Hello, world!

I believe this is the third post I’ve written with this same title. Postaday ground to a halt for me because of the simple but incontrovertible fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. (My daughter was complaining about this problem recently, too. There’s something wrong when a twelve-year-old feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, don’t you think?) Nevertheless I feel that forcing yourself to write every day is a fantastic exercise, so I’m going to pick myself back up and try again.

— — —

I think I’ll start this blog back up with the sad tale of a parenting strategy that totally backfired on me. Lately hubby and I have been getting more and more frustrated with the way that we have to tell our kids every little thing at least three times. When we say ok, time for dinner, why don’t they just come right away??? Why do we have to repeat ourselves endlessly??? Ugh!

So, following the principle that you catch more flies with honey, I told the kids I would start making tally marks every time they do something the first time they’re told. I put a little card on the fridge and made three sections, one for each kid. I told them that when a bunch of tally marks had accumulated we would do something nice. I was very vague: I didn’t say how many marks and I didn’t specify what the nice thing would be.

First problem. The kids immediately decided this was a contest to see who would get the most marks. This is a problem because the kids don’t have equal opportunities. During the course of an average day, I ask my 15yo to do three things: wake up, come to dinner, and go to bed. Everything else he does on his own without being asked. Whereas the rambunctious 7yo gets told to do (or not do) something every ten minutes or so. So the 7yo is racking up tally marks like nobody’s business, while my self-regulated well-behaved oldest only got like three in the course of an entire week.

Second problem. I foolishly said yes when one kid asked if they could get a tally mark for obeying their sibling. So for a while they were gleefully ordering each other around, instantly obeying, and awarding themselves oodles of tally marks. Hey, at least they were cooperating and having a good time. But still.

Third problem. The tally marks are getting in the way of the stuff getting done. Come set the table, I say. A kid comes running in, shouting here I am, I’ll set the table, can I have a tally mark? But wait, I say, you haven’t actually set the table yet. So pause as we discuss whether I should give the tally mark. After all the kid did drop whatever he or she was doing and come running in to help. But the table isn’t actually set. If we stop and discuss this, the whole purpose of the tally mark is lost, since what I want is for them to do as asked without a lot of discussion and argument. And here we are discussing and arguing again.


Leave a comment


  1. Great to see you again, Mo!

  2. I love your enthusiasm. Misguided though it may be! LOL! ;-)

    Surely you now realize it should not have been a reward system, but rather, a demerit system. I put 3 ticks next to your name… you fork over a dollar. (The ticks are put on the list every time you have to repeat yourself!) (A dollar works, but so does a day without electronics!)

    BTW – Don’t take any of my advice if it only takes your kids hearing something three times before they respond. My kids require forty million sixty seven thousand hundred reminders!!!! Or some such impossible number!

  3. Yay ! Mo is back ~ Woot, Woot!! :) I was so excited to see your post! Oh, I have had so many ideas like that. I come up with a plan for chores, discipline or some other area that I feel like we need to work on and it sounds great in my head, but doesn’t always work out when I actually use it on the kids. Kids are funny (and quite clever) and I think that is why we never know what they will do. Keeps life interesting I guess, but it sure does require a lot of patience. I think most days I could use about 3 times more patience than I have. :) Keep up the great writing !

  4. Oooh, I like that demerit system! Man, I’d be a millionaire within a WEEK.

    Thanks for stopping by, y’all! It’s good to “see” you, and it’s good to be back!

  5. I can relate, Mo. There are nights when I put dinner on a table that hasn’t been cleared, washed or set. In that case, I bring my own plate and cutlery and proceed to eat. They are left to scramble for their own, and worse: no one gets to light the candle or pick out which napkins we’ll use. Those things sound silly, but the kids really look forward to participating with dinner prep so suffering the natural consequences of their actions really works in this case.

    Letting your kids award each other points was a stroke of genius; I hope you recorded some of that interaction. Also, I’m completely in support of vague parenting proclamations: time-tested and used by millions!

    It’s great to hear from you. If your schedule won’t allow postaday, maybe postaweek?

  6. Here’s the ugly truth … you can’t outsmart the little buggers. They can turn you best idea into something that will make you crazy. You just do your best and pray a lot!

  7. Oh, yeah … good to see you back ..


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