when we started our new school year a couple of weeks ago, one of the things that i started was “the boss.” this came out of sheer losin’ it. my older two are constantly bickering about who’s gonna sit by the baby at meals, who’s turn it is to sit in the middle in the van, who get to pick out the plates for dinner, so a whole lotta “why can’t i?’s” and “but he did…s” made me want to pull my hair out.
combine this with the bedtime craziness. the 3 bigger kiddos have 2 bedrooms amongst them. we kinda have it split into his and hers – her toys in one room and the boys’ in the other. except at bedtime they had gotten so used to all sleeping in one room in the duplex, they’re all so little, and all so close in age that splitting them up – especially by gender has been a challenge. therefore, there has been much frustration at bedtime. even with 2 beds in the one room they usually end up piled in together like a mess of puppies. and this means about an hour of “she won’t leave us alone!” “the boys are being mean mama!” and other such ridiculousness. we’ve tried letting our girl know when you mess with the boys you go to your own room. every.night. a gnashing of teeth when we have to move her.
add this to a discussion with my honey of how to make one-on-one time happen for each of the kiddos.
and “the boss” was created.
we’ve done it for just over 2 weeks and so far it has changed our lives.
here’s the deal. i listed all the frustrating things they argue over. then i threw in some of the most dreaded chores and a couple of chores that take more supervision on my part. and topped it off with some awesome incentives. and then i put the numbers 1-3 in a bucket and had each of the kiddos draw from it. whoever drew the number 1 got to be “the boss” for the first week. 2 got the second week and… you get it.
for a whole week starting each sunday that child is “the boss.”
they have shoe and laundry duty – in charge of shoes and laundry at chore time.
they bring out all the water sippy cups from the beds from the night before to be re-used in the morn.
they get to sit by the baby every meal.
they get first dibs on the “coveted” seat in the van (they always switch up on the trip back home.)
they set the table with whatever cool plates and cups they see fit.
they clear the table (with me) after dinner.
they get to pick the treat in the morning and the read-aloud at naptime.
there are several other “you must do’s” and “you get to do’s”.
and the kicker? they get to stay up 30 minutes later than everyone else at night. this is up to the discretion of daddy and mama and completely dependent on their behavior.
so, in addition to solving all arguments (and i am completely amazed that the arguing is non-existent when it’s out of their hands and they know what to expect) they are getting one-on-one time with mama and daddy. so needed. for them and for us. they are also learning that being the boss is not all glittery. with more rewards comes more responsibility. you must work more if you are to reap the benefits. and they are learning that you must consider others. do as to them as you would have them to do. if you take the cool spidey plate every meal for a week, you better be ready for the same treatment next week when you’re not the boss anymore. they’re learning to have patience (thanks to a friend’s suggestion we thought about doing it on a daily basis, but the kids were already set on it, so we decided to try a week – it’s worked better than i thought.) they’re learning how long a week is. they plan for that special time with us at night.
thank you, Lord, for the wisdom You grant at just the right time.
and so i want to know what do you, larger family folks with close in age young’uns, do to get those arguments down and fit in that sweet alone time with each of ‘em? i’d love to hear!
~edited on January 25, 2010~ Amazing looking back at this that we’ve had this in place for 2 years now. For two years solid, with no exceptions, we’ve had a Boss in the house. And we’ve kept the same rotation schedule, they know exactly who’s turn is next. So far, we’ve only included the older 3 – current ages 8, 6, and 4. BigMan has been told he gets to join the ranks of Boss when he starts going to bed (and staying in it) at the same time as the olders. It’s also interesting that the chores have changed so much since I wrote this. Much more extensive chore divisions. We still use Boss to settle nearly all “I wanna go first” disputes. We love having this in place. Love it!