Archive for the ‘housework’ Category


November 3, 2013

We were heading home from shopping and visiting Nana & Poppa, and I reminded the kids that there were chores to do when we got home.  It has been a while since they had to do them, since we were away the last two weekends in a row.  They started reminding themselves and each other what their jobs are.

“I’m cleaning the toilet,” said Fainjin.  He does a decent job of it, too.

“I bacuum the kitchen and wash the… what’s those things called?  Skirting boards,” volunteered Babess.

“And help Fainjin dry the dishes,” I reminded both of them, and they groaned.

“I’ve got more jobs than you,” claimed Pearl.  “I clean the basin in the toilet, and the one in the bathroom, and I help with the dishes, and I make Mum and Dad – well, Mum – a cup of tea.  Sometimes.  When she asks me to.”

“What?!” Fainjin was most surprised.  “You make tea for Mum?”

“Yes,” said Pearl.  “When she asks me to.”

“Huh,” he shrugged.  “I thought that was Dad’s job.”

© UpsideBackwards 2013.


Bleaching the baddies

June 22, 2013

Another Saturday afternoon, another game of “What can I doooo?” at our house.

The Dad suggested that Fainjin clean the toilet, and clearly the novelty hasn’t worn off because he enthusiastically agreed – and Babess asked to clean the basin too.  We reminded them to change into old clothes.

Last week Fainjin forgot, and cleaned the toilet in regular weekend clothes – a dark blue t-shirt and dark blue shorts.  Of course he got bleach on them, and they both now sport rusty-red stripes.  It’s not a huge deal, but it would be nice to have some clothes without bleach damage, hence the old-clothes reminder.

Fainjin came out wearing an oldish t-shirt and his Superman shorts.  They’re not new, but I asked whether he was really ok with cleaning in them.  He paused for thought.

“Yeah, Mum, if you say it’s ok, because if the bleach gets on them, they will get red stripes and it will look like blood, like Superman killed some bad guys and that would be really cool?”  he looked at me with his face full of hope.

How could I deny him?

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Adding sparkle to our lives

June 3, 2013

Fainjin has been waking up early the past few mornings.  He bursts into our bedroom about 5:45am, already dressed and asking for breakfast.  Ugh.  Sometimes we can convince him to wait a while, but at that hour we’re not necessarily at the heights of our persuasive powers, and he will rattle around the kitchen feeding himself until we emerge to start the day with him.

Up and going before 6 each morning leaves plenty of time to fill before it’s time for bed at the other end of the day!  On Saturday morning (and a long weekend Saturday, no less), he had run out of ideas even before I really wanted to be awake.  About 7:45am he asked, “Mum, what can I doooooo?”

I sighed.  “Read a book?”  The Lego is tidied away at the moment while we have some building work done, so that standby is unavailable.

“Naaaah,” he wasn’t keen on reading.

“Clean the toilet then,” I retorted, devoid of other ideas.

He seized on it with enthusiasm.  “OK!”

Of course, he needs help and supervision, so I found him some gloves and showed him where the cleaners are, and talked him through it.  He was very proud of himself when it was done.  By then Babess was awake, dressed and breakfasted and ready to play, so he didn’t need further entertainment from me.

This morning after breakfast he sat and thought for a bit, then, “Mum, is it ok if I clean the toilet again?”

Were sweeter words ever spoken by a young man?

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Pocket money day

August 5, 2012

Hello again, remember me?  (Blush).  I did warn you that Olympic fever had gripped the UpsideBackwards household.  Well, over the last week I have rarely been in bed before midnight, and have got up in the small hours of the morning – and what’s more, tried (usually unsuccessfully) to entice the children to join me – to watch New Zealand compete and win medals in equestrian eventing, rowing, cycling, rowing, and more rowing.  This has had a deleterious effect on my blogging.  Oh well, it’s only once every four years, and we’re already about half-way through.

Today we decided it was time to take the kids to spend some of their pocket money again.  It has been longer than we had intended since the last time, so they had quite a bit to spend!

Babess had recently wished she had a pushchair for her dolls.  She used to have one – she got it for her 2nd birthday – but it wore out a while ago.  I suggested she could buy one for herself, and she was thrilled with the idea.  They’re not terribly expensive, and I quietly made sure there was enough in her money-box (it was about right anyway).

Fainjin had enough saved up for quite a big Lego set.  He chose the forest fire engine – what a surprise!  It comes with a water cannon and a tree with flames on it.  I’m not sure how many Lego fire engines we have now.  I find it comforting that the bricks spend half their time being rebuilt into spaceships and robots though.

