Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Chart

Once upon a time (read "last year") I was shopping at Target or Costco or Bed Bath & Beyond...

Does it really matter?

There it was, a bright, shiny and NEW wipe-off chore chart. It was magnetic. It had colored stars to keep track of who did their chores. It had spaces for all the things I thought the kids needed to do. It was ON SALE.

I brought the awesome new chore chart home, unwrapped it from the plastic, making sure to take a deep breath of it's newness as I did so, and immediately hung it on the fridge. I couldn't wait to fill in all of the boxes and assign chores for my kids, who had no idea what was waiting for them when they came home from school. So I picked up that brand new dry erase marker and I WENT TO TOWN.

Nothing screams success like a neatly organized chore chart for all the world to see, no?

The kids burst through the front door as usual and before they could drop their backpacks on the bench in the hallway I ushered them into the kitchen. With all three standing at attention, I explained the new contraption hanging on the fridge, which I'd also cleared of any unnecessary papers, so as not to clutter the intent of the new chore chart. No lunch menus, painted cats, cheap magnetic puzzles with missing pieces, baby pictures or 6 month old awards for perfect attendance. Nope. It was all gone. All of it! No coupons or recipes I'd never use. Nothing but that gleaming box of organization which I was sure would bring family harmony.

I told the kids the expectations.

They glanced sideways.

I explained that each child got a color and stars of their chosen color would be placed in the days of the week boxes corresponding with the chores they needed to do.

They sighed.

I told them this would simplify our lives and that I would do a lot less screaming.

They seemed interested.

And then I explained that the new system started NOW.

They were less than thrilled.

For about a month, beds were made, dishes were done, toys were picked up and my house was beginning to resemble what it had before I had children (and their things) to clutter it up. When the boys would argue about a task, I would send them to the chart. No yelling. No screaming. No negotiating.

And if I had invested in a good set of earplugs, I may have not heard any bickering as they looked at the chart and then argued about who was which color star and how come you're always blue because we all know that I'm always blue and lord...someone hold me.

By the second month, we were slacking a bit on the chart and I had to regroup. So I drug the kids to the kitchen again and explained the revised list.

I told them this was the way it was. And that I was sick of reminding people to look at a chart in order to get them to brush their teeth twice a day! I kid you not. Brushing your teeth should be like just do it. I thought that if I wrote "brush your teeth" on the chart, they would be mortified if any of their friends saw that and the problem would be solved.

Not so much.

I never said I was good at that whole "reverse psychology" thing.

So anyway, the chart worked great for about 2 months. And then something happened. I don't know if it was summer, or football, or too much Peanuttles, but something happened. We got off track. The arguing about whose turn it was to load/unload the dishwasher returned and even though I reminded them that their father didn't even have a dishwasher when he was growing up, nothing seemed to work!

And here I was, at the end of my rope again.



Generally NOT enjoying this little ride I like to call parenting.

The other day I took that godforsaken chore chart off the refrigerator and I sprayed cleaner all over it. I wiped every last bit of "I'm blue, not green because everyone knows I'm always blue" off it's surface until it glimmered like the day I'd bought it - which, for the record, seems like an awfully long time ago.

I removed the cap of the dry erase marker and applied my first mark: NEW RULES.

And then I began.


* If there are dishes...DO THEM!

(I don't care whose "turn it is" or "who did them last," help out!)

* Take recycles down! Don't let them pile up!

* Pick up after yourself...ALWAYS!

* Take it OUTSIDE!



* If something needs doing, DO IT!

I wonder how long this is going to last?

Sidenote: For those of you who don't know, my husband has been home recovering from shoulder surgery for the past month. He thinks the last "rule" is just for him and he plans on "doing" what needs to be done as much as possible.

It's going to be a long summer.

In other news, my neighbor brought me down a bottle of Mad Housewife wine the other day. He'd taken a sharpie to the bottle and crossed out the MAD and instead wrote HAPPY. We'll see if that works.


Liz said...

Love it!

Anonymous said...

You definitely need a smiley face on that list.

And I promise, if I can, and it needs doing, I'll ask someone else to do it. So should you!


monstergirlee said...

You forgot - "No Whining"

Oh my this is a great list. I always write a list of rules at the beginning of summer. Sometimes it helps, sometimes not so much, but at least it's something ;-)

andrea frazer said...

Best of luck to you! You can do this summer! You can!