Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kids Will Surprise You (a follow up to I Don't Know, It's Not Mine)

First let me say that I woke up this past Saturday morning with the realization that all of my laundry was actually done; as in washed, dried, folded and put away (which I never thought was possible) and my house was clean and picked up. Amazing, I know! (Don't be too jealous, it lasted for all of about an hour.) I tell you this because it actually offered favorable conditions to begin my delegation of laundry duties to the rest of my family.

Now if you didn't read my previous blog titled, "I Don't Know, It's Not Mine," let me catch you up a bit. In a nutshell, I have 3 sons between the ages of 8 and 11, all of whom believe that I should not only know where everything is, but also take care of all the mundane chores associated with their lives. Like a fool, I had gone along with this for much too long and decided one day that I had had enough. I decided then and there that I was going to start to delegate (which is a scary word for me because, as my husband will attest, I am a complete control freak), starting with the laundry.

I have bright, active boys and I was very confident that they could handle doing their own laundry (although not sure they would agree). Not only would this free up some of my time, but it would also introduce them to some responsibility, teach them a very useful life skill, and stop the very annoying question "Mom, where is my ____ (insert anything and everything that they can't find that in no way whatsoever belongs to me)?"

I started my experiment with my 8 1/2 year old son because he was actually excited about this chore. Why I have no idea, but he thought doing the laundry would be fun and so he became my first guinea pig. Now I am not sure he realized just what the laundry entailed, and seemed a bit surprised when I had him bring down his dirty laundry from his 3rd floor bedroom. But after that initial scare, it seemed to go pretty well. He had no problem loading the washer, moving to the dryer and then putting the clean laundry into a basket.

And then came the folding. As I watched him invent new ways to fold t-shirts, I had to stop myself from showing him the "right" way to do it. My stepson (who was actually helping my son fold the laundry - who knew this chore could also encourage cooperation) had to remind me a couple times that there was more than one way to fold laundry. And he was right, it didn't really matter how he folded them, as long as he did in such a way that they would not end up wrinkled. Even I was learning something in this process.

After the folding, he carried the very heavy basket up 3 flights of stairs and proceeded to put them away, which he did need a little help with because he drawers were already pretty full. All is all, kid number one was successful. Kid number 2 and 3 (my stepsons) were also very good about their new chore. I had to actually remind them where they were in the process, but no one actually argued with me even once. And to reinforce their positive behavior, I handed them their allowance on Sunday afternoon in real actual cash (and then of course reminded them that this money was now their responsibility and we will not answer any questions about where their money might be or entertain the possibility that our cleaning lady stole it from them).

So in the end, my children dove right into their new chore. They did a great job, didn't complain once and even taught me a thing or two. I figure I will give this a couple months to become habit and then delegate something new. Who knows, in a couple years I might find myself with some free time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

If Baby Ain't Happy...

So I know the original saying goes, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy," but most of us mothers would agree that when the kids are happy, especially the babies, life is much easier. Unfortunately, my 15 month old has a problem sleeping through the night that keeps both my husband and I tired and grumpy. The other night, around 3:30 am, our little cherub woke up and started calling for dad. Yes, he calls for dad which puts a little smile on my face as I nudge my husband and say, "honey, the baby wants you." Like a trooper, my honey gets up to change and feed the baby (yes, I know that he is 15 months old and definitely doesn't need a bottle in the middle of the night, but it gets him back to sleep and really at 3 am that is all that matters). Much to my dismay however, I heard my husband fumbling around in the dresser which meant that the baby had wet through his jammies. I nicely got up and offered an assist by changing the crib sheets and finding clean pjs (which were not actually in the dresser, but downstairs and in one of about 5 laundry baskets that I had to fumble through in the dark because I never ever get to actually putting away the laundry). After both collapsing in bed 30 minutes later, baby sleeping soundly, now 4 am, neither of us could fall asleep. While I lay there, tossing and turning, thinking about all the things I had to do tomorrow (uh, um - today), my husband went downstairs to watch a little TV. I must have eventually fallen asleep because I was actually startled when my alarm went off at that the insane hour of 5 am. And so my day began and I actually made it through.

