TV with a Teen

I don’t remember how it came about, but after Stranger Things was released last year, and I watched the whole thing, then watched the whole thing with Dan, I asked Flora if she was interested in it.

She was.

So then, Flora, Dan and I watched it together.

Earlier this year, Dan proposed watching LOST with Flora. (We have the DVD set.) She was game.

And now, of course, we are watching Stranger Things 2 (NO SPOILERS). As of this post, we are on episode 7.

It’s pretty great to watch TV with Flora.

1. She has a solid moral core, and it is very much in evidence, especially as we watch LOST. Sawyer is a jerk, Jack is a hero, Kate is complicated. Flora loves Charlie, and finds his drug habit distressing and disappointing. (We just watched the episode where that was resolved.) Shannon is selfish; Sayid is smart – I could go on. We’ve explained to her that each of the characters goes through a moral arc. So pay attention.

2. Her loyalty and affection are much more evident when we watch Stranger Things 2. She is utterly convinced that Will is going to die. (DON’T TELL ME.) I think the romantic story line involving Nancy her least favorite part of the show.

3. It has been EXTREMELY CHALLENGING to not binge watch Stranger Things 2. (Having seen all of LOST, it is not that hard for Dan and me to parse it out episode by episode.) However, since season 2 came out on Friday October 27, we have held it to one episode a night… Although now that I am typing this, maybe we did watch two episodes on Saturday.

Anyhoo, Netflix is designed for binge watching, I get that. I do not miss network television; waiting a week between episodes; commercials. But in reality, more than an hour or two of television isn’t something my schedule can accommodate.

4. FLTOG, please stop talking during the show, Flora. (You too, Dan.)

The other day she was poking around on Netflix, and she watched the pilot episodes of both Parks & Recreation and The Office. I let her know that those are probably not shows appropriate to her. “I have a couple of friends who said they were funny,” she told me. Still, I think I will make her wait on those. I tried to get her into Supergirl (I’ve heard good things), but she declined.

Here are my protests to The Office and Parks & Rec (both of which I have watched, and do find funny): the storylines stray into office interactions that include, overtly or not, sexual harassment. I don’t want my almost 12-year-old watching that and thinking it’s normal or a part of life. (Even though, until quite recently, it seemed to be normal and accepted as a part of life.)

So we will continue to watch Stranger Things and LOST with Flora, and we will find a show to watch with Kate as well (suggestions welcome!). She’s not ready for either Stranger Things (although she thinks she is) or LOST. And she’s not into superhero shows. I’m not really sure what’s out there for her. (Michael watches The Flash. I am not 100 percent convinced that he knows what all is going on, but it also seems like harmless entertainment.)

Do you watch TV with your children? Do you enjoy it?

Introverted to a Fault?

Before I get to the meat of this post, I need to tell you a little bit about myself as a child.

I have been an introvert my entire life. I am comfortable spending time by myself – I *need* to spend time by myself – and I often explain this predilection by saying, “Being alone is different than being lonely.”

When I was a child, not only was I naturally introverted, but I was shy. Not socially anxious (I don’t think), but just shy. I tended to be quieter than other children; I was uncomfortable interacting with strangers or anyone I didn’t know well; and I did not have cadres of friends.

My preferred activity was reading.

Recently, the Atlantic published an article titled, rather alarmingly, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” It posits that the generation after the Millennials – called by this author “iGen” for “iPhone generation” – is more depressed, and while it doesn’t explicitly blame smartphones, it notes the correlation between lots of teens having smartphones and the spike in rates of depression and anxiety in teens.

So, go, read it, think about it, see what you think.

Obviously, I am dealing with this right now to a certain extent, with tablets and the children, rather than phones, but same idea. And sooner or later, they will need phones; I reluctantly realize that.

Here’s my two-fold solution: 1. Talk to my children. 2. Limit the use of screens.

Flora and Kate have social accounts, although not on the major sites yet (Snap, Twitter, Facebook). They are able to video chat and text with friends. Kate is more outwardly social than Flora; she has a couple of friends in the neighborhood; and she asks about seeing her friends more often.

Flora is a very solitary girl. She reminds me a lot of me when I was her age. Although she participates in family activities, has friends, and plays soccer, the majority of her time is spent at home, usually in her room drawing. That’s what she likes to do.

