Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Decision Days and Yo-Yo Nights

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Decision Days and Yo-Yo Nights

Weird title. I know, right? But, it might actually work for you and yours.

I don't know if my mom invented it but I'ma give credit to the woman who taught it to me and that was my moms, so, "Thanks Mom! Love you mean it!"

Let's start with the history, then the make it work for you, and then...end!

Decision Days

History: So I am the oldest of three. I have a younger sister, and younger brother, and good golly did we like to fight. Like, over every thing. Now I don't know if it's because we were close in age, or because we were bored, or because we were stupid. I don't know! All I know is we fought over everything!

  • Who sat where at the dinner table (yeah no assigned seating here)
  • Who sat where in the car (I grew up in a time when I could sit in the front seat before age 12)
  • What we watched on TV
  • Who did laundry when (I learned how to do my own laundry as soon as I could reach the dials, so like eight)
  • Who got to use the bathroom first thing in the mornings (we had one bathroom for five people)

We fought over a lot. And a lot of it was the three of us whining to our parents about our perceived slights. It was not fun for anyone. Thus Decision Days were born (or well decision weeks...which then filtered down to decision days, I'll explain).

It started around the time we got the mini van when I was in the seventh grade. I tie this memory to the mini van, because with three kids, and three rows of seating, you would think that figuring out where to sit would be easy...but it wasn't...and the fights were bigger.

My mom proposed the idea of each child having a week to decide anything we would fight about. That child got to learn how annoying the whining was, but also learned that, if you mess up one child's week, they are gonna mess you up on their week. So, it paid to be fair.

This worked for a little while, but, then us kids started trying to trade days/weeks and no one was keeping track and so my mom had enough because then we were fighting about whose decision week it was, "Oh hell no!" So, decision days.

The way Decision Days worked in our family was that each child was assigned a day and it wasn't traded. You again, made all of the decisions for that day (including doing your laundry and occasionally as we got older cooking). As the oldest, I had Monday and Thursday, my sister, the middle child, was Tuesday and Friday, and my brother was Wednesday and Saturday (which, ugh, when I think about it, SUCKED!). My brother was in charge of Saturday morning cartoons, no bueno.

SIDE  NOTE: Mom and Dad were Sunday.

But Decision Days worked for our family. Once we got the hang of it, it was such a simple straightforward process. It helped things out a little because it took the pressure off of having to do something, or decide something. Up until my mom passed away, we were still defaulting to our respective decision days when we got together as a family and a decision had to be made about something minor (calling "shot gun" only worked if the person who's decision day it was didn't want to sit in the front and yes, we were in our 20's doing this).

How this could work for you:

  1. Have some kids who constantly fight about things (or roommates who passive aggressively write wipe-off board notes to each other).
  2. If you are the parent, assign each child a day (two days if you have more days than kids). My mom just did it by age and since there were three of us, we each got two days (if you are doing this with roommates, you can try asking who wants what days, or just draw days out of a hat.
  3.  Write the days of the week down and refer to them whenever a squabble comes up.

Of course, please use your own judgement. Don't let the decision day leader choose punishments, they are not a queen. But do allow them to work some things out for themselves.  If you've got two vegetables you want to cook for dinner, let the kid who's decision day it is, decide. Heck! Let them help in the kitchen if they want to! Decisions help kids grow.

Yo-Yo Nights

History: This didn't start until we were older (high school age). My mother tried to teach us from very early on that she was not our entertainment. It was up to us to keep ourselves entertained.  Sure, she took us places and we did things, but we didn't have a lot of money, so we didn't have a ton of toys, and we did a lot of creating and make believe.

As we got older, this you're on your own mentality started to permeate into other aspects of our lives (doing your own laundry-age 8; getting yourself up and out to the bus-age 10; driving yourself and siblings to school, appointments, etc.-age 16).  Sometime after my 8th grade year and before I started driving, my mother started working a couple of nights a week, along with her normal Monday thru Friday day job. This left us fending for ourselves for dinner. Thursdays were easy for a minute because we would walk down the road to the restaurant my mother was hosting at, and we would eat dinner there. Saturdays were pasta night as my dad would make angel hair, pasta sauce and bratwurst (one of our favorite dishes as my mother-despite her Italian heritage-did not like pasta and sauce, so my dad made it for us).

This set up worked for several years, but once my brother (who is three years younger than me) got to be about high school age, my mom on the occasion would just look at the family and say to us, "you're on your own for dinner." Thus "Yo Yo Night' was born.

Now, I get that only two posts ago, I shared my ABC's of Meal Planning, with you all and I still stand by that. But I will point out that the first rule of The ABC's, is make it about your family. If every so often you need to Yo-Yo it, then do it.

I will also point out that this works BEST with older kids who already either know how to cook, or can drive, or might have their own evening activities. Both my brother and I were involved in 3 sports per year, so every night was a practice and some nights there were games to be attended. All three of my siblings had jobs when I was a senior, and so having a scheduled meal time for the whole family to sit down and eat, was really tough.

My mother utilized the Yo-Yo Night when it was clear that more than half the family would be busy during our "dinner time" so she let the family know early in the day that dinner would be, "You're On Your Own."

How this could work for you:

  1. Make sure you're children are older. I would recommend old enough to stay home on their own and potentially drive themselves somewhere.
  2. Announce in morning, before the day gets started, that tonight will be "Yo-Yo Night." I will say that a text to the family group later in the day could also work but make sure it's not right before dinner.
  3. Still be cool about including others in your dinner plans if you will be home. Announcing to the family in the morning, Yo-Yo! then bringing home Taco Bell for just yourself makes you look like a jerk. Ask, and if they say no, then enjoy!
This concept works really well in a busy family with a lot of self sufficient members (again high school and college age). It gives moms and dads a break, along with teaching your kids self reliance, more sharing skills, and flexibility. 

It's also a great opportunity to eat some leftovers in the fridge.

I hope one of these ideas work for your family and if you give it a try, let me know! I would love to see how other families tackled their kids fighting over decisions.

Thank you again so much for visiting, and I'll see you next Wednesday!


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