CHORES–Why they’re WORTH the FIGHT

I’ve written about the importance of chores before, including these posts:

The Necessity of Chores


How Full is Your Plate? an online workshop for moms

But what I’ve failed to fully admit is how much easier it would be to  do everything myself.
(And it would be done a lot better.)

Why do I bother?

I’d like to say that I do it all for them–to make them better citizens, humans, energetic beings (and that is true); but another truth is that I don’t want to do everything so it’s worth it to have some jobs done less than perfectly.

BUT the angst. THE ANGST!
The reminding. The redirecting. The reprimands.

Sometimes I find myself questioning if it’s worth it, and questioning whether I should be encouraging other people to suffer like this by leading workshops on chore sharing in the home.

And then there are those other times, when in the distance, I hear the sweet and soothing sound of a boy swishing a toilet, or vacuuming a room, or emptying waste baskets; and I think: I AM BRILLIANT.

But what if you like doing your own chores and want them done perfectly?

I still recommend sharing the load. Here’s why:

The Necessity of Chores

But what if your teen’s resistance is so strong that it takes way more energy than you can manage to keep them in the game?

It’s still vital. For them.
Try a dose of creativity, like this:


And now for a new chunk of highly salient information expanding on why it’s worth the EFFORT:

Kids need conflict to grow up. Particularly teenagers. It’s part of the individuation process. It’s how they begin to separate from our cozy nest and shape their own flight.

When I accept that conflict is necessary, I surrender to it, and not just that, I RESPECT it.

This is quite revolutionary.

Conflict isn’t in the way,
it IS The Way.

I’d like to take credit for this awareness, but my therapist gets a lot of that.

See this post for how I put it into action:

Episiotomy (of love)

And here’s something even more radical for your consideration:

Since conflict is a necessary part of the developmental process, particularly with teens, then how cool is it that they get their daily/weekly dose of parental conflict in a way that makes such a foundational difference in family life–working together to honor and contribute to the space we share–rather than investing it in other areas with much higher stakes.  (Think sex, drugs, alcohol.)

Take Your Kids

Tell them why:


I’m Selling Something…!

(Stay tuned for the next offering of How Full is Your Plate?)

No doubt I will regret the blatant choice of titles for this post sometime very soon, but in this moment, I’m capturing my excitement about learning something new:  How to share something worthwhile on my blog and be paid for it! (After writing for free for 5 years, this is a radical thought!)

And, no, I’m not selling my writing; that’s still freely offered. What I’m selling is a workshop that I typically offer one on one with individual coaching clients or in small workshop groups, but never with people far away, who have asked, but I didn’t know how; Until now!

thumbnailThe workshop was called: How Full is Your Plate?; and wait till you see how much it costs you online. (I’ve used my favorite number. And IF I programmed the code correctly, you should see the price when you click, BUY NOW. (Note: you’ll have a chance NOT TO “Buy Now” if you just wanted to peek.)

(Segue: I love PayPal. It’s given me so much freedom and flexibility; but you don’t need a PayPal account since I have one. You can just use a credit card.)

Back to The Full Plate Workshop. It arrives in your email box in three parts. It’s an activity you do with your family or partner or roommates or office mates, but it was first created in response to my first born when he hit the ripe age of 10 and started complaining that his chores were “unfair” and that he “had too much to do.” (Which, of course, was completely absurd, but there was no way to get through to him around this, until…

Gerald_G_Busy_MomTHE FULL PLATE ACTIVITY: after which he NEVER complained again. He was actually HAPPY about his small share of chores; okay, maybe not happy, but at least silent about it because he didn’t want to have to face the reality (and potential consequences) of The Full Plate Activity again.

Another bonus was that this activity was a wakeup call for my husband, who realized that he wasn’t the only one “doing everything.”

And lastly, as a mom, The Full Plate Activity provided a sense of validation and recognition for ALL I did (and do) behind the scenes of home and family life.

