It's a sure sign of a lazy Busy Mama when the kids start getting grumpy over nothing. It can seem sometimes there is no rational reason for a bad mood. There are a small number of things I check for when my boys get grumpy.
(Not including Angel Baby, she's in a class all her own. I will probably never figure her out!)
First, I check for changes.
Macboy especially is sensitive to change. Even as a toddler if I switched the candles on my coffee table, he would switch them back. Now as a preteen it shows more frequently in a disrupted schedule or routine. Changes at school are powerful, even minor changes can have devastating effects. Art
(man, I HAVE to come up with a better nickname than that.)
is less sensitive but still resistant. He won't crash into a massive meltdown, but he'll sure make sure you know he's unhappy.
For myself as well, if I have a good routine going and then get unexpected company, I'm happy to greet them but also happy when life gets back to normal afterwards.
The worst part of this situation, is that there is no quick fix. We have to wait it out through an adjustment period. I can step in when the number of changes at one time gets too heavy, at least minimizing the impact on all of us.
Next, I consider sleep.
If they have been fighting an awful lot at a specific time of day, it is usually sleep related. For example, on school days, everyone is happy when we get home but by 4:30... It's a COMPLETELY different story! Around 4:30 they are starting to get hungry and they are starting to get tired. They need food for energy to get through the rest of the evening.
They want a snack but can't decide what to eat, so they try to carry on doing what they were doing... until the other brother gets in the way. Fighting ensues. Both end up arguing their case to me in the kitchen where I am trying to prepare dinner so they will stop COMPLAINING!! It's not a fun circle. If I give them a snack, then I have to fight through dinner. (see Picky eaters)
And one of the biggest factors I have noticed, especially since I have quit smoking, is that the amount of veggies we eat DIRECTLY impacts their moods. Fish and Chips, Burgers and Fries, Pizza, convenience quick meals take their toll. The main reason this has increased since we stopped smoking is simple.
We can afford to eat out more, and we do.
The vegetable situation is tricky to determine sometimes. It can appear much like the sleep issues. Partly, I'm sure, because the kids sleep better when their diet is better. But even when sleep appears to be in order, a lack of a proper diet can spiral out of control. A good hearty chili or veggie soup will help straighten up attitudes in less than a day. Maintaining a healthy balance and getting enough veggies into my kids is not always easy. They are picky, things have to be prepared certain ways. You can't mix too many things together (unless you lie about the ingredients). One small piece of a mushroom can ruin a perfectly good balanced meal.
Who's to blame?
Well, ME. I rush, I procrastinate, I cheat at dinners. Failure to plan will always bite me in the, well, you know what.
If I don't plan, the meat is frozen, or the broccoli is rotten and I quickly choose something quick and convenient. Which is never anywhere NEAR as healthy.
I'm sure even the kids teachers can tell when Wendy Doesn't Cook well, the boys are just generally unhappy. Don't want to work on assignments, act tired, argue with other students. Art is more likely to cry over silly things, while Macboy will rip things up or just be oppositional. Sure fire signs that veggies levels are low.
So How Do I Fix It?
hahaha.... it's a work in progress.
- I'm trying to expand the menu around here and trying new recipes.
- We shut everything off and eat together every day.
- I use the 'try everything' rule. You must have a bite of everything on your plate.
- I serve more than I expect them to eat. This way, when they start bargaining, I look like I caved even though I didn't.
- I plan, or at least try to. And when planning doesn't work, I at least record. After all, a record of what we DID eat, makes a great foundation for future meal plans.
And, I apologize.... often..
People may think I'm crazy when my explanation is "I'm sorry, it's not enough vegetables" but it's no joke. So if you are feeling kind of low, or a bit grumpy, add some veggies. My broccoli cheese soup is delicious, easy and effective.