Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chore report

Well, the first shaky/whiny/frantic (how will we DO it all) week of summer has passed, and naturally we haven't actually carved out any sort of routine that makes sense, but things do seem less frantic. The kids are in their school daycare program for part of this week (rather more dismal than not, with full-group punishments for untattled transgressions and a distinct limit on outdoor time), and then onto their aunt's for hedonistic fun, sun & legos. I'd feel worse about the school daycare except that it is looking to be about 6 days total of the whole summer, maybe less, and one day of each of those is a swimming day (for which I say, Better you than me, daycare, and also: good luck!) Meanwhile, M and I are both getting a decent amount of work done and not feeling too compromised, and the kids...well, they'll be fine. If I were home full time they would get more sleep, but they would also spend more hours of the day engaged in saying "I want a PLAYYYYDAAAAATE" and "Is it ten yet? Is it ten yet? Is it ten yet?" and "I want to go swimmmmiiing" and probably a lot of "It's not FAAAAIIIRR." So. And they would DEFINITELY spend less time at the pool, per visit (they were there for THREE HOURS. As IF).

We're taking advantage of the summer schedule to work a few more chores into the kid routine. This has had mixed success. To elaborate:

1. Success: lawn mowing. Silas mows the lawn now. He gets five dollars if he mows the lawn without requiring nagging. If I have to remind him more than cursorily, he gets $4. If I have to do it myself, he gets nothing (obv). So far (for three weeks) this has worked quite well, and for the first time since owning a lawn I do not regularly have to mow it. Yessss.

2. Fail: getting the kids to pick up after themselves/ pick up activities before moving on to the next activity. This pretty much does not happen without M or I standing over them saying "and now THAT lego, please. No, don't build with it. Just put it in the box." The summer is young, however.

3. Mixed: dishes. We don't really have a fixed schedule for this, so the kids always feel like we spring it on them at the end of a long day ("I see you're tired and just want to play wii--how 'bout you load the dishwasher instead?") However, they've gotten to where they (mostly) remember to put their dishes on the counter, and if we prompt gently, into the dishwasher.

4. Mixed: room cleaning. We have a fixed schedule--every weekend, they have to clean and vacuum their rooms--but there is so much variation in the definition of clean (floor only, or surfaces too? bed made? do the shelves/desk need to be organized? what about that drawer of doom which is crammed so full of crap that it barely opens--yet which seems to contain many critical items, such as allowance and favorite hair thingies?), plus "weekend" is such a long, leisurely span of time that it's easy to find ourselves at 8:15 on a Sunday night without it having managed to happen at all, that this chore seems to involve more than its fair share of stomping and flinging oneself to the floor, or shocking requests to delay completion/ solicit help.

5. Mixed-to-success: putting away laundry. Sometimes I put a basket of clean, folded laundry in a kid's room and it is whisked away into drawers as if by magic. Other times I find myself tripping on it three days in a row as it first gets rifled for preferred clean clothes and then, confusingly, overpiled with freshly dirty clothes. In either case, I would like to involve the kids in this chore earlier.

We're trying. Ideally, I'd like all chores to be like the lawn mowing, in that they're required to happen, but my needing to remind kids to do them has been cleverly excised from the process. In other words, I'd like a little more ownership of the chore process from the children. I remind them frequently of that study from Harvard about how the kids who made the happiest adults were those who were required to do chores as children; however, I suspect this invigorating story translates to kidspeak something like this: "blah blah blah blah no, you can't play Wii now blah blah blah blah."

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