The Week I Went On Strike

Two weeks ago, I wrote about feeling grateful despite all my bitching.  I promised to find the silver lining in all situations and remember how lucky I am.  I even swore off complaining for 24 hours … Well, times up!

This is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year — at least according to the song.  But not for me.  The days between Thanksgiving and Christmas stress me out.  I never seem to have enough time, money or energy to do all the things I want or need to do.  I feel more like a Scrooge than an elf and I am anything but jolly.  Consequently, my fuse runs pretty short these days and the kids’ bickering and sassiness doesn’t help the situation.  Like most moms I know, I’m stretched, stressed and feeling under appreciated and overworked … It’s not good.

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Then last Sunday night, I reached the end of my rope.  I had spent the better half of the week yelling at my kids for various offenses, most of which boiled down to them not following directions.  In my book, repeatedly not following instructions is the same as not listening — something I find both frustrating and disrespectful.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, their level of back talk and impudence had reached a new high and I had officially had enough.  So at 8PM, I declared a strike.  As of Monday morning, I was no longer “doing” for them … At least not for the next five days.

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I’m pretty sure the boys thought I was bluffing … That is, until 6AM Monday morning rolled around and I was not at my middle schooler’s bedside, waking him for school.  Nor was I downstairs making him an omelette and oatmeal or cutting up a melon for breakfast.  Instead, I was in our basement, getting in a quick treadmill run before heading out to the gym for my morning workout.  After school was more of the same:  I did my own thing while they did theirs.  I let them know what time we needed to leave in order to get to their respective practices on-time, but I didn’t micromanage the afternoon.  I also reminded them of our ‘schoolwork-before-sports’ rule, but it was up to them to pace themselves in order to get their homework done, cook dinner, clean it up and be ready to go at the designated time.

The first two days were a bit rocky and there was still a little bit of yelling on my part and sauce on theirs.  My husband stepped up and supervised the early morning routine, for which I was very grateful, and by day three, everyone knew what to expect.  They weren’t thrilled, but sloppily and begrudgingly they survived five full days of me “not doing.”

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Now that it’s Friday night and the kids are asleep, my strike is officially over.  Was it successful?  Did the boys learn anything from this experience?  Will they appreciate me more now?  I don’t know.  Possibly not.  But I learned a few things from my five-day work stoppage.  Most notably I learned that …

  • being off-duty as a mom doesn’t mean much when your kids aren’t old enough to drive
  • boycotting laundry for a week really only hurts me
  • my boys are fully capable of feeding themselves, but their dishwashing skills need work
  • afternoons are much quieter when I don’t supervise homework (fingers crossed that they actually did their homework this week)
  • my husband got the short end of the stick this week and suffered the most (sorry about that, S!)
  • next time I go on strike, I’m doing it from the beach

It’s going to be hard to give up my kid-free morning time next week, but now that I know the boys can handle more morning responsibilities, I’m going to cut back on what I do for them.  Not because I don’t love them, but because I want them to be more independent and self-sufficient … and because I need time to check my emails and sip hot tea.

– LJDT

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