When your little one is just starting to totter about the house and their face lights up as they stride towards you holding their arms out you cannot contemplate a time when that faces will frown at you. You can't foresee the time you will become Evil Mum but, inevitably, it happens. We all become Evil Mum at some point but I'm here to tell you that being an Evil Mum is a good thing.
- It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
Teaching your children about rules
From the moment they can understand what you're saying you're telling them "no". Whether it's keeping their grasping hands off your glasses (I did this thousands of times when my boys were babies) or telling them to stay away from the iron or the gas fire because it's hot (and you pretend to touch the hot thing and pretend to get burned).
As your little ones grow they begin to test boundaries, they attempt to do the things you have told them not to. And you take your first steps towards becoming Evil Mum. While your little ones are toddlers or pre-schoolers the Naughty Step works a treat (or at least it did for me) and while it can feel like you're being evil to them you're really not. Teaching them there are things they shouldn't be doing is a valuable lesson.
The older your children get the more they will test their boundaries. By the time you have teenagers (BP will be 13 in August) the tested boundaries are more subtle, like sneaking their phone into their bedroom at night, but now is when you truly become Evil Mum. Of course now is the time that those boundaries play an important role. Teens can easily get themselves into trouble without understanding why so your rules teach them which limits can be tested and which cannot. As much as it hurts to be called "evil" by your children those rules will keep them safe, take heart in the fact that you are doing your job. They will thank you eventually (maybe not literally).
Teaching your children to have manners
One of the first words your little one will learn will be "ta", as in thank you. I made a point of teaching my boys to say "ta" from a young age. Whenever I passed them anything, or they shared their chocolate with me I made a point of saying "ta".
When my boys were older (nursery age) I always repeated pleases and thank you's at the necessary moments as much as I could so they would understand what was expected. Even now, at 7 and 12, my boys still have to be reminded about their manners and that's when I assume my Evil Mum persona. It drives me batty when children don't use their manners and my boys know it.
Teaching your children to have manners doesn't cost anything and it makes such a difference to people's opinion of your children (sometimes). I love to hear a child using their manners, I think it shows respect for others.
Teaching them to respect others
This one is more down to how you decide others should be treated but personally I like my boys to show any other person respect unless they give them a reason not to.
From an early age I taught my boys to play nicely with other children, to respect their choices and try to be accommodating. If they had friends over I would insist they do whatever their friends wanted, it could be a particular game they wanted to play or take them outside to play football. Being a good host shows respect.
- Parents need to teach their children principles of respect and acceptance.
But of course it's not just about hosting friends, it's about opening doors for people, being polite, and listening when someone is talking.
Over the years I have told my boys off many times for doing things I consider rude and I apologise to complete strangers for the behaviour of my boys. I hate to see them running in front of someone in the supermarket or not listening when someone is talking to them. They see it as me "nagging", being Evil Mum again, but as far as I'm concerned I will continue to tell them when they do something I consider rude.
Teaching them to look after their things
In your role as Evil Mum you'll need to teach your children to look after their toys, games consoles, even clothes. And again this will need lots and lots of "nagging".
Lego left on the carpet runs the risk of being eaten by the hoover.
Toys all over the floor means it's harder to find what you're looking for.
Leaving screwed up clothes on the floor is messy, and I don't know what is clean and what is not.
Those are just a few things I have said to my boys within the past month. At 7 and 12 my boys still need to be told how to look after their things.
I nag all the time, whether it's telling them to put their toys away or telling them to keep all their pens together when they're colouring. To me it's the sensible things, the things that will make life easier if they just listened but to them I'm just a nagging Evil Mum. One day they will learn that I was right and it is far easier to keep your things together in one place (although admittedly I'm terrible at keeping my own things together).
Teaching them about consequences
Not only do you have to teach your children about rules but when they break those rules you have to teach them about consequences to their actions. As I said, when they're little the Naughty Step is a good tool to use, but as they get older the consequences need to teach them something.
Your Evil Mum role plays a large part in teaching your children about consequences to their actions. For example if they choose to sneak their phone into the bedroom at night banning them from their game consoles for a weekend is an appropriate consequence.
Of course teaching them about consequences isn't just about punishments when they've done something wrong.
When you tell them to do their homework you expect them to listen, if they don't they face consequences, not from you but from their teachers in the form of detention at school.
