Chores, Comedy and Unfortunate Mishaps

A couple days ago I read a lovely post by Lori Leigh Wilson about lightening things up.  She shared some some great ways to inspire laughter, and in fact, I ended up spending an hour laughing that morning.   Lori introduced me to Kid Snippets and I had to share the one about Chores, given my trials and tribulations with establishing a chore system in our house.  Please, please, please stick with it until the end.  It is so worth it – I am talking bust a gut at the very end worth it!

Watching this, I was taken back to the time that Josie picked up a used tampon applicator at a park and said, “Look Mom!  A spyglass!”  After gagging back my vomit and forcing her to drop it, I doused her in Purell and properly disposed of the “spyglass.”

What is the grossest thing your child has ever picked up?

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Mother Earth is our Chores for Charity Beneficiary in May!

brain

brain (Photo credit: natalia love)

It’s May 9th and we have not even talked about this month’s Chores For Charity Beneficiary.  And that’s mainly because Josie and I have only talked very briefly about it.   We’ve been doing chores for the unnamed green charity.  In Josie’s words, “you know, mom, we should help the earth, like vacuum up all the trash and stuff. Hey! I have an idea.  Let’s take the Dustbuster on a walk [like we can put it on a leash like a dog] and we can vacuum up the trash.”   And then the conversation turns to her “rainbow brain,” her words not mine, and I begin to wonder what life in the Technicolor mind of Josie must be like.  Of course, this leads me to believe that my brain is utterly boring with all its gray matter and white matter.

English: The Nature Conservancy logo

English: The Nature Conservancy logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All that aside, we did decide to choose a conservation type charity and I confess that this is not an area of expertise for me, so I selected a big name charity for this month:  The Nature Conservancy.  Their mission is simply stated, but complex in practice:  To conserve the lands and water on which all life depends.   They are making a conservation impact in all 50 states and 35 countries around the world.   The Nature Conservancy is in the business of protecting habitats, from Rainforests to Coral Reefs to the Rivers and Lakes in which my kids discover frogs and toads.  I like this.  Every child should have the chance to let the mud squish between their toes as they walk along the banks of a lake or river in search of their next adventure.

Photo Credit: Flickr - (Hoyasmeg)

Photo Credit: Flickr – (Hoyasmeg)

Given my background in urban education, I LOVE that they have a conservation education initiative, complete with paid internships, in partnership with environmental high schools in urban centers in 9 states.  This program, called LEAP, opens doors for students who reside in cities with very few natural elements to become leaders in the nature conservancy movement.  Straight-up awesome!

Boardwalk on the Wolf River in the William B. ...

Boardwalk on the Wolf River in the William B. Clark, Sr., Nature Preserve (Nature Conservancy of Tennessee) in Rossville, Fayette County, Tennessee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So folks, as you saunter through the month of May, remember Josie’s commitment to “vacuuming up all the trash on Earth” and do your part to protect Mother Earth.  Put your trash in a trash can, recycle and, if you have some dollars to spare, support The Nature Conservancy.

 

What are your favorite environmental conservation charities?  I’m going to use this month to learn more about this topic and could use all the help I can get!

A Chore Master I am Not

Fired red stamp

Fired red stamp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I should be fired.   I am a horrible manager, chore manager, that is.  In my defense,  I am trying to manage a 3.5 year old who is stubborn as a mule and who will not, under any circumstance, listen to reason.  This is by far the HARDEST management role I have ever held.  And, that is saying something because I was faced with some very difficult (and sometimes weird) situations back when I was working.  Sexual harassment, employee terminations, school bus accidents, medical emergencies, crazy bus drivers and lockdowns – you name it and I have probably seen it.  BUT, as a manager facing those situations, there was protocol to follow, and, for the most part, I was dealing with people who could listen to reason.  Have you ever tried to reason with a preschooler?  It is pure insanity.

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And so, this month’s Chores For Charity update is once again a re-evaluation of how we do things around here.  And by “we”, I mean “me”.  J  I’ve come to realize that Josie likes routine with chores and, if I break that routine, I am SCREWED.  For instance, her chores in the morning are to get dressed and make her bed.  If we are running late, as we typically are, and she gets dressed but doesn’t have time to make her bed, I am SCREWED.  You see, when I tell her to make her bed later in the day, it results in a full-blown tantrum.  You know, the kind where you are concerned that your neighbors are going to call the police with the suspicion that you have your child hooked up to a medieval torture instrument.  The same happens if I tell her to wipe down and set the dinner table while her pre-dinner cartoon is on.  Yes, it is best to plan dinner around the Disney Channel schedule (and I am only partly jesting when I say that!).

