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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mom's on strike!

OK. Not really. But I was ready to declare a strike. I've been a stay at home mom since we moved to Oregon this past summer and my younger kids seem to think that amounts to a built in maid. Between their fractured school and activity schedules, my husband's odd work schedule and attending to the little 'things' that pop up frequently when you have kids, trying to get organized has been a challenge to say the least.
  A couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that if they can get in the kitchen and fix their own snack, they can clean up after themselves. In the past, I've given up on getting my younger two to help because they put up so much resistance, it was easier to do it myself than wrangle them into doing something. My two older daughters, Sarah and Zoe are generally very helpful and do a lot without being asked. The younger two were turning into a couple of self-centered, entitled...brats, for lack of a better word.
  I read a book on time management and the author talked about teaching children as young as three how to help out around the house. She made it sound so simple, I thought I'd give it a try.
  I called a family meeting. This was met with much enthusiasm. They were so excited you would have thought I'd told them it was time for their booster shots. Among the things we discussed was the daily and weekly assignment of chores. Again, there was much rejoicing. (I'm telling this. I'll remember it the way I want.) I showed them a sample chore chart with everyone alternating chores daily so no one got stuck with something yucky. I was hoping that having to keep an area clean would encourage them to police one another instead of me having to walk around behind them all the time.
  A week later, I showed them the real chart and they drew to see who would start out with what chore. The next day, their name moved to the chore above the one they would have on Monday.  We (I) talked about the upcoming implementation for a few days to let them get used to the idea and posted the chart on the refrigerator where they could see it and get used to checking it. So far, no objections.
  Yesterday, we put our (my) plan into action. I steeled myself for the onslaught of whining, complaining and general objections. I had my responses ready. I was going to stand firm. I was not backing down this time. I matter of factly told Ian and Lia that today was the day we were starting our chore charts and they were to sweep the dining room and kitchen respectively. The only objection I received was from Zoe who usually sweeps when she gets home from school. I offered to let her switch with Ian if he was amenable. He was actually enthusiastic about helping with the dishes. (he'd complained at the original assignment because Zoe and I always "got" to do the dishes) Lia readily attacked the dusting and mopping downstairs.
  Chores done, we sat down to play a game of Whoonu. I emphasized that since they helped me, I had more time to do "fun stuff". I actually got to bed at a decent hour and woke up a little bit cheerful this morning.(Again- this is MY story. I'll tell it the way I want)
 Today, they again accepted their assignments without complaint. Lia had to vacuum up crumbs in the living room after smuggling a muffin in there. When she tried to sneak a cookie upstairs, I informed her that she would have to vacuum  any crumbs she got on the floor and she quickly retreated to the kitchen.
  I'm not sure how long this trend will last (probably until I awaken from whatever drug somebody put in my tea) but I'm enjoying it and hoping it will just continue to gain momentum and become habit before they know what hit them.