The bickering cacophony cascading down the stairs was hitting that pitch which indicated mediation was going to be in short order. I was trying to prep for dinner while answering emails with my laptop precariously perched on the counter, evaluating the splash range of my frantic food fixing. The upstairs squabbling acoustics continued to intensify. I had hoped that if I just ignored the feud, it would find its own damper.
From my station in the kitchen, I called up the stairs. “Hey team. Let’s quiet it down. Let’s get along.”
Yelps, accusations, and general fire increased in the wake of my sound advice.
I sent another verbal message up to the second floor, this time enlarging my volume and tone. “Seriously, guys! Quiet down and get it figured out! Don’t make me come up there!”
Which seemed to only pour igniter fluid on the, ahem, sibling negotiations.
The pugnacious ballet continued, the kids fighting, me hollering from the floor below. Attack and counterattack, no progress, no ground made. I grew exponentially more irked, my mood swinging from a content domesticity to full-out mad. I finally chunked down my mixing spoon in frustration and went stomping up the stairs to sort out the combatants.
Which took about one minute.
As opposed to the twelve minutes of verbal haranguing that had occurred previous.
Just one simple move.
Actually going to the perpetrators and lowering the boom.
It’s a move that can change your parenting game.
The funny thing is, we already know it’s effective. We threaten, “Don’t make me come up there!” Because somewhere, we know that’s the one thing that can put the kibosh on the mutiny.
But we’re tired. And we’re trying to get stuff done. And we don’t want to get up, put down the mixing spoon, set the computer to the side, get off the phone, interrupt the book.
Nothing cleans up an obedience issue like a kid knowing that the mama will, in fact, enter the stage. At least at my house.
I’ve seen many a mama, I’ve done it many a times myself. The kid drama starts and we issue edicts and naggings and genius rejoinders like “Stop that!” and “Don’t” and “I told you to pick that up!”, all from a perch where we are seen as passive.
But here’s the thing.
After I’ve caught myself in a slump of trying to correct from the other room, if I’ll simply recommit to the practice of Getting Up and Going in There Immediately, my parenting game goes up a notch. Or four.
It interrupts the practice of riot. It interrupts the pattern of pushing the button one more time. It interrupts the process of revolt.
And I make it count. Consequences get issued pronto.
And over time, a magical thing happens.
The incidence of bickering reduces. The prevalence of insurrection drops.
A certain peace is restored.
All because they know. Mama will get up. She will enter the arena. She will not make distracted calls from the sidelines while doing seventeen other things. She will have her head in the game and there will be extra chores, extra laps, and a desert of all things digital.
So even though it’s a pain. And even though I’m tired. And even though I would much rather just make the call from a few rooms away…
It’s worth it. To get up. To go deal.
Because it reminds the kids that it’s not worth it to engage in the activities that make the mama make that move.