Boyses 30/03/13 – brotherly love (and resulting motherly sanity)

The boyses have been playing together really well lately. As in I can actually not see them for tens of minutes at a time while they play in the sandpit or with their trains or ride their bikes or push each other around in the pram or whatever else they come up with.

I’m putting this down to three things:

1. Our awesome parenting.

I’m only sort of joking. My lovely neighbour said yesterday that she’d never seen two little boys play together as nicely or for as long as ours do and it must be cos of our awesome parenting.

Really it’s less that we’re awesome (though of course we are) than that we’ve learnt lots of super awesome skills to pass on to our children.

For example, finding win-win situations rather than just focussing on what one person wants or has. Sir A hasn’t really got the hang of negotiating yet, but it’s usually Lord B that wants something Sir A has so it works out ok. Either they’ll happily swap, or Lord B will ply Sir A with offers of other toys until Sir A finds an alternative acceptable. Very occasionally nothing will do, and Lord B is learning to take that better. They’re also getting really good at verbalising problems rather than just hitting each other.

Another thing we’re really working on at the moment is taking focus away from blame and putting it more on responsibility. If something happens that shouldn’t, we’re trying to avoid saying “who did this?” or “why is this like this?” (even though we don’t punish, phrases like that are enough to put anyone on the defensive) and do more describing: “I see sand on the carpet. Who needs to clean it up?” Or “I see two sad boys – tell me what happened.” They’re generally very truthful and happy to make amends when they don’t feel accused. Plenty of times whatever they did was just an accident or forgetting the rules anyway. Although there are the times when they get in the mood to break every rule in the house, egging each other on and cackling all the while. Just as well my patience is growing slowly!

2. No TV. 

The boys used to watch 15-30 minutes before dinner so we could get other things organised. Then I read an article I seem not to have saved about how TV inhibits the ability to engage in imaginative play, and another one from Lord B’s Montessori about how it overstimulates little brains. I mean we always knew TV was bad for kids, but this kind of provided the impetus to attempt to break the habit.

Lord B usually still watches 10min or so with Amazing Husband before bed, but they haven’t watched before dinner for a week or two and Lord B has only asked to once after the first couple of days.

TV for kids is a vicious circle, we’ve found. You put them in front of it to keep them occupied when you really need to get something done quickly and undisturbed, but that inhibits their ability to learn to play independently, so you do it again next time cos they’re not playing independently. I was rather dreading having Lord B home 2 extra mornings this weekend, thinking it would be nothing but fights and nothing would get done. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at how little my input has been required as they’ve come up with all sorts of ways to entertain themselves licitly, and somehow overcome pretty much all of their disputes. Not bad for 2 and 3.5!

An example of bizarre games to play: at the playground the other day they spent at least 10 minutes doing the following: one would stand still and the other would walk 10m or so away, then run full speed into the other, whereupon they would both fall to the ground laughing, then they’d swap. Repeat ad nauseum. Looked painful to me, but they LOVE jumping on each other and bouncing about.

3. The whole Lord B being more independent thing. 

Amazing what a difference it makes. (See this post if you’re wondering what I’m on about.)

We took the boys to the baby trains, but neither of them enjoyed the ride :( They did enjoy watching them, though. Lord B was quite vehement in his disinclination to go again.
We took the boys to the baby trains, but neither of them enjoyed the ride 😦 They did enjoy watching them, though. Lord B was quite vehement in his disinclination to go again.

4. B going to school every day.

We changed from 3 days a week to 5 (8.45ish-12) and it’s made a huge difference. Now the routine is the same every day except weekends, which are different anyway cos Amazing Husband is more available. Lord B, like his mother, thrives on routines, and is much more settled when everything is in its place. And resultingly is less easily put out by other things like brothers pesking.

Sir A tends to miss Lord B on school days. At first he was very happy that there was no school on Friday, then Lord B started annoying him. “School day?” he asked me hopefully. He does like the time to play on his own, but also really likes his brother’s company.

Most days the boys have wheelbarrow rides as part of Amazing Husband's exercise regime - he runs them around till he collapses, then does other really strenuous stuff.
Most days the boys have wheelbarrow rides as part of Amazing Husband’s exercise regime – he runs them around till he collapses, then does other really strenuous stuff.

There we have it: how to get your toddlers to play together for hours and let you make delicious things in the kitchen that one of them won’t eat anyway.

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