So, my second child started school, full-time, a few weeks ago. I now have two children in school, and it’s just my happy toddler and me at home for 6 [mostly] quiet hours. Heaven! Don’t get me wrong; I love my children so very much, but when the older two get bored they get loud and cranky and start arguments just to start arguments. That doesn’t make for good and focused practicing. I started to get frustrated today, but then I stepped back, and thought: Well, that’s what my blog is supposed to be about, right? How do I balance having 3 children at home and a performing career. What have I been telling my readers who pop on my site? Wow, have I been spoiled these past few weeks — so much so that I forgot how I used to manage it 7 days a week for the 13 or so hours per day they are awake.
I found that separation worked incredibly well today. My toddler doesn’t understand sharing quite yet. He’s only two years old, and the reasoning part of the brain hasn’t been fully developed yet (at least, that’s what I remember reading). We’re working on it, but it’s obviously going to take a bit of time. My four year old, who fully understands sharing but doesn’t like it, has a fairly hot temper and will explode at smallest look my toddler gives him and his toys. They broke into a lot of arguing and yelling over toys almost first thing this morning (I think I had exactly one note out of my flute). I explained to my four year old why his hoarding of the toy cars was wrong, and when he wouldn’t hand just one over to the toddler after my second or third request, he got a time-out then sent downstairs. That worked really well for about an hour. I have a baby gate at the top of the stairs, so they were definitely separated. I had to repeat the process after lunch when the toddler kept wrecking my four year old’s block building. Again, it worked incredibly well.
Another trick that worked well today, when they got tired of being in one part of the house or the other, was an educational video (again, PBS Kids Video http://www.pbskids.org/video ). They forgot all about being upset over whatever and focused on a couple of spelling/reading shows. The video was the one thing today that the 2 boys could handle together, but I’ll take it.
I think the lesson for me (and maybe for other parents) here is to try completely separating the children if they can’t manage to get along together — I mean, be honest, we all need a little break sometimes — and to try other diversions once the separation fails. I had to learn today to be patient, do my job as a parent, and find a solution (or at least a temporary fix) to problems that came up so I could do my job as a flutist. I’ve really been on my own, completely, this week, and I think that’s what has made this particular weekend so challenging for me, but taking a step back to analyze the actual problem so I could make some attempt at fixing it helped us all this time.