Mom – 100, Kids – ZERO

Monday night, my kids were crowded together on the couch watching Phineas and Ferb on Netflix. I was in the kitchen getting dinner ready when I noticed the dishwasher was full and clean, and needed to be emptied. This is not my job. The kids unload the dishwasher. I don’t really care which kid – usually they all work together. Sometimes they split the chores and two will do the dishwasher while the others do something else. I don’t much care about the how or who as long as the work is done and no one is injured in the process.

So, wanting to get dishes out of the sink and off the counter to make my dinner prep easier, I called in to the kids and asked them to pause their show and come and unload the dishwasher. There are five of them (even Ivy helps) so we’re talking a five minute break, IF they go slow. Not too much to ask, is it?

Apparently, it WAS too much to ask. My request was met with sarcasm and disdain as my sweet darling children reminded me that they’d already unloaded the dishwasher once earlier in the day. Did I really expect them to do it AGAIN?! Then, they turned back to their show and didn’t move a muscle.

A little shocked, but mostly just annoyed, I didn’t say another word. Ivy came to help me unload the dishwasher and we took care of it on our own.

Fifteen minutes later, the show was over and my kids crowded around the island in the kitchen and asked me what was for dinner. To their question, I smiled sweetly and replied,

“I’m sorry, I already fed you once today. Did you really expect me to feed you AGAIN?!”

And then I left the kitchen.

I wish I’d had a camera to capture the looks on their faces. They wanted to be mad, to scream and yell and wallow in the injustice of not being fed. But they knew they deserved it. They couldn’t say a word.

I told the kids they were welcome to make themselves a sandwich and have a piece of fruit. Which they did. I know I could have harped and urged and demanded they get up and unload the dishwasher when I asked. But what would that have taught them? That they only have to listen after Mom asks three times? I’m never one to turn down the opportunity for a good object lesson…

(cue evil, maniacal mother laughter here…)

36 thoughts on “Mom – 100, Kids – ZERO

  1. abstowe says:

    At one point, frustrated with cleaning chores half done or not done at all, I made baked potatoes for dinner, and made sure the kids had raw potatoes on their plates. Bob and I started eating and told them nicely that I "almost"'cooked their dinner. They left the table and did their chores very nicely that night- at which point I got them baked potatoes from the warm oven. Yes, much better than asking over and over. Probably remembered by them better as well.

  2. Nobody says:

    Awesome. The mark of a truly brilliant parent is the ability to turn moments like that into lifelong learning. When I read that you were "frustrated and annoyed" but emptied the dishwasher yourself, I was a little shocked! I'm not one to back away from a good brawl with the kids, and I figured you for the same. So much better. I got bested at my own game the other day. Every time Ben asks me where his shoes are or his DS, I say, "Well, the last time I was wearing them…" or "the last time I was playing with it…" and he rolls his eyes and mentally plays my age-old lecture, "If you put it back where it belongs, you won't have to look for it later." So, when I axed him if he knew where the tv remote is, he got a huge grin of satisfaction as he said, "The last time I used it…"I'm okay with that. πŸ™‚

  3. Mary G says:

    This is a much better than talking to the wall – aka – my teen. This works on kids of all ages!! I have recently adopted this strategy and it is MUCH LESS STRESSFUL than the nagging tactic I have used unsuccessfully all these years !!

  4. Megan says:

    Nicely done! Seriously, you are a genius! I wish I could put a check on the frustration and learn to resort to things like this. It's so much better than just talking to the wall FOREVER while they ignore you.

  5. Brittany says:

    Have you read those Love and Logic books? Because this sounds like you have and I am so very impressed. I've read it, but am not so good at actually implementing natural consequences instead of just yelling.

  6. Kelly B. says:

    I love this. You let the consequence teach the lesson instead of yelling to teach the lesson! I've recently found a new behavior system that I began using at school and have found the same parenting books to match. They are called Love and Logic. It's all about letting the consequence teach the lesson! It's awesome if anyone is wanting to take their parenting, teaching or any other relationship (it works with husbands too…shhh) to a new, less stressful place!

  7. Denise says:

    I'd revise the title. Mom 100, Kids 1000. The kids learned a lesson that will allow them to not have nagging mom, to know that consequences are real, and to recognize they can directly control outcomes through their conwtructive actions. I'd say that's worth 1000. Maybe just not many recognizable points at dinnertime!

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