read with Bryn.
Being this routinised doesn't come naturally to me, but I have a feeling this is only the beginning. If it brings peace and order to the household, it is worth it!
So, call me sergeant major!