The best part is that no one knew what hit them. When the night came for The Full Plate Activity (Step II of the three part mailing), I made their favorite dinner and even served dessert…

…And then I put out 4 clean plates and a bunch of what look liked fortune cookie strips, and life as they perceived it changed…

Now, all I have to do is mention The Full Plate Activity and everyone gets moving on their share of the household work.

Does this sound like something you’d like to try with your family? Your partner? Your housemates? Your colleagues?

Contact me and let’s get started. That special price won’t be there forever. Unless no one tries it out. (Then the title of this post will be really embarrassing!)

(Satisfaction guaranteed by the way. No matter what it costs.)

Inventory of a 13-Year Old’s Pockets


  • 2 wallets (undisclosed contents)
  • a ski pass
  • a miniature mag light
  • a jet lighter
  • a metal jiggly puff pokemon card
  • a hundred dollar bill notebook
  • ear buds
  • two ticket stubs: Prairie Home Companion and James Taylor with Carole King
  • a Pittsfield Colonels game schedule
  • an iTouch
  • a note to himself
  • a miniature Bay Blade
  • a drawing
  • a straw wrapper
  • 2 plastic molded pictures from the movie the Croods
  • a quartz stone
  • an ink pad and an invisible ink pad
  • a plastic penguin
  • a LED light/laser pointer
  • another set of ear buds
  • a survival bracelet
  • a nose plug
  • a magnesium rod
  • a cupcake wrapper
  • a miniature crank flashlight
  • a pocket knife
  • an ipod shuffle
  • a lego Indiana Jones
  • a shark-tooth shaped rock
  • copper wire
  • a miniature hammer
  • a zip tie
  • a quarter and a 1944 penny

(Compare to: Inventory of a 12-Year Old’s Pocket)

Inventory of a 12-year old’s Pocket

Aidan, age 12
Aidan, age 12
  • a wallet with $3 in change & $3 in bills
  • a nose whistle
  • a mustache whistle
  • a key chain
  • a hook, a lock, and a lego piece
  • a straw wrapper
  • a flattened penny from the science museum
  • a pedometer
  • a set of directions for UNO
  • an expired b-day coupon for Pizza Hut
  • a pack of tissues his mom brought home from Japan
  • 5 pieces of green origami paper and 1 yellow origami crane
  • 3 pendant necklaces
  • an i pod shuffle
  • 2 sets of earphones
  • 1 rubber band, 1 rock, 1 pebble
  • 1 piece of hardened clay
  • 1 Megabucks coin
  • and one unidentifiable creation that was originally a pen…

as catalogued by his mother, November 2012

(Compare to: Inventory of a 13-Year Old’s Pocket)

All about… Lice! (The best of head lice protocol from moms & the web.)

Midnight (after 5 hours of treatment.)

Scroll down for tips on prevention, inspection, treatment & follow up. (Share your own success in the comment section below.)

Our Story:

I thought we were hosting my sister and her new baby for Thanksgiving, but instead my son came home from school with…  LICE!  Our relatives checked into a hotel and we spent the holiday week giving thanks while picking, oiling and avoiding physical contact with loved ones.

“Can I hug today?” my son asked each morning.

I’ve been terrified of lice for decades. I first read about them in The Thornbirds when little Maggie’s head was shaved; and later trembled as a teacher when my students lined up in front of the school nurse. But even when lice infested children sat beside me or when I had my own children, and we were all exposed–visiting company, best friends, classroom trips–we remained lice-free.

Apparently, lice is not so easy to catch. Honestly.

Still, I enacted my own preventative regime (see below) which was part science/part lucky charm. As the years passed, however, I grew lax. My son grew his hair. His class grew infested.

He had been scratching for more than a week when something unidentifiable fell off my own head.  “What is this?” I asked my husband. Neither of us could tell, but later that same day something else, unidentifiable, fell out; and I jumped into action…

The moment my son arrived home from school, I made him stop on the porch so that I could examine him in the bright afternoon light.

