This day brings the first sun of the year after some very dark and very cold days and it feels like the world around me sights in relief. The daffodils started peeking through the leaf blanket under the oak tree and the kids are playing outside. A very delicate beginning of something new that we all seem to cherish, especially this year: Spring!
In Germany, we went back in full lockdown on December 15, 2020. In our region of German, only the grocery stores are open. (It varies a bit state by state). And after the winter holidays, kids’ learning and activities in general were reduced to homeschooling again. As a result, the rope dance between home office and homeschooling started up again as well. Talk about putting someone on the ropes. As the weeks past, life got harder and harder. At some point, I felt like we were falling/failing as a family. The kids were fighting all the time, Janne being moody, Willem throwing tantrums like a two year old. The force is strong with that last one and every school day turned into a power struggle. He was whining longer about doing his school work than it actually took him to do it. It is so nerve wracking to deal with a tantruming kid, when you are feeling guilty at the same time for not working. At some point, I got so angry I just took his school work away from him and forbid him to continue. It is so hard to keep your temper, when all your buttons are being pushed all the time.
I know from my parent education classes: “The hardest time with your kid is the time to shine as a parent!” Yeah, well, parents are just humans, too. Frederik and I were walking on eggshells, which really did not help our mood either. So, I did what all parents do when they are desperate: I bought the kids off.
We put up a double sticker system. One sticker could be earned through cooperation in “class”, the other through no fighting, no screaming. If they both got two double sticker days, they could choose a little extra like ice cream or candy during the movie. They also could earn a big price after good behaviour for fourteen days. (No, not in a row.) And behold, this morning I drove to the local drug store where they also have a decent toys selection and they both could pick something small. Janne, the saint, bought a little gift for someone else and saved the rest for pocket money. Willem had his mind set on a LEGO box, just to swap it for a fossil excavation set as we were leaving. Coming home, they entertained themselves for an hour by digging up the treasure, or assisting digging up the treasure in Janne’s case.
I am not rewarding myself any stickers for bribing my kids like that with a sticker system, but honestly? It worked like a charm: the bickering stopped and the negativity faded, which is what we all desperately needed. It helped us to get through this horrible Corona Winter. And things are looking better already: the sun is out and school is starting again, at least for Willem – that is daily alternating classes at school but anything is better than nothing. So, let me remind you: Winter is over and Spring is COMING! And if that doesn’t do the trick, consider a sticker system! No judgement.