Written by Jody Swain
When our family became blended in January 2012, my husband Ted brought 2 boys (12 and 9 at the time) into our new family, and I brought a daughter (4 at the time). As you can imagine, setting expectations for various ages and doing so as a step mom was difficult; my daughter knew the household expectations and when she didn’t follow them, I was always there to follow up, reward and recognize or provide consequences or discipline. My expectations of her were much higher than the boys, given the maternal relationship.
The boys were a different story. Displeasure from their lack of household participation was relayed through my husband given his paternal relationship with them. Who was I to overstep and discipline his kids? I would step up if it was absolutely necessary, but I would pick my battles carefully. It was like walking a tight rope not knowing which false move would topple me, or them, or all of us! Instead, it was much easier to just clean up after them, turn a blind eye to poor manners and hygiene, and have my husband be their enforcer for household expectations. I guess I didn’t want to be the bad guy or the “evil step mom“.
In 2014, I found myself at home full time with a newborn baby, and now I had 24-hour eyeballs on the house and the kids. They were driving me crazy and I began to feel resentment towards them and their lack of effort. I knew I needed to step it up if I wanted to prepare these boys for the real world and keep my sanity while off on maternity leave for the year.
Realization struck, and it dawned on me that we never shared what the expectations were in our new blended household. We never told them what we wanted, and why; I viewed these two great boys with such love, so why was I treating them differently than my daughter? My answer to fixing it all was setting up a Family Meeting and presentation. We went through what we wanted for them in this world, shared the household expectations, manners and proper hygiene, and introduced them to Hire and Fire your Kids!
The idea for Hire and Fire Your Kids sprouted from my professional life, where I’d managed people for over 18 years. I looked at my home like it was my job – I was the leader, the kids were my employees, and my goal was to motivate and inspire my team to deliver. I knew I needed something that would engage the family, keep them motivated, and show them results by working together, similar to employees on a team.
Our job as parents is to prepare our kids for the “real world”. Enabling children and equipping them with tools to succeed and qualities like kindness, empathy, politeness, honesty, confidence, respect and more, makes them successful, independent people. As parents, we want our children to know the value of a dollar and be able to take care of themselves, so they can function out on their own. I came up with a system that was simple, easy to manage and reflected the adult workforce. Just like that, Hire and Fire Your Kids was born…
It’s amazing what can happen when inspiration strikes!
Jody Swain is an Elite+ member based out of Whitby, Ontario. She is the founder of Hire & Fire Your Kids, an App for the “Future of Parenting in a Digital Age” which is a game-like system combining chores, hygiene, manners and behavioural expectations all in one! Jody’s philosophy behind the App is to give kids the opportunity to be contributing members of a team, establishing strong family bonds, and teaching them to respect family values. Helping kids be independent, responsible and accountable are critical success outcomes, in addition to keeping a peaceful, tidy home. Practical skills are developed and rewarded, giving kids a sense of pride and capability to function well in the “Real World”.
A version of this article previously published on hireandfireyourkids.app