Sometimes you have to go back to the sticker chart

Remember when you had preschoolers and you used a sticker chart for good behavior? Well, we’re back to that sticker chart with my 11 year old. We’ve been butting heads a lot lately. I want her to do something. She wants me to stop nagging her. So, we have a sticker chart that include such items as Go to School, Go to School On Time, Shower, Brush Teeth, Get Dressed by Yourself, Do Homework …. those might seem very easy, but sometimes they’ve just very hard when you’re dealing with anxiety and arthritis.

Adding a smiley face sticker to a responsibilities chart goes a long way to ending the fighting and nagging.
Adding a smiley face sticker to a responsibilities chart goes a long way to ending the fighting and nagging.

So now she can earn 10 minutes of computer time for every job completed. She monitors her progress. She deducts 10 minutes when she makes a mess of nail polish all over the bathroom. And we don’t have to fight. She knows what’s expected of her each and every day.

Happy Ava. Happy Mom.

Are your kids doing chores?

A lot of surveys have been done about kids not doing chores. Usually they find that only about a fourth of kids have regular chores they do. Are you in the boat with the other 75 percent? We are.

 

Are your kids helping to wash the dishes? About three-fourths are not.
Are your kids helping to wash the dishes? About three-fourths are not.

We’ve tried a lot of things: tying allowance to chores, having a chore chart, having a list of jobs they can do to earn extra money, offering rewards after chores are complete. None of them have worked.

We don’t have bad kids. What we have is busy parents who forget to check on if the chores get done. Tired parents who at the end of the day don’t want to get in a power struggle over sweeping the floor. And broke parents who never seem to have the money promised. We also have kids who have unrealistic pay expectations. $20 to clean your room? Please!

So, what we have are kids who are happy to help, if it’s convenient to them and a job they want to do. Kitty litter? No way. Bathrooms, surprisingly OK, sometimes.

Anyone have a suggestion of what works, other than better parenting? Used a chart? Tied chores to screen time?

I’d love to hear new ideas.

Are you freaked out about ebola?

I actually have to say I’m not. Maybe, as a parent of an immune-compromised child, I should be, but I’ve got bigger fish to fry — like kids getting to doctor appointments and getting all their homework done.

Last night when we were checking the news online and read that ebola was in Texas, my 10-year-old turned to me and said, “This is how the zombie apocalypse starts.” I just had to laugh.

An ambulance pulls into the Dallas Fire-Rescue station 37 in Dallas, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014.  Three EMT's from this location are under a 21 day quarantine after a patient they transported tested positive for Ebola.  (AP Photo/LM Otero)
An ambulance pulls into the Dallas Fire-Rescue station 37 in Dallas, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Three EMT’s from this location are under a 21 day quarantine after a patient they transported tested positive for Ebola. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

So are you worried about it? Or are you more worried about the respiratory virus Enterovirus D-68, which causes breathing trouble and paralysis.

Actually for my kids, I’m more worried about the common cold or the flu. Those things just tend to linger and get passed back and forth.

Really I can’t do anything about any of these, except tell my kids to wash their hands often, cough into their elbows, don’t drink after someone else and use a tissue to blow their noses. Of course, I can sign them up for the flu shot. One down, many more nasties to go.

Sometimes you just need to start a new year off right

Yesterday was the beginning of the Jewish new year and the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Every year we debate as a family whether the kids can miss a day of school. Most year’s the answer is yes. It’s important to be together, to go to temple and to have a day of reflection. (Sort of like your day to make your New Year’s resolutions on Jan. 1).

Dylan O'Brien appears in a scene from "The Maze Runner." (AP Photo/20th Century Fox, Ben Rothstein)
Dylan O’Brien appears in a scene from “The Maze Runner.” (AP Photo/20th Century Fox, Ben Rothstein)

Yesterday, both kids were out of school for the holiday. We went to family services and then went to the movies. Maybe that sounds unholy, but sitting in the theater on a school day, eating chips and queso and watching “The Maze Runner,” was exactly what we needed as a family to start the year off right. I could just be Fun Mom; not Nurse Mom who makes me take all my meds; not Homework Mom who nags me to get my work done; not Hygiene Mom who makes me wash my hands after I go to the bathroom or insists I take a shower.

Fun Mom is who we would love to be all the time, right? Yet, as a wise woman once told me, “If you’re not saying ‘No,’ 90 percent of the time, you’re not really doing your job as mom.”

So, if Rosh Hashanah is the one day a year where we all play hookey and enjoy one another, let it be so. Wishing all my Jewish friends a sweet new year, and for the rest of you, may you have a holiday as sweet as Rosh Hashanah was this year for us.

Do let the bed bugs bite

You might have told your children to not let the bed bugs bite, but this bed bug can feature a personal message from Mom and Dad.

The Original Bedbug stuffed animal allows you to record two 20-seconds greetings and one three-minute recording and sells for $29.99 at originalbedbug.com.
The Original Bedbug stuffed animal allows you to record two 20-seconds greetings and one three-minute recording and sells for $29.99 at originalbedbug.com.

The Original Bedbug stuffed animal allows you to record two 20-seconds greetings and one three-minute recording — a song, you reading your child’s favorite book, etc. Your child just squeezes the bug’s feet to hear the recordings. It’s perfect for when a parent has to go out of town. The Original Bedbug sells for $29.99 at originalbedbug.com.

Need some sleepytime help, try these books

“Relax-a-bye Baby,” by Mimi Sommers takes children through relaxation exercises. First they get comfortable, then they do a lion’s roar, then they wiggle their toes and feet and relax them. Eventually they move up the whole body until they are relaxed and starting to fall asleep. I think I might need someone to read this one to me. $17.95 from Angus Macgregor Books.

"Relax-a-bye Baby" by Mimi Sommers will help put your little one to sleep.  Angus Macgregor Books
“Relax-a-bye Baby” by Mimi Sommers will help put your little one to sleep. Angus Macgregor Books

“Guardian of Dreams,” by Wendy Torrel is a beautiful book about how to get back to sleep after a nightmare. It’s the 10th anniverary of the book, which came out as a reaction to 9/11 after kids were still having nightmares and didn’t know how to deal with what they were feeling. It also includes some pre-reading and post-reading activities you can do with your children if they are having trouble with nightmares. $14.95 from White Tulip Publishing.