I think that's the number one question we get. Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm no super Mom. I yell, and have my moments just like everyone else.
there are quite a few tricks that I've learned over the years of parenting, and foster parenting. I think the foster parenting has taught me the most.
Bed wetting: This happens quite often with the foster kids. Most kids under the age of 10 will wet the bed their first night here, so that's just a given. They have a hard time getting to sleep, and then when they do they sleep so hard they wet the bed. That is their one and only free pass. After that, it is explained to them why kids wet the bed and what to do when it happens. They learn that if they quit drinking after dinner time, and take a potty break before bed, they will more than likely never wet the bed again. Getting up in the middle of the night and drinking out of the bathroom faucet will almost guarantee a wet bed.
And if they wet the bed they are required to strip the sheets and put them in the washing machine. I'll add soap and start it. When it's done they put them into the dryer and I start it. When it's done they bring the sheets down and make their own bed. I help them that first time, and show them how it should look. After that they are flying solo. And it needs to be a good job so that they don't fall off.
You don't get in trouble for wetting the bed. However, if you come upstairs in the morning and sit all over my furniture with pissy clothes on - you will be getting a butt chewing right in front of everyone. So, it's best to be honest and upfront and take care of business right away. Thankfully I have leather and can Clorox wipe it down, but that is just beyond gross.
You would not BELIEVE the places I've found peed clothing in my house. Closets, under beds, even in my drawers in the bathroom vanity!!!!! That there gets you one big butt chewing! Especially since the foster kids' part of the house is in the addition and everything is new.
Speaking of pee: Boys and bathrooms, need I say more! The rule in my house is that if you can't aim then you better sit down because I don't clean up other people's pee. I've even had kids pee on top of the lid during the night! I have 5 bathrooms, 3 of which the kids can use. One is right outside the foster kids' bedrooms. If I go down there and there is pee everywhere, they are handed some Clorox wipes and I watch them clean it. It's hilarious watching the faces they make as they do it! Then I say "now imagine if it was someone else's pee". Then they look like they're going to vomit! I tell them, "I don't make you clean up my pee and I'm not going to clean up yours, so I suggest from now on you keep it in the toilet". It's amazing how that works :o) And don't get me wrong, I make my own kids do the same thing, but they're trained to sit so I don't run into that much. Ooh, and closing the lid, flushing, and washing are ALWAYS required!
Laundry: If it's not in the basket, it's not washed, and I do not check pockets. When it comes out of the dryer I will fold it, and they can put it away, as long as it's not inside out. I make piles of inside out stuff and they have to turn it right side out, fold it and put it away themselves. They quickly learn to make sure it's all right side out :o)
My kids also have a lot of clothes so that if I can't get to it each weekend, it doesn't matter.
Meals: You wash your hands, sit down, eat, and be quiet. You need to make sure you've used the bathroom BEFORE sitting down if you need to. Once you leave the table, you are done. You are required to use your manners. When your food is gone, you get fruit. When the fruit is gone, you get dessert. You are free to get down and be done at any time, but don't toss half your meal and ask me for a cookie because I'll just look at you and make some sarcastic repeat of your pleading case of the full belly that you just handed me!
And I always get those manipulative ones that like to tell me they don't like this or that, thinking that they can have something else. NOPE! And many have learned the hard way that if you tell me you don't like something, you won't get it again. If your "belly doesn't like popcorn" because you think you'll get something better, you'll never get popcorn again. If you can't eat sausage at breakfast, don't ask me for sausage pizza! NOPE! I remember these things :o)
They also know that we eat 4 times per day. 3 meals and a snack, that's it. We don't munch, haul food around the house, or eat whenever they want, and they don't help themselves to anything. If you don't eat your meal, then you better be ready to be hungry until the next one.
Many kids are just in awe of the food we make. We eat all natural, so a lot of it is homemade. Something most of them have never had. They've never had pizza that didn't come out of a box, or even pancakes that weren't either frozen or out of a box/bottle.
Behavior: Manners are required in my house. We use manners with the kids and show them respect, and they need to do the same. Most of the foster kids have never had to use manners. I always laugh when I remember one of our regular kids "helping" one of our newer kids get a cookie. The new kid had gotten done eating his food and fruit. He came up to the counter and said "can I have a cookie now?" Right away, the other kid says "DUDE, you better add a please to that or she ain't gonna give you one. You don't get nothin around here without using your manners".
I make good use of the time out stool. I don't care how old you are, your butt will sit there or you can go to bed. I've also found the bigger behavioral issues with the older kids, so they are reminded when they are acting like a 2 year old. If they are going to act like a little kid then I'll call them on it. Privileges are earned here by your behavior, not your age. And your bedtime is ALWAYS on the line. NOBODY wants to go to bed early. How HORRIBLE to have to go to bed early when everyone else is up!!!! Especially since Saturday is movie night :o) Ooh, and the new kids always get to pick the movie, so it's special for them.
Well, that's some of it. All and all, we manage to keep some kind of order around here. Most people think we have the weekend off when they come and visit because it's so quiet. I just had my foster baby's Grandparents here today to visit her. They were in my living room playing with her and kept noticing kids walking by. She finally asked me "may I ask how many kids you have here." I told her "8 including the baby". Her eyes got big and she said, "ooh my gosh, it's so quiet though". I told her, "well, there's plenty of room, and they have things to do, plus they know that if they want to act like they are outside they will be sent outside to burn off their energy."
What I find amazing is that the same kids who follow all of these rules for me, act like animals at home. It's all in the expectations!!!!!
Ooh, and follow-through! If you say it, mean it, and do it!