Children have an insatiable ability to sap energy in an endless series of pointless discussions, negotiations and decision-making. After all,what do children have to think about other than getting what they want, when they want it?
For sanity’s sake, I try to keep negotiations with my kids to a minimum.
To achieve this I automate as much decision-making as possible. Three children means lots of competition for resources, such as time and attention, as well as who sits where, who gets to choose the TV programme, etc, etc.
To manage these decisions we have a ‘Choosing day’.
The child whose Choosing Day it is gets to make all the decisions, have all the rewards and do all the chores. No negotiating necessary.
For example, the Choosing Day person gets to:
- sit in the front seat of the car (and the other 2 follow their set places too);
- choose which TV programme they all watch in the evening and gets to sit on a special chair;
- sit next to me at meals;
- make any other unexpected decision that comes up that day…
On the flip side, the Choosing Day person also:
- feeds the dogs;
- lays the table;
- helps prepare meals;
- whatever is appropriate for their age and ability…
The children love this system, as they know they get all the ‘good stuff’ (decision making, the best seat, etc…), they do the chores for one day, and have 2 days off. The adults who help take care of the kids know very easily who they can ask to help and who gets to make the decisions.
The kids can relax, safe in the knowledge that all systems will fall into place, and their turn will come around soon enough. There’s no feeling of scarcity now.
It’s an especially useful way of handling unexpected highly desirable decisions like who gets to sleep over at Grandad – they take turns in Choosing Day order.
No Discussion Necessary.
And it leaves me free to use my energy for negotiating when it really matters.