In the spirit of World Cup soccer

… and our own FC Dallas’ 2-2 draw with Inter-Milan

I so appreciate any comments you guys shoot my way.  Since I’m looking for the same answers, I’ve forwarded Friday & Sunday’s questions to our wise women serving as “Ironing Board” mentors and will post their answers on Wednesday.
That said, here’s Friday’s comment which I wanted to address as today’s entry:

I haven’t been reading since the start but I’m almost caught up. I have three at home 21-14-12, one girl and two boys and this had helped he get them to help. I have one question through, do the kids keep doing the past chores while starting a new month learning the new ones?? My guys are really crabbing about it saying it is all too much and they didn’t have this family so why should they help take care of it, my gal just feels all the boys stuff just ends up with her. Help!

First – I’m SO sure!  Second – You might not believe it, but mine have actually uttered the same family comment.  (Again, I’m SO sure!)  Third –  Oh, how I feel your pain. I’m sure y’all know by my postings, we have major moaning and groaning going on around here since the day (almost 6 months ago!) they had to actually get up and start helping … even though my girls often seem quicker and less offended than my boys (sorry Slow Walker, who has morphed into Whiny McWhiner).

I often have to fight back my feelings of anger, frustration and even nausea at the pathetic whining that accompanies such simple tasks as putting away their laundry, emptying the dishwasher and the oh-so-dreaded activity – taking out the trash. You would think the trash-taker-outer was being forced to walk 50 miles, up-hill, in a rainstorm, through a snake-infested driveway to get to the cans. (They’re actually about 10 yards from our back door, straight shot though a nice gate, illiminated by a motion-sensored light, just in case the sun might have set.)

Hey, but at least the push back is normal. Just tell me it’s normal behavior and I can live through anything … stay the course … forge through the whine. But please, fly the red flag and warn me when we steer off course so we can turn and head the right way.

Okay, back to the question … .how are we maintaining our new found skills and chores around the house while adding new ones?

My kids have balked at all the extra work.  Okay, so they balk at any extra work.  I don’t really care, though.  There are a few chores that are now non-negotiable in this house – like making their beds and keeping their spaces (i.e. their desks, bathrooms and closets) fairly clutter-free. (I have a few highly creative free-spirits who struggle with completely clean … so we accept “presentable” as defined by the parent … yes, we have to go that far.  I have one destined for the courtroom. He can argue opposing sides at the same time and win both.)

Regarding meals, I have moved from the kids cooking Monday – Thursday to them preparing our meal once or twice a week.  The girls have really enjoyed their venture into the kitchen, so they help me most meals.  The boys tolerate the requirement, so only pitch in on their days.  That said, they still have to load and unload the dishwasher when asked.

If I was more organized, I would have a chart.  But I’m in that annoying creative category where lists tend to stress me out.  All they do for me is cause great pain as I remember, after the fact, that I forgot to do whatever is on it. (I’m the first to admit – it takes a village to be my friend! God bless all my peeps that are nodding their heads at this one — they’ve covered for me on more than one occasion.)

If the kids duck their daily or assigned tasks, dollars are docked.  (Check out A Dollar Lost vs A Dollar Earned for info on the surprising incentive provided through loss rather than gain.)

We just finished our laundry month, but will most certainly keep that chore going. We need to have a family meeting to talk amongst ourselves regarding the method.  Certain chores by the month might work best … or maybe trading off chores each week might be preferable.  I don’t care … as long as they are doing the jobs.

I still admire my friend who employs the “Door Chore” method by posting a note on her kids’ doors letting them know exactly what needs to be done that day (from washing/folding laundry, to cleaning the bathroom) … this way she varies the effort and everyone gets stuff done.  She’s one of those organized types, though.

Conclusion: My goal over this year-long experiment is to have each child equipped to handle all of our  tasks.  So that if they left our house tomorrow, they could operate successfully on their own.  Plus, they need to know that life isn’t here to serve them! So, bring on the whine. As long as they are pitching in, knowing their efforts are key to our house operating efficiently, I’m hoping their confidence will grow.

Our calendar for the remainder of the year is posted on the “Calendar” page.  Here it is in a nutshell:

August:  The Handy Man Can

September: Hospitality (Host a paahh-tay)

October: Teamwork (building project)

November:  Errands

December: Service

January: Money Management
So, for August – we’ll be keeping our eyes out for Handy Man projects.  Today, one tried to help Jon fix our broken laminating machine.  He lost interest between removing the third and fourth screw.  It didn’t help that Jon wanted to f
ix it himself.  We have some hills to climb in this area for sure.

Then in September (maybe late August), each kid will help with one party (from the invitation to the clean-up). Even though hospitality will be our lesson of the month, they will still be required to hold up their end of the bargain on our house operation (beds, bathrooms, meals, laundry, cleaning … even though very much watered down from the month in which we learned each respective skill).

Okay … that’s how we’re doing it around here. And, just so you know, I’m the worst at maintaing it all.  If I was good at keeping it together, I don’t think we would ever have gotten into our enabling mess.  My type-A friends rarely struggle with these things.  I do every day. I’m always up for the better offer – to skip responsibilities and head to the park, go out to dinner, jump in the pool … you name it.

But, I’m convinced more than ever, though, “responsibility” is a gift that gives much more than we could ever imagine.

I recently sat with one of our community’s youth ministry directors.  Jon and I asked her what she would describe as the 2 major areas in which kids struggle these days. Communication, “sexting” and self esteem (especially as it relates to the dramatic rise in teen suicide in our area) jumped out of her mouth.

“I think if these kids had more responsibility, they would be a lot less likely to take their lives. I know for me… my siblings depended on me. I was responsible to help care for my little sister. I would have had a hard time taking my life purely based on role in our family.”

There are probably days in every kid’s life when they think no-one cares, that life would be better without them (we know that’s not true – and oh, how I pray my kids will shut down that lie), but if piling on purpose can help them know they’re needed and possibly avoid one of today’s major struggles for teens – bring it on. I’m not saying this is the answer, or that the families who have suffered such difficult losses are in some way responsible, increased responsibility just might be an addition to their armor as these kids navigate the teen battlefield.

So, who cares if their annoying whining about “extra” work might lead to hearing loss (maybe that explains my own hearing issues!) … at least they’re talking.

Sorry to spew. I’m so glad we’re walking the road together. To know that push-back, whining, arguing are a normal part of this trek acts as a soothing ointment for some frequent mom wounds… ones that I know will heal as these kids mature.  I’m in the thick of it … and at the cusp.  I have not made it through … so thanks for letting me walk it with you.

Please feel free to ask anything. Our “Ironing Board” has years of experience.  They’ve successfully completed the summit, many with the scars to prove it, and welcome any questions.

From what I understand, the key to it all is …. love. It’s not about the tasks, its about loving them, letting them know you believe in them (especially during this stage where they think no one does), helping them stretch their wings and fly – on their own, instead of us flying for them.

Hope this is helpful.  Thanks again for walking the road with me.

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