Flora is a cheerful girl, although when she gets upset, her reaction is anger. She has a tendency to apologize too much, in my opinion, and it is something that we talk about. She has brought difficulties to us without hesitation (so far). She is thoughtful, sensitive, smart, and easily distracted. She has opinions that she isn’t afraid to share.

I check in with her often, in little ways. I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS listen to her. (I need to strengthen this skill with my other two children.) And when they do start participating in social media more, we will talk about their feelings, and how social media shows a carefully constructed reality – and how to manage around that.

I also check in with Flora from time to time about her posts on the social sites she is on. Flora belongs to a couple of different fan art sites, and people can “like” things and comment. I often ask her about her participation on those sites – and not just by saying, “Is everything cool on those sites?” I ask her to show me her stuff, and comments, and so on.

Limiting time on screens has gotten away from me again because I’m lazy about it – I ain’t going to lie. I am going to solve it in the laziest manner possible as well: We are investing in a Circle device, and the children’s tablets will be shutting off at 10 p.m. They go to bed at 8:30-9 p.m., so an hour or hour and a half is plenty of time to fall asleep. (I have advised the children that this is happening.) The biggest reason this needs to be managed is so they sleep at night. Flora is especially terrible about her sleep habits. (She comes by it honestly; I am a little better than Dan only by the virtue of the fact that I am a monster if I am not getting enough rest, and I totally recognize that.)

Do I think smartphones, or Facebook, or screens are destroying a generation? I do not. This is the familiar hand-wringing that all older generations do about the ones coming up behind them. Does that mean I should ignore my children’s interactions with smartphones and social media? No, of course not. But, like most parents, I am not in the habit of ignoring stuff in which my children are interested or participate.

Do you think smartphones are destroying a generation?

Mother’s Day Musings from a WOTHM*

When Flora was born, I was freelancing.

When Kate was born, I was working full time for a former freelance client. I was let go from that job when she came along. The agency didn’t have more than 50 employees, it was exempt from the Family and Medical Leave Act.

I was an accidental stay-home mom for awhile, and went back to full-time work when Kate was a year old.

When Michael was born, I was working full time for a global corporation based in Pittsburgh. I took my maternity leave (six weeks of disability plus six weeks of FMLA). Before I went back to the office, I asked to move to part-time hours because I had a new baby, a preschooler, and a first grader. My request was flatly denied. We needed the income from my job, so into daycare he went.

It was fine, although not ideal. With different policies in place, I probably would have made different choices.

The year off after Kate’s birth was the most illuminating for me. I didn’t like being a stay-at-home parent full time. Other parents feel differently, and that’s fine! I was bored and restless, wanting an intellectual challenge beyond figuring out what I was going to do with my children that day. I was trying to freelance again, but chasing down projects, pitching stories, and then actually writing were more challenging with a toddler and baby. Putting them in daycare meant raising my rates, and my clients didn’t appreciate that.

Why Working Outside the Home Makes Me a Good Mom

1. I’m more patient. I have found depths of patience in myself I didn’t know existed. I think this goes hand-in-hand with becoming a parent in general. But coming home from work, and switching into mom-mode reminds me that my children aren’t my coworkers. They aren’t going to leap into action with an email. So I slow down.

2. My children are independent. My children don’t need me to do every little thing for them. They dress themselves, pack their lunches, get their own snacks, entertain themselves, clean up after themselves, and even cook their own dinners. (Okay, they haven’t gotten much past ramen noodles or fried eggs, but they will!) They shower themselves, and go to bed on their own, with hugs and kisses from me and their father instead of the labor intensive bedtime routines they needed as babies.

3. I’m 100 percent mom with them. Between their school schedules and my work schedule, I value the time I have with my children in the evenings and on the weekends. I like being silly with my children, playing games, coaching my son’s soccer team, and reading books aloud. My children like making me laugh, and they trust me with their thoughts and feelings. I have two tween girls, and more than anything, I want them to come to me any time they need to.

4. I know the value of a healthy workplace.
Changing jobs made me realize that perks like flex time, work-from-home days, and PTO weren’t optional. Having an employer who recognizes that all workers, not just parents, have lives away from the office is vital. It is especially valuable for parents who have to take care of sick children or need to leave a little early one day a week to get little Timmy to soccer.

5. I’m setting an example.
My children seem to recognize the value of having a mother with goals outside of raising children. They understand I’m a person, too, with my own life and wants and needs. They ask me how my day was and what I did at work. They ask about my writing and thoughts on the world. They trust me as their mom, and respect me as a person. I can’t ask for more than that from them.

