Friday, 21 June 2013


Yesterday I noticed that our German Shepherd dog Polly had been worrying at her paw and had licked/nibbled all the hair off one toe. It looked weird. I needed to take her to the vets as she was due her vaccinations any way so I got on the phone and made the appointment. The only time they had left for today (Friday) was 08.30. I really wanted her seen in case she made it more sore during the weekend and she wouldn't stay still for me to examine it, but what was I going to do? I needed to get Zach, my 21 month old to nursery for 09.00. The vet practice and Nursery are in different directions, I'm good at multitasking on the whole but splitting myself in two was an impossibility even for me! Worry not mother.... Beth, my 18 year old, stepped in. she heard me on the phone, knew the problem and said she would take Zach, problem solved. I know I am extremely lucky having Beth at home to help me out in these circumstances, and I know I'll miss her help if she does decide to go to university but I also know there are so many 18 year olds who absolutely could not be trusted to get their baby brother to nursery on time in the morning, so many who probably wouldn't care if they got to nursery or not. So what makes Beth different? Well, I'm afraid I'm taking most of the credit for it! I won't claim it all, some others may have had a bit of in-put, and some of the credit I guess should go to nature, however, I have always believed children respond brilliantly to being given responsibilities and praise. Don't get me wrong, we're not constantly barking orders at our kids but we do encourage them to take an active role in the home. They have their meals prepared and laid out for them and a way of showing they appreciate this is for them to help with the washing up. They each have their own room which is nicely decorated in their choice of theme and furnished with their choice of furniture, they should keep them tidy so it's easy for me to flick a duster over and run the vacuum round, assuming they want a clean space. Their clothes are washed and ironed for them so they are expected to put them away neatly. We don't think this is too much to ask. As they have got older and so want some of their own cash we have agreed to give them more jobs and pay them for those jobs, earning their pocket money, if you like. Picking up after the dog every day earns you £10 a month but it has to be done every day - they hate that job! Ironing earns you £15 a full basket - I hate that job! Cleaning the truck inside and out earns you £10, it's a big filthy truck, Doing the clothes washing, drying and distributing earns you £10 a month. Babysitting earns £4 per hour. At one point Beth was getting £40 a month from these extras, as well as her babysitting when we managed an evening out and her regular hours waitressing at the local pub. Minted! However, she was not good at staying on top of the washing so I claimed that back and the poo picking didn't get done very much so I got that back too, but she has ironed a basket of clothes for me this week and cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed upstairs, so we owe her! Tom, my middle one, aged 14, hasn't yet got into the swing of these cash rich extras but is slowly beginning to show an interest. He isn't as bothered about his bedroom being clean so it's not left as tidy as my husband, Kieran, might like it to be, but it's not bad for a 14 year old boy, it smells sweet and we can usually see the floor! He grumbles about the washing up, but he does it and his homework is always done. Eventually. Whenever the kids have done these things for us, even if they are jobs they have to do we say "Thanks", we let them know it's appreciated and we find that then they are more happy to help next time. We believe they are learning what goes into making and keeping a home, they begin to appreciate what they have got when they have earned it and are more able to budget for themselves. They are more likely to offer to help, like Beth this morning taking Zach to nursery for me, because they have more of an understanding of how the cogs all have to work in unison to keep things ticking along. I am very proud of all of my children. Beth is growing into an independent and thoughtful young lady, Tom is sensitive to others and so kind, even though his head is in the clouds a lot of the time and baby Zachary is growing into a fun, robust little character under the watchful eyes of his older, generally quite responsible brother and sister. And we all have Polly to look after us, whose toe is fine, she had some tar stuck to her pad but its gone now and is all ok. xxx

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