What Do You Need To Be Happy?

I could have said, “Geez you guys!  I can’t handle this stuff laying around everywhere!”

I could have said, “I want more time to do what I love, instead of having to pick up after you two!”

I could have said, “I need a break from this mess!”

I could have said a number of things, but while I was washing off the metaphorical dirt in the shower, I hatched a better plan.

It went something like this:

Take out a piece of paper.

Write at the top:

What I Need In This House In Order To Be Happy

Below, write numbers 1 through 10, and start listing what you need to be happy.

Write anything.

It could be:  favorite candy,  hugs from Nina, breaks from mom, more laughing, less nagging, more s’mores, less broccoli, more bright spots, good music or good books.

Think of how something makes you feel.

If it makes you happy, put it on the list.


The Lists

In 10 short minutes, our lists were completed.

I explained that the premise of this project was to come to some kind of consensus on what the three of us need in order to be happy and content in our home.  The goal was to incorporate more of what makes each of us happy, keeping in mind that the team has to work together to take care of the chores in order to free up more time for each of us to pursue what it is that we most love.

The fun began!

We took turns talking about our 10 things – that morphed in 17 things, and even 23 things.

Our lists were surprisingly (or maybe not, since we spend so much time together) similar.  We shared a lot of the same things and ideas for keeping us happy.

The lists included:

  • More dancing and laughing.
  • More of our favorite foods and drinks, like “budery” (buttery) noodles and chocolate milky.
  • More time spent doing things together like going for walks or playing games.
  • Reading funny books together
  • Open space and things that feel good to look at.  (Contradictory… maybe, but you know what I mean.)
  • Quiet – sometimes.
  • Fun adventures and bright spots to look forward to.
  • Mom gets a helmet for skiing.  (?)
  • More group hugs.
  • More house plants. (!?!)
  • Interesting projects to work on.
  • A clean spot on a flat surface to write a letter or eat a meal.  (hint, hint)

* I bet you can almost guess who listed which item. ;)

As we laughed and chatted about our lists, the gloomy mood lifted.  We all relaxed.

We appreciated and acknowledged our similarities and differences.

We came up with a tangible list to refer to when the doldrums set in.


Chores and Allowance

Until now, I’ve managed to dodge the twin bullets:  chores and allowance.


But I need help here, people.

My two are great at responding when I ask for help, but dammit, I want them to see what needs to be done and address those things without having a nag remind them.

And so…

We have a list of chores, with financial incentive for completing them.

Completing chores will free up more time for getting to the Happy List.

*fingers crossed*

The End Result

I felt more understood.

I think they did, too.

I think/hope they appreciate that it takes a team – and communication – for this home to be happy.

I found a way to deliver my message in a fun, more positive way.

I know this team can pull together, because we always do.

I was reminded, again, about all the things I love about these two amazing individuals that I am fortunate enough to live with.

The jury is still out on whether the chores/allowance thing will work, but I like having this project to refer back to.

I am optimistic.

*fingers crossed*

**Hey!  What do you need in your home to be happy?

Write it down.

It matters.

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  1. Love that! The idea of focusing in on what each person really needs and then making respecting each other’s needs a priority, as well as accomplishing the goal of better teamwork with the housekeeping. Awesome! :)

    My 2 older boys were at each other’s throats last week. I usually try to stay out of it, but I had this sense that if I didn’t do something, that they were never going to get out of this bad cycle. I hated to think of them as adults and not being close. Besides, they were driving me CRAZY!! (not N crazy, but crazy nonetheless!;) So we talked about what each boy could respectfully do to improve the situation. At the end they both very seriously said “I make a commitment to you, (brother’s name).” It’s been a week & there has been some bickering, but not nearly as bad. Something clicked, at least for now! ;)

    The chores/money thing. I hear you. **sigh**We’ve done charts, etc. But through the years I find I have to shake things up (different kinds of charts, different kinds of “pay”) or keep reinventing the wheel to get them back on board!

    Hope you all had a great holiday :)


  2. NM,
    It comes down to communication.

    I think I’m done with an issue, and it needs to be discussed again.

    I like the way you addressed things with your boys. So much of parenting is showing them how to solve issues.

    Do you ever feel – at the beginning of December – like you have to buckle in and hang on for the crazy ride that is the holidays? It’s fun and crazy and exhausting.

    Here goes….

  3. Yeah, I love the holidays, but I do get overwhelmed. My favorite days are like today where it’s snowing & I’m in my house (alone) with all the Christmas lights on! I like everything to do with the holidays: shopping, baking, surprises. But the INFJ in me can get stressed when we are so busy! I do ok as long as there are those quiet days, too.

    I just try not to let it become one big blur! ;)

  4. NM,

    I do so love the really snowy days that give us a good excuse to stay home, curl up by the fire, read and drink cocoa. We can do that all winter long, but it’s especially fun when all the Christmas lights are out. ;)

  5. I’m not a parent, so feel free to not listen. :)

    I’m wondering if you should include chores on your schedule. For example, right after school is done, you all spend an hour on chores, or if you need more time one day, include that, and less on another.

    Then it’s fun time for the rest of the day.

    What you are doing is teaching them self-discipline as a habit. It’s good for both mind and body.

  6. PS: Repetition is how everyone on the planet learns, so don’t be discouraged when you need to repeat something. Some habits are hard to start.

  7. Donna,

    Parent or non-parent… I’ll always listen! ;)

    Love that idea. I’m always saying that the fun and relaxation is better when we get chores done first. However, I’ve never created a system for getting chores done.

    Love that! Really!

    Does that repetition thing also apply to repeating my last relationship? *SCREAM*

  8. ROTFLMAO re: the relationship. Oh my, we all have our screaming moments in rels, even when they are ‘good’ ones.

    I suppose it depends on what you are repeating and if you ever feel heard. If you are repeating the entire relationship, I suggest a time out!

    Hugs to everyone!

  9. With each new relationship, you get one more step away from the last one! :)

  10. Donna,

    Once again… you nailed it.

    “… if you ever feel heard.”



    Sending warm hugs back.

  11. Z,

    I love your perspective. ;)

  12. I love all the comments from everyone! It is great to learn from everyone.

    I am not going to offer any advice on chores because I have not at all mastered how to get my kids to do chores. I just wanted to thank everyone for their comments.

    Jesse–I love the approach and idea of writing down what makes everyone happy and coming up with a top ten list to work with!

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