21 responses to “The Hardest Part of Being a Mean Mom? I’d Have to Say the Repetition (And Then I’d Have to Say it Again!)”

  1. kim

    So I used to repeat myself a lot! Once when my oldest daughter was only 3 I ask her to move her sandals from the back door to the front door. “Mom, they’re not my sandals they’re my freakin’ shoes!”
    Ok so mother of the year I’m not.

  2. Nicole

    So happy to read that I’m not the only one on repeat AND for the same things! I do have to say my 12. is more like this – wash your hands…(I did) do it again with soap AND water. Also, brush your teeth…(I did!)…ok, this time with toothpaste!

  3. Elizabeth G. Howard (@smallstate)

    I LOVE YOU! Guess what… many, MANY parents, grandparents and friends, ask me “WOW! Your kids are SO well behaved! How do you do it?!” And I just smile and say “Because I (and my husband) are a BRICK WALL.” Nothing gets through us.

    I feel mean too, so I was really glad to read this. It’s gotten easier as my littlest one has stopped putting everything in her mouth (mine are 8, 7, 7, and almost 5), but it’s true… HAVING MANNERS is not in our blood. It has to be taught.

    Recently, my brother came to visit with his daughter… she is 7. This was Thanksgiving. She immediately started wolfing down her food when it hit her plate and she stabbed a huge piece of turkey with her fork and GNAWED on it, just like that. My kids were GAPING at her, as they waited for everyone to be served. It was the weirdest moment. Then my brother “ahemed” (after my son asked if he could start and I said “no honey we wait for everyone to be served”) and my sister-in-law cut her food for her. “She’s ONLY 7. heh-heh” She said.

    I don’t mean to brag, but my kids can cut their food by themselves and have been since they were 4. European-style… with the fork in the left hand.

    I think it isn’t about “bad parenting”… it’s about what is “easier” for the parents. My hubs and I decided that early and lots of consistent training would actually make our LIVES EASIER later… as in no 30 year olds living in our house, expecting us to support them.

    So, I don’t think that makes us mean… I think that makes us SMART!

    1. The gold digger

      You know, there are adults who don’t observe the “wait for everyone to be served” rule. As a kid, you have an excuse: your parents didn’t teach you. But as an adult, you have no excuse. You’re plain rude.

      To add to that: my husband’s father, at a restaurant one night, sorted through the bread basket, picking up and rejecting bread until he found the slice he wanted. I watched in amazement. And didn’t eat any bread.

  4. Kayris

    1. No football in the house. Take it outside or put it away.
    2. Stop bothering the cat. He will bite you and I won’t feel sorry for you.
    3. Push your chair in please. Come back here and push your chair in please.
    4. Dishes on the counter and not in the dishwasher do not count as clearing your place.
    5. Lets review the criteria for interrupting mom on the phone. Unless the house is on fire, someone is bleeding, someone has broken bones with the bones sticking out of the skin (regular broken bones do not count), the toilet is overflowing or the cat is vomiting on the couch, you need to wait until I am off the phone.
    6. Please. Thank you. Have a good day.
    7. “Ewwwwwww! I hate this!” Is not an appropriate response to dinner. You may say, “No thanks, I don’t care for that.” Anything else will see you removed from the table.
    8. No bathroom talk unless you are actually in the bathroom.

  5. Pam

    Turn off the tv/computer/phone. Get dressed. Put your plate/glass in the kitchen. Pick up your things. Put your pajamas on your bed. It seems to be my 12 year old son more than my 15 year old daughter. Many days I feel I say it ALL DAY LONG. And I hate it.

  6. Sonia Montalbano

    Why is it the things you say to your sons sound like so many of the things I say to my husband…

  7. Jenny

    I haven’t read your book yet, although I have mentioned it to others on multiple occasions. From what I’ve read on your blog, you and I have very similar parenting philosophies. On the topic of repetition, I attended a conference session on Habit Formation last summer that touched on this. The speaker, Sonya Shafer, was saying that when the parent repeats the direction every time (“Put your shoes by the door.”), the child’s brain is not having to engage in thinking about the situation. Instead, she suggested to gradually make your reminder less and less specific, so the child is having to think about what it is they need to do. (“Come see what you forgot to do.” Eventually, just get the child’s attention and with a little grin, directly look at the shoes, without saying a word.) I thought it was really great stuff!