I will now publicly offer how I plan to remedy the mistakes I have made as a Chore Master in our house.

  1. I will be consistent with when and how I expect the chores to be completed.  Chores will truly become a “routine” in our house.
  2. I will amend the Chore Chart to include two permanent tasks, one Josie’s Choice and one Parent’s Choice.  I hope this will provide a little more flexibility to catch Josie doing great things and also provide her with some autonomy in the chore routine.
  3. I will recognize that the above two statements seem to be in a bit of conflict.  How can  you build a routine when you don’t have set tasks to complete each day?  I’m okay with this.  Hey, I am going to need something to write about for next month’s CFC update – just setting myself up.

Chores For Charity – Our Very Own March Madness

Dust Bunnies are no match for a girl and her Dustbuster.

Dust Bunnies are no match for a girl and her Dustbuster.

March was the first month of Chores for Charity in our house and, truth is, it roared in like a lion but forgot to go out like a lamb.  Let’s just say we are still “adjusting” to having a chore schedule.  I did not live up to my potential as the “Chore Enforcer” and it seems that the word chore can still induce a “drop to the floor and flail around like a fish out of water” kind of tantrum.  But, we are adjusting and things are getting better.  Getting Josie to make her bed is not like pulling teeth anymore.  And, we have discovered that she loves to use the Dustbuster.  Like most everything on the good planet Earth, Chores For Charity is evolving and that is a good thing.

More importantly, I think the concept behind Chores For Charity is sinking in.   Josie talks often about how she is going to help build a playground, which is usually accompanied by her saying, “This is so cool Mom!”  She is enjoying the idea of doing good for others and that is truly what this project is about.  An added benefit of this project is that Josie is learning to count money – it’s a real life math lesson!  During March, Josie earned $19.61 for KaBOOM! 

That said, we are going to change some things up.  Our chore chart had to change!  So, we are moving to a weekly sticker chart for chores that a friend of mine recommended.  It is more kid-friendly and the pictures make it clear to her what she needs to do.  I’ve also decided to add rewards for her – if she earns 25 stickers in a week, then she gets to choose one reward card.  The rules still apply – if she throws a tantrum, she doesn’t get a sticker but still needs to do the chore.  Also, chores on the weekend are not mandatory.  She can earn stickers for doing her chores but she doesn’t have to do them.  Our schedules are so unpredictable on the weekend that it really made it difficult to get everything done.   With these changes, I think Chores For Charity will be more enjoyable for everyone in the house!

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Stay tuned to learn which charity we selected to be April’s beneficiary!  It was inspired by our recent trip to Washington, DC and we can’t wait to tell you about it.

Chores For Charity Update

Yesterday marked two weeks of Chores For Charity in our house and I am compelled to share what I’ve learned.

  1. Chores Suck!  So, those are my words, but if Josie knew the “S” word I am sure she’d use it too.  As a parent, implementing a chore system is a serious PITA.   What it really amounts to is more work for me  – I have to remember to prompt Josie to do her chores, supervise her while she does them, keep track of the chore chart, pay out allowance…and that doesn’t include the fights when she doesn’t want to do them.  Strangely, Josie still loves to clean.  She begs to use the Dustbuster and Swiffer and thanks me profusely when I let her.  I mean, I think the girl would pay me to allow her to use the Dustbuster.  But, there are times when I ask her to make her bed or clean up her toys before bed and I can see the tantrum developing before my eyes: fists clenched, head shaking no in a violent fashion, and then the “NO” screams begin.   In those moments, I think to myself, “What the hell were you thinking? This SUCKS!”SONY DSC
  1. But It Is Not All Bad:   Josie is starting to take more pride in our house and belongings since starting chores.  Sometimes, she will say, “This place is a hot mess,” and then she will start putting her toys away on her own.  Or, she may ask to do the dishes (granted this is her absolute favorite of the chores on her list!).  And on two separate occasions, I have heard her scold Lily, saying, “AAARGH! Lily! I just cleaned up in here.  Put those books away.”   How many times have I said that (or something like it) to her?  I had to suppress a giggle when it happened and, *confession time*, I didn’t even correct her for scolding her sister because I know how frustrating it is to clean up and have it a mess again 10 seconds later.  And, in the spirit of full disclosure, Josie is still a walking natural disaster.  We are on constant alert for Hurricane Josie to blow through at any time.   These baby steps just mean we downgraded her to a Category 2 (Extensive Damage) from a Category 3 (Devastating Damage).

    English: Cyclone Josie as a category 2 tropica...

