Chores again?

I can’t believe that I am writing about chores again….

However, it is August and we have totally slacked at keeping up with our “family work” routine and expectations this summer.

So it shouldn't have been such a big shock today when I hit the wall.  I looked around at all the clutter, thought about all the times this summer when I nonchalantly asked the kids to help out with something extra, and how they responded with moans and groans, and felt myself on the verge of freak-out.

I recently interviewed Amy McCready on the Joyful Courage Parenting Podcast after reading her new book,  The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic: A Step By Step Guide To Raising Capable Grateful Kids In An Over-Entitled World and I have become HYPER SENSITIVE to the entitlement seed that exists in my kids.

Ugh. 

Yes, I take full responsibility.

Being a Positive Discipline Trainer, I know that using routines to teach and not doing things for my kids that they could be doing for themselves, is key for them to develop all the skills they need to feel a sense of belonging and significance.  And for them to also be developing gratitude and generosity.

Knowing this and practicing this are two different things.

I have created monsters.

No, not really.  My kids are all sorts of awesome, and I recognize where we could all use some work.

So, what’s a mom to do?

Today I said, “I think we should suspend allowance until you guys are back in the routine of helping out…” 

I am not totally comfortable with this statement, but boy did it get them moving!

The daughter popped up and vacuumed the whole upstairs (something her dad had asked her to do a few days ago), and the boy quickly moved into the kitchen and emptied the dishwasher.

We don’t pay our kids for chores.  We see their weekly allowance as money management practice, and an out for when they want something, “Do you have any money?”

I also believe that the fact they get a weekly stipend is a privilegeAnd privileges are earned through responsibility.  So, while we aren’t paying them to do chores, we are recognizing the responsibility they display through contributing in the home. 

It’s slippery though…  The memory of my then fiver year old son looking at me with solemn eyes while stating, “It’s ok mom, you don’t have to pay me….  I don’t want to clean my room.” Remains fresh in my mind…

I remember thinking all those years ago, that’s why I don’t pay for chores – because it makes them negotiable… 

AND, the fact that my kids receive an allowance is a privilege.

And it's not tied to chores.

But is it tied to responsibility? Everything in my body says yes.

Hmmmm…  This is one I am going to continue to play with.

And I will keep in touch about how it goes…

In the meantime, we will be revisiting routines during our next few Family Meetings (another routine that has fallen to the wayside in during the summer months). I will share how I am feeling and request help. The kids will be encouraged to give ideas and we will make a new plan for contributing to the work of keeping up with the house and taking care of ourselves.

What are your thoughts about this??  Leave a comment and let me know!

Here we go...

So I have a good story from yesterday. My sweet son, Ian, who truly can melt my heart, calls from the bathroom, "Mom! The toilet isn't flushing!!!" No big deal, often the chain thing comes off the other thing in the tank and its an easy fix. I walk into the bathroom and take the top off the tank. As I am doing this, I notice that there is a wad of toilet paper in the toilet, like, down in that little hole. When I look into the tank I see that the chain is still attached to the one thing. I look in the toilet again. I pull up on the lever in the tank to see if the toilet will flush again, and the water begins to rise. I'm still looking at the wad of TP. Could it be? Is that wad of paper so big that it is plugging the flow of the toilet. Yes. My son, who often just skips the wiping, has balled up a softball sized amount of toilet paper, wiped with it, and attempted to flush it down the toilet. My thought? Are you freaking kidding me???

At this point I am feeling the heat rise. You know what I mean, right? Like I'm filling up with mad. I am realizing that I am going to need to stick my hand in there and try and pul this paper plug out. Gross. I grab hold of the wad and attempt to pull it out of the hole. As I do, there is a suction that occurs, pulling the wad right out of my hand and down into the hole. For a split second I think I am in the clear, that this is one of those magical occasions where a problem fixes itself. Nope. The paper travels a bit farther down the pipe and is once again stuck. Oh, and by the way, the water in the toilet is now at the rim. I say to Ian, in the calmest, super-bugged voice I can manage, "Go upstairs and get me the towels that are on the floor in the bathroom please." He races upstairs and returns with three towels. I know what the right thing to do is, what I would tell parents in my parenting class to do, to involve Ian in this problem solving. This is the perfect opportunity to take time to train him and allow him to see mistakes as opportunities to learn. Truth? I am too pissed off to have him anywhere near me. As I realize all of this I think at least I know there is a better way to handle this.


Alright, at this point I am hopeful that a serious plunging is going to set this thing right. I pick up our plunger - one that I have used many times and thought about how crappy it is - and get to work. Oh, it is important to let you know that I have wrapped the bottom of the toilet with the towels because remember, the water is at the rim (side note - when I told my husband this story he said "why didn't you use a plastic container of something to get some of the water out of the toilet so it wasn't so full?" Yeah, great idea, not one that crossed my mind). So I am plunging like a crazy lady thinking about how mad I am, and nothing is working. What do I do? I go to google for help.

"How do you unclog a toilet?"

This is all I wrote. I got an endless list of answers to that question. I was looking for something to tell me what to do so I didn't have to call a plumber. There were all sorts of tips about using a plunger, rinsing them with hot water to soften them up for a good seal, using one with a lip. Another word kept coming up - auger. Do you know what an auger is? I didn't. But I do now.

Now all this time my sister Jaime is at my house. I love my sister. She is 30 years old, freshly married, kidless. She has retreated to the guest bedroom as all of this is happening, because I have slipped into scary mom mode. Believe me, I am holding back and trying to keep it together with the kids, but I'm pissed. I told them, "I am extremely mad right now. Super, super mad. You should go somewhere where I can't hear or see you or I'm going to want to really yell at you." My volume is under control, I'm not screaming at them, but they knew they needed to go. Apparently, so did Jaime.

Once I realized I needed an auger I went upstairs to ask Jaime if she would hang out with the kids while I ran to the hardware store. She said of course, and that I should take all the time I needed. Thank the sweet lord for Auntie Jaime.

I go into town and find what I need. Time away from the mess really helped me to calm down. I had been thinking a lot about writing this blog and laughed at how perfect this story would be for my first post. Had it not been for the mistake of my son, I never would have had to learn how to use an auger, right? Not only that but we now had a brand new plunger.

Ok, I pulled into the driveway and took some deep breaths. I look at the time. 5:20 - dammit! I should be fixing dinner right now, not working on a freaking toilet!!! Alright, calm down and head in to tackle the problem. I walk into the house from the garage and who is standing right there? Ian. He has his head cocked to one side, his arms stretched out and he says to me, "Mom? Can we hug it out?" I wrap him up in my arms and all the frustration and anger melts away. Not only have I learned to be a better plumber today, I am also taught, once again, that hanging on to anger and negative behavior gets us no where, and the best way to feel better is to just hug it out.