If I'm honest with myself, I'd have to admit that the main reason we never stuck with any sort of structured chore schedule in our household is simply because at some point, in spite of my best intentions, I'd run out of juice. I'd lose the will to continue managing whatever system I had concocted this time, realizing too late that I had once again come up with a plan that was too complex to be of any value to anyone and all of my earlier enthusiasm and energy would fly right out the window.
I am well aware that I am in serious danger of allowing the very same thing to happen this time.
But, what I am hoping this time is that part of the simplicity of this plan is that it isn't a plan at all. There will be no weekly chore charts. I'm not going to try to decide right now when and where all of the tasks on the Countdown list will take place. I am simply going to enter into each day open to the possibility that today might be a good day to impart a little wisdom to the young people in my life. Of course, I won't call it wisdom (lest they go running for the hills) and it may or may not be something I even call any attention to. But, like the previous example of having Jack schedule his own haircut, I am going to be making every effort over the next year to keep my eyes open for those teachable moments (I still hate that phrase... must think of something better).
Honestly, I'm more worried about the Proverbs 31:28 Challenge I have made for myself. Especially the four nights a week of healthy meals served at the dining table... Yikes.
We did really well with family meals for a long, long stretch when the boys were small. And then, I don't really know what happened. We had some painful losses come our way that took their toll on a lot of our family routines. For a time just getting through each day was pretty much all we could manage. Then Annie came along, with sunshine and happiness in her wake, and...well...it was still chaos. I had a 10 year old and 7 year old and a somewhat fussy infant and serving up family style dinners every night was not high on my agenda. I'm sure other mothers could and would have done better, but for the most part, for me, family meals were one of the things I chose to let go of for a time.
These days we do have our share of family meals but not as often or as regularly as I would like, which is why I have made it the #1 challenge to myself. But I am seriously afraid of what is going to happen when I hit those weeks when my energy is down, my family is moving a million different directions, and grilled cheese sandwiches served at the breakfast counter start sounding like a gourmet meal. I'd love to say that a meal planning system and home organizer are the answer, but I know myself; those would ultimately just suffer the same not-so-slow, painful death of the chore charts of years gone by.
No, I'm going to have to dig deeper. I'm going to need to tap into the greater sense of purpose I've adopted this time around. I'm going to have to read the words I've written here and remind myself what this is all about. And, most of all, I'm going to have to allow the words of Dr. Phil to surface when I feel myself slipping into the abyss of apathy and ambivalence.
As far as I'm concerned, Dr. Phil has only ever given one worthwhile piece of advice, but that one pithy phrase has gotten me into my running shoes and out the door dozens of times so it's been worth its weight in gold (well, maybe not gold... I'm not really much of a runner...). But I believe I can take this same piece of advice and apply it to just about anything, including planning a meal, getting myself to the grocery store, cooking, setting the table, yelling 10 times for everyone to come to the table, attempting to inspire at least 10 minutes of decent family conversation, clearing the table, doing the dishes, and then starting all over again the next day... Just one piece of advice is all I need.
You don't have to want to do it. You just have to do it. - Dr. Phil
Words to live by.