Our movers are coming in exactly one week. In the midst of sorting and purging, I’m losing my ever-loving mind. Yesterday I asked the kids to shell peanuts for our Pad Thai and somehow the shells ended up all over the dining room. The bedrooms I spent three hours cleaning and organizing look exactly like they did before I started. Not to mention the fact that my husband and I have just never been good at consistently teaching the kids how to clean up after themselves and contribute to this household. Our tactics often include walking downstairs and exclaiming “What fresh hell is this?!” and “Seriously? Seriously.”
We know we have some major work to do in this area. And I have a plan in the works that we will implement as soon as we get to our new home, but today, while hopped up on allergy medicine and quite close to crawling out my skin, I sat down and wrote out this little contract for my kids. They got a kick out of it. Even though I was totally serious. Here it is:
The Way Life Will Be For the Next Seven Days:
This letter is to inform you that your mother is at the end of her rope. If our life continues to be lived in the chaos that is this house, she will lose her mind and run screaming down the street. You’ve been warned. In an effort to avoid such shenanigans, this is how we will operate for the last week of living in this house.
- This house will be cleaner than it ever has been in the history of ever. You are expected to pick up after yourselves. That means if you unwrap a snack- THROW THE WRAPPER AWAY. If you change your clothes- PUT THE DIRTY CLOTHES IN THE HAMPER. If you play with legos- PICK THEM UP AND PUT THEM IN THE PROPER CONTAINER WHEN YOU’RE FINISHED BEFORE MOVING ON TO ANOTHER ACTIVITY. These are just examples. Do not even dare to say “It wasn’t in the letter” when confronted with a failure to clean up a mess. DO. NOT. EVEN.
- Every night before bed we will go through the house as a family and put away anything that may have somehow escaped from it’s assigned place throughout the day. Anything found by your mother or father after you’ve been put to bed will be discarded or sold. No exceptions. Legos? Trash. Junky Bouncy Balls from VBS? Trash. Nintendo DS? Sold and the money will go toward buying your mother delicious snacks that she refuses to share with you. And she might even gloat about it.
- At any given time this week, your mother (or father) might assign a pre-moving task to you and there will be no whining, tears, glares, or tantrums. Such behavior will only gain you more torturous tasks including, but not limited to, scrubbing toilets, washing windows, or matching socks. They will also earn you an electronic free summer. No TV, movies, ds’s, kindles. Nuthin. Zip. Zero. Not even on the plane ride to Nebraska.
Learn these rules and learn them well, children. Gone are the days past when you could get away with leaving delightful messes for your mother to clean up. No longer will you be free to use the toilet and forget to flush.
Fun things are coming in Oklahoma. Things like regular chores and concrete expectations. I know this is not all your fault. Your parents have failed to be consistent and firm. But oh, sweet babes, they have seen the light and will now expect you to contribute like you are part of this family and not part of the circus. Please do not misunderstand this letter and think the fun is over. Fun can still be had by all, life can be enjoyed, imagination can still run wild. The only difference is that now, at the end of the day, our house will look like people live here, not a pack of wild boars.
Please sign below, acknowledging your agreement to preserve your mother’s sanity.