My kids think I’m a bitch, and I don’t care

Several months ago in this post, I discussed how we had started what we call the Family Economy. For the most part, this had been going very well. But, for whatever reason, after a couple weeks off over Christmas, the whole thing had pretty much fallen apart.

Another thing that seems to have happened after our Christmas school break, is that internet usage has gotten completely out of control by not only the older boys but by the younger ones as well. I hadn’t realized how much they were asking to play on the computer or my phone until I said no, and I was witness to the ensuing fit.

I partly blame myself for this. I became pretty lazy about checking to make sure the boys were doing what they said they were, and there were a few cases of cheating the system by the kids which resulted in them losing pay for periods of time as a result. But as I said, after Christmas, this became much more pronounced and a lot worse.

I also blame myself for the internet usage, especially with the younger boys. Of course it’s easy to say yes when a kid wants to amuse himself with something, but shouldn’t I be more picky with what that something is? I realized this yesterday when both my 6 and 11 year olds said they had nothing to do, even though they have a room stocked with legos, kinex, and other toys.

So today, when I saw that again the stairs hadn’t been vacuumed, the entryway cleaned up, shoes kicked off against the wall leaving a muddy trail, leaves all over the basement floor from the back entrance (we live in a raised ranch so there’s one of those handy/not easy to keep clean stairwells in the back), the 6 year old asked me to play on my phone the minute he woke up, and my 15 year old hadn’t pulled himself away from his computer for the last week, well, let’s just say I’d had enough.

As far as the chores are concerned, the Family Economy is pretty serious stuff to me. My kids get tired of hearing me say it, but by the time I was my 11 year old’s age (he’ll be 12 in a couple of months), I was working very long, full time days for my parents every summer, over school breaks, and after school (when we were needed) until I was 20. It wasn’t easy work either. I remind them that their uncle was 9 and turned 10 shortly after we started working. To me, the Family Economy is the best way to teach them that a good job and work = payment and shirking work and responsibility leads to no pay and no extras.

I find it ridiculous that kids are trusted driving thousands of pounds of cars and trucks (in Iowa a child can get a school permit at 14.5 years old-yes to drive to school without supervision) but the government feels it isn’t a good idea for them to work before they’re 16. But, that’s another rant for another day.

So back to me being a bitch. I called a family meeting with the kids today and informed them of the following:

  • Their lack of follow-through with their jobs hadn’t gone unnoticed and because I hadn’t made any notes on exactly what hadn’t been done, they would all be receiving half pay for the week.
  • From here on out, if their chores were not completed, there would be no pay, but the boys older than 12 would still be responsible for half of their shoes and clothing as was the original deal. They’d have to figure out how that was going to work.
  • The one son who’s making payments for his computer (we fronted him some money to purchase it) will have to cash in his CD to repay the loan immediately if he stops getting paid or he will forfeit his computer as was the agreement.
  • Internet usage is being cut immediately. The children will be allowed two hours of internet in the morning to complete their schooling. After their chores are completed, they will be granted one more hour to be used on the computer or their phones.
  • Playstation time during the week will be awarded for extra work done without payment and will be allowed on the weekends at our discretion.
  • Computers and phones will be left upstairs and their usage will be monitored.

I was surprised at the reaction I received from one of my sons. Actual tears were shed over the internet being limited. He argued that he doesn’t have any friends here, which has been a constant struggle for all of us since we moved (even when the boys were in public school). For whatever reason, we just don’t seem to fit in very well.

My solution to that was to challenge the boys with finding a group, club, or class that they could be involved in outside the home. One has said he’d like to join 4-H, one has said he’d like to take swimming lessons, and one wants a class at the Y.

I also asked them each to list 3 things that they’d like to improve on, and was surprised to receive well thought out responses.

Regardless of the positive spin of improvement and community involvement I tried to place on our family meeting, I did get the ‘You’re a bitch.’ look from two of my kids.

I constantly tell my kids that I’m their biggest fan, but even their biggest fan will make rules that they won’t like and won’t agree with. There will be times they’re convinced they hate me.

My job as their parent is to raise 4 well-mannered, intelligent, compassionate, disciplined, responsible, and hard working men…not to coddle them the entire time they’re under our roof. I see too many children reaching adulthood without a clue as to what responsibility means not to mention how to be independent..

