Two weeks ago I wrote “Homemaking: A Calling and a Blessing” – my kickoff to my own 40 Days Challenge. My goal over these forty days is to de-clutter and organize our home, along with making our home more peaceful. The first week started off great – I cleaned and organized our upstairs hall and linen closets and hauled two bags of trash out of the house. I felt good. Last week, I tackled our son’s bedroom. He has a lot of storage (because we love IKEA) and that makes it much easier to “collect” stuff – there’s plenty of room for it! So I spent an entire day clearing out his closet, dresser, and wardrobes. I boxed up toys that were no longer age-appropriate, put clothes that I wanted to save (I have my own issues with letting go of “baby stuff”) in totes to put in the attic, and made a big box of clothes to sell and/or donate.

So what’s the problem? My first two weeks were extremely productive. The problem is that the peace I am really wanting is lacking. I am still worrying. I am still raising my voice (this is the big problem for me). I get in bed at night and I feel defeated. Tuesday was my breaking point. I put my foot down and told myself that was the last “bad day” I was going to have. I said I was going to create peace in my home – and I will.

My kids give me a run for my money every single day. I often wonder how this can happen. I used to manage a classroom of up to 28 little ones at a time, yet I can’t control TWO. Really?! I must be the worst mom ever. Actually, I’m not. I’m just a giant softie who succumbs to pouty faces and puppy dog eyes. That’s my problem. So I picked up a book that our pediatrician recommended  about 2 years ago – it’s been collecting dust ever since. It’s called 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas W. Phelan. It claims to be “the simplest, most-effective parenting program for raising happy, well-behaved children.” Sign me up! I planted my butt on the couch and started reading. I tuned everything else out (talk about peace!) and read half the book. I intend to finish it before the weekend, but I was able to implement the method right away the next day. {The second half of the book focuses on routines and real-life stories, so even though I only read half, I read enough to get started by introducing the method to the kids and “practicing.”}

On Wednesday, I sat my two little munchkins down and explained to them how things were going to work. They were told that I am no longer going to raise my voice and that they basically have 10 seconds to shape up and change their behavior or they will find themselves in time-out. We also briefly discussed how less nonsense will lead to more fun together. Wednesday and Thursday were much better than Tuesday and I have hope for tomorrow. I will say that my (almost) five-year-old responded much better to this than the (newly turned) three-year-old. Aside from one major tantrum from the little one in which she was having no parts of time-out, we had two peaceful days. We even managed to watch a movie in the middle of the day and make a St. Patrick’s Day craft on Wednesday and today I was able to bake five dozen cupcakes.

This simple approach truly worked like magic. I stopped both my kids in their tracks by saying, “Take 1.” My husband couldn’t believe his eyes during breakfast when little Mr. Man was ready to throw a fit, but instantly stopped when I started to count. It gives the child a few seconds to stop and evaluate their own behavior and to decide if they want to continue and possibly end up with a consequence or just let it go. And the best part is I don’t need to get upset or raise my voice. Ahhh… there’s that peace I want.

I intend to be consistent with our new approach and to create the peace our home needs. I will be writing a follow-up post next week to update you on our progress and to include some positive reinforcement ideas I have up my sleeve from my teacher days. I am not 100% sold on “time-outs,” so I will be implementing time-out alternatives, which the book does discuss as well.

1-2-3 Magic is very easy to understand and gives many real-life scenarios. There were times when I thought the author actually knew my kids! While it is evidence-based and written by a clinical psychologist, it’s not a text-book. You’ll fly right through it and feel ready to make a change. I say this because I know I am not alone in this struggle and that this just might be the help you need too.

♥ Denise


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