Time for Truth – Starting With My Kids

I know I have a Pollyanna attitude, I’ve mentioned it before. I always try to look on the bright side, and within our blog in particular, I tend to show the shiny, positive things – lovely days out and holidays with the kids, us doing crafts together etc. But I feel there is room for the other side too, and it would be unrealistic not to admit it.

I’ve struggled with blogging lately,

for many reasons. One of them is my kids. They are my life, of course. I don’t really have anything else, and I pour my heart and soul into what we do together. But I’m finding it really, really hard.

My kids hate each other. There, I said it.

I know all siblings fight. I won’t be the first parent to say they feel more like a referee than a mother. But with my kids it’s constant. And often violent. It wears you down.

A recent event has prompted my outburst. It has been haunting me ever since, so I have to spill it! I’m sorry, blogs are usually brimming with advice and ‘how to’ but I have nothing. So feel free to just join me in a moan and nod along accordingly. Or if you have any decent advice, please share it. For goodness sake share it! Lord knows, I need it!!

Mum and boys - a celebrtion of our family on Mother's day. They drive me crazy but I love them dearly!
Mum and boys

So it was our busy evening – athletics for both kids, followed by band practice for Hugo. Paul was working, so I was in charge of getting them fed, changed, and out of the house quickly. All was going well, I’d kept my cool and not even had to shout at them to hurry up. I was just closing the doors and putting the dog on her bed when it happened – all hell broke loose. Apparently Hugo had hit toby with his trombone case. Toby was raging!

This is typical. Hugo knows exactly which buttons to press, and is very physical. Toby has the shortest fuse I’ve ever seen, and flies into a melodramatic, noise-filled rage at the least thing. Hugo denied his action, and took his place in the car. Toby raged and refused to leave the house. He was insistent that I needed to deal with the situation better and punish his brother. I tried to calmly explain that, as I didn’t see the incident. I couldn’t take one person’s word against the other. If I did, then next time Hugo accused Toby of something, I’d have to take his word for it and punish Toby for something which he may not have done. And he would do exactly that, believe me.

These kids are too smart to miss an opportunity like that.

So we negotiated, quite calmly (for us!). I gave myself silent Mum points for averting a potential disaster. Toby thought I should put Hugo on a ‘2’ (a kind of warning system, 3 is a punishment). I agreed I would do this (as I was in little doubt that the crime had been committed, it happens regularly).

Cue a slightly late exit to the car.

Brothers in France, having a rare moment of fun together, not showing too much sibling rivalry

Then all hell broke loose part II.

Toby saw Hugo sitting in the front of the car and launched into another tirade. “He shouldn’t be allowed in the front. He should be punished not rewarded.” Toby grabbed at the car door and started screaming at his brother to get out. I shouting to him to get off the car, trying to persuade him that he could ride in the front on the way home. Sadly that wasn’t good enough. Toby ran into the courtyard and started kicking the stones around, screaming at me to do something about it, and if I didn’t, he would run away. Totally losing it and criticising my parenting skills (or lack thereof).

It would be challenging enough to calm this situation and get him into the car normally, but Hugo getting out of the car with his mobile phone pointed at Toby, smirking and pretending to record the whole thing, just escalated the situation times twenty!

Next thing I knew, Toby had flung his mobile phone at Hugo and was chasing him around the garden, kicking at him violently. He then ran off, shouting at me that he was running away as he had threatened. Chaos had descended.

I shouted at Hugo to get back in the car, chastising him for making things worse, then called after Toby. Bearing in mind I have a terribly sore back, I didn’t want to have to follow him, but there was no alternative, he wasn’t coming back. I waddled off down our immensely long garden to try and restore order. (Next time I want a house with 3 acres, have a word with me!)

Kids enjoying the Huge garden in our new house in the country
Huge garden in the country

Well, long story short, by the time this was all sorted out, we were too late for athletics. Toby refused to go anyway, saying that Hugo would just tell everyone there what had happened and embarrass him. Also probably true.

This is not a story to show my lack of parenting skills or control,

though it would appear I have little of either. No, this is a story of all-too-common situations in my family. It is why I am exhausted, exasperated and quite frankly at the end of my rope.

Luckily it’s a fairly strong rope, but still…

I really want the kind of family life where we do things together, have quality time and days filled with positive experiences. But seriously, it is hard enough to get out of the house without one of these incidents!