Knowing what to do with your baby as he turns into a toddler is a daunting task. This is my second so it should in theory be easy. However, my first is now almost 9 years old and I am starting to realize that as terrible as it sounds, I don't really remember the milestones a good mother is suppose to memorize. I know about when he gave up breastfeeding, the age he was potty trained and when he started to walk. But I don't know the actual dates and honestly have no idea what his first word was (unless you count Hoot Hoot). So as we move into this new phase of my youngest's life, I have been consulting websites, books, and of course, other moms.

The sleeping through the night one is hard. I know why he wakes up, because his diaper is so wet it soaks through his clothes and makes him cold and wet. And I know why he is so soaked, because he downs 8 ounces from his bottle right before he goes to sleep. The hard part is getting rid of the bottle. So I have done all my research to see how to "ca bosh" the bottle habit. Most things I have read talk about introducing the sippy cup - yeah done that. All day long he drinks juice (yes I know, any good mother knows that juice is the devil - but again it keeps him happy so I am all for it) out of his cup and even through a straw, which I have been told is very advanced. Its not that he has to have a bottle all the time, just at bedtime. We have even tried giving him half a bottle, but the battle that ensues almost always gets me to bust out the other half. So what is a girl to do?

I have read to replace it with water and that since what is in the bottle is undesirable, he will eventually stop asking for it. Yeah right! Two sips of that bad boy and the protest again starts that could rival the best temper tantrums out there. I guess it goes back to the age old question of just letting him cry it out or not. Unfortunately, my kid is the one who will bang on the wall until you come back, turn the lights on and off so that someone outside might think we are trying to send an SOS, and cry so hard he throws up. He will not lay down or even sit down, he will stay standing in his crib for hours if we let him and the last time I checked its pretty tricky to fall asleep standing up.

My new theory was that if I started giving him just one ounce less a night for a couple weeks we would have him down to a manageable amount that wouldn't induce "peeing like a racehorse" every night. So I started off 3 nights ago with 7 ounces and miracle of miracle, he did in fact sleep through the night. He was still wet when he woke up, but somehow that wasn't until 6 am. And as luck would have it, he has followed suit for the last two nights as well. Now do I think one ounce was the magic number - hell no! I am not that good. But whatever has happened, happened just in time to save our sanity and give us a little rest so that when the old patterns revert, as they always do, we can handle it just a little bit better. Sometimes the mysteries of parenthood work in our favor and when they do - do not ask why or how, just enjoy it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Don't Know, It's Not Mine

There comes a time in every boy's life when they need to start taking responsibility for their own things. Today is that day for my boys, my husband included. Ladies, I am sure you will agree with me that at some point, knowing everything is only a burden. I am tired of everyone asking me where their stuff is. I used to roll my eyes, protest in silence and get it for them. Then I started protesting out loud but still telling them where there could probably find it. This only led to more wasted time as of course they could never find it and I would still have to go get it. And yes, it would always be right where I said it would be. Recently, when I was asked, "honey, where is my..." I replied, "I don't know, it's not mine." This is my story and I am sticking to it.

When I proclaimed to my husband that I was sick of knowing where everything was, he reminded me that it was because I was the one who put it away. Thanks for bringing that to light honey. Right then and there I decided that my family would be doing their own laundry from now on. Of course this may not actually work in the real world, but in theory it sounds fabulous. No longer will I be responsible for making sure their favorite jeans are clean or that they have clean underwear. No longer will I spend hours upon hours washing, drying, folding and putting away everyone's laundry, God knows no one is doing my laundry for me. Maybe I will be able to finish a blog in one sitting instead of a couple minutes here and there over three weeks.

I got to thinking that my kids could figure out the most intricate video games. They can figure out how to put all their football pads on and remember where all the NBA players went to college. They can certainly take on some more responsibilities. Its like running a business, you must deligate. And so tonight I begin deligating starting with having my husband put all the soccer uniforms together for tomorrow morning's game, of course I had to tell him where everything was, but you have to start somewhere.