Heartbreak of Parenting, Pt. 1

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I am having difficulty lately accepting the fact that my son is going to be 14.  He is a freshman in high school, has a nice group of guy friends and hobbies I don’t understand.

Oh, and he has an official girlfriend.

As you can imagine, my thoughts race to my freshman year in high school, and I begin to reflect on all of the debauchery I was a part of.  I smoked cigarettes with my friends, swore a ton, kissed and made out with boys and lied and hid things from my parents.  These were not horrible, and certainly were typical of my age, but when I try to picture my son in all of these situations, I freeze mentally.  Could my son be doing these exact things under my nose?

The truth is, with the exception of swearing with friends, he isn’t.  As a matter of fact, he is going real well for his age.  He is growing up and going things very typical of a teenage boy.

And that is where my heart breaks.

I will be turning 40 in just under five months, and that is a lot to comprehend.  That compounded with watching my son mature, it forces me to cherish the little things that happen with him.  The time that he holds on longer than I do in a hug, when he thinks something I say is funny, when he wants to share that story about his friend with me.  I’m Mom, so I am already uncool to the boys, so I will take any morsel of attention or information I can get!

I feel as though this has all happened so fast.  One minute he needed me for everything, and now he knows everything and handles everything on his own.  I do still inch my way in to see if everything is all right and ask if he needs anything, but now the problems will be going to Dad.  Dad is cool.  Dad knows it all.

And that is ok.

My husband is a wonderful role model for my son.  There is not one character trait that he possesses that I think, “Man, I hope he doesn’t do THAT when he is older!”.  My husband has schooled my son on the ways of boyhood, sex, girls and life.  That makes it a little easier for me to handle being put in the corner.

I am watching people have babies, celebrating all of those firsts, and I am counting my lasts with my son.  Granted, there are a lot of firsts yet to be celebrated, but those baby/childhood firsts are over.  I mourn that and long for my own youth.  Watching him makes me long for those days of self-discovery. It is when I met my husband, after all 🙂

Driving home from work yesterday, this song came on my radio and it immediately tugged at my heart.  Though I was not unhappy about finding out I was pregnant (like the beginning of this song says), the premise of “There Goes My Life” is the same.  I need to find me before I lose him. ❤  I love him with all I am and all I have.

The Cleaning Calendar & Earning an Allowance

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Weekends can be hectic, right? As much as we scream, “TGIF!” on a Friday afternoon, our weekends are often filled with birthday parties, weddings, baby showers etc. Then, add in the time you need to grocery shop, do laundry and clean your house, and you will be wishing that the weekend had a third day. This is indicative of my home as well.

The internet has a ton of ideas for getting yourself organized, keeping a schedule and helping you have a happy life, doesn’t it? Have you ever read at one of these articles and thought, “I can do that!”, only to recycle the magazine or click on Facebook or Candy Crush and forget about those ideas all together? Yes, me too. But once we bought this house, this bigger house, I was finding that house cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping took up almost the entire weekend, between the outside and inside upkeep. Being first time home owners, we were used to taking a couple of hours, tag-team cleaning our apartment and having the rest of the weekend to do with what we wanted. That is not necessarily the case with the new house. I am sure you have felt the same!

My husband and I are a great team, and my son is wonderful in participating in household duties as well. He has not earned an allowance up until now, and has expressed interest in doing so to save up money for a new cell phone. So, our need to streamline our household duties and my son’s want to earn some money resulted in the production of the Cleaning Calendar and Work for Hire board! I saw ideas of these things on the web, some Pinterest, some by Googling. I combined a couple of these ideas and adapted them to our household needs. My husband and I sat down and mentally walked through the things that we do around the house and our weekly schedule for a typical week. Then, I took that list and began making our calendar.

One of the sites that I liked had a simplified list that broke tasks down by daily, day proper and weekly increments. You can find the original post here.  We appreciated this because it was not overbearing, it gave us tasks every day and even included two FREE days a week! Here is what our Cleaning Calendar looks like:

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Our “Chore of the Day” section lists daily tasks that are in addition to the daily chores. They do not seem too invasive when they are separated like this, as opposed to throwing them all into one day. Then, our, “Swing Day” activities are larger tasks that do not need to be done on a weekly basis. Scheduling these tasks on a monthly basis almost eliminates the need for your typical spring cleaning; you are already incorporating these tasks into your routine! The three of us are aware of this calendar and we will follow it in order for us to stress less and play more!

Now, I mentioned that my son wanted to earn an allowance, and my husband and I wanted to afford him that opportunity. I combined two different ideas into one to make his earning potential the greatest it can be. We began explaining to him that he will earn a base allowance of $10/week, to be paid if he participates in the Cleaning Calendar and stays on task in his schoolwork. Then, we added a section to our board called, Work for Hire. This is adapted from this original post.  It was a wonderful resource and even offered free printables! Easy!

Here is what ours looks like:

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We offered our son six different money earning opportunities that were above and beyond his base allowance. We selected chores, some little, some big, that he can do to earn money on the spot because each job has a dollar amount attached to it. We have yet to do so, but the money for the task is pinned to the task itself, so that upon completion and approval of his “boss”, he can take his money. (Money is not attached in this pic simply because we forgot to go to the ATM.) There are rules to this, however.

  1. He cannot take on any, “Work for Hire” tasks until daily chores are complete.
  2. He cannot take on any, “Work For Hire” tasks without asking a parent (Boss) first
  3. He cannot take his money until his work is checked.

 

His Work For Hire tasks include: Cleaning out the inside of the cars, washing cars, doing a load of laundry, cooking dinner, cleaning the windows where the dog’s nose prints are and sweeping the deck and front porch. Some of these tasks are worth $1 or $2, while others are worth $5 or $10. The jobs will be replaced with new jobs as well.

When we discussed these with my son, he was excited to be able to earn some money! We explained how it is important that he learn these responsibilities so that he can be an independent, self-sufficient adult. He is thirteen years old, and the thought of having any independence is exciting to him right now, so we wanted him to capitalize on that. Plus, this helps him be a part of a community (the Cleaning Calendar, doing it as a family), respect his surroundings and earn money. He will also be opening his own bank account along the way to learn how to save and spend responsibly.

We posted our completed board on the inside of our pantry door.  We chose this because we are in and out of the pantry everyday and it is not in the open for everyone to see.  Here is our completed board:

 

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My household has always run as a team. My husband and I do almost everything together, making it easier on one another. I feel like this way working together not only makes tasks easier, but it eliminates any possibility of resentment on anyone’s part; if we all are working together, no one person is contributing more than another. We all can be equally proud of our home. It was also a teaching opportunity for my son, and I am glad we found a way to combine these two things. I am fortunate to have two guys that agree with this philosophy and are willing to participate!

Do you have a routine that readers can benefit from?

 

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