  8. Martha

    Do you have your clarinet/tap shoes/jersey? (to big sis)
    Stop picking your nose! (to ill bro)

  9. Caro

    When I was a teacher, I used to say I wished my students came with a USB port so I could just put my syllabus, class policies, and all those little reminders right in their brains. I thought it was SO hard getting 17 year olds to do what they were supposed to do. Now I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and I laugh at my former self for getting frustrated at having to repeat something once or twice. It gives me hope, though, that one day they’ll get it.

    Mine are:

    1) Put on your socks and shoes
    2) Instead of grabbing something from your brother, ask him to give it to you
    3) Don’t throw your food to the dog (to the one year old, at every stinkin’ meal)
    4) If you aren’t at the back door ready to go by the time I finish x, I’m leaving you here with the dog
    5) Please wait till it’s your turn to speak
    6) Please lower your voice

    Thanks for this article.

  10. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

    My boys are 17 and 14 and I STILL repeat everything. Two biggies? “Put your dish in the dishwasher.” and “Rinse the empty milk carton and put it in the recycling bin.” But I’m an optimist–I have hope that next time they’ll do it without being told!

  11. Diana

    1. Where are your hat and gloves?
    2. Wash your hands. Yes, with soap.
    3. You have to clean up your room before you come downstairs. Try again. Try again.
    4. Mouth closed when there is food in it.
    5. Elbows off the table.
    6. I am not helping you with your homework until you have tried every question at least once. (Every ten seconds I say this. What I am going to forget since the last time?)
    7. Stay out of the kitchen while I am cooking.
    8. No.
    9. The house is not a jungle gym.
    10. No screens.
    11. Go pee before dinner/going out.
    12. Stop touching your penis.
    13. Flush the toilet.
    14. Take it down a notch. (Translate: be quieter or less hyper.)
    15. Get your hands out of your mouth.
    16. Stop sniffling and blow your nose.
    17. On the phone.
    18. Set out your clothes.

    I feel better knowing I am not the only one who is constantly repeating myself. It’s driving me nuts! (But they get away with nothing.)

  12. Nina

    With my three year old, I make sure he knows the routine, even if that means reminding him what to do next, e.g. okay now let’s put your dish in the sink, let’s go wash hands, etc. I still try to say it respectfully and doing so hasn’t caused me any problems or defiance. And yes, people say our little boy is very well behaved (most of the time!).

  13. RedinNC

    Ha! This morning after saying “Get your coat on! Tie your shoes! Zip your coat! Yes, it’s 32 degrees out! Your bag! Your bag!” for the zillionth time dropping the 6 yo off at school, I drove away joking to myself that I’m going to have to start saying “Ok, now step with the right foot, now the left, now the right again…”

  14. Lisa

    Oh I think I will print this and paste it to my arm! lol I am constantly thinking I am going nuts after having to repeat things to my girls ALL THE TIME! It’s actually quite discouraged me lately to the point I’ve felt like a really bad mom. :( Thank you for this … I will remember I’m not the only one … my kids aren’t the only ones (they are always well behaved when we are out so I must be doing something right!) … and I will continue to try and remember my patience … if not for them, then for myself!

  15. Lydia

    Oh boy. I just read your article and am going to get your book. My daughter is 5. Yesterday we did the litany of:
    1. take off your shoes
    2. unpack your backpack
    3. put your lunchbox on the counter and
    4. wash your hands
    and out came, “Why do i have to do EVERYTHING?!?”

    So i started to list out all the things i had to do and stopped and told her there were more but she’d wouldn’t want to hear all of them. We have work to do. And it will be good for her. I’m adding clearing the table tonight.

    Lastly, i love the comment from Jenny with Sonya Shafer’s suggestion to “gradually make your reminder less and less specific”. Brilliant!

  16. Susannah

    I am not sure whether I like what I am reading… On one hand, I feel a great relief and sense of solidarity that I am not the only one getting tired of hearing myself repeat the same rules over & over and mine is not the only child requiring such repetition… On the other hand, my daughter is – I think – considerably younger than your boys (she’s four)… Do you mean to tell me I will still be reminding her of these same things for years to come??? Ay, ay, ay… I’d better go rest my vocal cords!

  17. monica

    I think this song (The Mom Song) captures it all- if you have not seen it yet, it is definitely worth a look!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GE6EkAvV4-Y