Things were going to hell in a hand basket.
Dishes clean but still in the dishwasher. Laundry folded and never put away.
Children announcing that they needed to be driven here and picked up there, at the last minute.
Spouse “having dinner with a client. I told you about it yesterday” but nothing written on the family calendar.
Even Coco was in the doghouse, for eating socks that “someone” left on the bedroom floor.
While I was recuperating from my broken shoulder, finishing up classes, submitting final grades and yes– Kon Marie-ing my office so that I could find the draft of that chapter I’ve been writing since April — standards had fallen.
Entropy had taken hold.
Family members had reduced their contributions to just about nothing.
Time for a Family Reset Conversation.
Really, what’s a mother to do, other than have a Reset Conversation with the Whole Family?
A Family Reset Conversation works just like the kind you’d have in an Au Pair- Host Parent situation, but this time it includes everyone.
Here’s how to run it down:
- Call the whole family together and seat them around the kitchen table.
- Remind them of the family vision, family motto, or other similar shared values & vision. Make these up on the fly if you have to.
- Create a picture of what you wish things were like– kitchen tidy after dinner, laundry tucked into neat drawers, events put on the calendar ahead of time, kind words between siblings when the dog needs a walk, backpacks hung up and wet bathing suits in the laundry room. Whatever it is that you need to have happen that hasn’t been happening yet.
- Ask them– what would you like our home to feel like?
How you like mom to greet you when you get off the bus from daycamp?
How would you like our sweet dog to feel when she tells you she needs to go out?
- Next, move to — How can we make this happen?
What can you do differently?
What can I do to help you get there?
What matters most to you?
How can we keep track of progress?
- Have everyone choose three things to do, write these onto the refrigerator, and make a note to follow up in a week.
- Then, focus your parenting efforts on catching them doing things right. At least once a day, per family member (Coco included), recognize and affirm their efforts.
Reset Conversations: A Handy Tool for (M)any Times
Reset conversations are great to have not only when things are falling apart, but also when change is in the air.
Ideally, once your kids are old enough to participate, a Family Reset Conversation can be a useful tool for helping everyone take advantage of the change that a new au pair brings.
Family Reset Conversations are great for more than talking about how to welcome and orient your new au pair. They can be a great tool for upgrading any family habits and routines that need to be adjusted to fit kids who are now a year older.
And, being ‘more grown up’ and have a brand new au pair are great ‘cover stories’ for requesting that your kids (and perhaps even your partner) change their behavior.
No changes for you, though. You’re already a paragon of virtue, a dynamo of positive parenting energy.
Go have a cookie.
Hugs, Au Pair Mom
Image: TailsAndFur on Flickr