They say that a habit is birthed after doing something for 30 days. I’ve decided there must be a minimum age requirement for that to happen though, similar to driving or being able to buy alcohol. My kids have been doing a few things every single day of their lives for the last 5 years and yet I still have to tell them every single day to do them. Get dressed, brush your teeth, pick up your room. Why do I have to say it? They know it’s coming! The list of responsibilities is only getting longer as they get older, yet if I don’t physically tell them to do these things they don’t happen.
I hit a moment of exasperation the other day. You people make me tired… why do i have to say the same things over and over to you? They agreed that they’ve been doing these things everyday but had no explanation for why I needed to remind them all the time. I closed my eyes in frustration and my brain whirled, trying to find a solution.
That’s the moment genius struck me. Not my own but a genius idea that Gerrit’s kindergarten teacher had shared with me on the last day of school. I recalled her telling me what she did with her kids during the summer. I remembered thinking that’s a great idea before I tucked it away with all the other things you hear in life that are brilliant and you never do. A million uses for baking soda & vinegar??? Fantastic! So far, I haven’t used a one. But this gem became necessary.
In the interest of preserving my sanity and saving my nagging voice for the really important things, I decided to start using this concept. Ready to hear it? It’s making a checklist. As simple as that! No need for me to ask/tell them anymore. The paper will do it for me! I quickly pulled out a notebook to write the things I deemed as imperative. But wait, what do I write on the list? Imagine the possibilities!!! The power that paper will hold. Here’s the 7 actions I’ve settled on:
1. Get dressed ~ Sounds simple enough but do you think they do it without me saying it?
2. Brush teeth & hair ~ Apparently brushing their teeth twice a day is still a new revelation
3. Clean room & make bed ~ I realized recently that my kids must be at least a quarter rock star after seeing how they like to trash their bedrooms. This is my attempt at raising the Responsible Rock star. Hopefully, it will get them banned from fewer hotels
4. Read 20 minutes ~ Sometimes they like to read longer than that but this will be the absolute bare minimum of literacy in our house
5. 30 minutes of practice ~ Emma has to practice her guitar & tumbling. Gerrit can practice writing his alphabet & hand stands. The thing they practice is less important to me than the concept of becoming better people daily
6. Play outside ~ This one struck me as particularly sad. Really? I have to say ‘go play outside like real children’ everyday?
7. Journal ~ I kind of snuck this one on here. Part of my power trip I suppose. I like the idea of them keeping a log of their childhood. I have visions of them middle-aged and discovering them someday. They’ll look over them and laugh. The crude drawings and spelling maturing into better entries as the years go by. They’ll be glad they possess these treasured memories and reflect on how their mom is a genius. I bet they’ll even call me to share those thoughts. It’ll be great. Besides, I’m secretly sneaking in them practicing their penmanship and reading skills so I feel like a good mom in that way too.
There you have it. No electronics until they do everything and if they fail to do them all, they can’t have electronics the next day either. After they accomplish each item, they get to write their initials next to it and I can check it as they go along. No longer am I the bad guy… it’s that dreaded notebook. Can you see me smiling?