I went to the Dentist the other day. I wasn't thrilled about it, but I certainly wasn't dreading it. It was just a routine check up, that's all. The thought of laying in the dentist chair while someone did something for me (even if it was poking and prodding my gums) was enough to make me a little slap happy.
When I got there the xray technician came in. She commented that it'd been a while since I'd had xrays, because the last time I had been in I had been pregnant. How many kids did I have? How old? Boys? Girls? I happily complied and talked about my kids. That's my favorite subject after all. Plus? Adult conversation - this was fun. Then it came up that I homeschool. She was duly impressed. I felt a little silly, but kind of awesome at the same time. I had somehow achieved a celebrity status. Go figure.
She started to talk about how different her kids were from one another. That catapulted us into a conversation about dealing with various personalities and how as one parent you have to navigate the often stormy seas by changing direction depending on a child's temperament.
It is so easy to get stuck doing things one way. I always clean the stove the same way, because I've found a method that works. I drive to church the same way each time because it is the quickest route with the least amount of lights and traffic. I like to go to the same grocery store because I know where all my go-to items are and I can shop efficiently. Not so with parenting.
Just when you think you have figured out the best way to do something with a particular child they can throw you for a loop and whatever technique you've developed becomes obsolete. Throw in a couple more kids and it is a constant operation in adaptation. Like a mom-chameleon you must be able to about-face and diversify at a moment's notice. It's a mind boggle.
Talking to other moms is an invaluable resource for ideas. Those conversations where you hash out all the different variations of potty training, trouble shoot nursing issues, or discipline techniques? Those are the discussions where I've gained the most ammunition to combat those little problems that seem so immense in the moment. How do I get my kid to stop biting? How do I coerce my child to eat their vegetables? How in the world do I go about convincing my child that the tub is not scary?
Of course you do start to relax a bit as you have more kids and gain some knowledge, but there are still moments where that one miniscule issue seems so big.
Chores for my oldest were never an issue. I made a chore chart for him several years ago when he was almost 4. At the time I was on the receiving end of several comments referencing child labor.
Fortunately I wasn't deterred by the comments. I had learned of a system employed by a friend using tickets. She would reward each chore with a certain amount of tickets and those tickets could then be traded in for money or media time. We did this for a couple years. He was able to start buying himself things. One of the first things he bought himself was a Spiderman wallet to keep his money in. #proudmom
Fast forward. I now have an 8 year old who is very self motivated, (but that's his personality folks) and who isn't compensated for every chore, because contributing to the running of a house is just part of living in it. I have a 4 year old and a 3 year old. In our house we have determined that the ground work for chores begins at 2 and actual chores coupled with a chore chart begin at age 3.
"Mom my legs hurt. Mom my belly hurts! Mooooom I'm sooooooooo tired." For two hours each morning for the last several months I have heard this mantra as I have nagged, bribed, and negotiated with my 4 year old to complete chores. Initially chores were fun, but the novelty soon wore off. So hassle, complaints, and frustration each morning has been the recurring theme in our home which has been... a little trying.
I forgot something important in the process of trying to teach something important. I had assumed that because my self motivated 8 year old is now fully responsible for completing his chores, that my boisterous energetic 4 year old would follow suit. Good golly miss Molly.
I had to switch it up. Mr. 4 year old needed some immediate gratification for his labors. At least for the time being. The value of hard work isn't always monetary, but in this case it needed to be. With an abundance of loose change in the house it was clinched.
We made these coin jars to kick things off and get the kids excited about chores. It seemed to work.
"Mom I'm done!" He ran downstairs the first day we implemented compensation. It had only been 10 minutes. "Good job, buddy!" I exclaimed giving him a hug.
It's not always simple finding what works for each kid at each juncture of their lives. As the technician said, "They're all so different."
It's something I'm learning this letting go of preconceived notions and being able to modify routines and practices. There is never only one right way of doing something.