It’s two am and I really should be sleeping, but I’m having one of those nights when I can’t stop myself from trying to catch up, at least a little, on my emails, website work, blogging, and a million other things. One of the big downsides to Chris’ super long work days is that it is a lot harder for me to get everything I need to get done, done. Combine Chris’ work days with the fact that Nora no longer goes to preschool and some things are just down-right impossible. This is definitely a prime example of not knowing how good something is until it’s gone: I don’t think I realized just how productive I was during those preschool mornings until the I didn’t have them anymore. I’ve actually found myself thinking the past few weeks that I might want to become one of those stay-at-home moms — the ones who actually have a babysitter. I used to silently judge those moms — and now all I can say is, ladies, I’m sorry. I get it. Now I find myself trying to work on client websites in the wee hours of the morning, sitting in the corner of a living room minefield of books and toys, with bathrooms begging to be cleaned, dinner dishes still on the table, laundry that has needed to be moved from the washer to the dryer since noon, and company coming on tomorrow. Suddenly, a designated distractor just one morning per week is sounding better and better, and a lot more sensible than lazy.
If things continue at this pace, something has got to give, and it’s likely to be my work. I haven’t taken on many new major projects since we moved. Originally that was only going to be a temporary pause until we were settled in, and then I was going to start back up again. I wasn’t planning to fill my calendar at the breakneck pace of last fall, but I was hoping to keep adding websites to help Chris and me continue toward our goal of living debt free and buying a house. Lately, I barely have time for the odds and ends that come from maintaining past clients websites; I can’t imagine starting anything new, so work may have to go. How exactly do other people do it? How do other families balance kids and two full time jobs?
I haven’t found a mom’s helper (or whatever you would call it) yet, but we have implemented a system to (hopefully) get Nora to participate more in keeping the house clean and caring for herself.
We ordered a responsibility chart from Melissa and Doug, which I love because it comes with a lot of different responsibility magnets besides just chores. Every day, Nora is expected to make her bed, get dressed, brush her teeth, not whine, say please and thank you (something that she has a lot of trouble with outside of our family), put her toys away, and not have any potty accidents. She still gets help with most of these things and she isn’t expected to be “perfect” — her bed can be wrinkly, she might still get a magnet if she whines once or twice during the day, etc. At the end of the week she doesn’t have to have earned every single magnet to get a reward. Mainly my goal is to get her started thinking about taking initiative and, as much as I don’t like saying it, to act more like a big girl. We aren’t expecting her to do things that are beyond her capabilities, but we are asking her to be more consistent about doing the things she is capable of doing but sometimes doesn’t simply because she doesn’t want to.
We aren’t doing allowance, but I have started incentivizing her responsibilities on both a daily and weekly basis. Her daily reward on days that she does well is 30 minutes of computer time, during which she is allowed to play educational games in PBS Play. As much as I dislike excessive screen time, I ended up buying a subscription and deciding to use it as her reward for two reasons: it does seem to be legitimately educational and it also helps to fill the time of night that can often be the most challenging when i am parenting alone. I also like it because I was able to set a timer in the game so it just stops working after 30 minutes — which means we don’t ever have battles over turning it off.
Nora’s weekly reward in an experience of her choosing. When we first explained the system to her, we had her brainstorm a list of activities that she would like to do if she has a good week.
In case you can’t read that, she said: bowling, movie night (at home), playing together, swimming, picnic, or going to a museum. So far it seems to be working relatively well. If you follow me on Facebook, you know that we still have our moments, but I have definitely noticed a change in her attitude and willingness to help the last two weeks. I’m hopeful that this system will continue to work and Nora will continue to develop into the sweet little helper that she is. Between this and Zara’s new found love for the sling, hopefully things might start to shape up around here…and maybe some day I’ll be able to go to bed “early” at 11:30 or midnight.