“I don’t have lice, Mom,” he said.”They’ve already checked me at school.”

He had been repeating this line for weeks, and I had wanted to believe that his scalp was dry from the wood stove, but now I wasn’t giving up…

I searched and searched and searched until I spotted what might have been nits at the back of his head (those tiny, translucent, sesame-seed-sized eggs, attached to one side of hair shaft, like a cocoon, with an adhesive as strong as super-glue; See video below #1); but I couldn’t be sure. His hair was dirty-blonde, iridescent-ly so, which made identification almost impossible.

“Let’s go up to the bathroom,” I said, “and bring the standing lamp from the living room.”

Under bright lights, I searched the same section of hair and thought I saw something… move.


Three times?

After a mutual freak out, we returned downstairs to search the internet for what to do next, and we found some fantastic resources which quickly transformed us from victims to investigators/scientists.

We returned to the bathroom armed with information and began the process of combing (see video below #2.)

What I discovered?


Dozens and dozens and dozens of live lice–virtually invisible moments before.

(I’m itching just thinking about it. Aren’t you?)

After our initial outrage and disgust, we were curious…

How were the lice able to set up such an impressive, covert operation?

Why hadn’t my husband been infested given that he lays down with my son each night?

I decided not follow our school’s protocol for treatment given that they had failed to find or prevent lice from spreading (which probably had more to do with individual families and their ability to continue with the rigorous follow-up required. See video under #3). Instead I reached out to other families who had successfully treated (and prevented the return of lice), and I pieced together my own rigorous attack plan.

(For obvious reasons, I chose not to use “pesticides” on my son’s scalp; particularly given the fact that reports indicate that lice have not only grown immune to them, but have evolved into “super-lice” in response to these chemicals–See video under #3.)

In my exhaustive research to be sure we would eliminate lice from our home as safely and quickly as possible, I found the best of the best on the web. In compassion for other families (and in the hope that you do not spread it to us again :), I have compiled those resources and our own protocol here:

#1 Orientation

This video, from the excellent resource, Head Lice to Dead Lice,  helps orient the family to what is in store–with a much needed sense of humor.

Part II of the video with the 5 Step Plan (Video under #3 below) is helpful for making sure you don’t re-infest your household after the initial removal.

#2 Treatment

This video from, The Hair Fairy, lends the whole picking process a doable, matter-of-fact-ness, instead of our own earth-shattering doom. We relied on their thorough combing process (with a nit comb and hair conditioner) during our first treatment and thereafter. I will use this again if ever I suspect head lice in the family. It’s how we found ours and it’s how we continued to ensure that we didn’t re-infest.

#3 Follow Up

Though lice can happen to anyone, it’s up to us to make sure we don’t re-infest our own households by not following through with the necessary treatment. This 5 Step Plan from Head Lice to Dead Lice takes you through the steps from treatment through follow-up–including letting others know.  (Note: We chose olive oil and essential oils over pesticide– with successful results on an infested head.)

#4 Our Own Lice Treatment Plan

Here’s what we did from start to finish over a three-week period.

1) CHECKING: Checked head in natural light for nits, then under bright lights with a magnifying glass.

2) COMBING: Applied AMPLE conditioner (ours was tea tree) and used the combing process (See Video under #2) until we found: NOTHING. That first night this took many hours. We added conditioner as needed. Wiped bugs onto tissues and disposed of them. Washed the comb in hot, soapy water before successive comb-throughs and had our son repeat the process in the shower–using tea tree shampoo and conditioner (since we weren’t using the pesticide); and then did the combing process all over again; this time carefully searching each section of hair for any remaining nits (See Video #2.)  Lastly we used a vinegar rinse (diluted) to help dislodge nits before combing again.

