A month ago, I was sitting at the dinner table and started chuckling to myself.
My son asked what was so funny and I replied, “I just realized how hooped you people are without me.”
My kids have two main negotiating tactics: repetition and whining.
Our oldest (11), has a wider range of tactics and I encourage her to deploy them against me. It’s good practice for the real world. Unfortunately, she also has a habit of subjecting her siblings to random dominance displays.
So the song of disorder has three notes:
The reason I was laughing at dinner was I finally figured out my kids had a really, really, really crappy negotiating position.
Further, this crappy position is going to stay bad for at least five more years.
Five years is beyond forever.
That evening, I had been working on family taxes, while trying to schedule house cleaning, grocery shopping and some time for myself.
Combining everything, I decided it was time to gently remind my kids that the entire structure of their lives falls apart if they decide to take me on.
My opener had three notes:
- Endorphins – no electronics while driving
- Status – no visiting our ski club restaurant
- Fear – reduction in number of days skiing
I gave them the following message, individually:
- Your teachers and coaches tell me you are outstanding. I need you to bring your outside behavior into our house.
- If you want the best life in Colorado then I’m going to need you to make one change.
The change being “no blocking” for our oldest and “no yelling inside” for the other two.
One change to get your iPad back in the car.
One change to get my house more live-able for the next decade.
We skipped our family ski day the last two weeks, drove home and the kids helped me clean the house top-to-bottom.
Cleaning was “totally separate from the noise in the house issue…”
My son is a bit of a “bro-cleaner.”
Bro-anything is when you do such a crappy job that you hope to get fired and don’t have to do it again.
Ladies beware, you’ve likely been “bro’d” before => childcare, meal prep, shopping and cleaning. Bro-zone!
Anyhow, we discovered we each have a niche we enjoy doing (spray bottles, vacuuming with music, floors, toilets).
Effectively saves me $75 per hour while training my kids to live on their own.
A bonus you might not have considered… in the currency of personal freedom, cleaning generates the single largest return on investment within my marriage.
Your ability to deploy this strategy is inversely related to the square footage you own. Another hidden cost of assets we think will make us happy.
What’s the job you can not do?