I’m not here to tell you how to achieve work-life balance (I don’t believe it exists). What I do believe, after nearly 25 years in the workplace and twelve years as a parent, is this: I have value as an employee and as a mother. Finding a job that was a good fit for me as a career-oriented person and for my family has meant the world to me. I can’t promise that working when you have children is rainbows and unicorns; it’s not. And if you are a happy stay-at-home parent, I’m certainly not questioning your choice! I know that I’ve found what works best for me, my husband, and our children. And so will you!

*WOTHM = Work Outside the Home Mom. All parents are working parents – some of us just have a different job, for which we earn a paycheck, in addition to our unpaid role as caregivers.

7 Things: The Disruption! Edition

1. Today was my first full day in the office this week. Lemme tell you why:

2. I had scheduled a four-day weekend for Dan’s birthday, which was Saturday. (We headed to Oglebay Resort, and I highly recommend their Ultimate Spa package.) We returned home Sunday — and Dan was sick. Michael complained about a sore throat, and he was definitely warm. So, Monday, since I had off, and Michael was still feverish, I stayed at home with him, and, just for funsies, Flora was sick too.

So: PTO day with two sick children.

3. Took Michael to the pediatrician because I suspected strep. I was correct.

So: Tuesday became a WFH day with two sick children, one of whom at least was getting treatment.

Michael is THE LEAST SICK sick child I have ever had. When the girls were sick with fevers or strep, they spent a lot of time unconscious or watching television from the couch.

Not Michael, man. He would watch about half an hour of television, and then play car battle. And then he would get bored and bother me. He ate very well for a sick child too. I suggested napping, but he wasn’t having it. He was literally crying with boredom by 2 p.m. Tuesday.

4. I made a good faith effort to get the office Wednesday — I even made it. Dan spent the morning at home with THREE sick children. I made an appointment for Flora.

5. Flora has been getting sick on and off quite often this year. Headaches, stomachaches, and extreme fatigue. This week was the third or fourth time she has been too sick to go to school. I was unable to get a morning appointment, so I had to leave work and take her to the pediatrician. Thank goodness I am able to work from home, and have an understanding employer (and awesome boss).

We did check for strep (negative), and the doctor decided to test for anemia. Along with the other symptoms, Flora has been suffering spontaneous nosebleeds. So we went and had blood drawn. We are waiting for results.

6. ON THURSDAY EVERYONE WENT TO SCHOOL AND I WENT TO WORK FOR A WHOLE ENTIRE DAY. It was delightful. (Seriously, I love my job. And having healthy children.)

7. BOOK UPDATE! Beta readers finished up, found the weaknesses, liked the book, gave me lots of good feedback. I haven’t blogged much because between blogging for work and doing the final edits (for now) on Lone Wolf, I have spent a ton of time immersed in words. I tweaked my pitch letter, and I am ready to start putting together a list of agents and publishers.


Adventures in Parenting: The Kate Version

Monday was Halloween and trick-or-treat.

Tuesday was gymnastics for Kate.

Wednesday was a memorial service for people from our parish who had passed in the past year. My father-in-law would be mentioned and remembered.

When I got home Wednesday, I got everyone fed and fought with Kate and Michael from the time I walked in the door until we walked out the door to go to the memorial service. Kate was especially resistant. We fought about dinner, clothes, and going at all.

Kate and Tadone
A girl and her grandfather.

She cried almost the whole service. She and Tadone had a special relationship, and she misses him greatly.

Thursday, I was looking forward to getting home, making burgers and fries for dinner, maybe a salad. I had a little bit of work to finish, I was going to do some writing. Soccer’s been over since Saturday, and my evenings are opening up again. It’s been something I’ve been looking forward to.

Not five minutes in the door, and there was screaming and crying from upstairs. Kate was saying something about having gotten shocked. When I ran upstairs, she was standing in the hallway, sobbing, holding out her right hand.

She had been plugging in a Kindle charger in the outlet behind her bed. Apparently, she had her finger on the prong of the plug when it made contact with the current. Her hand was red, and she wasn’t able to move it.

I had no idea what to do about electric shocks, so I consulted Google. Google basically said, “Call 9-1-1.”

