Today I babysat my niece and nephew they are 7 and 6 years old. I've had a lot of yard work building up and decided I was going to have them help me. I am not above using child labor, bribery, and threats to get what I want out of the little munchkins. What I wanted today was to get a flowerbed weeded while I mowed the lawn. It's not a small flowerbed and it was carpeted with weeds. If you are wondering why I thought they would even go for the idea, I will share my secret. I observe, listen, and manipulate. This is how it went:
Last week the kids came over with my mom, while they were here they pulled a few weeds in the flowerbed mentioned above. I observed how they seemed to enjoy this little chore. When they were finished they proudly pointed out their work. I listened to the pride in their little voices. Today, I went in for the kill.
Me: "Guess what I need your help with today?"
Me: "There is a lot to do outside today and you guys did such a good job weeding the garden that I thought you could work on that while I mow the lawn. IF you do a good job and don't complain. We will go to the park for a picnic when we are all done."
See how easy that was? I set them up with water to drink, lathered them up with sunscreen, and let them loose on the weeds. I checked frequently and told them to get in the shade when they got too hot or tired. To break up the monotony, I gave them each a ride on the mower.
|The kids took the pictures. Doesn't that mower remind you of Lightening McQueen? The kids didn't think so either.|
Them: "It sure it getting hot out here."
Me: "Are you drinking your water and taking breaks?'
Me: "You know the park we are going to for our picnic has a pond that you can wade in and cool off."
Them: "YAY!" And they went back to work.
The little buggers pulled weeds for almost 2 hours. I was impressed. When almost all of the weeds were gone, I sent them in to clean up and cool off while I finished up and sprayed the Round Up.
We set about making lunch and the only bread we have is wheat. I don't buy white anymore. They both scrunched up their faces: "We don't like wheat bread." Me: "Well that is all we have so you're going to eat it whether you like it or not." The complaints stopped. I gave the kids the rules for the park. Yes, they earned a trip to the park and playing in the pond but I still wanted to make sure they ate all of their lunch. They needed to after working so hard. But rules are rules and this is me:
"If you don't eat all of your sandwich and the rest of your lunch, you won't get to play in the pond."
From past experience, they know I mean it. I have amazing follow through. I once told my son that if he didn't clean his room, I was going to throw all of his toys away. He didn't clean his room and I threw all the toys that were on the floor out of his room. While he lay on his bed crying, I shoved them all in the dryer. As the days went by and he did his chores and didn't argue he gradually got all of his toys back. I may not have thrown them away but I did take them away and he didn't figure it out until he started getting them back one by one.
Back to today, after we made lunch we headed to the park with Grandma. We found a nice shady spot and ate. The munchkins ate all their lunch: sandwich, chips, and jello cups. Then, without my even saying so, they patiently waited for Grandma to finish eating before we went over to the pond.
Before going to the pond, I gave them a time limit. When I said it was time to go home, there were no arguments. Nothing. Nada. I am so proud of my mad child wrangling skills.
This isn't a one time deal. I have used my awesome powers to get another nephew to wear socks with his tennis shoes, taught him not to ask for anything when we go to the store, and a slew of other things. He knows temper tantrums and tears are wasted on me.
I have to say that hanging with kids was actually a lot of fun. We got a lot of work done today, we played some, got a little bit of sun, and most important, we spent time together.