I’m writing from a place that is not my house, that has free WiFi. And French fries.
And many, many old people.
Monday night into Tuesday morning, I was having a little pity party. Feeling like I was spinning my wheels, that the big change I wanted wasn’t happening. I realized a while ago that I just don’t have time to do my other writing projects, that they will have to wait til the kids go to school in the fall. It’s a relief in some ways, to push that back, but it also left me feeling bored. And too broke to make any other big changes.
But luckily, I got inspired Tuesday afternoon — I decided to redo my daughter’s room. Right now it’s a mix of neutral nursery décor, from 2006 when my oldest was born, and some random pink stuff. It also is the home of my husband’s inversion machine (he hangs upside down to try to ease his back pain) and the ironing board. She doesn’t sleep in there; she sleeps with me. We got a queen bed off the online yard sale a while back but the boxspring wouldn’t fit up the stairs, so I need a split one.
In short, it’s a small, contained project that needs to be done so that maybe she can actually, you know, sleep in there. I can make up a spreadsheet, look on Pinterest for ideas, hunt down deals on bedding and curtains. Eventually I can repaint her dresser and other furniture, and paint the walls. I just need a contractor to hang new closet doors and redo some of the trim, and my husband probably has a guy who can do that. It shouldn’t be too expensive.
Life will get in the way, I’m sure, but yesterday I went and got paint chips to stick on the wall, and this morning I got the changing table out of the room. It’s been serving as a bookshelf/junk collector ever since baby girl got too big to be changed on it. There’s something I can sell. I also packed away a lot of her books and blankets.
Existential crisis averted.
Changing the subject: I’ve been meaning for a while to write about kids and allowances and chores. An article appeared in Slate recently that confirmed that I have been thinking about these things all wrong. So I readjusted our system for chores. Instead of tying my oldest’s allowance to completion of chores, now he just gets his allowance, no matter what. Completion of chores is instead linked to privileges; mainly, screen time. (And, stressed as something kids do for the good of themselves and the family.) So far this is much better. Like the article says, he had reached a point where he felt like he had enough money, so why do chores? We have a chart on the wall that reminds him what his chores are for each day. Some things need to be done every day (check the compost bucket to see if it needs to be emptied). Some are twice a week (vacuuming; he picked that one). On Sunday, he has to put the trash out. I think that’s it. I will probably add more, because that dude has way more energy than me and I need to capitalize on it.
My four-year-old son is in charge of setting the table every night, and both little kids are responsible for cleaning up all their toys every night, in the playroom, family room, and dining room, in exchange for screen time. I don’t give them money, as of yet, but I’m wondering if I should start with my younger son.
The whole “screen time” thing is another issue. Between my laptop, three smartphones, the TV, the tablet, and Wii, those three sets of eyes are seeing a lot of screens. We need to crack down further on rampant screen use/abuse. It’s hard for me because the quiet that descends when they are all playing something is so wonderful. But the sense of entitlement they are developing as far as these devices is getting out of control. I try to keep the middle part of the day screen-free; I don’t feel bad about letting them play Subway Surfer at 6:42 a.m. on a Saturday while I nod off on the couch for a while, for example. But they are always scheming to get their hands on a device (or better yet, a device already in use by someone else).
I would love to hear how you handle allowances, chores, and screen time. Unless you have banned all screens. That is never going to happen.