Summertime, the Season for Sass

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It’s summertime and, as a working parent, I’m having a hard time balancing work with my family’s busy schedule of activities. Yes, as a mostly work-at-home parent, my schedule allows for a bit of flexibility. But, I still need to find time to force myself to do actual work when I’d rather be hanging out with my kids.

Who wants to do research when they could be whizzing down a waterslide or body surfing in the wave pool? Why work when the sun is shining, the bike path is beckoning, and the dog is just begging for a walk? But, in spite of my desire to play hooky, I’ve still got work to do. This is a concept I’m trying to share with my kids.

So, while I squeeze in some work time here and there in my office off the kitchen, my girls use that time to finish their chores. That way, when my workday is complete, the fun can start for us. But this isn’t what usually happens. While I’ve got my nose to the grindstone, instead of feeding the dog, cleaning the cat’s litter box, or loading the dishwasher, my kids have become summertime slackers. When I take a break from work to grab some coffee, I search the eerily quiet house to find them, still in their PJs, watching TV upstairs.

Somehow, the kids who complained in the heart of winter that it was just too cold to go outside and they just couldn’t wait for summer now complain that it’s too darn hot out. And, they’re bored – my creative kids who make up silly games like ninja, a sort of slow-motion freeze tag elimination game; or the drawing game, where players take turns drawing a predetermined image on a whiteboard with their eyes closed are bored.

Somehow, when I’m trying to get work done, there is absolutely nothing to do, and they’ll completely die if they can’t watch more TV or play a video game. But, surprisingly, in spite of the mind-numbing boredom, there’s simply no time to do chores.

When nagging about chores fails to create any urgency, and the handy dandy chore lists have long been forgotten, we’ve started taking away time. When chores aren’t done, the perpetrator goes to bed earlier – from five to fifteen minutes earlier, depending on the infraction and their level of sass. When we initially instituted this policy, the youngest child lost 45 minutes, mostly due to elevated levels of sass. That night, the sassiness level rose to red and, just like the folks at Homeland Security, my husband and I do not negotiate with terrorists.


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