August 8, 2011

Hired Help

Over the past year I've been going through an internal debate of how to handle "chores" with Isabella.  She use to always put the clean silverware away but at one point she stopped and I started nagging and tossing out threats and it was no good.  That's not how I want to run a home.

Then we had a standard morning routine where there was a list on the wall with a handful of things she needed to get done every morning (like get dressed, make bed, etc.).  It worked well for a week.  But one morning Isabella said, "I don't like doing the list.  I like it when you just ask me."  (Part of the issue was she felt like those things had to be done in the exact order as the list.  When things would mess up the order--like Oliver still sleeping in the room--she would get frustrated.)  Once that routine stopped working she no longer had chores.  And I was thinking I was failing as a mom.  Not teaching her the value of hard work and contributing to our home.

I asked some friends (moms I love and adore) for their advice.  One friend told me Isabella helps around the house and with the boys all the time! She encouraged me to just look at all Isabella does in our home.  It's amazing what those few words from my friend did.  I began seeing so much more.  Isabella loves helping all the time!  It was such a relief.  Isabella is contributing to our home and working hard; I just had to change my perspective.

But in the last few weeks Isabella has been consistently begging asking for some of her own money.  I didn't feel like just handing over some dough.  (That's definitely not a habit I want to get into.)  On the other hand, I was conflicted about getting into the habit of paying her to help around the house, since I feel she should contribute to our home, because a home is all of us working together, not because she will be paid.

I reminded myself, "Kiasa, it's not an all-or-nothing situation!"  (Yes, I have to yell these things to myself sometimes.)  If I pay her for a few things I don't have to pay her every single time she does something!  When I got that into my tired brain I relaxed.  Then I drew a super quick, simple list for her, showing her how many quarters she would receive by doing each one, gave her a sponge and a squirt bottle with water.  And she got busy.

I love that she added/drew the fridge.

She worked so hard for over an hour.  I was so impressed.  And she loved it!

The most surprising part was the huge sense of relief I felt.  It felt so good to have some extra help.  As she worked, I supervised and taught her.  And then I worked hard too.  Her excitement and dedication was contagious and motivating for me.  The house was so clean after about an hour.  It was the best $2.25 I ever spent.

The list is now in the garbage.  It worked and was fun for the time.  We might use something similar in the future, but I'm not planning on making a habit out of it.

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