Remember how I said I have six kids? Well the truth is, I have seven kids, although I’ve never actually met this seventh child. His name is Notme. You see, whenever I say, “Hey, who left their dishes on the counter?” I get a resounding chorus of, “Notme!” Who left their clothes on the bathroom floor? “Notme!” Who left the front door open? “Notme!” Who is fighting in the back seat? “Notme!” As it turns out, Notme is really messy and inconsiderate of others. He singlehandedly trashes the house all day long and likes to aggravate his seatmates. It’s a big job for one kid, but he’s up for it.
“Did Notme use six plates at breakfast?” I guess he did because my other six angelic babes did their dishes, or so they assure me. But the math just doesn’t work. Riddle me this: all of you say you did your dishes, and yet five sets of dishes remain on the table. I can’t be the only parent who has faced such a problem at home.
Since I hate math (or math hates me. Actually, I think it’s mutual), I decided to eliminate the math altogether with assigned seats. My kids have had assigned seats at the island (where we eat breakfast and lunch), the table (where we eat dinner), and in the car for a long time. Notme doesn’t have a spot because he’s not invited. Eventually I’d like him to move out of the house altogether. It’s time.
At the table and the island I have them seated in birth order, which is how we do everything, and we don’t switch. Ever. I can look at the island or the table and immediately know who to call back to the kitchen to remedy the problem. Now the protests are futile. “But it’s Notme! I did my dishes!!” Notme doesn’t sit there. It’s your place at the table, now please do your dishes. That’s the end. The evidence is conclusive. There is no more discussion, and Notme is no longer the fall guy. I sit between the 3-year-old and 6-year-old because they are most likely to need help cutting and serving food. When my husband is home for dinner he sits on the other side of our youngest and we each help one.
In the car I have them seated according to who is getting along at the time and what is convenient for me. I have my 3-year-old seated right behind me because that is the most convenient spot for me to get her in and out of her car seat. My 6-year-old is in the middle right next to her because she started loosening her car seat straps mid-drive. I moved her up where I can always see her straps and check the tightness. She lost the privilege of sitting back there. I’m a carseat stickler. Non-negotiable. They are the only ones in a 5-point harness, so their spots never change. The other four are in boosters, so I can shuffle them more easily if I need to based on who is getting dropped off first at a sport. Other than that they sit in the seat I’ve chosen for them. Getting six kids into the car and buckled is enough of a project that I don’t need to add fighting over who sits where every. single. time.
Do my kids like this? No. Did they complain at first? Yes. Do they still occasionally complain? Yes. Do I change my mind? No. Do I negotiate? No. I have told them that as soon as we go one full month without anyone leaving their dishes on the counter or table then I will lift the assigned seating rule. As soon as we go a month with no fighting in the car, I will let them sit anywhere. Until then, this is about making my life easier. I mean, I’m outnumbered and soon to be outwitted. I need every advantage I can get.
Does Notme visit your house? Have you evicted him? What do you do to keep your kids accountable without losing your sanity?
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