Just when you think you’ve lost the war, you’ve won a battle

MY HOUSE MY RULES ART picI’ve been working with the kids all summer on staying organized and on top of their clutter. It seems impossible, sometimes, that I am getting through on how important it is to put things away.  Driving home the idea that if they want to actually find the toys they want to play with, they need to actually put them in their place. For a few weeks, I’ve been steering with incentives for Princess {7} & Middle {5}. They are in a position where they need want things, so an allowance feels like a logical choice for our family. They do what I need want such as getting dressed, making their beds, and brushing their teeth first thing in the morning which just makes our day run smoother than when they loaf around in their jammies until 10:30.  In return they earn cash to buy what they need want. Win, win right?

It started when Princess (who is really my most laid back child and doesn’t ask for much) saw something at the store she felt she couldn’t live without.  I told her to make a note of it and that we can take a pic with my phone for us to remember to include in our letter to Santa.  When she turned to me and said, “Well, why can’t you just buy it for me now?” I almost lost it.  Our house is full.  Full!  It’s unbearable, sometimes, and I want to scream and yell and bag things up that litter the floor.  And I do.  We give, we sell, we donate at a ridiculous pace, yet we still have so much.  Where does it all come from?  Me mostly.  I am a guilty-giver.  I let my childhood guide my parenting and try desperately to give my kids everything I didn’t have when I was little.  It’s not like I didn’t have gobs and gobs of stuff too, because I did.  It’s just that I didn’t have the love and time with my mom and dad.  Things weren’t memorable, magical, and fun.  Instead, my memories were full of fighting, yelling, name-calling, and a constant battle of tug-o-war with me in the middle being used as a pawn to get the other one back for wrongdoings and mistreatings.  My childhood was jaded and hung heavy under the weight of a black cloud of their hatred for one another.  My parents never put me first.  I wasn’t a priority, but a burden or someone to use to get what they wanted.  I missed out on what is every child’s right and that is the unconditional love of their parents.  To know that they are, above all, at the top of the list in mom and dad’s book.

My kids are my world.  To ever burden them with worry or fear is unbearable.  I want them to be kids for as long as they can and keep their magical innocence and wonder about the world and the people in it.  I want their childhood to be adventurous and exhilarating.  I don’t necessarily mean to fill their rooms with beautiful things from floor to ceiling, but sometimes I can’t resist their smiles and excitement that I forget about all they already have.  I have had to reprogram my thinking a little when it comes to “things”.  We already do so many fun things each week.  Our days are filled with activities and excursions that the “stuff” in their rooms really doesn’t matter anyway since we are rarely home to enjoy it.  So, by allowing them a little mad money each week in exchange for a few chores seems fair.  Hopefully, what they will realize is not only the value of saving, but the value of what they saved up for and will take care of their treasures and put them away.  Hopefully, they will regard their “things” with higher standards because they earned them the hard way themselves.  Mostly, I hope they appreciate not just their “stuff”, but what Mommy and Daddy have to do to earn money for it.  It’s a tall order, but something they are capable of understanding now and need to know.

For three weeks, we’ve been trying to stay on track and getting used to our new routines of “must do’s” before allowing any “electronics” time. With the monetary allowance comes the rules of doing our priority chores first thing in the morning without being asked.  After that, they are allowed to have a limited amount of “electronics” time which includes tv, computer, or video games.  The limit is usually an hour a day which can be broken down to 30 minute increments if they wish to split their time.  They also have the option to earn more time with extra help by unloading the dishwasher, sorting clothes, wiping down the table, etc.  By the end of the week, if I haven’t had to stay on top of them they are given their set allowance.  Our “must do’s” are making beds, getting dressed, brushing teeth, keeping things tidy, and eating fast.  The last two are the most challenging.  Having a 2-year-old certainly makes it hard to always keep things tidy, but we are a family unit and everyone pitches in to help make our unit run smoothly.  Middle and Princess were each two at one point in their lives and we all pitched in to help clean up their messes as well.  Eating is another endless frustration.  Mealtime can take over an hour if we don’t stay on top of them.  I enjoy sitting at the table with my family and hearing their sweet little thoughts and funny jokes or sayings.  I don’t, however, love how long it takes them to take bite after bite and baiting, begging, or bribing them to eat is lost on me.  It’s just too painful especially when we’ve taken such care to prepare a lovely meal.  It could be pizza or mcnuggets and would still take Middle an hour or so to eat some of his favorite foods.

chore chart watermarkWith only five things to remember, they still needed a visual to help them stay on track.  I used our chalkboard in the kitchen so they can see the list multiple times a day every day.  Princess can read, but Middle is still working on it so I drew pictures next to each item to help him associate his chores.  All of their names are on the board  with a space to check off daily.  This has significantly changed the way they see their chores and honestly I should have introduced the chart with the new regimen when we started it.  We’ve done chore charts before, but they’ve never had this success this quickly before.  After reviewing the list with them last night and reminding them of the priorities and rules, I woke up this morning to them dressed, beds made, things tidy and they were making me breakfast in bed.  I walked in on them putting it on the tray and sadly ruined their surprise.  I was blessed beyond anything they had planned for me today not because they were the sweetest little angels for thinking enough about their Mama to make her breakfast in bed, but because they listened, they reacted, and I didn’t have to ask, bribe, or beg when it came to their priorities.  They took pride in their responsibilities this morning and left me with the best sense of joy.  There are often times I feel I’m winning as a parent because I am so much more involved and invested in my kids than my parents ever were.  However, it’s little wins like this that make the daily struggles worth every battle.

breakfast watermark

If you are interested in the “MY HOUSE MY RULES” 8×10 art printable by Oh My Gluestick, you can download it for free HERE!


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    I am so happy I found your blog, you sound just like me. I had a very similar childhood, and I am trying my hardest to make it better for my 3 children ages, 7, 4, and 2. I am always looking for some type of advise and support, since I don’t have any other family. I will be following from now on, as I see that I can learn from you. Thank you for sharing your experiences with the world.


  1. […] that the kids are enjoying themselves and most definitely having a fun summer.  I’m letting my guilt lead me in my parenting again.  Lord knows, however hard I try, I just can’t help it.  I didn’t have these […]

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