Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mission Organization

If you know me at all, you will know that I am a complete lunatic when it comes to organization. I try to be organized in everything I do. Some of it came out of necessity as I have misplaced important things or missed important deadlines, some of it is hereditary (hate to admit it but I have grown up to be like my mother) and some it just because I like it. Okay, maybe like is a little bit soft, I am obsessed, consumed with it. My life is as full as it gets with 4 kids (all boys) who play different sports in different towns, a full time job, a toddler and a husband who has a lot of hobbies (I am either a golf widow or hockey widow depending on the season). If I wasn't organized I might spend most days in bed, under the covers feeling completely overwhelmed.

This is not to say that I am successfully organized all the time, which as you might imagine makes me want to crawl out of my skin. Now, if it was just me, living alone in my beautiful house, it would be perfectly decorated, cleaned and organized all the time. Better Home and Gardens could stop by anytime unannounced and get their cover shot. But alas, I have four boys and a husband who do not share my love of cleanliness. In fact, if I did not point out the mess, they might never see it (opting to walk over their school bag left in the middle of the kitchen floor instead of picking it up). And if I should actually get them to clean or pick up, I admit that it isn't the way I would do it and I end up fixing it anyway.

My ultimate goal it to have my house picked up and organized perpetually which I was successful at for a couple weeks, and then school started. Now it's true that the kids aren't around as much as they were in the summer, but when they are home they are always in a rush to get somewhere else. This is when the tornado hits. Things are thrown everywhere - dirty clothes on my kitchen island, shoes in the dining room, school bags right where I can trip on them. And then the questions begin, "where is my ---- (insert something they are sure they can't live without but apparently not important enough to keep tabs on it cause that is my job)?" While I think I'm funny by saying, "I don't know, it's not mine." They do not share my amusement and are less than enthusiastic about going to look for it. So instead of taking the five minutes to actually find it, they would rather incite a riot by yelling, screaming and insisting I get it. I am a stubborn woman and this typically doesn't work out in their favor and they end up 20 minutes late for wherever they need to be, which of course is also my fault.

And it's not just our living space, it's our entire lives. There are school functions, homework assignments, sporting events and practice for two different sports, 3 fundraisers per kids at the same time and "is their favorite pair of jeans clean"(the ones that look exactly like the 4 others in their drawer) to keep track of. Add my full time job and multiply that by three tweens, a 20 month old and a husband. Seriously?!

So, while my goal might be lofty, I just can't give up. I read somewhere that the reason clutter stresses me out is because it makes me feel out of control. The longer I look at the mess, the more anxious I get. So now I know why (in addition to the lost time and arguments over where everything is and why can't anyone else pick up after themselves), what I need to figure out how - how to make it better. I am tired of yelling, of talking to myself and of wanting to pretty much kill my entire family three times a day. I figure I must start with a clean slate, which might take me a while. My short term goal is to de-clutter my house with the motto "a place for everything and everything in its place." Then 15 minutes before bed and school every day, I will mandate a pick up time, my husband included. I am sure this will not be something my family takes on with open arms, but what the hell - it will make me happy. Maybe it will even leave me some time to make lunches the night before, yeah right!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Our Family Constitution

I know that I owe everyone an update on how its going, but wanted to share the actual constitution with you. We have already identified a couple additions that will be added next time around, but so far so good!

Article I. The Basics.


The XYZ Family shall be composed of six members: Sean (kid), Liam (kid), Bailey (kid), Vincent (kid), Peter (Dad), and Rebekah (Mom/Step-mom).

Mom and Dad shall serve as Managers and executors of the XYZ Family Constitution. Each shall strive to be responsible, fair, just and consistent.


Ding- Broken rule.
Drop- Failure to perform chores or responsibilities on time.
Screen Time- Usage of television, video games, computer and hand-held games.
Week- Monday to Sunday.


Meetings shall occur weekly on Tuesday evenings. The ideas, interests and concerns of each family member shall be heard and considered, providing that they are expressed in a calm and respectful manner.

Each meeting shall cover the following topics:

Family Business
• Issues and proposals;
• Topical chat (questions, current events, etc.)
• Upcoming vacations and activities

Weekly Planning
• Dinner planning (each person selects for one weeknight);
• Calendar (upcoming parties, events, practices, etc.)
• Coordination (grocery shopping; rides to school and activities)

Chores and Responsibilities
• Review checklists
• Acknowledgement and rewards
• Family Fun (games, movie, etc.)

Article II. The Rules.


To promote good decisions, manners and clear and calm communication.

Rules & Parameters
  • Whining, complaining, yelling, talking back and name-calling shall result in one verbal warning, followed by the escalating consequences, as described below.
  • Good manners are expected (please, thank you, excuse me, etc.). Lack of good manners shall result in one verbal warning, followed by the escalating consequences, as described below.
  • Respect for adults is also expected. Lack of respect shall result in one verbal warning, followed by the escalating consequences, as described below.
  • Hitting, kicking, or intentionally damaging property shall result in immediate Level 2 consequences.
  • Lying or “parent-shopping” shall result in immediate Level 3 consequences.


Escalating consequences:

1. Five-minute time out;
2. One hour in room;
3. Twenty-four hours without Screen Time for each subsequent


To develop strong work ethic and encourage academic success.

Rules & Parameters
  • Each family member shall be responsible for their own belongings including picking up, putting away and their whereabouts (includes any items such as video games, clothing, shoes, school bags/work, etc.)
  • Each family member shall be accountable for completing his or her chores, homework and other responsibilities on time, as defined on the Chore Chart.
  • No television or video games shall be allowed until all daily chores and responsibilities have been completed.
  • Chore Chart shall be reviewed at each weekly family meeting to assess performance by each individual.