I’ve read so much about dealing with it. My hot favourites are Siblings Without Rivalry and Raising Your Spirited Child, both of which I’m on a second reading of! (affiliate links)

If you have wondered where I’ve been of late, this is only the tip of the iceberg! It’s hard to write a family blog when your family is this dysfunctional! Thanks for sticking with me. One day soon my kids will find out I’ve written this rant and insist I remove it immediately. So any comments or advice, get in quick before I’m banned from the internet forever.

Thanks for listening!

Please pin for later:

Time for truth, starting with my Kids. They hate each other, it's truly awful. What can I do about their behaviour and rivalry?
Sibling Rivalry – What Can I Do?

52 Replies to “Time for Truth – Starting With My Kids”

  1. Oh Carol it sounds like you got it tough. But can I just say you are doing a fab job, parenting is tough and I for one lose my temper and scream and shout too you most definitely have not failed. I’ve been there myself with sibling rivalry too it’s tough to try and please everyone and keep a smoothing running house with no arguments and Is a daily thing for is too. I think it’s important to speak about the tough times too not just the best parts so dont feel bad for sharing. We have had a few on going probs with anger issues with our son he’s 11 and I’ve read the start of hormones can have a big impact on them mentally as well as physically. I’ll try and find the article and share with you. Keep strong Carol you’re an amazing mum and doing the best job you can xxx sorry I don’t have any more answers.
    Caroline recently posted…Take the stress out of your holiday with Mark WarnerMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Caroline. It’s good to know I’m not alone! Perhaps it is hormones, although it’s our younger one we have the most issue with (but the older one definitely pushes his buttons!). I’m dreading the teenage years!!

  2. Really sorry for the terrible spelling!!! I wrote in the dark before getting out of bed
    Caroline recently posted…Take the stress out of your holiday with Mark WarnerMy Profile

  3. Sending you lots of love. Sibling rivalry can be so tough and when you are the parent trying to deal with it, well, it feels relentless. I don’t have any advice, but I will also be checking those books out. You aren’t on your own for feeling like this though and I’m sending you lots of hugs. I hope things improve for you soon xxx
    Emma recently posted…Brilliant Tips For Booking And Enjoying A Last Minute Budget BreakMy Profile

    1. Thank you Emma. You’re exactly right, it’s the relentless nature of it which is so wearing. We grow to dread every school holiday and other time together, and I never wanted it to be like this. So fingers crossed for an improvement as they grow older!

  4. Kids, who’d have em hey?! I don’t have any advice, sorry, but I think you’re doing a great job. It’s probably just an age thing and they will grow out of it, but I’m sure it feels awful for you. How about trying some one on one time with each of the boys, maybe this is just them vying for attention? Alternatively, maybe they need some form of punishment? I’ve found that taking all of the tech away from my kids helps (or simply changing the WiFi password so nothing works) as it means they get bored and started talking to each other ☺️
    Keep smiling Mama, brighter days are coming xx

    1. I read your post about tech Sam, it was really interesting. We limit tech anyway, and the boys have to earn tokens for the x-box by doing chores, and can lose them again for bad behaviour too. I’m really hoping they will grow out of it eventually, as it seems to have been going on forever now! We both agree they need more time apart, but it’s often difficult to do this as they seem to ‘gravitate’ towards each other!

  5. Oh Carol, I really feel for you. Firstly though, you are a fantastic mum and should not beat yourself up. Kids go through phases all the time and hopefully this is just one of those phases. I remember Little M going through a ‘hitting phase’ at the playground and being mortified!
    My kids are only tiny, so no real sibling rivalry yet, but I can only imagine how difficult it gets when they are teenagers. Teenagers can be mean to each other! I used to work with teenagers as a teaching assistant and remember well!
    I know you spend lots of time with the boys. Perhaps some one on one relaxed time with them would help? Give them a chance to be heard if they want to talk. Do you talk them through any ‘incidents’ after they have happened? Perhaps sitting them down and giving each of them a turn to speak (and a turn to listen) after something has happened might help them to work things through together and empathise with each other more. I do know it’s easier said than done! I love the site ‘Aha Parenting’ for advice on things like that. Generally I think these things take time, just keep being consistent, keep connecting with them. I hope things get better – keep us posted! Sending hugs. xxx
    Rosie Little Fish recently posted…Garden Games: How to Inspire Children to Enjoy the OutdoorsMy Profile

    1. It’s like you wrote the book Rosie! That’s exactly what it recommends – one on one time and giving them time to speak and talk through any incidents. You’re brilliant! However, we had another incident today resulting in a big bump on Toby’s head! When we tried to talk about it afterwards we got eye rolling and answering back, but at least they were acting in unison for once!! It’s an ongoing battle and has been for so many years, which is why I’m at breaking point now, but thanks for your support and kind words. I’ll certainly keep on trying!

