Well. In a couple of days. I do love this time of year, especially since having children of my own. Their eyes light up at the smallest thing. We finally put up the tree last Wednesday, and they were so stinking excited. The lights don't work, but they don't really care! They just were thrilled to put up a tree and put decorations on it. They even cleaned up the play room so we could put it in there.
This is a major deal. They hate cleaning, they don't want to help, and they fight me every time I say, "Go pick up your toys," or, "Hey, dirty underwear doesn't belong on your head; it goes in the hamper."
Last Friday, I realized that rewards don't always have to be as big as a Christmas tree. So I finally made a chore chart. I grabbed a smashed posterboard from the corner in my room and a black sharpie, and made lists under their names, then I tacked it to the wall in the dining room. My 5-year-old is totally motivated by getting a smiley face drawn next to his chore when he does it. My 3-year-old doesn't care still, but my teen is starting to like seeing the smiley faces show up. She kept reminding me today of stuff she did until I put the smileys in place. haha!
Not only are the chaos and disarray a bit less than normal, but them doing chores is helping me in other ways. The most stressful time of my day has been when it's time to make dinner. I usually start cooking right around 4 in the afternoon. They've had breakfast, snack, lunch, and snack, and yet at 4, they're starving and in the kitchen and running around me, creating chaos and distracting me from my task. Sigh. So everyone is going bananas while I'm trying to chop veggies and create healthy meals that don't suck, and sometimes, they still suck.
I read some blog in the last few days (sorry, anonymous blogger, I can't remember who you are) where she said they have their kids pick up the toys and clothes before dinner. And a lightbulb went off in my head. They can be cleaning up their crap and earning their smileys while I'm making dinner, and then I don't have them under my feet!
So the last two days, when I start making dinner and the locusts are descending, I remind them that it's time to clean up so I can make dinner. They run off, cheerfully, and get their chores done, and I'm not a raging beast ... well, I'm still grouchy, but not as bad. And then we put smileys by their chores and everyone is happy ... er. There is still chaos. There is still disarray. I'm not a naturally neat and orderly person and neither is anyone else in my household, except for the 5-year-old. So we still live here and there are still messes. But when I remind someone that they can get a smiley face if they take care of a problem, they stop arguing and get to it. Merry Christmas to me.