Giving Dragon Mommy the Morning Off

Things were getting bad around here. It felt like every.single.morning was the same crapstorm of asking/nagging/threatening/rushing the kids to get their basic stuff done to enable us all to get out the door. I got so tired of hearing Jesse and myself say "guys, come on!" that I was white-knuckling our corkscrew: it was a toss up between using it to shotgun a bottle of wine at 8 am versus using it to just lobotomize myself.

It's our own fault. Often Judah and Layla wake up way too early and we just phone it in and cave to get them to let us go back to sleep. "Go play iPad," we say. This is so successful at getting them out of our faces and occupied (scarily so...like Wall-E levels of screen obsession) that we let them keep playing on them while we get ourselves ready--until the last possible moment. (In case youre wondering: my parents gifted them one and we bought another on big sale to avoid bloodshed...we are those parents who gave every kid their own iPad...oh dear).

So with 20 minutes left before we have to leave for work and school no child has dressed or eaten or sanitized their bodies. Oh, and they are INDIGNANT to be asked to stop in the middle of their game/movie/hacking the FBI/whatever it is they're doing that is so crucial to their very lifeforce that the threat of having to stop so that they might ingest foodstuffs and go on living is THE MEANEST THING EVER to ask them to do. 

Wait a second! So we buy you, our 4 & 5 year old, a $300 toy, and for making you stop after an hour and a half of unrestricted play on it --to eat and be clothed and go get literate, MIND YOU--you are now angry at us and saying that life is unfair and this is the worst day ever?!?!


Rather than give in to the temptation to become a late-onset baby-shaker and jostle some sense into my first-world-proto-cusshole preschoolers, we decided something had to change. NO MORE ENTITLEMENT. STANDS WILL BE TAKEN! LINES: DRAWN! CAPS: LOCKED!

They are 4 and 5 and a half: they can handle chores. If this was 500 years ago they would have children of their own by now...or a cow or something, at least. They have chores when they get home from school (no play time or snack until they've put up shoes and coats and bags and lunchboxes and folders) and implementing those was so easy and effective, but for some reason we have just been the blind exasperated lunatics leading the blind spoiled freeloaders when it came to mornings.

An iPad is a modern damn marvel, the capabilities of which nation-states have fought wars over for much less throughout history. I love my kids, and they're cute and all, but I'm sorry, being my living spawn does not the god-given RIGHT to own one of these trinkets give you.

Starting today, they have to earn it. They each have a morning routine checklist to do and only when every item is done can they have iPad. I am no longer the bad guy hounding them about 12 tasks at once. Talk to the list, fools!

We are selling this as a privilege instead of a downgrade or loss of fun by saying if they get it all done, they get INFINITY time on the iPad before school. Until they realize the only way to maximize this is to wake up unholy early (a real possibility) this automatically should set a limit just because we have to be out the door by 8:25.

If they get everything done on all 5 days of the week, they will earn an allowance. $1 for each year they've been alive. Jesse balked at this being too much money, until I said, "How much would you pay stay sane...NAY how much would you pay to keep ME sane?!" because really my stress level getting ramped up is what is toxic to our household (working on it).

I made up an Excel spreadsheet because you know how I be, and we can change and add things if needed. I know these lists/sheets/boards aren't a new idea by any means, but they are revolutionary in this house so far. 

Layla's Sheet*. Complete with stock clipart? yes! because mama aint got time for cool design-y logos. Picking my battles...

We took basic human morning things like brushing teeth and wearing shoes and added a few age appropriate actual chores to the list because they need to contribute to the tribe! They put a sticker on when it's done (we dont care about the order) and for fun, I made little iPad tickets that are tear-off-able at the bottom for them to cash in for the (now locked) iPads when everything is done. They can tear off the dollar bill at the end of the week to get their paycheck. 

Day 1: stunner!

We still had to help guide them through everything today and help keep them on task, but it was so much better to say, "check your list!" rather than saying "WHERE THE FRIG ARE YOUR SOCKS?!" after telling them 6 times to put them on.   And of course the novelty will surely wear off with the stickers and tickets. I'm okay with that...we are trying to create responsible, non-jerk humans, not an actual cartoon paper currency economy. 

We love that their desire for the iPad is now the constant reminder of what they need to get done rather than our words and effort.

Judah's Sheet*. We made feeding the dogs and picking up an entire room his new jobs. He did them like it was cake. 

I could show you Noa's list but it's just a picture of boobs and poop, sooooo, nah.

These sights have never been so beautiful to me before:

Oh yeah. She's feeling it.

Veg, my hardworking contributor, VEG I SAY!

Below is a link to my actual spreadsheet if you want to download it and edit it for your kids own needs. It has the tearable tickets at the bottom and everything is sized to fit the standard little circle stickers that you'd use for garage sale prices or any other fun mini sticker...or checkmarks when stickers get old. I had to max out my margins.

(let me know if this doesnt work after you open and download...this is my first file-share attempt on the blog.)

They just got home and walked up to the fridge and looked at their sheets. Judah goes, "I love our new list."  And I'm all Emperor Palpatine: "Yes, my son. Yes." 

*One thing we blatantly forgot and I hope someone tries to Jesus juke/call me out on is a devotion. We have been doing the She Reads Truth ABC memory verses that we have pretty pretty flashcards for (wall sized and pocket sized for the car). They get candy when they can recite their verses...so that's separate but probably should go on the list.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Shoot-Dog-Teaching-Training/dp/0553380397
    Read it, live it, love it.
    I bought this book in order to have better success in training my dog (I want to put him in obedience competitions), but really the book isn't about dog training. It's about how you can interact with others in a positive way have have you both get what you want. That keeps the kids from being cray and you from being dragon mommy. It is difficult to start to put the philosophy into practice (all things that involve assessing your own actions and then changing them are hard), but the rewards are 100 fold. It involves all the things that you are doing with the charts and the tickets and the rewards, the book just explains the science behind why this type of strategy works. I hope you check it out (speaking of which, I bet they have it at the library). Hope all is well!