Thursday, July 27, 2006

I am the weak link

One of the reasons I try to have systems to help keep our family working together is because things can fall apart around here faster than you can say, “My, doesn’t this place look spiffy!”

Much as I try to keep things picked up, the fact is, we live here, and there is going to be stuff out at any given time.

...And then I get busy doing other things.

...And sometimes that stuff stays out for longer than I like.

...And once it’s been out a while, it becomes part of the scenery.

Once it becomes part of the scenery, people will step right over that shoe that’s been in the entry all day. Or over that toy that’s been on the stairs all week.

It can get really bad.

It’s because I am the weak link.

As I wrote yesterday, we have had the same chore routine forever, but it is amazing how quickly we can “fall” out of the habit.

Our older girls just moved back in together, after almost a year of having their own rooms. The oldest got the coveted “game room,” a huge, 22x22-foot add-on over our garage.

But last year she was often up late with sports or homework, and the traditional tuck-in times got changed to “’Night, Honey!” as she was going up the stairs.

The result? I wasn’t going up there to check on her room very often, and it quickly got out of control. When I did go up there, my blood pressure went through the roof. It was knee deep (I. kid. you. not.) in stuff.

Reminds me of the old saying:

Don’t expect what you don’t inspect.

At one point it got so bad I issued an ultimatum: Get this joint cleaned up or you will be evicted.

Guess what: She was evicted (Well, to her credit, she asked to move back in with her sister before the smoke came shooting out my ears yet another time!).

It was too much space, too little supervision, and even she knew she could not keep her stuff under control. Even in all her preteen-ness she knew she needed the accountability. The accountability she wasn't getting. From me.

Now she has less space, but is doing better about keeping her things put away (although the day I walk in and do not find a pair of her shorts lying on the floor looking as though she’s been raptured out of them, I will know we have all arrived!).

Why? Because I’m supervising better. I’m walking her through the steps of staying on top of her stuff on a more regular basis.

This does not come naturally to someone like me.

You see, I am very good at setting up the system – just not as good at following through.

But I know my family will rise to the level I insist on -- or sink to the one I am willing to put up with.

So in order not to be the weak link, I have to keep things manageable. I have to break things down into small parts. Not just for the kids, but for me.

Like my daughter’s room, my tendency is to let things slide for a while until I just can’t take it anymore. Then I steamroll through, get things back in order, only to let things slide again until the pressure builds up, and it forces a change.

This is a ridiculous way to go about life. I want to be faithful in the small things.

So while I’d like to think I could come up with a once-and-for-all system for chores that would run itself –

one that I could put in place and then go sit and blog the rest of the day never have to supervise

It’s just not going to happen until they are older – perhaps much older.

Perhaps not until they are trying to get their own kids to do their chores.

So I take a deep breath and bury my frustrations in another cup of coffee (a bit of blogging helps, too).

And then I go inspect their progress.


Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness:
But a faithful man, who can find?
Proverbs 20:6


Susanne said...

Katherine, if you're going to give me a black eye you've got to give me some warning that the punch is coming! ;p Ouch!!

Seriously that was an awesome post! This is where I too, let the ball drop. In the constant supervision that it takes to train. I tend to go with the unrealistic expectation that I just have to say so and it will forever be followed thru by all.

When you said, "But I know my family will rise to the level I insist on - or sink to the one I am willing to put up with" well let's just say light bulb moment!
Great post, as usual!

voni said...

I thought I was the only one like that:) Organization does not come easy to me either. I labor over a plan, put it into effect, then let it drop as I'm trying to juggle other things. I like what you said "I want to faithful in the small things"

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Are you sure you're not talking about me? That's exactly what I do - let things slide until they're really bad, then go crazy getting everything back to liveable. Especially when it comes to my son's room. Thanks for the encouragement to keep working toward staying involved in the process, to keep inspecting, to be faithful in all those little things.

Christa said...

Thank you for the wonderful reminder! Supervise! How often have I been guilty of letting it all go until I just can't take it anymore and then Momma starts hollerin'. It is not a pretty site. I seem to forget that I am the adult around here and that I need to set the standard. Thank you.

Beck said...

Great post. Wow. I am totally the weak link in our house - I noticed the other day as I was cleaning up that EVERY. MESS. in the house had been made by me. Yep, I am messier than a 7 year old, 5 year old and toddler combined. :(

Code Yellow Mom said...

One of the great challenges of parenthood - vigilance! And the fact that it is VITAL no matter how old or seemingly independent the children get, whew! That does drive a person to blog. :)

Unknown said...

Oh, you're so right. And CYM said it right, too--vigilanace. Amanda actually responds quite well to new rules and regulations, and I am the weak link, also. I need to be reminded of this frequently, and it was about time. Thanks (really, thanks not sarcastic thanks).

Michelle- This One's for the Girls said...

I love that quote--"Don't expect what you don't inspect." It runs through my mind quite frequently.

I also love all of your Proverbs. Very nice, Katherine.

~Jennifer said...

Oh, I could have written that. It's exactly how things work around here. When I'm on top of everything, everything rolls along smoothly. When I fall down on the job everything goes to pot. I have to admit that I sometimes crumble under the weight of all that responsibility.