With a tween, toddler, husband, and career all co-existing simultaneously, I don’t think that it should surprise you that I find it necessary to run my household like a business. Just as in professional life, organization and teamwork are critical to getting through our hectic days and complete all of our tasks, and this “company” doesn’t close on the weekends (in fact, with my tween’s roster of activities – the weekends are busier than ever!) or holidays. As the self-proclaimed HBIC (Head Bitch In Charge –yes, I said it!) here are some guidelines that I implement to keep my house running like a well-oiled machine…well, most of the time, anyway:
Many psychologists say that children respond best to structure, and I find this to be true with my own little ones. Bedtime and wakeup times are clearly defined (and sometimes accompanied by a bugle or bucket of cold water), along with school and daily activities outlined in advance. I find that it is super helpful to display schedules via calendars in a common area – like on the fridge or in a designated play area.
Set rules/ policies and distribute among the “group”
The rules are proposed, negotiated and agreed upon by all parties (who says that I’m a tyrant?). Once established they should be displayed for all to see and serve as a constant reminder. These rules set forth a code of conduct that set the tone for the culture of the household, and this should be understood.
Have an employment agreement
On top of the governing laws, household chores and academic expectations are also a part of this agreement. In the case of my tween – she adds in her privilege requests (i.e. staying up an hour later on weekend nights) in exchange for her compliance. I am neurotic so I typed up and printed an actual agreement that was signed by myself, my husband, and my ten-year old but a good old pinky swear will do for younger kids.
Conduct meetings regularly
Family meetings are a recurring occurrence in the Almonte & Co. franchise. Sometimes they are undeclared and just consist of conversations over family dinner, other times they are announced and include an agenda (i.e. discussing a bad grade on a test (booo) or an upcoming family vacation (yay!)).
Issue performance reviews
With my tween, these periods of reflection usually come around report card time for obvious reasons, however my toddler is positively reinforced at each milestone, and reprimanded for (almost) each display of negative behavior as well.
Have a disciplinary code of action in place – and strictly enforce it
Consequences to stepping out of line and breaking the code of ethics or not measuring up to expectations should be discussed and included in the agreement. I am a culprit of not sticking to this (I’m working on it!), however upon offense, the specified disciplinary action should be enforced. It will only make your kids better behaved in the end.
Schedule team-building activities
Bonding is very important in fostering relationships, so whenever possible schedule opportunities to come together and share experiences as a family. If you have the budget, family vacations are excellent opportunities for this – what can be better than a few days of unplugged, focused quality time together? However, don’t underestimate the power of family dinners, movie nights, and local activity days. You can even have the selection of meals/ movies/ activities be an interactive effort and get your little ones in on the process while learning important lessons of teamwork and compromise.
Provide bonuses and give promotions
Just as in any under-taking, incentives boost morale. Your children should be recognized and rewarded for a job well done! Be it a recurring allowance, an extra privilege or activity, a coveted item, or being allowed to stay up later one night; when they deserve it, let them have it! It will only make them continue to strive for excellence moving forward.
And this, ladies and gentleman, is how this mama uses the skills that she has learned as a professional to keep (some semblance of) her sanity.
How do you do it all?
Co-founder Mary Targia Almonte is a digital Ad Operations Manager by day and a chauffeur, chef, maid, event planner, homework-checker, entertainer, diaper-changer, and snot-wiper to her two kids and husband in her hometown of Staten Island, NY. Follow her on Twitter @MaryTheYUMama.