My mother recently gave me a good idea. She suggested that we do a monthly family goal; something that the family can work on together for a month at a time. The goal can be anything. Something spiritual like saying a prayer together at night as a family, something practical like making sure the lights are turned out around the house, something to improve our manners like trying to say “please” and “thank you”. Just something that would make our family better. One month. One goal. And then the next month, move on to the next goal.
So as a family, we took my mom’s advice. Last month we planned our first family goal. The goal was no yelling. So … we tried. That’s what matters, right? We may have to revisit that goal in coming months. We probably could have done the no yelling thing for another month, but I decided that I didn’t want to beat a dead horse, so we moved to another goal for January.
So, our January goal is making sure our beds are made every morning before we leave the house. I have to admit that this isn’t a difficult one for me, because I am a regular bed maker. I can’t stand to get into an unmade bed, so I’ve been making my bed everyday since forever. However, for my kids, it has been a bit more problematic. The 16 and 14 year-olds leave the house so early in the morning that in the past I haven’t really demanded that they make their beds. Most of the time, the 12 year-old sneaks out of the house somewhere between me telling him to make his bed and me checking and realizing that he hasn’t made his bed. The 8 year-old sleeps on top of her covers so that she never has to make the bed. She’s obviously the more practical of the Hale kids. So, as you can see, there was definitely room for improvement.
Since last month’s goal was a bit of a bust, we decided that this month we needed an incentive. So, since I’m the one paying for the cell phones, I’m the one who gets to make the cell phone rules. Hence, the incentive for the kids making their beds is that if they leave the house without them made, I get their cell phones for 24 hours. And since they don’t pay for my cell phone and thus don’t really have the right to take my phone away, my punishment for not making my bed before leaving the house is that I have to eat human excriment. Fair enough!
So far, one cell phone has been taken away for one 24 hour period and I have not yet had to eat anything unseemly. The January monthly family goal is going quite well. Better than the December “no yelling” goal. Maybe if we had included cell phones and excriment …