My dad has told me, “No one said being a parent was going to be easy,” and of course he’s right. And that’s why, today, my kids think I’m a bitch and I’m okay with it. Sometimes parenting is a really sucky job, but someone has to do it.

I’m game.

What to consider before a SAHM goes back to work

When a SAHM goes back to work, the pros and cons aren’t completely black and white. What then are some of the things that should be considered? And why am I even talking about this?

Well, even though I’ve LOVED my time as a SAHM for the last 6+ years, and even though I’ve defended my decision to be a SAHM (I’m a SAHM and No, We’re Not Rich), that ship is sailing. I never really planned on going back to work, but things here are changing.

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The kids are all going to public school next year, we just acquired a significant debt when purchasing our house, and although I can’t speak for my husband, the thought of living on an even tighter budget makes me feel a little sick inside. Not to mention we’re not exactly spring chickens, and the thought of not ‘owning’ our home until our 70s makes me feel even sicker.

The only logical solution for us was for me to go back to work.

There is so much to consider when job hunting. Just thinking of all the variables makes my head spin.

What I finally did was to write a list of all the things I had to consider when looking for a job.

  • Full-time or part-time
  • What are the hours?
  • Benefits
  • How would this affect my family?
  • Is this a short-term or long-term gig?
  • If it’s full-time, is there room for advancement?
  • What’s the pay? Is it salary or hourly?
  • What is the commute time?

These are the typical questions that people normally ask, but then there are the ones that aren’t often considered:

  • Is there mandatory overtime?
  • How much will the commute cost in terms of fuel and higher insurance?
  • Will I need to purchase a new wardrobe? How often will I have to purchase new clothing/shoes?
  • Will I need daycare and what will the cost be?
  • What happens when one of the kids is sick?
  • Will I have the support I need at home?
  • Are there any hidden costs (more meals out due to less time to cook)?
  • What are the tax ramifications?
  • How does this position make me feel? (Is it something I can excel at?)
  • Is this just a job or is it a career?
  • Do I want a job or do I want a career?

I’m sure there are even more questions that could be asked, but these are the main ones that concerned me.

These questions could make or break the viability of a job. For instance, there was a posting for a position as a bank teller for $10.14/hour for 25-30 hours per week. This position was 26 miles from my home with 3 out of 4 Saturdays a month required. The hours would vary, but would most likely be 3-4 days a week with hours between 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

So, when I first looked at this, it looked pretty good. In today’s world, $10.14/hour doesn’t go that far, but I really wasn’t expecting that much after having been out of the job market for so long. But then I broke it down and analyzed it more.

  • $10.14 X 27.5 hours (average of 25-30 hours)= $275.20 gross
  • $29.99 in state and federal taxes would be taken out each week with FICA (Social Security and Medicare) is an additional 7.65% total for $21.05 for a total of $51.04. The new take home is now $224.16.
  • I know my truck gets an average of 18 miles per gallon and a round trip to this branch would be 52 miles. At 4 days a week, that’s 208 miles divided by 18 miles which equals 11.6 gallons of gas a week. Iowa’s gas right now is running about $3.50/gallon so $3.50 x 12 gallons (throw a little extra in there) is $42. The new take home is $182.16.
  • There’s also the added expense of more frequent oil changes and tire wear. Tires for my truck are $200 each plus mounting and road hazard so the total will be approximately $1000. I’ll need a new set every four years at the most making that about $5 a week I’ll need to put aside for tires and $10 a month for oil changes. Take home = $167.16
  • I also have to consider that my insurance may be raised too since the mileage to work and home will be 10,816 miles per year putting it into a higher mileage category as well as faster depreciation due to the higher mileage accumulated.
  • I will have to find some sort of after school program for Peanut and most likely Sweet Pea for the days that I have to work late since J doesn’t get home until at least 5:30 pm on the days he isn’t closing the store. The older boys will be in sports after school. Also, I’ll have to find a program for those school days that I have to work and the kids don’t have school and for breaks when the older boys go to their dad’s and Peanut is with us solo. The YMCA program costs $30 per week for after school care. Take home = $137.16
  • Lastly there is the issue of clothing. I have none that would be acceptable to work in a bank. Clothes could be thrifted for around $100 and shoes I buy new. That would be about another $100. Over the course of a year, that comes out to $3.85/week. Take home = $133.31 ($533.24 per month)

In the end, taking that job would have COST me $141.89 a week or $567.56 a month (including taxes)! That’s more than I would have been bringing home.

