Honey, I Fired the Kids. . .and I Picked Up Some Coffee

Anyone with kids over the ages of 2 or 3 has wondered about things like chores, or allowance, or how to teach them to clean up and help out around the house. Kid’s Chores are a discussion topic around the coffee pot for moms like me.

In our house, we have gone through many different systems. We’ve done chore charts, we’ve done all day Saturday cleaning binges, while I was on bedrest with twins the kids pretty much took over the housework including the laundry.

But, at the end of last year, I was fed up.

I was fed up with dinner dishes taking up to two hours getting loaded in the dishwasher.

I was fed up with fighting during chores.

I was fed up with a living room that went weeks without being vacuumed.

I was fed up with a house that was not fit for company.

I was fed up with nagging.

Now, I grew up in the 80’s. I grew up on the Today Show. I vaguely remember seeing a mom featured on the show who had SNAPPED. She went on strike, complete with a picket line. She had other moms striking too. These moms gave up and stopped doing the mom things. Hoping. Praying that their families would step up.

I wasn’t about to go on strike. My house was already a mess. I wasn’t about to let it get worse. And, quite frankly, I’m not sure any of them would care if I stopped cooking for them. All but the babies know how to boil ramen noodles.

So, I started taking over doing THEIR jobs. I did the post-dinner cleanup. (For the record it takes about 10 minutes for me to do it, and I don’t have to whine or fight to get it done). My kitchen had never looked better. Then I took over the daily straighten and vacuum of the living room. It takes me 7 minutes. (Side benefit? Daily vacuuming has cut dusting waaaaaaaaaay down). I was already doing all of the laundry. I still refuse to take out the trash unless I am alone. I am picking up, straightening up and it takes me almost no time.

Do you want to know the best part? Firing the kids is saving me big bucks! Those little stinkers were getting paid about $90 a  month to not clean my house and fight in my kitchen. Now…they get paid nothing and I still make them clean up their rooms. It’s a win. I get to spend some time alone cleaning the kitchen after dinner… and I don’t need to feel guilty when I splurge on a Venti White Mocha. After all, I earned it.

So yes, I fired the kids. Yes, I’m probably not teaching them the right lesson. I may be raising lazy slobs. BUT, I am yelling less, which is key, and my sink is shiny… which, in turn, akes me calmer.

My apologies to my future daughter-in-laws. When my boys tell you that they did not have to wash dishes or do laundry, they’ll be telling the truth. Maybe you’ll have better luck than I did!

So, if you see me around town sipping a latte, remember, I worked for it!

Chime in! What are your views on kids and chores? Have you been tempted to fire your kids? Go on strike? You know I’d love to hear from you!

Things I Said I’d Never Do Saturday: Family Housework Day

The older I get the more I realize that I am doing nearly all of the things I vowed I’d never do when I became a mom. Until I get tired of it, I’ll share one of those things a week with you. On Saturday.

Growing up, Saturdays were housework days. I hated it. Turns out my mom grew up with the same Saturday routine. She hated it too. I’m not entirely sure why she continued the tradition then, except that the house needed cleaning and we were all home on Saturday. (I contend that a housekeeper would have been simpler, more efficient, and save many years of preteen and teen angst…

Fast forward to October 29, 2011. The vile words slipped out of my mouth as my youngsters scooped up their last bits of egg. “Nobody is going anywhere near the TV or the video game system. We’re cleaning the house this morning.” Ack! Where did that come from? Since when is it easier to direct uncooperative minions to do mundane household tasks in three hours when I could just lock them all in the basement with snacks and Wii controllers and get it all done in 45 minutes? What possessed me to insist that they help?

Yes, Mom. I know you are reading this. Yes, I know that I should ask for more obedience from the minions. Yes, I know they should help around the house. However, none one of my happiest household memories is of a Saturday morning spent scrubbing floors. And yes, I know how to scrub a floor now. But I still hate it. And I almost never do it the “right” way.

So why do I do this? Is there a better way? (the weekly or biweekly housekeeper looks like a better option daily) I know that all of the family members should contribute since we are a community. But, the boys already do dishes after dinner (my most hated task), and while they may not do a great job… .our kitchen is mostly sanitary. They take out the trash, and they mostly keep their rooms picked up. I’m just not seeing a “Whistle While You Work” mentality going on here on the weekends.