    English: Cyclone Josie as a category 2 tropical cyclone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. Flexibility Required: Yes, as with much in motherhood, Chores For Charity requires both mental and physical flexibility.    For instance, I quickly lowered the expectation for what Josie’s “made bed” looks like.  What started as “pull the blanket and sheets up to the top of the bed and then fold down to expose the pillow” has evolved to “just make sure the sheet and blanket cover the pillow.”  I can be flexible and go with the flow.  Bed-making also requires a bit of physical flexibility.  Josie’s bed is situated in a corner with only two sides exposed.  She stands on the side of her bed to pull the sheets and blanket up but always wants me to help.  Helping means that I stand at the bottom of the bed, usually on one foot with the other leg stretched behind me and my waist bent at a right angle stretching my arms in front of me like Super Mom to get the blankets and sheets to the inner upper corner of the bed, usually while Lily is hanging on some part of my body.  Yes, there are easier ways to do this, but this is what keeps Josie actively engaged in the chore and so I am flexible, literally.
  1. About The Benjamins: I’m not sure how much money Josie has in her jar currently, but it is not insignificant.  We are paying her more than we typically would if the money was just going to her, but this is helping us reach a family goal for monthly charitable donations so I am okay with it.  She does not get her allowance if she throws a tantrum about doing the chores, but still has to do the chores anyway.  Needless to say, she has been penalized several times so she has not earned to her maximum potential this month.  The allowance has been a good way for me to teach Josie about monetary denominations and counting.  I think she finally gets that 4 quarters is equal to one dollar bill.  She has also come to the conclusion that, when it comes to money, more is better:

A Photo Journal: Josie’s First Day of Chores

The  stomach bug has taken our house by storm and, though I want to brag about how well Josie did with her first day of Chores For Charity, I just don’t have it in me.   Instead, here are some pics of her in action.

Messy Bed in the Morning

Messy Bed in the Morning

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Josie Wrangling the Sheets

Neatly Arranging the Sheet

Neatly Arranging the Sheet

The Finished Product - not the neatest bed ever made but done by Josie all by herself!

The Finished Product – not the neatest bed ever made but done by Josie all by herself!

"I really, really love doing the dishes Mommy!"

“I really, really love doing the dishes Mommy!”

"OK.  I'm bored now."

“OK. I’m bored now.”

This is not even on her chore list.  Josie LOVED helping around the house and begged to use the dust buster.  And Lily was just as fascinated with it too.

This is not even on her chore list. Josie LOVED helping around the house and begged to use the dust buster. And Lily was just as fascinated with it too.

3, 2, 1…Clean!

Today is the day I’ve been waiting for since I first became a mother.  Today is the day that I start training my kids to take over the house.  When their training is done, in about 15 years or so, I will finally be able to live my dream of sitting on the couch, watching mediocre romantic comedies, reading gossip magazines and eating Philadelphia soft pretzels dipped in spicy brown mustard.  What?  Don’t Judge.  Everybody is entitled to their own version of Peg Bundy’s existence.  The problem with my plan is that my offspring will be trained in all household tasks just in time to leave for college, and that means that I still won’t get to live my dream.  But, at least I will have the pride that comes with raising self-sufficient, independent girls.

ECARD

Of course, the chore system in our house is not simply to ensure that my girls will be able to “keep house” in their adult life (which is good because I am not the best housekeeper – just ask The Hubs).  The primary goal of Chores For Charity is to provide a vehicle for my kids to start their philanthropic lives.  The Hubs and I cough up money in exchange for basic chores and that money is then put in a Charity Jar.  So far, Josie, who is 3 ½ going on 12, is quite amenable to the whole arrangement.  She likes to get money but really doesn’t do anything with it other than put it in her piggy bank.  She is not really a spender – at least of her own money.  Now seems to be the perfect time to introduce the idea of giving to charity, you know,  before she understands the thrill of bringing home the perfect pair of shoes or seeing the UPS truck pull up to deliver your goodies.

In all seriousness, I really hope that as time goes on, Josie will get to feel the pure joy that one can feel when performing an act of giving.  To know that you have given of your time, your wallet, your brainpower, your personal belongings, and that you have made a difference in someone’s life is a powerful feeling.   I want her to learn that she as an individual can make a difference.  I want her to learn that no dollar amount is too small to give, because she is not just giving money.  She is telling that organization that she believes in the work they are doing and she wants them to be able to continue that work.   I want her to learn money that is valuable to her is even more valuable to the recipients of the services and programs of the organizations she supports.   Yes, these are lessons one learns over a lifetime, but it is never to early to start.

And so, today we begin Chores For Charity.  The chore chart is ready.  The beneficiary charity is selected.   The charity jar is awaiting deposits.  All that’s left is to get Josie cleaning….