3) OIL: We doused our son’s hair in olive oil and applied diluted essential oils (eg. tea tree, lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus) before covering it with a shower cap and securing it with a t-shirt or bandana.

4) HOME:

a. We vacuumed the entire house with special attention to beds, couches, chairs etc.

b. We changed all the bed sheets and washed dirty ones in hot water along with any clothing worn recently.
c. We bagged up things we couldn’t wash: stuffed animals, decorative pillows, fancy coats, hats, scarves or we put them in the dryer for 20 minutes on high. (It was freezing outside that week, so we put all the bags on the porch.)
d. We covered the couch with a new sheet each day.

e. We repeated the vacuuming and washing/drying daily until there was no sign of lice/nits in the house.

f. The infested persons avoided bodily contact with others and with couches etc; and also wore a bandana until there was no sign of lice/nits on their head for 24 hours +.

5.) FAMILY: The entire family oiled up that first night and then every 4 nights after for 3 weeks (as per the 5 Step Treatment Plan–video #3), including checking/combing in the morning before the oil was washed out.

#4 Prevention

This is our family’s time-tested protocol for lice prevention (Note: If we had followed our own protocol during the recent lice epidemic at school we would not have spent Thanksgiving dealing with them!):

1) Coats, hats, scarves into dryer after school

2) Head blow dried after school

3) Hair gel/essential oils (diluted) applied to hair in the morning before school as a deterrent

EXTRA PROTECTION 4) *If it’s a particularly bad school infestation, we apply the olive oil overnight treatment and use a nit comb in the morning to check with a magnifying glass. (No matter what the result, our hair appreciates the conditioning.)

*Note: we also keep tea tree shampoo and conditioner (and other strong essential oils) on hand to use once a week or more regularly when lice is active in the school.

See video under #3 above for more prevention tips.

If you have your own successful tips for inspection, treatment, followup and prevention, please share them below. We have to rely on each other!!

Sparkling Sibling Rivalry

There’s not much sibling rivalry in our home, and I’d like to take credit for that. With a ratio of 2:2, there’s “enough” parenting to go around so that our boys don’t have to compete much for the light of our attention.

But the truth is just as likely that there is a 5 year spread between our children and so they haven’t needed us in the same way at the same time over the years.

Our first-born seemed somewhat indifferent to the arrival of his brother; which is not to say that he didn’t welcome him into our lives, he did, but he just wasn’t a baby gaga kind of kid.

His younger brother, on the other hand, is.  He’s begged for a sibling for years; but actually, he’d probably have the harder time sharing us.  Whenever his father or I lavished attention on his younger cousins, he was jealous; but not so much of his independent older brother.

Recently, however, I witnessed a startling act of rivalry.  Both boys came down with the flu during the Christmas vacation. The youngest first. And in his hours with high fever, he wanted to be on my body like he had as a child. I folded out the futon couch and created a movie theater bed to accommodate us.

As the days progressed, he became too grumpy for cuddling, but he still wanted someone close so I remained a body’s distance from him.  When his big brother came stumbling down the stairs the next evening with a sore throat and a high fever of his own, I patted the place between us.

He hesitated; it had been years since he had wanted my bodily comfort; but then surprisingly, he moved to join me.

In that moment, my youngest was completely absorbed in the film we were watching, but as his big brother began to climb onto the futon, he slowly moved his leg across the bed so that it rested on mine–eliminating any space between us.

I chuckled at this dormant sign of rivalry and winked at my husband across the room, as I moved his leg and pulled my oldest beside me.

My stoic first-born had his own heartening display of subtle, sibling rivalry on the day his brother was born. Though he had long called us by our first names, “Casey” and “Kelly,” the moment his brother was born, we became his  “Mommy” and “Daddy” ever more.

Recently, he’s been more transparent, saying to his blonde-haired, blue-eyed younger sibling:  “You may not be taller, better looking or richer than me,” and then he adds with a smile: “Well, at least not all three.”

Kelly Salasin, January 2013