The cleaning has to be done. A visiting child (who will remain nameless) spotted some dust and perhaps a cobweb on a table lamp a week or so ago. He asked if I ever dusted and that my house looked like a haunted house. I resisted temptation and did not chuck a dustcloth at him and tell him to “have at it”, but I did make a mental note to not bother to bake cookies next time he comes over on a playdate.

For the record, I DID dust later that day. We have an old house. Dust happens. Get over it people. AND for the record, I DID tell one of the minions to dust earlier that day. And I DID see him walking around my living room with a dustcloth absentmindedly flicking it about. Should I have followed him around, pointing out the dust he missed? Nah, trust me, that does breed a negative view toward housework.

So, I don’t think I’ll be rounding up the troops next Saturday. I WILL expect them not to trash the house. I WILL expect them to clean up after themselves, but I’m not going to expect some sitcom-worthy team effort.  I’m the mom. I don’t work for money outside the home, and this house IS kind of my job (whether I like that or not), so I will try and get more done during the week (I need to put the stay at home back in stay at home mom!) so that we can enjoy some real memory making time as a family!

Oh, and if anyone really does like to clean and wants to take a gander at my place…feel free, I’ll pay you in coffee!

Chime in! How do you handle household chores? Is it similar or strikingly different to how you grew up? Is it working for you? Want to share? You know I’d love to hear from you!

Mommy Wars and Megyn Kelly?

So, last night I was watching TV with the Rev. We usually watch movies (usually movies that I want to watch, which may or may not be a source of marital tension), but our DVR is currently empty of anything I wanted to watch. So I sat back and read and let the Rev. channel surf (sometimes I’m nice). He landed on Fox News and I looked up and noticed that Megyn Kelly was back. (she’s been back for almost a month). I told the Rev. that I liked her new haircut (I’m shallow like that) and he told me that she got all kinds of flack for taking too long of a maternity leave.

Do you know how much maternity leave she took? 3 months. 12 weeks. In the grand scheme of things, not that long at all.

Because, folks, having a baby is kind of a big deal. It takes your body on a wild ride. And then most moms don’t get much sleep for the first few months. And things are achy and sore, and clothes never fit like they should. And that cute little baby has about 4 doctor appointments in that 12 weeks.

A 12 week maternity leave is hardly a vacation. I know that she loves what she does, but I also imagine that it was very hard to leave her sweet baby girl and return to work. But she is a smart and articulate woman, I’m pretty sure that she can deal with those who are ignorant enough to think that her leave has been all massages and pedicures.

And Megyn Kelly was one of the lucky moms. Her company paid her for her maternity leave. Paid maternity leave is not a required benefit in the US. Paid maternity leave is a blessing if you get it.

I never did. I had a work out of the home job before getting pregnant with our first son, and again before the twins were born. Neither job offered paid maternity leave (though I did get my accrued sick pay and vacation pay while on bed rest with the twins), and neither paid me enough to justify child care expenses and time lost with my newborns. The decision to not go back to work after having those babies was pretty easy.

However, not everyone has the luxury to stay home with their children, and many go back to work long before they are really ready to.

I’ve had it both ways. I’ve been a working mom, and I’ve been a stay at home mom.

I’m totally going to go out on a limb and say that it is way easier to be a stay at home mom.

I could perceive it as the easier job because I really enjoy what I do. They say if you do a job that you love, you never work a day in your life.

Or, I could think of it as the easier job because I do such a sub-par job of it that I’m beyond being stressed out about my day.

The fact remains, I may not get sick pay, or paid time off, or even get paid for what I do. However, I don’t have to wrangle time off to walk my kids to school on the first day of school. If I wanted to bake, I could bake them cookies for when they came home. I don’t do laundry at night. . .as a matter of fact, I do no housework at night. After the kids go to bed I’m pretty free. Some days I wear my pajamas all day. I can shop at Target during their less busy times. I don’t have to share my coffee if I don’t want to. I’m pretty much in control of my schedule. I almost never pack a diaper bag. I don’t have to worry about who can watch my kids on school holidays. If I forget to plug in the crock pot in the morning, I usually have time to make a back-up plan meal. I have time to play on my blog.

I’m sorry that not all stay at home moms feel as at peace with their current vocation. I feel for the working moms trying to do it all. I wish there were more clear cut, easy decisions for moms.

But life is far more complicated than that.

So for now, moms . . .let’s stop fighting, and have each others backs, OK?