  6. Oh goodness, it sounds like your boys certainly know how to push each others buttons.
    I’m so sorry, I have no practical advice right now… my 12 (almost 13) year old is simply turning into a recluse while my 8 year old is very adept at winding the 12 year old up…

    The only way I’ve found to deal with it is by separating them (or giving them chores to do) they soon forget about their rivalry.

    1. They certainly do push each other’s buttons alright! It seems to be their favourite pastime! Separating them when possible seems to work. Divide and conquer we call it!

  7. My kids aren’t that old…yet…but also have a rather love-hate relationship. I am hoping they will grow out of it but you never know. You’re doing great – just hang on to the end of that rope!

    1. I’m hanging on for dear life Jenny! I do hope yours don’t end up quite so bad!!

  8. It’s natural for siblings to fight but as long as they are there for each other then that is all that matters.

    1. I’m not sure they are at the moment, but hopefully they will realise the importance of being brothers as time goes on.

  9. This is a very honest and open post which is refreshing to read, although it sounds like you have been having a tough time. I am sure your children will grow out of ‘hating each other’ as they get a bit older and don’t fight for your attention as much.

    1. Thanks Rachel, it is a tough time, and I’m just hanging on for the ride and hoping things do improve as they get older!

  10. Very honest post Carol and you are not alone . My kids seem to think fighting with each other is totally normal. I think that’s all part of it . You’re doing a great job ,you are. We are all human and struggle ,we are all doing our best and that is good enough x

    1. Thank you, it’s good to know I’m not alone! Sometimes my best just doesn’t seem good enough though. I’m sure we’ve all been there x

  11. Oh I just want to give you a great big hug! I’m so sorry to hear family life is tough and you are feeling like this but thank you for writing about it because it’s always good to hear that other families have these struggles too. I have three children and they fight so much. My eldest and the middle fight; as do the middle and the youngest. Poor middle gets it from both of them! As they are getting older they are getting more physical and violent and I do worry so much that someone is going to get seriously injured. The thing that I find helps is trying to have one to one time with each of them. It is not always easy to find the time but it really helps when they do. Also getting out into nature so they can have a good run around and connect with nature again also seems to help them. Good luck with it! x

    1. Thanks, I might need that hug! The book I read about sibling rivalry suggests time alone with each of them, but as you say it’s not always easy to do. My two gravitate towards each other even when you try to keep them apart too!

  12. Sorry to read what you are going through. Hopefully, this is just a stage that they are going throw and the will grow out of it soon 🙁 I have four children and I remember the tougher days too.

    1. Thanks for your kind thoughts Claire. Unfortunately, it’s been like this for as long as I can remember and doesn’t seem to show signs of improving any time soon! Maybe when my eldest goes to high school things may change. Fingers crossed!

  13. Oh, this must feel like such an impossible situation! I hope things get better, for all of you! I’m sure when they were older, they will wonder what on earth they ever fell out about ox

    1. They soon make up, to be fair. Well, not make up as such, but carry on regardless. But then it will start all over again a day or two later!

  14. Oh it does sound like you are having a really tough time. It is really hard when it feels like your kids hate each other, my two don’t always get on and they’re only 3 and 1. I wish I had some advice for you, just remember we will go through times like this, no one’s kids are perfect all the time. I hope you get lots more positive family days soon xx

    1. Thank you Wendy. Getting along some of the time would be a good start in my family! Guess I’m just too idealistic!

  15. Ahh I can so relate to this, although as much as my kids hate each other, they love each other equally, so it kind of balances out! They do argue ALL the time though! Its draining some days!

    1. I’m not sure I see much love from mine unfortunately! Last summer I even incentivised them with money to be nice to each other (10p per nice thing!), and Toby earned a grand total of 0!! You’re right, it is draining!

