Thursday, September 13, 2012

a different approach

Lately I have been noticing a certain level of frustration between the kids and the parents in our household. We all seem to have short fuses. Tempers flare, voices escalate...occasionally it culminates in tears... But enough about me... Kidding!! (OK, no I'm not...)

In any case, I've been on somewhat of a mission the past few months to try and see what we can/need to tweak in order to bring more of a sense of peace to our home. I've read some books, some articles, some blogs. Lots of good information out there...but making it practical, and making it stick...well...that's a lot harder in reality than it is in theory.  So, I'm applying the same advice as what I mentioned in regards to healthy lifestyle changes...just start with one small thing.

One of the very most practical things I've read talks about how often frustration results when expectations aren't clear. This is especially true when it comes to chores. (Now, if you asked me, I would have thought by this time, our expectations for chores are pretty clear...but if you ask my kids, there seems to be...shall we say, a little less clarity.  Somehow, I am still having to DAILY remind them to do things, that seem to me, by now should be a given..."I didn't know we had to make our beds EVERY day..."  Really???)

OK, so rather than lecture (for the umpteenth time) about how I've said umpteen times what I want done, I'm going to try a different approach.  (Because you have heard the definition of "crazy" right?)

cra·zy/ˈkrāzē/ - doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results

That might not be the real dictionary definitely, but trust me, it's totally true and I've already hung out there a bit too long.

I've decided that we need a more visual approach.  So, thanks to Pinterest, I'll be introducing this little system tonight...

The idea is, everything that is expected on a DAILY basis, without question, is on one of these pins.  (And, I do realize how sad it is that some of them need to be on there at this point...I wouldn't think I'd still be needing holler before they dart out to the bus...  "You DID brush your teeth, right?!?"  But we are talking about being very.very.unquestionably.clear., so I'm just not going to do ANY assuming...) I'm going to say "These hangers represent ME asking YOU" there's no "I didn't know the dishwasher needed to be unloaded..."  That little clothes pin should remind them, before they ask to watch TV, to check the dishwasher.  Want to play with friends?  All those clothes pins better be flipped!  (Obviously, with some exceptions, as I am still sane enough to know that if they want to play with a friend at 4:30, there's no way they could have cleared the dinner dishes no worries for my precious offspring...I plan to play fair and square.)  Hopefully, the more clear I am, the less nagging I will have to be, and the more will actually get done...with less frustration all the way around.

I've also compiled all of the weekly chore expectations as well.  That will be going on a printed chart to check off whenever it's done.  This has never worked all that well for us in the past, but I haven't tried it since our homeschooling days, at which time I was constantly running on empty, and pretty much had just given up.  So I'm willing to give it another go, and with a bit of fresh perspective.  One book I read said, and it made a lot of sense, that part of kids' frustration when it comes to chores in general, is that they can have a general sense of "there's stuff I'm supposed to do, but I'm not entirely sure what all it is, so I'll do nothing".  But then they tend to always feel like something is hanging over them...and they're just waiting for you to drop the 'next' thing on them; they flare up and complain, because they never have that sense of "I'm done, I can just relax now."  I know how real that feeling is for myself, so it only makes sense kids would experience it as well.  Think about finishing your work day at five, and having a boss come up and say, "Oh, still need to do this, this, and this before you can leave..."  It's frustrating for anyone.  So, for kids and adults alike, clear expectations help to set parameters.  "I have these 4 things to do, and then I am free."  It makes them more likely to just tackle the chores, to get them out of the way, so they can move on.  And there's the part I need to really get on board clear, but then let them be done.  I'm not saying there won't occasionally be something that comes up that they need to help out with, but it will be the exception and not the them a lot more incentive, and hopefully for both our sakes, there will be a lot less nagging.

We'll begin beta testing this system right away.  (In fact, it's already started.  Since I started typing, one of the kids got home and saw the hangers.  We talked briefly about it.  When he asked if he could play Playstation, I simply asked if his pins were all able to be moved over.  Easy peasy.  He's on it a lot quicker, knowing there's a fairly clear and simple end it sight...and he doesn't want to waste the time arguing; he'd rather just do it and move on.  Just like how I feel with MY to-do list.)

Hopefully good results will result in a more chill family all the way around...we shall see.  As I feel like I am constantly saying..."It's a start."



Andrea said...

I love this idea and this post!

My biggest problem with chore lists is that there is always something else that I want the kids to help me with, but if it isn't on the chore list, they are all of a sudden expert rule-followers. "But it didn't say so on the list!"

Good luck on your beta test, and may I say also that I am so glad that I am not the only person with older children who somehow have not learned that teeth need to be brushed EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

What is up with that?

Jessi said...

Oh,'s so reassuring to hear I'm not the only one STILL having to remind them to brush! I paused when I wrote it, thinking..."This is probably too shameful to admit...but oh well..." :)

Thus far, it seems to really be helping!!