ANow first up, if I was to say the words 'home sanctuary' I can pretty much guarantee our home wouldn't be the one to come to mind. No, not the house where you are required to step over obstacles from the front gate right through to the back door (scooters in the driveway, school bags in the hall, a tipped over washing basket of things I cleaned out of the car 4 weeks ago, random toys, a bag of clothes for Vinnies and a box of clothes that were to go to the shed 2 months ago but have come around to being season-appropriate again). Not the place where you struggle to complete a sentence without someone jumping in to complete it for you or add their own perceived version of events. Not the place where 3 days with of washing and not sorting means one lounge suite covered in clothes.
So when I say home sanctuary, obviously I don't mean a place of zen and calm relaxation.
What I do mean is that finally (and it has taken me a couple of years!) I want my kids to be happy. I am allowing myself to care more about their happiness than their teacher's or their friend's or their friend's parents. Yes I care that they go to school and follow instructions and are nice people, but for too long I have worried about what other people think. I want our whole family to go to school or work, and when they get home to just shrug off the day and enjoy being home. For this to work, I've needed to stop worrying myself silly over what people think when the kids have issues with friends at school, when they don't go to school, when they cry at school etc etc some 'bad' behaviours don't need discipline as much as understanding. C1 recently refused to go on her school excursion and we were so angry and embarrassed. What 9yo would give up the chance for a fun day off school with their friends?! That question turned into 'what 9yo is too worried about being bus sick to ride on the bus?!' and also had us asking 'why doesn't she just trust us that she'll have a good time?!' And 'why won't she just do what she's told?!'. We still haven't got the answers, but now I've decided they aren't that important. If she felt too anxious to ride the bus an hour to the excursion, why are we angry at her and trying to force her?! To quote the author of one of my many parenting books, 'kids do well if they can'. If she could ride the bus she knew she'd have a good day once there...but she couldn't. Not only that, but she had been telling us for DAYS that she didn't want to go and why and we just ignored her. We ignored the whopping tantrums that were in retrospect caused by the stress, we ignored that she had been too anxious to eat for days leading up to the excursion and we offered her numerous rewards if she did make the trip (despite her telling us nothing we could offer her would help - that just became another challenge for us to try to overcome!). So her dad took her to the bus, she cried, he yelled, she cried some more, she was very quiet for a day or two afterwards...and meanwhile, the people we had been concerned about (while the one we should have been concerned about suffered) probably didn't give her a second thought once they left the bus stop.
That's not the sanctuary I want to create, but it was the catalyst for change around here. And we are all happier for it.