Pearl agonised over her spend.  We had said they could buy one thing each, and if it didn’t use all their money the remainder was to go back into the money box for next time.  Eventually she chose a box set of Artemis Fowl books, greatly reduced and a real bargain.

We had a lovely peaceful afternoon as they all played happily and proudly with their new things.

We reminded them again that these are the rewards for doing their jobs when they’re asked – something they have been really good about lately.  Babess is the latest one to ask to vacuum the kitchen.  She takes about 10 minutes but does a very thorough job.  I might have to increase her pocket money rate…

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Busy Fainjin

July 27, 2012

Recently Fainjin’s class read a story about Lazy Duck.  Lazy Duck was in danger of being eaten, so he quickly changed into Busy Duck!  Then they drew pictures of themselves being lazy and busy.  Fainjin’s “Lazy Fainjin” picture had him sitting watching TV, while in his “Busy Fainjin” picture he was drying the dishes.  The pictures are very cute, and I was interested to note that the TV and dish rack are quite detailed but he still draws himself as a stick figure.  With spiky hair and a big smile.

On Monday when he came home from school he wanted to turn on the TV.  “No,” I said, “find something else to do.”  He pondered for a bit, then said, “I could be Busy Fainjin and do the dishes.”

“Excellent idea!” I was impressed.  He dried the dishes and put them away, then wanted to turn on the TV.  “No, find something else to do until 4 o’clock” – 4pm is usually the earliest time we’ll consider turning on the TV in our house.

He wasn’t very happy.  “I could be Watching Fainjin, and watch the clock until then…” But I had a better idea.  “You could be Busy Fainjin again and vacuum the kitchen for me.”

Yeah!” He thought that sounded great, and really enjoyed getting the cleaner out and pushing it around.  It took up a handy amount of time, too, because he wasn’t all that methodical and kept missing patches.  He hasn’t improved all that much since I took these photos.

This afternoon he wanted to vacuum again.  I felt bad, because I had already vacuumed and washed the floor without him while he was at school.  But it’s ok – it will need vacuuming again at least once tomorrow!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


A job well done

July 11, 2012

“This morning is housework morning,” I declared (somewhat reluctantly, I admit, but it has to be done sometime).  Pearl promptly disappeared into her bedroom – I had expected no less.  Fainjin looked interested and said, “Can I help?”

Who in their right mind would turn down an offer like that?

He dried all the dishes first (this is one of his regular jobs).  He carried all the chairs out of the kitchen, and helped me move the table.  He vacuumed the kitchen, then watched with interest as I “finished it off”.  Then we got the bucket and mop, and I demonstrated how to wash the floor.  He washed the rest of the floor, and I mopped up the water afterwards.

Then we moved to the bathroom.  I cleaned the shower, with his running commentary and suggestions.  He helped me clean the basin, and pointed out smears on the mirror for me to clean (he couldn’t reach).  Then I cleaned the basin in the loo, while he scrubbed the toilet bowl.  He vacuumed the bathroom while I finished cleaning the loo, then he washed the floors in both rooms as well.

I hadn’t expected his interest to last the distance!  He did a good job, too.  I daren’t hope that he will become my constant cleaning companion – and eventually take over completely – but wouldn’t it be loverly?

When we’d finished, I carried the chairs back into the kitchen and we sat down for a cuppa (hot chocolate in his case) and a well-deserved chocolate bikkie.  Pearl emerged with a page of mathematics she had undertaken on her own initiative (perhaps out of guilt for dodging the cleaning), and spent the next hour or so writing the start of what might turn into quite a substantial fairy story.

We’ll do more holiday-ish things tomorrow.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Reaping their rewards

April 7, 2012

I was sure I had written about the children’s tick sheets before, but I can’t find the post.  Bear with me if you have read some of this before!

Last year we started a job sheet for Pearl – she has to do a certain number of her jobs (homework, clean the bathroom basin, dishes, tidy her room, etc) each week in return for a reward.  That might be pocket money, or it might be some other reward like extra reading time or a Latin lesson or game of Monopoly (note to self – get Pearl excited about Scrabble).

This year we decided that Fainjin should have a job sheet too.  His jobs are smaller, but he has to do the same number each week for a reward.  For his ticks, he has to set the table, help put the dishes away, read us a book, and so on.

