So it's been about 4 days since I've gone on strike and the results are mixed but on the whole good. I still can't get a floor vacuumed with any sort of reliability but about half the time the dishes get done and the laundry has been pretty much spot on, if still getting done entirely too late for my tastes. On the other hand, my blood pressure is down and I've lost every single excuse I've ever had for ignoring what I need to get done.
DBS wasn't entirely happy with the start of this program -- he has had to pick up all sorts of overtime to make up for my lost income, and in return he asks for little more than room to make coffee when he comes home. The first day of the strike he came home to an uncharted wilderness where the dishes were clean but the cups were not, where there was silverware aplenty but no path to the coffee maker. That's when I sat the Banshees down and explained that while the yelling and ranting and nagging had stopped, the chores still had to be done and there were consequences to be had if they weren't. It wasn't as if I could just ignore all of the dishes piling up to the ceiling, as that would be patently unfair to their father and myself. It's just that I would be doing only the dishes I needed to do in order for their father and I to eat without contracting some nasty food-borne disease. I would cook, but only for those family members who were willing to pull their own weight. The Banshees looked as if they were faintly shocked. What, you mean I can't have a slice of the bread that just came out of the oven just because I won't do laundry/wash dishes/do housework?? As a matter of fact, yes, that's exactly what that means. I won't lift a finger to keep any Banshee from cooking for themselves but if the dishes don't get cleaned up afterwards those dishes are going to Coventry until the offending Banshee figures out that cooking something means cleaning something.
As the days have gone by other issues have come up and we have a conference to explain the consequences. Don't want to indulge in personal hygiene? Fine. The only iron law I have at this point is that the teeth are going to get brushed. I don't care if I have a 6' 10" Banshee to deal with (and I may at some point) I will sit on you and brush them myself if I have to. I sort of figure a 6' + kid is going to have problems with an overweight out-of-shape middle-aged woman mom-handling them that way so there haven't been many issues with the teeth. However, you don't want to wash or brush your hair? Fine, we'll still have to go to the grocery store and run other errands so you'll have to go out in public that way. But. But. I don't have to take you to park day, to the library, or to any other place you'd like to go and I KNOW you guys have a monster-sized case of cabin fever. In fact, the Banshees have a case two-man tent fever. They've been cooped up in this house for so long they're willing to chance a public school education just to see new faces and explore new places. No personal hygiene = no going anyplace fun. It's amazing how quickly the kids got cleaned up. It's still hit and miss over getting the hair brushed, but one thing at a time.
It's hard to think of a consequence for not doing the housekeeping every day. Honestly, being a member of this household means that dust bunnies the size of small trucks won't raise so much as an eyebrow. But it does mean I can't invite anybody over, and for a Banshee who is dying to have a social life that is just as crazy-making as not being able to leave the homestead for a museum visit or a park day. It's going to take longer since we're not known for an active social life, but I pointed out to Eldest Banshee that we're going to be known for an inactive social life for a lot longer if there's enough dust on the carpet to raise a large crop of garlic and the guest bathroom requires a Sherpa to navigate. This is a work in progress, obviously, and I have no idea how it's going to play out. However, I remind myself that the old way wasn't good for much more than getting my blood pressure up and I'm really feeling much better these days.
No excuses. It's odd not having them around anymore. If I don't weed the yard it's because I've been sitting on my rump all day, not because I've had to manage unruly Banshees. If I don't blog it's because I'm in my sixth hour of solitaire, and if I don't win NaNoWriMo this year it's because I've been indulging in Facebook and obsessively reading news sites and political blogs. Now, I'm sure I could still face myself in the mirror every morning but I'm also pretty sure that's not who I want to see.
Just one more thing. No more excuses. And hey, I'm blogging more!