Calling 9-1-1 led to the paramedics showing up, me sending Flora and Michael next door (thank goodness Bella was home), and my very first ride in the back of an ambulance. Kate’s first too.

ambulance selfie
Ambulance selfie!


Long story short, she was fine. Yes, she got a nasty shock, and it did hurt. It lit up the nerves and muscles of her arm, but didn’t burn her or do lasting damage. We left the hospital at 7:15, took an Uber to Dan’s office, grabbed dinner at the Italian place behind his office (just me and Kate; Dan had patients until 9 p.m.), and then went home.

Where Mommy had a big glass of wine.

Is it too much to wish for a quiet Friday night? A little dinner, a little writing? The weekend ahead is busy, but not insanely so. I have a hair appointment, a writer’s workshop, a family party, and I’m making phone calls for the Clinton campaign Sunday afternoon (GO VOTE, PEOPLE). Dan works Saturday; Sunday is CCD and Mass and cleaning, probably.

I just… I just want one or two quiet nights during the week. That’s all.

Latchkey Kids

I was a latchkey kid.

Once I was in sixth grade, my mom went back to work full time. When my brother, sister, and I got home from school, we let ourselves into the house.

I honestly cannot tell you what we did once we let ourselves in. We probably had some milk and cookies. I recall watching 4 p.m. cartoons. Mom was usually home in time to make dinner.

I certainly was not in charge when we came home, which is to say that I didn’t tell my siblings what to do. For all I know, Krissy was watching TV as soon as we walked in the door, and Timmy went to the neighbor’s house to play. Seriously, no clue. I don’t think I did homework until after dinner.

I don’t remember being stressed or my mom being stressed.

So why am I so stressed about my children being, technically speaking, latchkey kids? Although I haven’t heard this term recently, so maybe it is no longer in the parenting lexicon.

Flora comes home first, and Kate and Michael are home an hour or so later. Everyone usually checks in with Bella next door, and/or texts me as soon as they are home. I come home about 30 minutes after everyone is there, so it’s not as if they are on their own for a long time.

I’m not worried about them needing to call 9-1-1.

I want them to come home, do their homework, and do their chores. If they have a snack — and given that Flora is eating lunch before 11 a.m. at school, I fully expect her to have a snack — I want them to clean up after themselves.

I would lament, “Is that so much to ask?” But given the state of my house when I get home, apparently it is.

The tablets have gone away. I have told them the TV is not to go on until I get home and give permission. I come home to homework scattered all over the kitchen table. I come home to a room that looks like the toy box, pantry, and the arts and crafts drawer exploded. I come home, and feel like I have to start barking orders. “Flora, empty the dishwasher! Kate, set the table! Michael, pick up your toys!”

I don’t want to come home and start ordering my children around.

Flora and Michael each have one evening of soccer practice; Kate will be starting gymnastics in a couple of weeks. Pretty soon, also, Flora will be bringing home her violin to practice, and Kate will either be bringing home a trumpet or a glockenspiel (according to her, this is an option).

I was a quiet, solitary child. I’m sure that I came home, had a snack at the kitchen table (probably didn’t clean up after myself), and dove right into a book. And that’s all she wrote. We had after-dinner chores: clear the table, rinse the dishes and load the dishwasher, wash the dishes. Timmy used to *love* washing dishes. He would fill the sink up with water, bubbles, and dishes, and he would take forever about it. He hated rinsing dishes, though; he was totally grossed out by leftover food.

Yeah, my brother, the dermatologist, was grossed out rinsing food off plates.

I didn’t think about it that much. I liked clearing the table the best, because it was easiest and fastest. Homework was done in the dining room or at the kitchen table. I didn’t hate homework. I didn’t love it either. Much like chores, it was just something that needed to be done. I’m sure I had to be *encouraged* to practice piano.

But I feel like I am stressing out my children with my expectations of finished homework and a clean house. Are my expectations too high? Should I try to come home sooner and walk them through the process of after-school activities (it’s not undoable, just means I will have to fit in another hour of work at home after dinner — flashbacks of after-dinner homework).

As far as bedtime, for Michael, it is unmovable. Little dude cannot make it past 7:30 now that he’s in a classroom setting all day long.

We are only a week into the school year. I’m not going to survive. I either need to lower my expectations, or find a way to encourage my children to step it up.

How do you manage after-school time?

