The Whinge Chart

15 August 2016

This year in particular was an emotional first day back, only not for the usual reasons. Last week, as my husband and I walked towards the first-day-back ceremonies at the school, we understood that they were not tears of sadness welling in our eyes but ones of overwhelming happiness and relief. The high-five we gave each other, accompanied by an enthusiastic “Woo hoo” may have been going a tad overboard – especially seeing as my husband was still holding our daughter’s hand – but we found it almost impossible to restrain ourselves. You see, my daughter’s school broke up on the 7th of December. Yes, you read that right. The SEVENTH of December, which meant that she was on holidays for almost two months. Now, I don’t know about other people’s children, but my daughter is a girl who loves school. No, really. LOVES it. Like her mum, my daughter loves nothing better than structure, homework, teachers and a jam-packed curriculum, and when she is deprived of these things for an extended period of time it is simply no fun for anyone, least of all her parents.

The holidays were a busy time for our family. Christmas parties, family get-togethers and social gatherings galore kept us all on our toes and occupied for the majority of the festive season. Add to this the fact that, due to the nature of what my husband and I do for a living, there were no actual “holidays” per se for us. We continued working right through the school holiday period, which made it an interesting time trying to juggle gigs, writing deadlines, rehearsals and two children. But we managed and it was all fine for a while, but then there came a point when the unsystematic nature of the holidays became too much for my structure-loving seven-year-old, and that’s when the whingeing well and truly kicked in.

How to describe the sound of the whinge? Well, think of one of those musical instruments – I believe it’s called a slide whistle – that goes up and down, now add in some words like, “I don’t wanna…”, “Why do I have to…”, “Muuuum…”, “Daaaaad…”. And that will give you some idea of what we heard from morning to night. Our three-year-old obviously decided that this whole whingeing caper looked like fun and that she was going to join in. The effect of two voices whingeing in harmony was the final straw for my husband and I, and so the Whinge Chart was born. In actual fact, it came into being off the back of a four-day non-stop whingefest – now referred to as Whingeapalooza.

My husband’s first attempt at drafting said chart was ambitious – and possibly illegal – to say the least.

I was slightly concerned when I reviewed his first draft and came to the conclusion that the whingeing had obviously had such a detrimental impact on his brain that he had decided that military-type retribution was the only solution.

2 whinges in one day = no TV, no computer for a week
5 whinges in one day = no TV, no computer, no playdates for a week (even if the playdate was already organised)
7 whinges in one day = no TV, no computer, no playdates, no parties for two weeks
10 whinges in one day = cancellation of upcoming trip to Queensland.

My husband had clearly been pushed over the edge. Plus, no one asked him to engrave it on the kitchen wall with a cheese knife.

It took some convincing but eventually he agreed to tone down the severity of the consequences and a new draft was created.

I’m happy to report that the Whinge Chart is working a treat in our household. Since going up on our kitchen blackboard, the amount of whingeing has been drastically reduced, and the incessant twitching vein in the corner of my right eye has finally stopped. I always knew it would be a winner – especially considering that our seven-year-old is the kind of kid who gets more excited about a roster than she does about a bowl of ice-cream. A schedule of duties and after school activities, including piano practice, online maths exercises and writing in her journal, is regularly updated on our blackboard and appeals greatly to my daughter’s sense of order and routine.

Yep, she loves a good chart.

A few months ago I’d written out an updated roster and put it up on the board and that night, putting my daughter to bed, she gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “Mum, I love the roster.”

For anyone out there who is completely outraged by the Whinge Chart and feels it is “negative reinforcement” or “an inappropriate disciplinary action”, it might comfort you, and the Supernanny, to know that we also have a reward system in place.

But then again, if you seriously think that then you’ve clearly never spent longer than three minutes in the company of a whingeing child, and have no idea about the damage it can do to your state of mind. Take it from one who has been to the dark side and back again – the Whinge Chart rocks.

 

First posted in 2012

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