Monday, 18 August 2008

It Worked for Me

Josi Kilpack blogged about a chore routine that works for their family and has invited everyone else to blog about what works for them. So here is what has worked for me. This isn't really a chore for me, but it sure affects my mood and the moods of everyone else in the house.

Growing up as the oldest of six kids, my parents often left me in charge of everyone when they went out. I was "The Babysitter". My responsibilities included getting everyone dinner, making sure that dinner was cleaned up, getting everyone to bed on time and making sure no body did any bodily harm to anyone else.

It never worked. My brother (16 months younger than me) didn't like the idea of having a babysitter. My sisters didn't want me to boss them around, and I'm sure I was plenty bossy. The two littlest just followed the example of everyone else. I'm sure if my mother had a cell phone, I would have called her so often it would have driven them crazy. Instead, I begged, cried, bribed, tricked and screamed at my siblings. It never worked though. Usually one of them would hear the car pull into the driveway and warn the others. The smart ones would jump into bed and pretend to be asleep. Or they would wait until Mom and Dad came in the door and claim some strange inability to sleep.

Meanwhile, I would go to bed angry and frustrated. I hated being the bossy older sister. It bothered me that they would all gang up on me and the feelings seemed to carry into regular play as well. In fact, for some of my siblings the feelings have carried on into adulthood.

When my own children grew old enough to leave alone, I decided to try something different. I told the kids that they were old enough not to have a babysitter. (I first tried this for short periods when my oldest daughter was eleven.) Each child is in charge of their own behavior. They are not to tattle on their siblings unless the behavior was dangerous or hurt someone. I put the oldest in charge of the youngest as far as knowing where she was and making sure she was safe.

Since there was no competition and no one being bossy they seem to get to bed on time and clean up after themselves quite well. They know to look out for each other but not to try to control each other. This works for me. I come home to find them all asleep, the kitchen clean and a peaceful home.


Anonymous said...

"Though it seems impossible now, some of the difficult times are still ahead, and your sister may need your love and your acceptance of her emotions and reactions for a long time. Help her to know that you and Heavenly Father continue to love her even if/as she goes through some of the less loveable times of grieving--feeling anger and self-doubt are common and they also have their own temporary part in healing. Let your sister take the lead in telling you what she needs emotionally; don't make her feel guilty if she grieves longer and differently than you expect her to. The admonition to "Mourn with those who mourn" is much harder to follow than to try to cheer those who mourn. As you already know, sharing the loss is a matter of spirit touching spirit, and The Spirit will help you all to heal through these experiences. "

Josi said...

Interesting Anon comment, hmmmm. But, in regard to your babysitting idea--that is just brilliant. I also struggled with babysitting my siblings--it was always a negative experience that often lasted for days after mom and dad got home. With my own kids I'm running into the issue of the older ones wanting to get paid all the time (which we do about half the time) but the younger kids being mad that their sisters get money. This would resolve that and my kids are old enough to see the reason in it. Great idea, thanks for playing. You're now linked on my blog.

Jennifer said...

This reminds me of my old "babysitting the siblings" days. My brother is 16 months older than me, and I was still the one "in charge" because I was a girl. :D But, if I remember right, the basic programme was to stay alive until the parents returned, not necessarily to accomplish anything, clean anything, etc.

David G. Woolley said...

Wow. I agree. Brilliant. What a cool thing to do. Eliminate the "boss". Did you learn that from Joseph Smith? I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves? Or is that just an eternal principle that is obvious to those who are in tune?

Well done. And keep up the writing. You're terrific. And besides, you're Candian. You've got to be really good.

David G. Woolley
Born: Lethbridge, Alberta Canada and proud of it!

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