Let me be clear... My twin boys (age 7) are not “zeros,” but they did give me ZERO restoration minutes by the end of the week. They were actually my little HEROES!
One of my sons had racked up more than three hours of time for my restoration. Let's call him "Son #2," (only because he was a big pooper today). He was in a highly oppositional mood the entire day. For every disagreement he had with me I counted out a minute for myself. For every time he did not listen, I counted out another minute. By the end of that day, he was not listening for 3 minutes and 10 seconds, which according to The 1-1 Parenting Principle, equals 3 hours and 10 minutes of time for me to restore my sanity. That may not sound like an awful lot of time that my son did not listen and too much time for myself, but it was needed to establish healthy boundaries for him and sanity for me. Think about it, those 3 hours and 10 minutes equates to 190 times he was in opposition to me or unwilling to listen to me. That's a lot for one day. This is nothing small for either of us, and our family couldn't sustain that atmosphere much longer.
My "#1 Son," in contrast, had only given me 30 minutes over the prior 2-3 days. When I decided to take my 3 hours and 10 minutes, I actually chose to spend time with #1 who didn't have as many minutes. My wife stayed with #2 at home for that time, while I went out and spent one-on-one time with his brother.
Of course #2 was extremely sad that he was not going to be with me for a big chunk of that Saturday. He cried in my arms for about 15 minutes. My heart was broken. I wanted to bail him out. I really didn't want him to have to experience natural consequences. I continually questioned 1-1. I felt like a bad father. But I also knew, that his oppositional behavior would not only continue, but get worse. Imagine me unleashing a young man like that upon this world in 11 years. No thank you!
When I finally came back home, my once-oppositional boy was happily playing in our backyard. He yelled, "Daddy!" when I went out to see him, and he ran to give me a huge hug. He had nothing but smiles and fun stories of his time playing. The 1-1 Parenting Principle doesn't suggest that I punish my son, but allow natural consequences as the outcome for his own actions. I was not the bad guy, because I didn't ground him from anything, put him in time-out or punish him in any way. In fact, we was able to do whatever he wanted.
I told him that since I had claimed all of my time of restoration, he now has ZERO minutes of time to give me. He smiled. I smiled. We hugged again.
At that time, my other son asked me how many minutes he had to give me. I told him that he has to give me 30 minutes of restorative time (30 seconds of him not listening to me). He hung his head in sadness because his brother had ZERO minutes to give me.
I reminded him that he could redeem his 30 minutes, by doing chores around the house for 30 minutes. He asked if that would get him to ZERO minutes, and I confirmed that it would. He then took off up to a bedroom that were were planing to transform into a playroom. There were many things our family planned to make the transformation possible, and our boys knew what they were.
More than 30 minutes later, he came downstairs to summons me to this room. He had taken all of his reading books out of a smaller bookcase, moved it to another room and then moved all the books and organize them in the bookcase. When I came into that room, I was blown away. He did so much of the things we talked about. In fact, his once-oppositional brother helped out even though he already had ZERO minutes for me. Together, they greatly helped in the transformation of that room.
I turned to both boys and said, "Wow! You both worked so hard for our family. I am so proud of you boys!" Their little eyes were filled with pride for their efforts and they had true joy in their accomplishments. Then, at the same time, my twin boys in unison said, "Now you have ZERO minutes, Daddy!" and giggled. I told them they were right and they ran to hug me. That's when I knew I did things the right way, and I was restored in my mind about being a good daddy. More than that, my boys were very calm and regulated for the rest of the day. They truly gave me sanity and renewed energy.
Later, when I put my boys to bed, I asked them how many minutes they gave me today, and they spiritedly yelled, "ZERO!" I then asked, "Why don't we spend the day tomorrow at the lake?" They were so happy, and started telling me everything they wanted to do at the lake.
UPDATE: Our family went to that lake for half of the day. The boys took their fishing poles to practice casting, chased fish in the stream and ran around like they owned the world. More than that, they listened to us and actually gave me ZERO minutes at the end of that day. Two days in a row at ZERO restoration minutes for me. That's okay, because I AM restored.
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