All work and no play makes life dull, and Mama grumpy

grocery shopping cart produce milk

Instead of braving the high temperatures to do needed yard work one day this past week, we went grocery shopping, also a needed activity.  I wanted to include an incentive for the kids to behave during the trips into the store, something to help them work towards controlling their own behaviors.  As an adult we might stop and pick up a coffee, or listen to a certain radio station, etc. to reward ourselves for doing a job.  Why not give the kids something similar?

The night before I had printed off a shopping list and planned to stick to it.  It was not excessively long – one store had 4 school supply items, while the second store had under 10 grocery related items, though these were on spread out across the whole store. Having a list would help by keeping the trips quick-ish and on track.  But what to use for an incentive?

Then I remembered the local cinema’s children’s summer movies.  Each week has a different choice of movie for $1 each morning.  Perfect! I even liked this week’s movie; there are several I refused to take the kids to see.

To make the incentive even greater, I added in the option of (1/2 price) cheeseburgers from Sonic to augment our picnic lunch and time at a local park or indoor playground.  Yes, I was putting together quite an incentive package here.  Jack is on a cheeseburger kick and both love going to parks.  They have also been asking to visit the indoor playground all summer. (A local church opens their playground to the public for certain hours during the week. It even includes an area with tables, family and gender specific bathrooms, and a walking track if I choose to take advantage of it.)

While at the second (and last) store, I had to remind the kids of what was at stake several times.  We had two items left to pick up and things were quickly going down hill.  Jack had already been delegated to ride in the cart, but was doing his best to try and open things.  George could not seem to get more than 3 feet away from his brother, but instead felt the need to do little things to pester Jack into deregulation. My attention was on the shopping, in hopes of getting it finished quickly, yet I was being stopped every few feet to correct behaviors.  With my attention being not focused on the kids, I could feel control being lost and it was not going to end well if things did not change.

By the time we got up to check-out, I finally stopped making excuses to myself about how impatient I was being and said, “That’s it.  You both knew what was expected of you, yet you have chosen not to do those things.  Since you could not control yourselves here, in an easy setting, I can not take you to somewhere where more control is needed.  We have to go home.  No movie.”  Oh, the horror.  The pleading and whining began.  Never a good idea.  My motto is “If you whine, it is an automatic NO.”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I remembered an important piece of what was happening … due to our change in breakfast routine, I had forgotten to give them their medicine.  Instead I had put them into a car and taken them to two stores with bright lights and lots of colors and ‘stuff’ around them.  Um, yeah, no wonder George was feeling uncomfortable and looking for ways to control the situation, while Jack was feeling overwhelmed and wanted to let me know that he wanted out of this place.  So, I compromised.

Taking a few breaths I said, “Look, stop the whining, right now.  You know what that leads to.” pause to hear the quiet, “I will give you one last chance.  You will need to convince me however, with good arguments and proper voices, as to why exactly I should still take you to see a movie.”

Have you ever heard logical arguments from 7 and 8 year olds?  Yeah, me neither.  But it was interesting to hear what they thought were good ones.  I even had them clarify a few.

child on playground

20 minutes later, sitting in the movie theater, I realized I had made the right call.  The kids had calmed down and were thoroughly enjoying themselves.  There was laughter and giggles, bright eyes and squeals.  I, too, had calmed down and was having fun.

After the movie and a picnic lunch at an indoor playground, we made a trip to Goodwill. While Jack really did not want to shop, George was up for it.  I told them what I was looking for – swim shirts and movies.  In the end we found a shirt for George, ‘new’ swim shirts for both kids, and the movies were 12 for $0.99 (we picked up 24).  We also found THIS for only $7! I was so surprised and excited.  While I took a look at it in store, I did not stop to completely examine all the contents.  While it was missing some of the readers, there were enough of the components there for me to decide to buy it.

Once I got home and looked at everything more thoroughly, I realized it had parts of the Kindergarten kit with it and it the flashcards for 1st are missing as well.  As we are not fans of flashcards, especially for reading, this last bit did not worry me. I will add this to this year’s curriculum as review and extra practice.  It may be labeled for first grade, but that does not mean we can not use it for second and third graders.  Even more so when this is an area of difficulty for both kids.

So, what are my plans for this upcoming week?  Shopping at Aldi, which I did not get to last week, and some more school supply shopping. We may even make a stop in to GFS for a few treats. As an incentive, since I do not like the movie option this week, we will be going roller skating.  George has been asking to go for a while to practice his roller blades more (they were a Christmas gift).  My hesitancy stems from the fact that roller skating actually makes the kids more hyped up, rather than calming them down as one might assume would be the result of physical exercise. I think I will have to add in a time limit followed by outside time. (If skating is not your thing, how about bowling.)

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