Ever have one of those moments where you realize that you are just like one of your parents? OMG!
Mine happened two weeks ago. I was lecturing our youngest about leaving the damn lights on again. “Money doesn’t grow on trees you know!” I said. I immediately slapped my hand over my mouth as though I had just said the dirtiest words in the world. I turned to Rob and let out a huge gasp followed by an uncontrollable giggle. What the hell had I just said? Yup, I am my father’s daughter. No doubt. I have become a frugal, money pinching, uptight individual just as he was. Ok, don’t get me wrong. Saving money is a good thing and being conservative when it comes to things that affect the environment…yes, a very good thing. HOWEVER, I had no idea that I was really becoming a replicate of my pops. Growing up, my dad ensured that I did not rack up the bills by enforcing certain rules. Want to hear some? Ok, ok, I know you do so here they are:
1. The 5 Minute Shower – I had exactly 5 minutes to shower every second day. Should you go over the annoying egg timer set to the second, you would find yourself either finishing your shower in ice cold water OR standing in the shower with freshly lathered shampoo and no water. Yes, he would actually either turn the hot water off OR shut the water off completely.
2. The Lights must be turned off – lights left on resulted in some sort of yard duty. My most memorable one was picking rocks in our five acre yard.
3. My bedroom must be tidy – any clothes left lying around…well let’s just say that it only took me a couple times to figure this rule out after my undies were nicely displayed on the front lawn.
4. The Laundry machines – only permitted once a week. All other days, the breakers would be shut off resulting in no clean clothes.
5. The 2 Minute Phone Call – probably one of my least favorite. As a teenager your life depended on connecting with your friends. Remember, this was back in the day before cell phones, texting, the internet, etc. In fact, we had a party line with the old rotary phones. What is a party line you ask? That is where 3 households share one phone line. Each home had a distinct ring (one short ring, two short and one long ring, etc.) Yes, this seriously existed.
So, my realization that morning was an extreme eye opener. I feel as though I learned some real valuable lessons from my father growing up. His rules made me understand the meaning of a dollar even though at the time I did not agree with his tactics. But, I do not want to have my kids strongly disliking me either over very stringent rules. My question is where is the balance? You want to teach them these things without becoming a mean old nag.
This is what I have come up with so far…
a) Teaching kids about money is important. The reality is that money doesn’t grow on trees. When I asked my kids if they knew what utilities were, they responded with “U-t-l-t-e-s?” Ok, they couldn’t even pronounce the word. I took some time and explained what utilities meant and why we had to pay for them. They were literally shocked that these services weren’t free.
b) Discipline is a part of raising children however it is not always the best solution. Rewards, encouragement and knowledge are always good ways of teaching kids. Learning about the environment in fun exciting ways that kids can relate to is a good start. Saving water, turning off the lights, recycling, etc. are good examples of being mindful which results in money savings. Small rewards for cleaning their room, helping with laundry, dishes, etc. is also effective.
c) My biggest lesson learned is “Choose your battles!” Yes, rules are important and necessary but sometimes…just sometimes you need to let them slide. If it’s not endangering the children, yourself or others, then once in a while let it go. This has been my most valuable yet challenging lesson I struggle with.
If you have any thoughts, suggestions, etc. please share! I would love to hear from you!