When you've told them time and again that you need advance notification if they're cooking at school but they fail to let you know, and expect you to go to the supermarket at 6am to get their ingredients, sending them to school without those ingredients is a way of them facing consequences.
For younger children it's a little more difficult because it takes time for them to understand their actions have consequences. I would introduce it slowly, at 7 LP still struggles with this sometimes.
Teaching them about hygiene
Now at this point I should say that my youngest, LP, loves to have a shower. He loves standing in there holding the shower head and blasting his face with the water and has been great at learning how to clean himself. BP on the other hand is a different story.
BP is almost 13 and cannot stand having a shower. It's like I've asked him to go to school naked or something. I have to nag him to have a shower and absolutely have to tell him to use soap and shampoo, every time. After many mornings yelling and arguing about it I have threatened to let him go out smelly but of course I could never do that. I insist he has a shower, as a good Evil Mum should.
It's not just about showering though, it's about changing clothes when they're dirty, or brushing teeth twice a day. It all requires a good "naggy" voice and assuming your Evil Mum persona when asking them just won't cut it.
Teaching them the value of money
I have found this topic quite difficult and feel terrible when I have to say no when they ask for something. Talking to your children about the costs of things like the weekly shopping or taking a day trip somewhere can help. The Hubby and I talk to our boys about the cost of things a lot and we try to involve them when we're thinking of spending money on something.
Pocket money can aid the process too, allowing them to spend that money on what they choose and then not buying them something extra once the money is gone.
My boys tend to save their birthday money for the DVD's and games they want and if they don't have enough money for something they try to wait until the next birthday or Christmas.
It is so easy to give in and buy them the thing they want but you have to try and stick to your rules. It is not mean, or evil, it is teaching them to value the things they buy.
Teaching them to look after themselves
My boys have daily chores. I have a list of jobs for each of them and they have to complete these chores on a daily basis. On school days chores are done after homework but before any game-playing or movie-watching. At weekends chores tend to be towards the end of the day when they have had toys out or played a little.
It can be difficult to introduce chores but it's a valuable life-skill. Teaching them that clothes need to be ironed and put away (I don't ask my children to do the ironing!) after being washed, that the vacuuming needs doing every few days (more if it needs it), and that if they keep their things tidy there will be less to do, is priceless. For a start it makes your job easier but it also means that when they move out to university or their first home you can be sure they'll know how to look after themselves.
Of course you don't expect them to do everything but giving your children chores, while it turns you into Evil Mum, turns your children into capable people.
Teaching them independence
From letting your teen walk home from the bus in the rain to not going on the school trip with your younger child, you're Evil Mum. Disapproving parents of other children whisper behind your back because they saw your teen, soaked to the skin, walking home in the rain. Teachers judge you because they think you sit at home all day doing nothing when you could 'help out' on the school trip. But for me these are times that I choose to teach my children another valuable lesson.
If I went on the school trips LP wouldn't be a sociable or independent as he is. Me being on that trip is like a crutch and if he struggles he can come to me for reassurance, and while that could be a good thing (and I'm not judging those that do it), I believe that my absence is better for him in the long run.
The same goes for BP, he has been getting the bus to school since he started Secondary School. Every day he walks the 1/2 mile to the bus stop at the bottom of the road, through snow, rain, hail, and all other weather, so that he can get to school on time. Again I've had judgement from other parents and again I believe I am teaching BP a valuable lesson. I know that I could trust BP to get the bus anywhere and he would know what to do.
Giving them that time away from you, or making them have the time away from you (in your role as Evil Mum), teaches them they can do things alone. They can cope without you there, they can test their own abilities. That lesson is priceless.
Teaching them to reach beyond their abilities
As a mum your first instinct is to come to your child's aid when they ask but not doing is a great way to teach them about trying hard. Whether it's not helping with maths homework you know they can do without help or allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them your job as their mum is to prove to them they can do these things.
- You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.
I recently had a discussion with LP about writing a story, he told me he couldn't because his imagination isn't good enough. Instead of allowing him to get away with it I told him he would have to sit down after school and write a story for me. Again taking on the Evil Mum role. On our walk to school we talked about what he might do and after only a minute or so of thinking about it he'd come up with a basic story.
Pushing your children to attempt things they think they're not good at shows them anything is possible if they try.
Taking on the Evil Mum role is not a choice you will make, you are given it, but it can be useful. Being Evil Mum allows you to push your children, and know that while they're reaching for the stars they'll know just how to look after themselves.
Have you been given the Evil Mum role yet?