Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Another School Year Ends

Somehow I've never been one of those moms who stands in the kindergarten doorway crying and waving repeatedly on the first day of school. Well, at least not after the first child told me to 'go ahead and leave'. On the other hand, the mere note that my 5th grader would attend a 'promotion ceremony' brought tears to my eyes. The end of the year is always hard on me. I'm not sure if it's the reality that another year has whizzed by in their young lives or the realization that another year has passed in my own. I fear the truth of the matter is that I am mourning the loss of an empty house, even if it is only for a few hours a few times a week.

Happy summer!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Kids and Money

Our refrigerator is blanketed with the typical artwork of magnets, school hot lunch menus and fingerpainted spirals. Besides all that is a dry erase board with each child's name and a number beside it. The number respresents the amount of money we, the parents, owe them, the children.

So it begs the question, what is the going rate for allowance these days? Or better yet, do you even give an allowance? Do you pay weekly, monthly, on an as needed basis (Friday night dance or must have pair of shoes), or, like me, in IOU form?

I'd like to say I've taught my kids the all important laws of money: give, save, spend. But honestly, having three kids at different levels of financial understanding brings out the Ogre in me. "All your money must go into your piggy bank where it will be transported to your savings account!"

Now, having said that, I suppose they've picked up a few lessons along the way. I don't think my kids have big issues with the gimmies. They only get new clothes, shoes, toys, video games for Christmas, birthday (May/June), back to school, and if something falls apart or causes blisters. When the urge is strong for a new toy or game, we are not unreasonable. We tell them they can buy it with their savings. More often than not, that curbs the urge so I guess they are gathering an understanding of how painful it is to part with your own hard-earned money. They are also told to refer to #3 below.

This is the current plan in our house.

1) There is no allowance. If I followed the superparenting guidelines of monitoring the division of giving/saving/spending, I might support an allowance. But, I don't have that much energy.

2)The kids earn their money. Outside of the basic, every day chores that are a requirement (put laundry away, feed dog, unload dishwasher), they are assigned an optional chore each week. They do it, they earn it.

3)In addition, there is a list posted on the refrigerator. Each chore can earn them money if they choose to complete them. They don't, but the list remains.

So, what is each chore worth? I have no idea. In our house, we pay $1/chore. Therefore a $20 video game equals five months of bringing up the garbage receptacles. Do you want it that bad?

What policies do you use? Do your kids manage money well or burn through it and come back for more? Do they have a savings account? Share!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

School policy

A couple of months ago, my daughter stayed home sick from school. The morning got away from me (as usual) and it was 10:00 before I remembered to call the school. Not for the first time, it caused me to wonder how long it would take the school to call and let me know that my daughter didn't show up to second grade.

When I inquired about the policy, I was shocked to find out that there is no such policy in place! Yikes!

The office staff responded that the school assumed the parent knew if the child was not at school. I responded that, as a parent, I have the right to assume my child is at school and wished to be notified if that was not the case. In our neighborhood, there are several children who walk to school or the bus stop. If something happened to them in route, the parent wouldn't even be aware of their absence until late in the day; for us, four o'clock in the afternoon. Any trail would be devestatingly cold by then.

After contacting the principal and superintendent of the school district, I was assured the matter would be brought up at an upcoming meeting. That was a few weeks ago and I inquired about an update today, but have not yet heard back.

I guess the lesson here, is to never make assumptions about policy when it comes to the safety of your children. Call and ask. The people who are responsible for our children are paid through our tax dollars and answer to us.

I'll let you know when I find out more.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Today's Goals

I awoke to the smell of coffee brewing, still half dreaming of a relaxed day reading and writing. When I heard the chaos in my kitchen, I lowered the goal to reading a few chapters in my most recent "how-to write" book.

My son's coughing told me he would be staying home from school for the 6th day in a row.

"You didn't wake me up!" my seven-year screamed at her older brother, her human alarm clock. She was running late for school and we'd all overslept. Bliss.

After driving her to school, delivering my 4-year-old to preschool, and administering cough medicine to my oldest, I promptly sent him to bed with Harry Potter in his hands and saddled up to the computer.

I edited a few lines of my book and remembered an email I needed to send to a teacher. I read a critique of one of my chapters from my online critique group, which somehow reminded me to call my daughter's school. Going down the stairs to retrieve the phone, I noticed large clumps of missing leaves on a houseplant as I simultaneous heard my dog throw them up on the carpet. Nice.

Clean up dog puke. Feed whining cats. Change the laundry while in the laundry room. Call daughter's school and field two more phone calls pertaining to various carpools later in the day (three today).

Edit one chapter and discover nagging writing question. Formulate email to online critique group. Remember email I have put off sending to the school principal and superintendent (separate blog for that).

Time to pick up the preschooler. Drive into town to return library movies. Make lunch. Change laundry. Run dishwasher. Move book out of the way as I wipe down the counters. Medicate child. Throw ball for dog.

Time to pick up daughter and run carpool to Girl Scouts. Upon returning, I make an afternoon snack of pumpkin bread and PICK UP THE BOOK!

"Mom? I need help."

Assist son with homework, push daughter out door to gymnastics carpool. Fix bathroom toilet which will not stop running. Plunge other bathroom toilet which will not start running. Change laundry. Feed snacks to kids. Help with additional homework. Fix problem with computer. Pick up book. Think about how it's now 6 p.m. and wonder what happened to the day. Decide to share the chaos of it with fellow moms on my blog for proper appreciation, using aforementioned book as desktop for my spiral notebook as I write.

Maybe I'll get to that book after dinner, or showers, or bedtime stories. Maybe tomorrow. And who can guess when I'll get this blog entry typed up.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Refueling the Cells

I had a great day. After a casual effort to supervise the older two kids prepare and exit for school, I spent a little time performing yoga and strength training on the WII before showering and leaving my husband as the PIC (parent in charge) while I sat through two hours of cut, color, and conversation (none of which involved the words 'potty' 'stop that' or 'I'm talking, please say excuse me')

With a box full of girl scout cookies which needed delivered, I used the afternoon to take an extended lunch with my sister, niece, and friend, followed by short visits with a few other friends and some shopping (the kind where I spend a leisurely hour in Kmart where I only walk out with a handful of things and a relaxed smile on my face.)

At length, my two hour hair appointment earned me six hours of "me" time. I arrived home shopping-weary, but rejuvenated. So here's the rub. My recharged motherly patience lasted a net of about an hour before I was raising my voice and threatening extra chores. Shouldn't there be some sort of reserve where we mothers can put all the good intentions that pass through our minds as we get a pedicure so we can pull them out when our child faces us defiantly and screams, "No. I won't do it and you can't make me!"?