There’s nothing worse than being completely exhausted and having grumpy kids.
If you’re a solo mom you likely got up early this morning and fed a family of hungry kids – or at least attempted to.
Then maybe you hauled the kids off to child care so you could head for work. Or perhaps you started on things like laundry and housecleaning.
By the time supper rolls around you’ve already put in a full day’s work. You are tired.
Then the fun starts.
- I don’t want salad!
- Why can’t I go to my friend’s house for a sleep-over?!?!
- I hate these pajamas!
- Mom, you never listen to me!
- Stop hitting me or I’ll tell on you!
- I’m not hitting you and it’s all your fault anyway!
And that’s just the first five minutes of dinner. Ugh…
Parenting grumpy kids
Parenting grumpy kids when you’re tired is hard. If you’re a single mom or married solo mom it’s extra hard, because you have to do it alone.
I know. I understand.
Here are a few tips to make it easier.
1. The evening can be as short or as long as YOU decide. If their behavior is bad, there’s nothing wrong with a very early bedtime. Remember the days of going to bed without your dinner? It’s still okay. Nobody will starve if they miss a meal. It’s better to choose a healthy option from the beginning than to get to the end of the evening and be yelling and screaming and saying things you’ll regret in about 10 minutes and they’ll remember forever.
Chances are you need your sleep as well. But even if you don’t head straight to bed, having the kids in their room will give you space to rest while they do the same. That way you can all handle tomorrow a bit better.
2. Consider introducing a ‘No-Talking’ rule. For the next hour, nobody says a single word. For every word they say they go to bed 5 minutes early. “Can I have a drink, please?” is 6 words… that’s half an hour early. They may read books, draw, color, watch an approved video, whatever you decide… but they may not talk. This gives everyone time to think, relax and allow the steam to blow over. Gentle speech is much more likely to be the first thing out of their mouths when time’s up.
Offering a treat when the hour is up – for whoever can do it – can be a good incentive. Hot cocoa, or a scoop of ice cream, or an extra chapter of book reading before bed. (I have usually allowed a certain number of ‘grace’ words, because invariably someone would forget and come running to tell me about the exciting thing that just happened in their book. And although they were words, they weren’t grumpy words, so I let them slip – with a warning!)
3. Get your family “read aloud book” and just sit quietly and start reading. If the book is a good one and you’re at a good part, no one will want to miss it and they’ll get quiet quickly.
(Now.. you might be thinking… Ugh!! I never even thought about a family read-aloud book! Don’t worry… it’s easy to start. Check out this post on good books to read out loud for different ages. Find some at the library and start with just one chapter a night, or 15 minutes of reading. Most kids love it, no matter how old they are!)
4. Give each child a large, peeled carrot. Have them hold it between their teeth – no hands allowed! They must sit across from each other on the floor and talk about what they’re upset about. The funny words, and the comical view of the carrot wiggling in their mouths when they speak will bring laughter quickly! You can even get in on it with your own carrot conversation!
Don’t forget to have a calm discussion with them later about what they could have done differently or better. If there is a real discipline issue, deal with it – even if that means telling them what the consequence will be and that you’ll administer it in the morning.
5. Do something different. Hop into the van and go play at the park, or pick up some ice cream cones, or feed the ducks, or whatever. Sometimes just the change of scenery helps. Other times this is just what the kids need… because what they really want is ‘fun’ time with a mom who is so busy. But they don’t know how to say that. Being grumpy is much easier.
Those are just a few ideas. The key is to diffuse the situation, and to give you the time you need to handle it with courage, strength and love.
I need more Patience!
Patience is hard to come by – I know!
Don’t expect to be super-mom and don’t be discouraged when your kids aren’t super-kids. Know each person’s limit and respect it – and that includes your own limit.
Remember to pray for each child individually. Ask God what your child might be trying to communicate with their grumpiness or constant negative behavior. He might just give you the clue you need to eradicate the whole situation.
One of my kids needs a lot of quality time. I have four kids. I homeschool. With my husband gone my time was spread very thin.
But I could always tell when that particular child needed more one-on-one alone time with Mama. It was her grumpiness, her attitude, and her blatant disobedience.
Summer can be particularly challenging with all the kids home all day long with ‘nothing’ to do.
(By the way, I have some suggestions that may help with that – have you checked out my post on Summer Tickets?)
Have a few back-up plans ready for when that next grumpy mood attacks!
How about you?
- What suggestions do you have for handling grumpy kids?
- Were you ever sent to bed without dinner? Would you do it to your kids? Why or why not?