Isn't the Supernanny great?
I don't watch much TV these days, but when I do sit down to rock my Baby Savage to sleep at night and flip on the tube, I am always happy to see the sweet face of the Supernanny looking back. Each week, she brings a new family back from the brink of destruction with a few simple ideas. At the end, the grateful families all tearfully sing her praises, raving about how she has changed their lives and taught them how to really enjoy their children.
Maybe she should come to my house.
Never mind, scratch that. If I really sat down and thought about it (like right now, for example) I could probably figure out for myself what the Supernanny would tell us to change.
Let's give it a go, shall we?
Okay, the first thing she always does is post a schedule. A predictable routine.
Now, right there we have a problem. I start out the day with a predictable routine, but it breaks down somewhere around breakfast.
I'm not kidding about this.
Here's how it's supposed to go: Uno gets up first. He's supposed to get dressed, make his bed, brush his teeth, feed the dog and practice the piano. The piano wakes me and the baby up and we do our morning routine too. By now Uno is done with piano and we get ready to go for a walk. At this point, Dos is getting up. He gets ready for a walk, and we all do the 2 mile loop around the neighborhood. Afterwards, we eat a nutritious breakfast and get to Uno's small amount of schoolwork. We break for a nutritious lunch, finish the schoolwork, wrap it up for the day. The kids play until dinner time, then we sit down to a nutritious dinner, have some family fun activity with Savageman, bathe, brush teeth and go off to bed with hugs and kisses.
I think this happened once. Sort of.
Here's what really happens: Uno gets up first. He gets dressed, sort of makes his bed, I hope brushes his teeth, and he heads downstairs and eats breakfast because he's hungry. He lets the dog out but forgets to feed him. While he's eating, he's bored so he puts on the TV or a book on tape. Baby Savage hears this and wakes up, sneaks out of my bed without waking me and joins him, opting for a bag of tortilla chips or microwave popcorn for breakfast, which he munches on the couch, making a crummy mess. When I finally wake up and realize that he's gone, I get up, make my bed, brush my teeth, and get dressed. While I am getting dressed, I sneak a peek at my email. Something interesting catches my eye or requires a response and I take care of that. By the time I make it downstairs, the place is a mess, the dog is scratching at the door crying to be fed, the baby is no longer hungry for a nutritious breakfast and Uno is too full to go for a walk. Not that it matters, because there is still no sign of Dos. I ask Uno if he has fed the dog and he gets that shocked look on his face like that kid in Home Alone. I ask if he has practiced the piano and he starts getting all defensive and we have our first fight of the day. Still no sign of Dos. I go up to see if he is still breathing, notice that Uno didn't make his bed and left his drawers hanging open and clothes strewn on the floor. When he is done with the piano, I remind him that the bed needs to be made and room picked up and he gets all defensive and we have our second fight. The fighting wakes up Dos and the two of them begin fighting with each other. I try to clean up the downstairs mess while Uno takes a second shot at the bed and Dos gets dressed. It is now almost lunchtime. "Can we finally go for our walk?" I ask in desperation. We get our shoes on and get ready to go out the door. Then Dos decides he's hungry and wants to eat too. We wait for him to eat. We get ready to walk out the door again and Tres decides he's finally hungry for cereal. We pack a baggie with dry cereal for him to hold in his stroller.
We finally head out for the walk.
Of course, now it's too hot to do the whole two miles, so the negotiations begin for a shorter route. If I don't give in, Uno realizes after a few minutes that he forgot to go to the bathroom so he has to take a shorter route anyway. Not sure if he is serious or not, I err on the side of dry pants and let him take the shorter way. Dos has long since taken off on his scooter and has finished the two miles easily. We all arrive home at different times. When I get there, I say, "Okay, time for work!" Of course, Uno can't do work because he is so exhausted by the walk. I took the same walk, while pushing the baby, and I'm ready for work, but the healthy, young, energetic boy is wiped out. I mow the lawn or do housework while he catches his breath. When I come back, he has recovered and is tormenting Dos. "Okay, now it's time for work!" Nope, now it's lunch time. "Why didn't you eat lunch while I was mowing the lawn?" "We weren't hungry." I wait while they eat lunch. I have coffee (because now I'm wiped out, but I'm not allowed to show it so I drink coffee instead) and a few bites of whatever.
The rest of the day consists of attempts by Uno to get out of his work, all the while whining that he never gets to do what he wants. I show him the fancy chart I made (idea from the Supernanny herself) with the velcro Smiley Star that moves along the path as he completes each task until it hits the celebration spot. I remind him that after he gets the (three whole) subjects I have lined up for him done, he can have the rest of the day to himself. He takes frequent trips to the bathroom, prays I will get a distracting phone call or that his brothers will require my attention, and does his best to do everything but his work. Eventually, I conveniently forget the Smiley Star and find an excuse to get everyone out of the house. We get home at dinner time and stand around with Savageman eating cold cuts or whatever because I'm too drained to cook. While we discuss what to do, the children wander off in various directions, play with friends, etc. and just as we've decided it's too late to start anything, they show up wanting to do something. We do something, get them ready for bed, maybe bathe, and put Uno to bed. I rock Tres to sleep. Dos is still awake (since he had slept until 10:30 am) and he asks to do his own (optional) schoolwork. We snuggle and do schoolwork until way too late, and he goes to bed too. Too wiped out to do anything with Savageman, I finally have a little time to myself before crawling off to bed way too late.
What would Jojo say?
First, she would probably tell me to stop blogging about her and go to bed.
Next, she would tell me to come up with a more realistic schedule we can actually stick to, and to schedule plenty of fun time that they don't have to earn. Right now, if they want fun time, they have to earn it. They rarely do, so we miss out on a lot of fun. She'd probably also have me get up before them so I will be ready for them when they get up. She would also have me plan for cooking, chores, and time for myself and Savageman before midnight. And she'd tell me to eat better.
Next, she would talk to me about the way I talk to them. She would tell me not to yell and to give them lots of enthusiastic praise and encouragement in a sweet voice. This is easy with the Baby Savage, but I forget to do it with the bigger ones. I hardly ever talk to Uno that way, which is probably why he feels so hassled all the time. Maybe that is why he is so avoidant of me and the stuff I want him to do.
Next, she would probably have me stop counting them with the 1-2-3 thing. Give them one warning, and then off to the Naughty Chair. Have them sit there for a minute per year of age, then have them apologize and move on.
More importantly, Jojo focuses on the positive stuff. Having fun together and building your relationship so that they want to behave for you is probably much more important than what you do when they misbehave. We focus way too much on the consequences and too little on the love. We don't spend enough time just having fun with them. She would have us fix that.
Finally, she would look at how Savageman and I work together. She would tell us to communicate more and look for ways to help each other. She would tell us to spend more time alone together.
And she'd remind me again about the sleep.
Okay, Supernanny, I'm going. Thanks for the consult. I'll get to work on it right away.