Sunday, February 17, 2013

Some new rules around this place

I just read an awesome book that really changed the way that I want to approach parenting my children.  The book is called "Cleaning House: A Mom's 12 month experiment to rid her home of youth entitlement." by Kay Wyma.

It was one of those "fate steps in" reading choices.  I thought I had transferred an audio book to my iphone that didn't go all the way - so I went onto the Overdrive Media site (which hooks into my library card)  and found this book instead.  It was meant to be - I was frustrated with the way that our household was running (or walking as the case may be).

So when I got into this book, things started clicking and making sense.  Kay is a recovering slob, mom of five and trying in vain to change the culture of her family.  Sound familiar? Her idea is to introduce meaningful work/chores and rules into their lives and the transformations that happened with her children.  So I took some of the concepts and whittled them into our own household.  It's only day 2 but there have been some unexpected consequences.

Step One: Sitting the kids down.
Together, Jackson, Joseph and I talked about the problems that we were having and identified the top three.  Then discussed consequences if you don't keep up your end of the bargain.  The kids surprised me by not only knowing the things that were turning my hairs grey (and only the ones in my part grrr...) but also came up with appropriate and fair consequences.  For being three and eight they really do have a lot of insight into what makes their momma's blood boil.

We put the rules on some posterboard that we painted over with chalkboard paint and the kids helped me put the vinyl letters on It aint pretty but we have it posted up on the dining room wall as a reminder.

1. Cleaning: This applies to body, hair, rooms and mouths.  Every night before showers/bedtime routine, toys have to be picked up...any errant toys left on the floor get confiscated in "the mom box" Toys go in but they don't come out!!! My kids need to know that the stuff that they have need to be taken care of, if not they are not going to be in their care and control any more.

In the mornings, beds are to be made (read: covers not on the floor and halfway straightened up and pillows in the right location) and pajamas put in the laundry basket.  Pretty simple right?  I was hoping so!

We also discussed expectations during this part of the conversation.  Jackson knows that, in the morning he is expected to get dressed, and take care of his dog before he comes in for snuggles or permission to watch television.

2. Respect: This is a HUGE point of contention right now with us.  Both the toddler and the 2nd grader are both testing boundaries pretty thoroughly at the moment and its causing some real tension in the house.  So Rule 2 is simple, don't yell at each other or at your parents, no sass talk, no complaining.  The consequence for breaking the favorite part...THE CHORE JAR!

Together, we came up with simple household chores that they could do if they broke the rules, I made up 3x3 cards and folded them together.  Some examples of the chores were, vacuum the dog hair from the couch, wipe down kitchen tables and chairs, backyard poop patrol, sweeping the dining room and dusting the stairs.  All easy tasks and all ones that I HATE doing.  I call that a win-win situation if ever there was one!

3. Listen: Listening is a HUMONGOUS problem in our house.  I blame the electronics situation, if the Wii, TV, DVD, DS, or computer is on, the amount of times that I have to ask something to be done. So the rules to this one are simple.  Three strikes and its off! If I have to ask more than two times for anything to get done then all electronics are turned off and stay off until the end of the day.  This also includes forgetting to listen to the dog's clues that he needs food, water, or to go out!

The Results
Granted it has only been two days now but I have noticed a shift in the household.  The last two days, Jackson has come into my room to wake me up having woken up on his own with his alarm clock.  He was fully dressed and when I walked into his room THIS is what I amount of sunshine would make my heart feel lighter than seeing this!

We got through the first few hours of the morning without incident but then - the inevitable kid fighting happened. Our first visit to the chore jar produced "Wipe down the refrigerator and door handles" for Joseph and "Vacuum the Hallway rugs." for Jackson.  Get this: the kids were EXCITED to complete their tasks AND they worked together on both of their consequences.  Joey did the freezer drawer and Jackson did the refrigerator.  Joey went to go get the vacuum from downstairs and Jackson did an amazing job getting all of the dog hair out of the rugs! 

This morning was more of the same, made bed, fully dressed, breakfast made for both kids, and all toys picked up in both rooms before I could stumble to the bathroom or make some coffee.  A mom could get used to this!  

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