Chaos reigned in the months after my 2012 divorce. I lost sight of disciplining and as many parents often do, I felt guilty (a common theme in parenting!). My daughter was fast approaching “tween-dom” and my son had just turned 4. I saw the problems lying ahead but I felt bad for what they were going through. I knew my daughter was hitting puberty with all the raging hormones that entails and they both were struggling to see where they fit in with all the changes. I had just returned to work a few months prior to the divorce after having stayed home for nearly 3 years and we were all trying to get into the groove of a routine.
To be honest, I felt beat down and beyond tired.
Flash forward a year and a half…
All those problems I saw coming but ignored? You guessed it!
There are HERE!
I don’t like it one bit but I have no one to blame but myself. I think “blame” may be a bit too harsh. I was doing what I thought was right at the time with the limited information, resources, and support I had. And that feeling of being beat down and tired? That seems to have multiplied with the ongoing struggle for power in our house. I can remember a line from comic D.L. Hughley where he’s talking about his relationship with his children. It goes something like “If I’m paying your bills, I ain’t your friend!” How true is this?! But how many of us have lost sight of that for one reason or another?
We tried taking toys and privileges away for bad behavior, rewarding chores, making lists of acceptable/unacceptable behavior, and yes, yelling. Nothing seemed to work or last very long.
With an extreme lack of team feeling, my husband and I have been trying to come up with a plan to reconnect with the children and get this train back on track. During one of our brainstorming sessions, my brilliant husband came up with the idea of a Community Corner.
Immediately, we thought “YES!” What better way to teach being a part of the bigger picture than to show the kids that community begins at home! All these thoughts of the bulletin boards at the grocery store starting popping into my head. How could I make something like that and have it suit our needs? I began looking around our home for things to re-purpose or re-use. In our family, we are BIG on re-using things things and throwing away as little as possible. I found a broken picture frame kicking around and some unused shipping boxes from the post office along with plenty of craft paper, stencils, and miscellaneous other items.
What we came up with is something I think the kids are going to enjoy because it gets us ALL into the game of life and we are focusing on positive instead of putting so much emphasis on the negative. Our idea fosters involvement and has us all feeling like we are an important part of the team.
While we are still the parents and VERY much in charge of the household, it feels great to empower the children and get them working toward common goals with us.
It took me about a week to get the corner put together the way I wanted. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. But once it was installed in the kitchen, I felt very proud that we are taking steps in the right direction for our family.
When we sat down with the kids to discuss this Community Corner, it was after dinner and nearing bedtime, so it didn’t go as beautifully as I had imagined. Things seldom go the way we plan for them to in our head. I have to remember this won’t be a one time conversation. For it to really take hold and make change in our lives, we are going to have to discuss it daily, keep it fun and fresh, and most importantly, not give up!
Below is a detailed outline of how I created our Community Corner!
**NOTE: I originally wrote this article nearly a year ago and since then we have had ups and downs but our issues are much more manageable now. Our family isn’t perfect, but whose is?! We try to hold monthly family meetings to discuss what we find in the suggestion box and how we can work them into the schedule. We have recently added chore charts, behavior/reward/consequence charts, and an internet rules and expectation chart. I will create posts for each of these along with my monthly bulletin board ideas.
Click the pictures to enlarge and open the gallery.