Now that I’ve bored you to death with my facts and figures, I want to throw this in there. There was also a job for barn help just 3 miles down the road from me. It paid $9 an hour. Sure the physical work would have been harder, and there wasn’t anywhere to be promoted to, but for the hours and the commuting time (or lack there of), I would have absolutely taken that job over a fancy office job any day.

What are your thoughts on these figures? Did anything shock you as to what the actual cost was (other than my tires…I know. Should have looked at that before I bought my truck)? Are there any other hidden costs I didn’t take into consideration?

Settling In

We’re finally in our new house and settling in. It’s been a little crazy these last two weeks with the traveling, last minute packing, more traveling (with four kids and three dogs), waiting for the moving truck, and finally the process of unpacking.

We’re no where near finished with unpacking. The little boys’ room is a disaster with almost all of their things still in boxes, and we have no bed yet. BUT, the kitchen is completely done, and that makes me really happy.

My kitchen…I could wax poetic on it all day long. It’s by far the largest kitchen I’ve ever had, and the one with the most usable counter space. Did I mention the GIANT island with the butcher block top? I’ll make sure to post photos soon.

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We spent the whole first weekend cleaning up outside. My kids are real troopers, I tell ya’. They mowed 2 acres of grass with two push mowers over a period of two days. The good news for them is that we do have a small riding mower coming from my dad. The bad news is we had a lot of rain the last couple days, and it’s going to need to be mowed again before that mover gets here.

We’re all finding that we have some adjusting to do. Even though we’re living our dream, it’s so different from what we’ve lived for so long. How odd is it to not be able to walk to the library like we did when we lived here before or hop in the car for a quick 5 minute drive to Target like the last place we lived.

Here, the nearest large store is a half hour away, and it’s a 5.5 mile drive to town. I’m sure it’ll be easy for me to fall back into the routine as that’s exactly how it was when I was growing up. The kids–not so much. I’ve already had to tell them ‘No’ several times when they’ve asked to do something simply because the drive alone would cost more than the trip would be worth.

Then there’s the issue with internet. We don’t have it at our house (and most likely won’t in the foreseeable future), and our cell phones haven’t been working at all. Sadly, I find myself getting just as frustrated with that as the boys. It only makes me realize that this move couldn’t have happened at a better time for all of us.

In my last post, you may remember me talking about how I was thinking of going back to work. A week ago Monday, right after we closed on our house, I had an interview for a position that would allow my family some financial freedom and relaxation on the fiscal front.

I haven’t heard back from them yet. I did follow up with them yesterday and was told they’d be making a decision very soon. I’d love to say that I’m confident the job is mine, but having been out of the job market for 6.5 years now, I’m not confident at all. I know that whatever happens will be for the best. And, if I happen to not get the position, at least I will have gotten my feet wet with the interview.

My husband and I have set some pretty ambitious goals for ourselves and our little homestead. The first thing we’ll be doing is fixing up a room in our corn crib for our chicken flock. We were going to to get some chicks this week, but it just so happens my dad got some laying hens last week and realized he may have gotten a few too many so I have 10 chickens headed my way.

We found that we have a small asparagus patch, rhubarb, and raspberries. I’ve never done much with rhubarb, but it looks like I better start.

We did get a small existing garden patch tilled up (Sweet Pea did an excellent job of this). However, it rained buckets before we could get the potatoes in the ground. Hopefully the soil dries out enough for us to plant those this weekend. They are already growing. There are also raised garden bed plans in the works to accommodate the rest of the things we want to grow this year.

We are continuing with our money saving efforts here. I am going to be making all our bread again as well as branching into other things such as tortillas. They can’t be that hard, can they? I’m also ramping up efforts to replace more things with homemade versions. Anyone have any luck with homemade dishwasher tabs?

So that’s where we’re at here. How have you been doing these last couple of weeks? Anything new with my Homies?