Preface 1: I have good kids. Really, really good kids. They are obedient, and kind, and willing to help, and happy, and self entertaining, and...just, really good kids.
Preface 2: I have a lot of things that I need/want to blog about, like our awesome trip to Mexico, and three birthdays, and all the other things that have happened that I have been neglecting to talk about in this little corner. But today, Imma talk about this instead, for whatever reason. Be patient with me and my sporadic time-jumping blogging.
But. He LIED to me about what happened to the thing that he broke. "It just happened, Mom. I don't even know." Ooooh, that gets under my skin. And we had had a big long talk about lying about a month ago, how I want him to be able to trust me, and I want to trust him. And to tell the truth, even if he thinks he'll get in trouble for what it is he's about to tell me. I thought I had gotten through to him about lying, but apparently not.
I was mad, and frustrated. About the lying, about the expensive thing that he accidentally broke because he was being a fart in a whirlwind. I called Pete, who was at work. And we decided to lay down a few rules.
I think that this incident was kind of the straw that made me take action. I mentioned that Pete and I went to Mexico right after school got out. Ever since we've been home (for about a week and a half), though, I've been kind of in a funk, of not knowing what day it is, and not really doing much of anything besides the bare minimum. The TV has been on all day, from morning till night, and if it's not some stupid crappy TV show, then it's the Wii and my kids bickering about who is better at what on Wii Sports. Just...little things that have been building up, and I just haven't done anything about it.
We talked with the kids about choices and consequences. We talked about responsibilities. We talked about thinking things through before just doing them. And we talked about lying.
Besides the constant TV noise (I really miss being without cable, but our current internet must be bundled with it-dumb, I know), I've been tired of the constant "I'm hungry" and "When's lunch?" And I'm tired of toys being EVERYWHERE, and reminding children of their chores all the time. I know they're young, and need to get reminded, but when does that end, unless you try to get them to rely on their own brains and sense of responsibility early in life?
I needed to lay out some structure. And the consequences are hard. But maybe that will help them remember their responsibilities.
I printed out the list, and put it right by our chore board in the kitchen. We went over every single point with the kids. At the end, I told them that if they follow these rules, that there summer will be easy and great, but if not, it can be hard and not-so-fun. It's their choice. I also told them I had some ideas and activities planned, so we should have a good summer. But the rules come first.
Well, here is the list. After reading it, you'll probably be grateful you're not a kid in my house. :) Any extra comments or explanations I have are in italics.
• You will do every chore on the chore board, every single day. If Mom or Dad have to remind you to do something on the board, you will not get paid for any of your chores for the whole week. My kids each have a kitchen chore or two every week (put away dishes, rinse dishes, load dishwasher, wipe off table and counters, sweep; they also help cook dinner twice a week and that person also helps set the table). Other things on the board are things like make your bed, pick up toys, fold your laundry (yes, even my 4-year-old folds her own laundry),brush your teeth, do homework, etc. Oh, also, they get paid $2 a week for doing their chore. If they don't eat their full meal, they pay me $1 per meal and don't get any snacks for the rest of the day.
• Chore day is on Friday during the summer. After eating breakfast Friday morning, you will do your weekend chore. You will not be reminded of this. If you do not do it at that point, I will have you do it later, and you will not get paid for doing your chore. These are the once-a-week chores, like scrubbing tubs, toilets, bathroom sinks, vacuuming or mopping (the older two), dusting, windexing, etc.
• If you leave anything on the stairs, in the kitchen, or in the upstairs living room (toys, pencils or markers or pens, papers, shoes) at any time, and Mom or Dad get it first, it no longer belongs to you, it belongs to Mom or Dad, who get to do whatever they want with that item, including throwing it away. I don't know how many times I have to step around who-knows-what on the stairs-drives me crazy.
• If you can’t find something to do, Mom will find something for you to do. Oh, and it will be an extra chore, like wiping down walls, cleaning out cabinets, changing cat litter. Fun stuff like that. For free.
• The Wii is going away for a while. When I feel that you have earned the privilege to play the Wii again, I will let you know. If you ask at any time about the Wii, I will add 2 weeks of time on to its disappearance.
• You are allowed to watch TV for one hour total each day. If Mom or Dad does not like the show that is on, you change the channel to something that they approve of. If you cannot find anything to watch, the TV goes back off. If you whine or complain about turning off the TV, NO ONE will watch the TV AT ALL for one week.
• You will read or be read to every day. Jakob reads for 45 minutes, Brock reads out loud to Mom or Dad for 15 minutes and to himself for 15 minutes, Troy reads out loud to Mom or Dad for 15 minutes, and Ivy will get one story read to her. If you whine or complain about reading, your reading time will double, and stay there for the remainder of the summer. It doubles EVERY TIME you whine or complain. I'm a mean mom. Hear me roar.
• Jakob will practice the piano every day (Monday through Friday) for 10 minutes. If he whines or complains about practicing, his practice time will double and stay there for the remainder of the summer. It doubles EVERY TIME he whines or complains. Roar!
• You will clear your own dish right after every meal. Rinse your own bowl, throw away your own paper plate. If you don’t, then you get to do ALL of the kitchen chores after dinner for that day. My kids end up leaving their bowls of milk on the table until lunch time, or until I clear them myself. It's annoying.
• You will not ask WHAT is for lunch or what is for dinner. You will not ask WHEN we are having lunch or when we are having dinner. You will not tell me you are hungry, or do anything else passive-aggressive concerning meals and mealtime. If you ask, or whine, or complain about food, you will not eat that meal and will instead sit on your bed. My kids really are not big whiners. They really are more passive-aggressive in their requests. "Gee, I sure could use some fruit snacks right now."
• The only time we will have snacks is at 2:30 p.m. If you ask for a snack at any other time, your snack privilege will be revoked (taken away) for one week. They were fine with snacks once a day during school. So suddenly, now they need snack after breakfast, and an hour after breakfast, and after lunch, and three times between lunch and dinner? I don't think so. I did tell them that I would work on getting breakfasts that were more filling than cereal, like making eggs or pancakes or fruit smoothies. Same with lunches-not just a PB&J, but a sandwich and cheese and a veggie and a fruit thing and a dessert. Because yes, kids gotta grow.
• Mom reserves the right to add to this list at any time.
Mean, mean Mom.
Oh, and our new consequence for lying? You get grounded for a whole week for each lie you tell. We were merciful this time because it's a new thing, but no more Mr. Nice Guy from here on out on that consequence.
It will be an interesting summer.