One week without a Drop:
  • Full allowance to be paid Sunday evening (Sean- $11.00; Liam- $9.00, Bailey - $9.00).

Two consecutive weeks without a Drop
  • Full allowance; and
  • Sleepover with friend at our house or theirs.

Eight consecutive weeks without a Drop
  • Full allowance; and
  • Choice of family activity.


One Drop during a week
  • Loss of ½ of allowance.

Two or more Drops during a week
  • Loss of entire allowance.

More than two Drops
  • Loss of television and video games for one day for each additional Drop.



To harmoniously enjoy shared property and dutifully respect other people’s

Rules & Parameters

  • Shared Property shall include all televisions, gaming systems, sports equipment, and any other property not specifically received or purchase individually. Each family member shall have equal opportunity to use Shared Property.
  • Personal Property shall include gifts received or purchases made by an individual, except as described above. Although encouraged to share, each family shall have the exclusive right to their own Personal Property.
  • Taking Turns: If a family member desires to use a television or video game that is currently in use by another, he must issue a “25 Minute Warning” by giving verbal notice and setting a timer for 25 minutes.
  • Current User shall give up control of television or video game immediately when timer sounds.

• Each Property Ding shall result in a one-day Screen Time suspension.



To encourage active lifestyle and healthy hobbies by limiting video game time to
approximately one hour per and tv time to one hour per day during school week and three hours Screen Time per day on 1weekends.

Rules & Parameters

• Screen Time Restrictions
- No Screen Time shall be allowed during weekday mornings.
- During weekday evenings, Screen Time shall be allowed only after all homework and chores are complete. Video games will be limited to one hour per evening and then TV.

• Unless restricted or otherwise stated, Sean, Liam & Bailey shall be allowed Screen Time. However, at any time, Mom or Dad can provide verbal warning that Screen Time is ending and set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Screen Time shall cease immediately when the timer sounds.
- If Screen Time must end sooner for any reason (i.e. bad sportsmanship or schedule constraints), Sean, Liam & Bailey shall comply without complaint.
• If unusual circumstances cause Screen Time to be lesser or greater than target, Mom or Dad may adjust Screen Time allowed in subsequent days.


• Each Screen Time Ding shall result in a one-day Screen Time suspension.



To develop healthy sleep habits.

Rules & Parameters

• Sean, Liam & Bailey shall be individually responsible for being ready for bed, including brushed teeth, by their assigned bed time (9:30 pm on school nights, earlier if behavior dictates)
• If circumstances require Sean, Liam or Bailey to stay up past their bed time, each shall be prepared for bed within 15 minutes of arriving home or warning from Mom or Dad.


• If Sean, Liam & Bailey make it to bed on time each night between Sunday and Thursday, then he can stay up until 10:00pm on Friday and Saturday night.


• Each Bedtime Ding shall result in a bedtime thirty minutes earlier the following night.



To develop good eating habits, simplify meal preparation, and encourage selfsufficiency.

Rules & Parameters

Breakfast and Snacks

• Sean, Liam & Bailey shall be responsible for preparing their own breakfasts and snacks, unless Mom or Dad offers.
• Sean, Liam & Bailey are required to eat breakfast and a snack afterschool without argument
• No meals or snacks requiring preparation shall be allowed within twenty
minutes of scheduled exit time (such as bedtime or leaving for school).

Dinner & Dessert
• Each family member shall choose one dinner meal per week.
• In order to qualify, a meal must:
- Be reasonably healthy and easy to prepare.
- Include at least one vegetable.
- Receive approval by at least one other person.
• If someone chooses not to eat a prepared dinner, he or she can prepare an alternative meal for themselves (i.e bread & butter, left-overs, etc.).
• Dessert or evening snack shall be available only to kids who eat enough dinner, as determined by Mom or Dad.



To minimize arguments, encourage healthy friendships, and create a pleasant
environment for visitors.

Rules & Parameters

• If someone visits Sean, Liam or Bailey, the other brother shall allow them to play alone, if requested to do so.
• If a visitor does not come specifically to see Sean, Liam or Bailey, then all shall be allowed to play.

• Each family member shall be responsible for ensuring that their visitors respect house rules.
• If a visitor breaks a rule, Sean, Liam or Bailey shall tell him or her to stop immediately. If the behavior continues, he shall tell Mom or Dad.

Visiting & Hanging Out
• No visitors shall be allowed in the house when Mom and Dad are both gone.
• Sean, Liam or Bailey shall not be allowed to “hang out” with friends that both Mom and Dad consider unacceptable because of age, attitude or behavior.


• Each Friends and Visitors Ding shall result in a one-day Screen Time suspension and no playing with the visitor for seven days.



To promote health and cleanliness.

Rules & Parameters

• Sean, Liam and Bailey shall each be responsible for getting himself dressed in clean clothes that are appropriate for the weather and activity every day.
• Sean, Liam and Bailey shall shower every morning before school or the night before and following any sporting events such as football, soccer or basketball practice.


• First Personal Hygiene Ding shall result in a warning.
• Each Personal Hygiene Ding thereafter shall result in a one-day Screen Time suspension.

Article III. Process and Authority.


Mom and Dad must both approve each amendment to the Family Constitution before it can take effect.

Routine Amendments can be proposed, considered and approved during any weekly Family Meeting.

Annual Amendments shall be completed prior to the beginning of each new school year. During the process, each family member shall help identify and resolve important upcoming issues (i.e. driver’s license) for the year.


The Ratification of the XYZ Family Constitution shall occur upon the understanding and signature of all Members of the XYZ Family.

On this ___ day of _______ , We the Members of the XYZ Family hereby
ratify the Family Constitution of 2009.