Copyright for featured image: naypong / 123RF Stock Photo

Summer’s Over

The nanny has been back at her real job (full time teaching) since Aug. 15, so Dan and I have been doing a mix of WFH, children to his office, and help from MIL to keep the children cared for. I am grateful my MIL is willing to watch the children even just one day a week.

Michael and Kate have new school orientation tomorrow.
Michael, my baby, is starting kindergarten!
School starts next Wednesday.

Sports activities will be starting up next week, too. Stay tuned to see if I end up being a soccer coach.

I am back to being the primary cooker, cleaner, and shopper. Ah, well, it was good while it lasted. The children are getting better about doing their part. Kate even cleaned both bathrooms this weekend, and cleaned well. Toilets and all!

We haven’t told the children about our decision regarding the tablets yet.

I did start talking with the children about some changes regarding snacks and “night time treats.” I am going to phase in more healthy choices for packing lunches and snacking, and we are going to move away from daily night time treats. I’m not even going to buy cookies or other sweets. Snacks will be fruit, nuts, yogurt, and string cheese. We have to reduce the sugar intake in the household. Sweets will be for special occasions. Or we can bake cookies on weekends.

Of course, there was some push back about this idea. Michael kept saying he didn’t like nuts. I kept pointing out pistachios were nuts. “Oh, yeah, I like bistachios.” I know, little buddy. Flora proposed rice rollers, apples, and peanuts. I told her I was fine with those choices.

Kate just sang, “Nuts nuts nuts nuts nuts nuts” over and over again.

I think mealtime may need to move or be flexible, which is one reason night time treats need to go. The race home, cook dinner, and get people to their activities by 6 p.m. — three times a week, mind you — was simply insane last year. A solid after-school snack while they do their homework, then the activity, then dinner at home afterward (then bed!) will work better.

This remains to be seen. But that’s the loose idea for now. That combined with maybe the girls cooking? Or me doing a better job of figuring out freezer meals, and prepping on the weekends? So many options!

What do you do to manage the after-school runaround?

Copyright for image: natavkusidey / 123RF Stock Photo

Kids and screentime

Cold Turkey

I am seriously thinking of taking my children’s tablets away from them when the school year starts.

Not totally away from them. But completely denying access Monday through Friday when they are in school.

The girls did not do as well as they could have done in school last year, and their engagement dropped horrendously after Christmas. (Worst Christmas gifts ever. EVER.) Even after making new rules, the constant enforcement was exhausting and frustrating. And summer’s completely thrown any concept of limits right out the window.

I have to talk to Dan about this, and I will.

Here are some things I am considering:

1. They don’t get their tablets at all on school days.
2. They get their tablets from 7-7:30 on weeknights to veg or check on texts from friends.
3. They get their tablets to do some forms of homework when necessary, and that time is closely supervised by me.
4. Limits need to extend to other screens, but won’t be as total. Homework done by 5 p.m.? Chores complete? Minecraft or a show is fine for a bit.

This is going to make me very unpopular around here. So that’ll be fun.

They can have the tablets on the days they don’t have school, but again, I need limits to be set and enforced (and not just by me!).

And if they do well in school? As well as I think they can do (As and Bs; not losing privileges)? If homework is done daily without the complaints, extra curriculum obligations are fully participated in, instruments are practiced, and bedtimes are respected? We will renegotiate terms over the Christmas break.

What do you think?

M writing words!

Trust Your Gut

Yesterday, I hustled my children outside to go for a walk. They protested, so I just guilted them into it. “I don’t get to go outside and go for walks at work! This is the only time I get to spend with you!”

I’m awesome.

Michael complained of soreness in his leg. I asked where it hurt. He indicated a spot near his groin. I quizzed him: “Did you bump something?” “I don’t think so.” “Did you get hurt swimming?” “No.” “Did you fall?” “No.”

I took a look at the spot. It did look a little red.

I told him he must have pulled a muscle. He wasn’t limping or anything, so we just headed out the door, and went for a walk.

I had to explain pulling a muscle.

This morning, I asked him how it felt. “Still sore,” he said, matter-of-factly.”

“Did you ever pull a muscle?” he asked.

“Oh, sure,” I said. “I’ve pulled muscles lots of times.”

“Like three or four?”

“Oh, more than that.”


I went to work. The nanny took everyone to the Aviary (Flora’s at Aviary camp this week).

Kim called around 1 p.m.

“Michael feels really warm,” she said.

