Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Fulfillment Project Studies Problem 1 and Problem 2

Last week we fixed my refrigerator. This week, my life.

Just kidding, well sort of just kidding.

In Gretchen Rubin's, The Happiness Project she discusses her Secrets of Adulthood, her slightly goofy list specifically tailored to her. After the refrigerator redo I realized my first Secret of Adulthood was based on sales and economics. Here it is.

Secret of Adulthood No. 1: If I want my husband to do something consistently, I need to sell it to him in terms of dollars saved.

It's simple, really. I mean we're talking about the man who has bags of returnable cans in the garage. I know the coffee he buys with his $3.40 return from those cans tastes sweeter because it was paid for with deposit refunds. He is gleeful when he manages to use a coupon. A few years ago he got up at 5:00 AM on the day after Thanksgiving to get some kind of double down discount at Target. He still talks about that day, the way some men might reminesce about throwing a winning touchdown in high school. All of this is not to say he's not generous, because he is. It's just to illustrate my point. The man loves to save a dollar.

With my refrigerator beautifully organized (and my husband sold on helping me keep it that way) I had time to focus on other areas of our lives. What else could I do to make our pretty good lives a little bit better?

 I was pondering this question one morning last week as I tried to get the kids to school. I had asked Child #2 to put his shoes on four times. Child #1 came downstairs without her socks on and started to perform a Pygmy Puff dance which caused her brother to jump up, with only one shoe on, and join her.

"Let's put our shoes on guys," I said. They both ignored me. "Let's GO, shoes on!" I said more loudly. The dance continued. "SHOES ON, EVERYONE! NOW!!" I screamed.

"Why are you yelling, mom?" asked my daughter.

It's not smurfin' funny!
"Because you're not listening to me." She rolled her eyes and her brother giggled.

That was the moment I knew what needed to be done. Gretchen advises identifying the problem. The little eye roll, the ignoring me, the dance, the refusal to respond in anything but Smurfspeak, it all suddenly crystalized. I realized that in front of me stood two little problems.

Now don't get me wrong. I love my children. I love them with all my heart, in the I'd-gladly-pick-up-a- truck or take-a-bullet kind of way. Still, lately things have gotten a little out of hand.

It's hard to pinpoint when it began. Maybe it was when I overheard my daughter whisper to my son, "Mom doesn't understand time outs are just sitting in a corner. You should pretend not to like them though. It makes her feel better." Spanking isn't an option, long talks about expectations seem out of place for something like an eye roll and grounding or cancelling privileges often feels disproportionate to the crime.

However, and this is the important part, I needed to figure out something because my adorable children were managing to drain the fulfillment out of family life with alarming regularity.

Tomorrow, the Fulfillment Project discovers the perfect trifecta!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Removal of all cool toy gadgets? I know the worst punishment for a teen is to take away their cell phone, although withdrawls are not pretty.

Brenda McKenna said...

I want to hear what you come up with! My oldest is three, but the ignoring thing...ah, the ignoring thing...

Also, I nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award. Which may not matter, except that it means I really enjoy your blog. :)

Johanna Garth said...

Alex, thank goodness I don't have to think about cell phones yet.

Thanks so much Brenda! i'll stop by and pick it up. Of course it means a lot...love hearing that you are enjoying the blog!