Thursday, January 29, 2009

Where Have I Been?

I cannot get over the fact that I really have not blogged anything of real quality for the past month. It's been crazily busy around here and all of any spare time that I once had is now gone.

Admittedly I have been feeling a post-holiday down period. My mood has shifted and my "happy" level is really down too. I was talking to a good friend the other day about this and I was explaining that I just feel plain tired and worn out. I also have been feeling like a slave in my own house. My husband helps out and there is a balance there but definitely there is trouble looming with the balance of work that my kids have been doing. She recommended a wonderful book to me that I have really comsumed. It's called "The Blessings of a Skinned Knee" and it is written by Wendy Mogel. I am halfway finished reading it and already I feel like it has totally changed my outlook on parenting and what I am doing wrong when it comes to raising my children to become self-reliant people.

I highly recommend that ANY parent go out and read this book.

Since reading this book, I have enacted a better balance of responsibilities around my house even for the 5 year old and 3 year old. They also have to share in the household chores.

For my 3 year old he is responsible to make his bed, dress himself in the morning, brush his teeth without being told, put his toys back in his toy chest. I also have him help set the table. He is in charge of the placemats, napkins and silverware. He is to be in bed and lights out by 8:30 no questions asked and no crying allowed.

My 5 year old is in charge of making her bed, dressing herself, making breakfast for herself and her little brother, brushing her teeth and hair without being told, setting the table, and helping me with dinner preparation. She is to be in bed and lights out by 8:30. No crying, no talking, and no questions asked.

The older teens are taking on much more responsibilities such as laundry - cleaning, folding, and putting away, making dinner, cleaning the dishes, setting the table, cleaning their rooms, and helping with some outside chores too.

All of them get incentives but only when everything is done. For the little ones the incentives are up to them. They can choose extra play time on the Wii, a rented movie, a trip to the ice cream store for an ice cream cone, etc. The older kids get beefier incentives because they are doing more work but I let them pick them incentive among a list of options.

So far the results have been really great. The kids are doing more work around the house which helps them to learn how to be more self-sufficient and it also helps me balance the workload which in turn boosts my "happy" levels. I have also raised the bar on my expectations of respect inside the house. For example, there is now a zero tolerance for interrupting anyone in the house. If someone is speaking everyone must wait their turn to speak. This also includes interrupting when someone is on the telephone. It seems like common sense but a lot of times these common sense items tend to get unaddressed and eventually the house becomes tense and chaotic.

But greater than that is the sense that everyone is participating in the family effort and that everyone understands that in order to keep this family and house moving in a positive directions we need participation by everyone because we are all in this together. There is always more work to be done but I am enjoying taking these first steps.

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