As of this past Wednesday there's been a fairly major change in my life. My sister-in-law stopped working for my mother's company, so I stopped watching Andy. All by itself, this doesn't sound like much of a change. However, Andy's absence from my childcare plans means that I'm much more able to follow a path of consensual parenting with Tre and Wyatt. So, even though Andy was a MAJOR challenge all by himself, I've found that my work has INCREASED since I've stopped caring for him.
If this doesn't sound right to you, then you probably don't know just how much work is involved in consensual parenting. When things are going smoothly, it can seem incredibly simple. In fact, it can seem an awful lot like "un-parenting" (or letting your child parent themselves, something very akin to neglect). Nothing could be further from the truth. The groundwork that must be laid to make this smooth sailing possible is extremely time intensive and requires a lot of creativity. Plus, problems are much more difficult to solve when you can't revert to the "do what I say because I told you so" method of traditional parenting.
It isn't until I discovered that Andy's absence has actually increased my workload that I realized just how far away from consensual parenting I had slipped. He's been so difficult to work with, and reverts to violence so quickly, that I had basically fallen into a pattern of solving problems by separating the kids (a solution none of them was very happy with). Now that I am actually working on helping Tre and Wyatt solve their disagreements through consideration of each's position and looking for a mutually acceptable solution, it's not so easy.
But despite this fact, I'm absolutely thrilled. I know it's not easy now, but it should get easier as Wyatt and Tre develop more tools for solving disputes (which at the moment seem near constant, though I'm sure it's not as bad as it seems). The time I spend now in helping them learn how to work together consensually will pay off in their future well-being, and this goes for Wyatt too, even if his mother doesn't fully follow the same parenting standard.