August 2, 2008

My Latest Revelation

My favorite show is Jon & Kate plus 8. This is a show about a couple who had a set of twin girls (in-vitro) and then decided to have one more. Instead of one they ended up with 6 more. I'm always in awe of how well they run their house. I realize that they have help with things but with that many kids, it's very well managed. I just think, "If they can do it with 8 kids, surely I can do it with 3." So I became inspired to take back control of my house (with varying degrees of success).
We are a family of picky eaters. Most people would say my husband is pretty picky. I'm way pickier than he is but our kids have us beat. I hate dinner to begin with and I got tired of fighting with them over food so I've been cooking 2 meals for dinner for years. Then I got smart (ha, ha). I told them that if they didn't like what we were having then they could make their own food. That sounds great but what happens when they're eating someplace else and they don't have that option? So I realized that I had to draw the line. I made up a blank 5 week calendar and filled it in with a dinner menu for each night. Mondays are breakfast--either pancakes or french toast (something all 5 of us will actually eat). Wednesdays are either spaghetti or tomato soup, Thursdays are chicken of some sort. The rest of the days I just filled in with things I know I can cook. I left Fridays open--that's "make whatever you want" night. And we do. The younger 2 sometimes need some help but at 5 and 7 years old they are learning to cook for themselves. I put the menu up on the fridge where everyone can see it. Now the kids come in and look each day to find out what we're having for dinner. Sometimes they cheer, other times they moan and groan. I just tell them, "Sorry. That's what's on the menu so that's what we have to have." They still may not like it, but they aren't getting mad at me. When it comes time to sit at the table, we have a couple of rules.

1. You have to eat at least one bite of everything on your plate to have seconds of the "good stuff" or to have dessert.
2. You may choose to not eat your dinner, but you will get no other food until breakfast.
3. If you choose not to eat, you still have to sit at the table with us while we eat.

I try to always have some kind of bread or fruit or something that I know they like on their plates so they have something they can eat. It's amazing how much this has cut down on the yelling and nagging and arguing. They have also been learning "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit." This is what you've got, deal with it.
I've also added to their chores. We have a weekly chore chart that rotates. Each week my children are in charge of collecting up all the dirty laundry from their baskets and bedrooms and sorting it into the laundry baskets downstairs, feeding and watering the dogs and putting away the massive pile of books that collect in their rooms. I also have one of them as my laundry assistant to help me keep the loads going, fold laundry and put away linens and things. Someone else is my meal assistant and is there to help me get meals together. Someone else is my assistant with dishes and unloads the dishwasher or helps me wash the pots and pans. I'm not the only one who lives here, why should I have to clean up after everyone else? They are rewarded for all the work they do around the house and for the most part they do it without complaint. Except, of course, for Bubba who has to complain about everything.
In taking back control of my house, I also decided to try homeschooling again. That doesn't sound right. I've committed to homeschooling my 3 kids. I'm convinced that this is the best way to teach my children and be able to instill values in them that they won't learn at a "real" school. The problem I've always had is I just don't think I'm cut out for it. I may not be, but I know it's the best thing to do so I will find a way to do it successfully. I've been putting us on a schedule and planning activities for the kids. I've started now because I need that schedule to be a part of our every day living. I definitely leave room for flexibility in there but as long as it's posted, who can argue with the schedule?
I realized the only thing stopping me from running a "tighter ship" as I like to call it, was me. All I had to do to get these things going was to get my lazy butt up and do it. I know it sounds pretty obvious but it was seriously like a light bulb came on in my brain. If I can find the time to sit and read a couple of books a week, or spend 5 days doing a scrapbook, I can find a way to take care of my house and my family. I feel like God has been whispering in my ear. It's just a matter of getting my focus and my priorities straight. Other things can wait. My job right now is to nurture my children, to give them a stable home with good meals and a supportive family. My job is to create a haven for them where they are able to learn and grow and be themselves. I need to be here to mold them and guide them. That is not a job that I want to hand off to anyone else.

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