Little alarm bells started going off in my head.

Sore low on the body.
Red skin over the sore spot.
And now a fever.

Maybe it wasn’t a pulled muscle.

So, she took Kate and Michael home, and took M’s temperature. In the meantime, I talked to our pediatrician’s office, and made an appointment. By the time M was home, his temperature was normal, but at the doctor’s office, it was elevated again — only a little bit.

The PA palpated the spot. It was definitely sore and red. M was a trooper, flinching from her touch and confirming it hurt, but not crying and not pulling away. She said it seemed like a lymph gland, but usually when lymph glands get infected, something else is going on: a cold, a urinary track infection, an STD — obviously, we could rule that out. She decided to consult with one of the doctors to rule out a hernia. And it definitely wasn’t appendicitis.

They wanted to take a less aggressive approach with warm compresses, and I said that was fine… except for the part where we were leaving for vacation Friday night. “Of course you are,” said the PA with a smile. She asked if we would be back by Monday. “Nope,” I said. So we decided to put M on antibiotics and keep an eye on it.

I’m glad it was nothing serious, but I’m also glad I listened to those alarm bells. It’s probably no big deal in the long run, but it’s better than having a feverish 5-year-old in pain up in the mountains on Saturday or Sunday and looking for the nearest urgent care center.

When’s the last time you had to listen to your gut?

Important Lessons for Boys, 2: Boys Do Chores

Perched on a stool, Michael focused on spreading the Nutella to the edges of the bread. When he finished, he put another piece of bread on top, and cut off the crusts.

“I made my own sandwich!” he said proudly. “I can clean my room, I can clean the front room, and I can make my own sandwich,” he added. “Aren’t you glad I’m growing up?”

I am glad he’s growing up, but more importantly, I’m glad that Michael has a father who has never hesitated to contribute to getting housework done. Michael is learning by example — by seeing his father do dishes and clean bathrooms and change sheets.

Teaching children to do chores is a pain. They will whine, they will stomp, they will accuse you of enslaving them (oh, yes, they will). They will need to be told to do a chore umpteen million times. They will do it badly, and need to do it again.

Raising future adult people is EXAUSTING.

But it will pay off for you, and for them. And having a partner who assumes roughly equal weight makes it so much easier.

Especially in heterosexual marriages, boys and girls need to know that mothers aren’t maids, or chefs, or nannies. And learning to do chores isn’t “help”; it’s part and parcel of being a family.

Here’s a list of chores Michael can do:
1. Put away clean silverware.
2. Clear the table after dinner.
3. Clean the bathroom — he wipes off the sink and the floor. Hey, I’ll take it.
4. Put his toys away. (Der. All children should know how to do this by the time they are 2, IMO.)
5. Clean the front room — sometimes he doesn’t even need to be asked.
6. Clean his room and make his bed. He needs help changing the sheets.
7. Help pack his lunch. This is new to the list, and we are not consistent on it yet. Heck, the girls aren’t consistent yet, and they’ve been doing it (theoretically) for two years now.

It’s true that it is easier for me to tell Michael to do chores for two reasons: 1. As I mentioned, his father does stuff around the house and 2. The girls do chores, and have been for awhile now. Which means I have’t been training three children at the same time. I would say since Flora was 6 or 7, we started with chores aside from picking up toys.

Michael will do things without being asked, for example, cleaning the bathroom. I never asked him to do that. But one day, he disappeared for a bit, then came downstairs declaring he had cleaned the bathroom. He had used cleaning wipes and a wet towel, which he left in the sink, to wipe down the vanity and the floor. He regularly cleans his room, picking up dirty clothes and putting them in his hamper, and he’ll clean up the front room on a whim.

He’s magic.

(He’s not, of course, but neither Kate nor Flora has spontaneously cleaned the front room. Or the bathroom.)

Dan is a better cleaner than I am; I have said this for years. I declutter, but Dan actually cleans. Although he doesn’t dust.

Of course, the best cleaner in our house is the nanny. She’s been teaching the children, too, which is maybe another reason Michael is such a good cleaner. Our nanny isn’t a maid, either; she’s my proxy when I’m not there.

I am very proud of my children for doing chores, and I do let them know. I don’t thank them for helping me, but I do thank them when they do a good job or do things without having to be reminded or asked.

Here’s a link to the first Important Lesson for boys.

Do your children do chores?