  16. Oh gosh chick 🙂 I don’t think you are dysfunctional at all, it all sounds pretty normal – sibling rivalry can be seriously tough but I hope they both grow out of it and make your life easier! Some fantastic book recommendations there – I don’t know how you do it, mind you, my arguments with Liv can be interesting on occasion! Sim x

    1. Thank you, I’m waiting for the day when they start to get on! Although I think I had left home before my brother and I started getting along!!

  17. Oh wow, I’m can’t say I’m fully looking forward to this stage. My boy is two bad I’m just over half way there with baby number two so I am hoping the age gap means they like each other at first and then they kinda just leave each other alone. Wishful thinking huh?! I am sorry you have it a bit tough, wish I had some words of wisdom for you!

    1. You never know what you’re going to get I guess – all personalities are different and some just clash! Anyway, good luck with the new arrival, and I hope you really enjoy having two (and that I haven’t put you off too much!)

  18. Sounds like you’re really going through it at the moment. It’s so hard being a parent and so filled with guilt. I’m sure you’re doing your best, and a wonderful job. Be kind to yourself x

    1. Thank you for your kind words Katy.

  19. I have no advice but I was nodding along. My boys can be the best of friends for one minute, just to lull me into a false sense of security, and then suddenly all hell will break loose! It’s so hard sometimes. Thank you for your honesty.

    1. I’m glad I’m not alone at least! Divide and conquer is our best tactic, when we can manage it!

  20. Oh bless you. I can offer no wisdom or advice on this matter as mine are almost 6 and almost 2. Yet I can see this being us in a. few years time. Their personalities are so different they rub each up the wrong way even now. I really hope you find a way through it, please write lots of advice so I can come back and read it!! xx
    Mudpie Fridays recently posted…Mudpie Fridays Third Birthday Giveaway – Day 19My Profile

    1. The books I’ve read are quite insightful actually, maybe I should summarise their advice. I guess your issues will be different with having a bigger age gap. Mine are only 18 months apart and I think that’s why there’s so much rivalry to be honest.

  21. Sounds like you’ve got two perfectly normal siblings there, lol! I know how hard it can be – I’ve got three kids and they way they fight sometimes I wonder why I had any at all!
    Elizabeth recently posted…Raspberry-Filled Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate FrostingMy Profile

    1. I’d say they are the extreme end of normal, if there is such a thing! I know all kids fight (I used to fight terribly with my brother), but it’s just the non-stop nature of it which wears me down!

  22. Sibling rivalry is so hard isn’t it. I really feel for you. I haven’t got any advice to offer. My two are only young but argue and fight all the time so I am dreading them being older
    Kerry Norris recently posted…How to Pack for Hot and Humid Travel DestinationsMy Profile

    1. It is hard, because you love them so much, you can’t understand why they don’t feel the same way!

  23. As tough a time as you’re having I think your kids sound perfectly normal to me – I’ve heard some horror stories about sibling fights! I’d be interested to see what you all think about this post in a few years when I’m sure things will be at least a little better.

    1. Oh I really hope it will get better! I really worry what they’ll be like as teenagers!

  24. Looking back, I think my sister and I were similar. I’ve got no advice except to hope that things improve as they both get older, mature a bit and become friends. Oh, and to send hugs.

  25. Sounds like a really tough time, one minute my boys love each other and then the next they are arguing and fighting the next, it is so damn frustrating X #fabfridaypost

    1. It certainly is – I’m tearing my hair out some days!!

  26. I only have the one son but I can imagine how hard it must be on you having to cope with the fighting and arguing. Sending hugs! #fabfridaypost
    N (Minime & Luxury) recently posted…Diet ChefMy Profile

    1. Thank you, I’ll take those hugs! Especially with two weeks of holidays to get through!!

  27. Oh poor you! I’m so glad you have taken the Pollyanna attitude out of it. I didn’t know weather to laugh or cry. I probably cry in the situation but your writing just make me laugh. So sorry. It just sound like my house over here. E&E are at each other throats all the time. I sometimes find myself screaming to quiet them down, which not a good approach at all. I really need to do some patience practice class – nope I wouldn’t say Anger Management class because I’m not angry. I can use a lot of patience right now. 🙂 xx #FabFridayPost

    1. I know, I’m laughing about it now, but it was pretty traumatic at the time. Of course it’s not an incident in isolation, it’s always like this at my house! I’m trying my best to stop shouting too, I’ve been reading as many articles as possible about patience and other ways of dealing with behaviour too.

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