#Essential Living

Mr. Gunny Bag [and other tricks for kids]

February 19, 2019

Has family life become more complicated now?  There are so many how-to parenting books to read or on audiobooks.  I wonder . . . do Moms actually put these ideas into practice, or does it make us feel better just knowing someone has been there and survived parenthood.  Is there a magic pill that makes everything easier?  I really would like to know if you have read and applied principles or advice from an author.

As the youngest in my family, I didn't do any babysitting - only once when I was 15 to help a couple when they were vacationing.  (Not as sweet as it sounds, and I learned I'm not a Nanny.)  Outside of college Child Development classes, I was pretty clueless.  After motherhood began, I read 3 books.  The first two were Dr. Spock's Baby and Childcare and Toilet Training in Less than a Day.  My first child passed with flying colors.  I still recommend them.

My daughter was a little more strong-willed and luckily I came across the book, The Color Code, which has stood the test of time.  It is founded on personality motives, unlike behavior of other methodologies.  It was such an eye opener for relationships I later I became certified as a Color Code trainer.

Before, my 6-yr-old daughter and I would get into mild power struggles over what to wear and how to do her hair for school.  After reading the Color Code, I started asking, "What do you want to wear?  And how do you want to do your hair?"  Today she is a strikingly beautiful woman and a very cool mom, who has a flair for fashion and is a hair stylist.  She does my hair now and always cringes when she sees her grade school pictures and asks, "Why did you cut my hair that way?!"

Is Motherhood more complicated today?

It was never a challenge to get my children to do their homework.  After school it came first and then they went off to play with friends.  Household chores were rotated and completed.  Bedtime wasn't a circus.  Were we a perfect family?  Of course not.  And still aren't by a long shot.

What has changed?  Mothers working or staying home seem to be frazzled.  So, what is it?

While you're answering that question, I asked mothers:

What has worked for you in teaching your kiddos good work habits with household chores (including laundry), picking up toys, doing homework and music lessons . . . Here are some responses.

1.  "Nothing."  She's not alone, right?

2.  "Work before you play:  We have the same expectations on a daily basis Monday through Friday.  They know exactly what is expected and what needs to be completed before they can do what they want.  We also have the same expectations with some variance depending upon need for the weekend/Saturday - they can complete the same things prior to Saturday if they have other things going on, but still expected to be done.  

Of course there are always exceptions depending on activities (sometime no time) and after school sports changes the timing, but not the expectation.  It’s worked really well for us.  They are self-motivated for the most part. I rarely have to say much - still some complaining from time to time - but they are kids so that’s expected, too.  It still gets done."

3.  "My first-grader loves a sticker chart.  After filling up a row, she can do a sleepover with one of her siblings, on the guest room bed or whatever."

4.  "I have this paper roller in our laundry room because it seemed like everyone "did that chore last week".  We have two laundry rooms - 1 up and 1 downstairs.  Their bedrooms are on the second level, so they are responsible to get their own laundry done and put away.  We also had to start adding whose week it was to ride in the middle car seat!"

Okay ladies . . . Is your house always a mess?  And you aren't okay with it?  Meet Mr. Gunny Bag!  I heard about him when I was in a mother's co-op group for pre-schoolers called Joy School, created by Richard and Linda Eyre.

As an empty pillowcase he's harmless enough . . . until hunger strikes!  He makes random appearances and loves to gobble up any toys or clothes left lying around and cries when there is nothing to eat.  On Saturday he comes back to regurgitate the "stuff".  Anything left over gets donated or discarded.  

Need a new strategy?  Try this!
And sing, or whistle, while you work.

Change it up and have fun.

Feel free to comment on what works for you.  We're all ears.


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