You know, a clean house is the sign of a boring person. My house is a disaster inside.
Housework. Oh how I loathe thee. But God has blessed me with three little man-servants and it would downright be wasteful if I didn’t use them to their full potential around the house. I really hate seeing people waste their talents. You know, God went through a lot of time and energy giving us all our unique gifts…I intend to use my gift of creative manipulation on my children and I fully intend to expand their gifts in the art of housework. It is a win-win situation for everyone! 🙂
Gifts or no gifts, the bottom line is that having boys means I have to be creative when it comes to household chores. When the kids were little I could easily tell them what to do and they’d just do it. Man, little kids that aim to please are so awesome. Bigger kids that aim to annoy are not so awesome. Mine are somewhere between the aim to annoy stage and the next stage (the downright deserving of a smack upside the head stage). Part of the reason for the gap is their ages. Our house spans from early teens to just outside of the toddler years. Creativity is a requirement on my part. Have no fear though. Creativity is something I am NOT lacking. Bwuahahahaha (imagine my best evil laugh).
Over the Christmas break Bruce and I let the kids lounge around and do a whole lot of nothing on most days. There were a few days; however, where they got to partake in the more enjoyable tasks around the house. Who doesn’t want to put down their iPad for an amazing round of unloading the dishwasher? And who doesn’t want their mom to throw away all of their Nerf darts in exchange for not putting away their laundry? Surprisingly enough, my kids were not leaping at the opportunities I was laying out before them. I was going to have to be more creative.
I started setting the timer on the oven for ten or fifteen minutes. Each was tasked with something in a different room from the others. This was a strategic decision you see. When they are working in the same room they fight their time away instead of cleaning their time away. So, the timer is set. The kids are in place and tasked. It’s go time! Now it’s a game for them. They are competing against each other and the clock. If you finish your task correctly before the clock runs out you can play until the next iteration. If you don’t finish your task in the designated time, you don’t play, and oh by the way, you might get to see your brothers playing while you are still cleaning. 🙂 Bummer, should have moved faster. After the first round I reset the clock, rotated the kids and chores, and away we went. I did this for about an hour before calling it quits. It worked to some degree, but I found it challenging to find little tasks for them to do that could feasibly be completed in the allotted time. I wanted the carpets shampooed, but settled for vacuumed. Compromises suck.
Sometimes I just have to spell it out for them. One night while they were asleep I wrote them a note in the Lego’s they left on the floor. The same Lego’s I stepped on while checking on them before going to bed myself. I’m not sure if my utter annoyance with stepping on toys in the dark played a role in my note or not; however, they were picked up the next morning (ok, afternoon by the time we actually got out of bed). My note said: “Clean this dump up before the cockroaches move in.”
I built a little house too. You know, for the cockroaches.
Did I mention they are terrified of cockroaches?
Especially Trygg. He was brutally attacked one night in his sleep by a cockroach. I thought he was being mauled by a giant angry beaver…I’m pretty sure that’s what the neighbors thought too. Wow does that kid have a set up pipes on him!
On other days I’d bribe them for their hard work. For Trey it’s easy. You mention Big Dip in a sentence and he will do almost anything you want. “Hey Trey, I’ll take you to Big Dip if you pressure wash the house?” His eager response…”Ok!” Man is he blonde. We don’t even own a pressure washer. Trygg is hit or miss on the bribes. I think part of it has to do with his age, he’s just too young to really get it. I can promise him more cuddle time with the dog in exchange for washing the car on some days; whereas I have to up the deal to a trip to the Roller Slides on others simply to get him to feed the dog. He’s so unpredictable. Tyler…..he’s not easily bribed anymore. I have to bring a sneak attack on him in exchange for getting work done. This is my area of expertise. Bwuhahahahaha……poor kid.
Tyler loves Spy Gear (a brand of toys) and has collected some really cool toys over the years. This past Christmas he received a set of night vision goggles (NVGs). A set that actually works like the real deal. Every night he’s opting to take the dog out or suddenly just disappears from the house. Needless to say we know exactly where to look. One step out the door and you’ll find him on the front porch playing with the NVGs. The first time I nearly had a heart attack when I couldn’t find him. So the next night I snuck up on him. 🙂 Parenting is so fun sometimes.
Clearly his sudden disappearing had to stop, especially since he was going outside after dark without telling us. One stern talking to from his father and his free riding glory days were over. Now I see him walking down the hallway at night with them on. Pro is that our electricity bill will go way down (you’re welcome housing), con is that I won’t see any savings since I don’t pay the bills (thank you tax payers). What I’m really trying to get at here is that I have a golden opportunity for a little manipulation. Another one of my amazing abilities. 😉
“Hey Tyler.” I said. “Do you want to go outside and test out your night vision goggles?” He was all over it like a fart in a spacesuit.
I know you are still appreciating that last visual. Stay with me…..
“Ok, before you go outside you need to put on pants and a pair of shoes.” I said. The kid spent more time in his bathrobe this week than he did in clothes. I was simply protecting my neighbors from seeing more of Tyler than they needed to see. You are all very welcome and there is no need to thank me.
A few minutes later he emerged from his room with camo pants on, an army green sweatshirt, his NVGs hung around his neck in the ready position, and a pair of black tennis shoes. He was ready!
By this time, Bruce had figured out what I was doing and he simply sat on the other couch and shook his head. I’m not sure how he figured it out so quickly but I’m sure he thought my plan was pure genius! He was probably jealous he didn’t think of it first.
“Oh Tyler. One last thing before you go out.” I casually mentioned while he stopped by the door and looked at me with that “what now?” expression on his face. You know, the one where the head is tilted to one side and they look at you through the top of half their eyes as if to say I’m not rolling my eyes but I am oh so close to rolling them it almost hurts….yeah, that was the look. Which made what I was about to say that much sweeter:
“Grab the roll of poop bags on your way out and watch where you step.”
Night vision goggles rock.