When I say people, I don't mean my kids. Don't get me wrong. I love them, and I love being with them, most of the time, but sometimes they enrage me, and it's very hard for me to control my emotions. I've always been a yeller, and it's something I've tried to overcome for many, many years. Granted, I'm not as bad as I used to be, but I still have a long way to go.
From the many parenting books I have read, I've learned that disciplining without emotion is a great way to control the flood of feelings that can emerge when dealing with frustrating behavior. I've blogged about some of my methods before, like HERE, and today I'd like to share what I've recently been doing that is working out really, really well for me.
So my kids have three main responsibilities in the mornings before school. First, they have to get up on time for scripture study at 6:45. Second, they must get ready for school in time, having prepared and donned their clothing, brushed their hair and teeth, and said their morning prayers, and they must clean their parts of the kitchen. The dreaded kitchen parts.... that's when things gets tough.
Our kitchen is huge, nearly 600 square feet...
(shown here when Baby Hippo would sleep in his pack 'n' play in the kitchen as a newborn)
...and when one person tries to clean it, it can take nearly an hour. Thus, I have divided it up into four quadrants, for which each child over eight is responsible. This is all great in theory, but when it actually comes to getting it done in the mornings, that's another story.
So here's my method when the kids leave for school having left their part undone, thus leaving it for me.
1. I don't remind them about their parts. If I do, they usually say "I KNOW" in a tone of how-dare-you-even-dream-I-wouldn't-finish-my-part-before-school. I try to avoid hearing this tone at all costs, and not nagging is a great way to accomplish this goal.
2. When they leave, I do their parts for them. "No", you say! "This is rewarding them!" I say, just keep reading. Before doing their parts for them, I get out my handy-dandy notebook, and assign two consequence chores to the offending party. If you're not sure what consequence chores are, go HERE for an in-depth description, but in short, a consequence chore is any chore that takes 10 to 20 minutes to complete. Consequence chores can be assigned for any infraction, not just lapses of housework responsibilities. Thus, although I have to spend my time doing their chores, they will have to pay me back double when they come home. Totally worth it. I love to spend the time while I do their chores concocting the perfect consequence chores for when they return home. Whuahahahaha!
If, like my son, they spend over four hours at football practice every day, I don't ask them to make up these chores after school, but they accumulate over the week, waiting patiently in the notebook for them when the weekend comes.
3. I do not tell them that they have consequence chores verbally. They know that their chore list awaits them on the notebook each day after school, and if they have earned consequence chores, I will have written these on the list for them, along with the reason they were added. Thus, I avoid the arguing that would inevitably occur if I assigned their chore verbally. The only reaction I deal with is mouth-dropping or hand-throwing or spinning angrily away from the notebook on their way to their room, as they read their assignments.
Here's what an afternoon chore list, with consequence chores, might look like.....(mine is always hand-written, but is typed here for my convenience)
K, R, L, and C: kids' initials
All: Assignment is for everyone
CC: Consequence Chore
K Living Room
R Green Room
L Bedroom Hallway
C Guest Hallway
K CC (For not doing kitchen part) Sweep and mop storage room floor
K CC (For not doing kitchen part) Clean dog poo for ten minutes
R CC (For not doing kitchen part) Clean right stove top
L CC (For not doing kitchen part) Clean left stove top
L CC (For calling your sister a name) Baby Hippo, 20 minutes
C CC (For back-talking) Vacuum basement stairwell
As you can see, the after school chores only consist of one family chore per child, and if they keep up on their rooms, bathrooms and laundry, they don't have to spend much time on their personal chores each day either. And that is a BIG if. It's the consequence chores that really get to them, and help them to remember that if they perform all of their responsibilities each morning, they can spend time enjoying the after school hours rather than being their mother's slave.
Honestly, this policy has helped me make leaps and bounds of progress in teaching responsibility without displaying negative emotions. What do you think? Would it work for you? Let's talk in the comments section.
Thanks for listening. :)
Addendum: As the 11-year-old boy was reading over my shoulders while massaging them to earn money, he said, "Mom, why are you trying to make the lives of other kids miserable?"