Babess saw all this going on and demanded to have jobs too.  It took me a little while to think of jobs that a three-year-old can do, but we decided on things like putting her dirty clothes in the laundry each night, getting dressed by herself, and putting her dishes on the bench after dinner.

All the children’s jobs are agreed with them beforehand.

The tick sheets have worked brilliantly!  Pearl has missed out on pocket money twice – having made a conscious decision to not do her jobs and take that consquence – but the other two have done all their jobs all the time since we started.  They have each had a savings goal: Fainjin wants Lego, Pearl wants books, and Babess would like a pony.  I think she means “My Little Pony”.  I hope so.  Their pocket money was set at a level where they could buy themselves something after about 5 weeks.

So today was deemed “spend the pocket money” day.  Fainjin was thrilled to be able to choose and buy his own “Ninjago” Lego set.  Babess couldn’t afford a pony after all, but bought herself a little fairy doll which comes with a change of clothes and shoes.  Pearl agonised over several books before choosing one in a series she knows she likes.

They were all pleased with themselves and proud of their efforts – and so were we.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Lazy day

April 6, 2012

After a slow start to the day, we continued in much the same vein!

We had hot cross buns for breakfast, a special Good Friday treat, and then we drifted through the day.  Some dishes and laundry were done, and there was some playing outside in the sunshine.  A small amount of house-tidying took place, but mid-afternoon found us all lying around the house with books, each in our own patch of sunshine.  Bliss!

Later, we watched a couple of episodes of “Horrible Histories” together, Pearl leaving the room for the gruesome “Historical Hospital” segments but her younger siblings watching in fascination.

Fish and chips for dinner with friends was lovely.  Afterwards, Pearl & I attended church with them, a beautiful musical service to mark Good Friday.

A great start to the school holidays!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


February 18, 2012

Fainjin started music lessons today.  Music appreciation, really – they learn some songs, beat rhythms, learn about different instruments and get to have a go on some of them.  He told the teacher at the start that he doesn’t like music (he was feeling anti!), but when the glockenspiel came out he had a great time.

The Dad drove the car today, for the first time since he broke & dislocated his elbow just before Christmas.  Babess and I did the supermarket shopping, and he and Fainjin drove down to collect us (and the heavy groceries).  The children were so excited for him, it was very cute.  Then they “helped” wash the car when we all got home.

Pearl did all her chores with minimal prompting, including a huge load of dishes to dry.  She tried to get Fainjin to put them away for her, but he wasn’t keen, and Babess helped her instead! We drew up a “jobs” sheet for Pearl for a week.  Her new job this year is to clean the basins in the bathroom and loo each weekend.  Now we have to negotiate the rewards…  The idea is, a certain number of jobs have to be done each week (a high percentage of her “regular” jobs but with room for extra credit) to earn a reward, which might be pocket money or a late night on a weekend or an extra Latin lesson or playing a board game.

The Dad and I looked out the window this afternoon and saw Babess sitting in her “baby swing” sideways, all curled up and looking very comfy.  She was singing to herself in the sunshine.

Fainjin was allowed to stay up a bit later than Babess tonight to watch “Wipeout” on TV.  He loved it!  All those people falling off things into the water, or being smacked about by huge obstacles on the course.  It might become a Saturday night regular treat for him.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


December 18, 2011

“Can I watch tv?” asked Pearl as soon as she had finished the last mouthful of her lunch.

“No,” I replied.

“Then what can I doooooo?” she moaned.

“Read a book, write a letter, do a puzzle, play with the lego, tidy your room.  Or clean the bathroom, that would be quite handy actually.”

“Nothing FUN!” she stormed, rather unfairly I thought.

But after her siblings had finished their lunch too, the three of them settled into lots of games together.

They went outside and had some complicated game involving the scooters, up and down the driveway and around the front garden in specific orders and routes with tasks to do along the way.

Then they gathered rocks and stones and flowers and lemons and made druidic-looking circles and arrangements with them.

Babess got out the garden broom (very cute as it’s twice her height) and swept the path to get more little stones for their game.

Then they came inside and put up the play-tents as shops and houses – there are only two tents but they did multiple duties as kids came and went and turned them around.  Couch cushions were appropriated and piled up as supplementary buildings.

A “school” was set up, with stories read and writing done, several pictures drawn and eventually “free time” granted to Pearl’s obedient pupils.

There’s nothing I like better than seeing all three of them crouched on the ground, deeply involved in doing something together.  Something that doesn’t involve a screen!

© UpsideBackwards 2011.


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