It feels almost silly and naive to be writing about this, only three days in. Because every new system is bliss in its early days. The real measure of success comes weeks down the road when you find you're still using it and it still works. But still I know how it goes. As parents we see a problem, something that needs to be changed and we come up with a solution. Sometimes it's a temporary fix that gets us through a rough patch. Sometimes it's a crutch that helps establish new habits or new expectations.
I should have known something as simple as a checklist would be the thing that seems to work for my kids. They are my offspring afterall and I'm a girl who loves her lists. And just like all the fuss over finding the perfect gift only to discover what they really want to play with is the box–this list has no gimmicks, stickers or stars. It's just a list. Turns out, they don't need all the other stuff.
But here's why we needed it:
1.) My family has issues with technology. (I should say, everyone but my husband–he's could really care less.) We seem to waffle between extremes. We go through long seasons where the TV's locked away in a cupboard and no one even seems to remember that we have one. Or we swing to the other extreme–and I hit the end of the day feeling disappointed and frankly a little sick at the amount of screen time my kids have cosumed in the past 12 hours. I'm all for the lock it away philosophy. But in reality that's getting harder–there are presidential debates, Sunday morning news, weather to follow, and knitting to accomplish which requires a good teary episode of Parenthood. Then, there's the oldest child and her hard-earned and recently acquired iPod Touch. The list goes on and on. It seeps in and there has to be a way to live with it, but still be in control of it.
2.) I was often reaching the dinner hour and feeling frazzled that there was still piano to practice, french lessons to do, eggs to collect, laundry to put away. I couldn't figure out where the time had gone and how we'd managed to get this far into the day without accomplishing some very basic tasks that needed to be done.
3.) The plus of a big family is that I've given birth to a small army of helpers. And frankly they are willing to help (and shhhh, I think sometimes they kind of enjoy it.) But I was not enlisting their help at all. And more often than not, when I did need help it was always falling on the shoulders of the oldest, because the girl can get a job done well and willingly. And that's not fair.
4.) I hate nagging.
5.) I hate whining. (my own and theirs.)
So simple as that, every morning I do a quick print out of each child's list. Tack it up on the chalkboard in the kitchen and that's it. Those basic, important tasks are getting done. I don't have to say a word. And everyone knows if there's any hope for channel flipping, afternoon movie watching, or iPod Touch touching, the list must be done.
And yes, we're in the blissful stages. A real moment of bliss? This afternoon, I was tucked in bed easing a sick kid into a nap and downstairs I could hear someone speaking french and another little someone setting the dinner table. I totally nailed this one. Until the next one comes along…..