Our family spends a lot of time together... a LOT of time. We school at home, we do many outside activities as a family, and my husband works from home. Most of the time we enjoy our group hermitage. But then there are some days...
Remember that old Bill Cosby routine Brain Damage? There's one part of that routine that really resonates with me lately.
Will you stop touching me?!
I spend a great deal of time breaking up disagreements between the boys. These usually involve someone infringing on someone else's personal space. Many times EM will work on JT's nerves with some minor irritating behavior until JT has had enough and reacts in a physical way. I come on the scene and EM is in trouble for invading the personal space and JT is in trouble for not walking away from the situation or calling a parent to deal with it. Both of these issues have been discussed more times than I can count. Is there hope that eventually it will be planted firmly in their minds so that it brings about the proper reaction? One can only hope.
Now I know that all parents with more than one child at home deal with these kinds of issues on a daily basis. Kids will always have their squabbles. But I can also understand why so many parents rejoice when summer vacation is ending. The daily dose of sibling conflict is reduced. Less time together equals less time to fight. We on the other hand, have no reprieve.
Some times are better than others. When the weather is nice, they play outside with each other fairly well. We have an acre of land for them to spread out from one another. When there is snow on the ground, they play nicely together while sledding. They can even play for hours inside with LEGOs or other creative toys most days. But when the weather is nasty, day after day, or we have few plans that allow us to leave the house on separate errands...the tension begins to build and the conflict ensues.
This problem is not only an issue the boys must face. I also get easily irritated when I've been shut up with my crew for too long. For me, it usually comes out as a heightened annoyance with noises and personal space invasion. Little things, like JT's incessant need to drum on any available surface or EM's inability to sit still start to feel like direct attacks on me. Then my fuse is shorter and my reactions are less than cheerful.
Luckily, I am beginning to recognize the signs of an impending explosion. Now I need to start working proactively to prevent them. I am going to put a new policy in place. When any of us are starting to feel the pressure building, we will take a time out and go to our separate corners to do what we love. For me, it will probably be reading or playing either my violin or piano, JT will probably chose reading and EM will likely choose to play in his room.
Getting along harmoniously in such close quarters takes some work. Don't get me wrong, our happy times far outweigh the bad. I want our home-bound lifestyle to be one of peace, not strife. With a little effort, I think it can continue to be a haven for all of us.