Your children can do chores

This is a post draft from 2012.  All that it had was the heading– your children can do chores.

I’m not sure if this was a result of mommy bloggers complaining about waiting on their kids, or if it was just a reminder to myself that kids are often more competent than one realizes.  They start out so little and then grow so quickly.  So you forget to let to let them try things like putting on their own shirts.

Now, in 2022, we’re all at the age (#teen/#preteen) where they want to help less and it would be less effort to put their dirty dishes/socks away or to take their laundry out of the dryer rather than nagging them to do it themselves.  But also DC1 is going to college next year and needs to not be a horrible roommate/dorm person.

I worry especially for boy children– some of them seem to be able to skate through life with mommy waiting on them and then replace mommy with girlfriends and eventual wives.  Some of them never learn to take care of their crap and that’s unfair to future women who love them, or at least live with them.  Boys need to get used to doing chores as a service to their future partners.

Did you help out around the house as a kid or was taking care of chores a shock when you were on your own for the first time?

Attention Texans with kids under 12! Action today August 12th!

Sorry to interrupt the wonderful discussion we were having on books that appeal to kids, but this seems important.

I got an email from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous requesting that I post this so parents with kids under 12 can join a lawsuit against Governor Abbot.  (Sorry this is so late!)

YOU HAVE TO FILL The above affidavit out and have it notarized and scan to him by noon today.
Your local bank probably also has a notary public and may take less time than UPS.
Hey folks!  Late night plea for assistance.  The nonprofit I represent has filed suit against Governor Abbott in Travis County District Court seeking a statewide injunction of the Governor’s Executive Order GA 38.  But here’s the rub:  no one at the AG’s office is responding to our efforts to confer regarding a hearing date.  So . . . we are intending to file a request for a statewide temporary emergency restraining order by noon TODAY if we do not hear from the AG’s office.  How many parents would consider executing an affidavit in support of our TRO request?  One is attached.  Please limit to one page.  It is like 5 bucks at the UPS store to have it notarized.  Scan it to me at and save the original.  No children’s names, please.  Just parents and district, that is all I can hope to ask of you.  Your name will be part of a court proceeding that is public in nature.  But your address is not on the affidavit, ever.  Pray, meditate, breath, take an early morning walk.  Please let me know ASAP.  What I’ve said here is about all there is to say, but ‘friend’ me on FB (my page is public) and we can message about specific, unique questions.
Visit us for updates on the case:


Dealing with saying no to getting half the childcare tax credit doled out in monthly checks

This weekend I discovered that the IRS is sending people checks for half their child tax credit monthly.  Right after I learned about it, I discovered that *we* somehow qualified by getting a check for $333 in the mail, even though our last year’s income was still upper-middle-class even with DH unemployed (we’re in the phase-out range).

I do not know why they decided they had to send us a check when they HAVE OUR DIRECT DEPOSIT information.  Maybe to make it more salient?  I don’t know.  (One of my friends thinks the check was a mistake since they were supposed to honor direct deposit preferences.)

In any case, we don’t want it!  We are in the situation in which we would likely just have to pay it back at tax time (dual earners with similar incomes => not enough taxes withheld plus dividends) and it is seriously irritating to have to remember to deposit a check every month.  Back when our reimbursements came as checks this would have been less annoying, but everything is direct deposit nowadays.

So according to the IRS page, in order to either set up direct deposit or to opt out entirely, you (AND your spouse if you’re married filing jointly) have to (each) get an account.  Which seems kind of sketchy– you have to give your social security number and everything on your drivers license or passport to a third party.  If Trump were in office I would be 100% certain that this was a scam to get our personal information.  Their terms of use say they don’t sell it and they’re only providing the info to the IRS, nobody else.  Hopefully that’s true and they don’t get hacked and the people who work there are trustworthy…

DH went through and got pictures of his drivers license, then when their software couldn’t find his face, he cropped the sides of the picture so only the license was showing.  That seemed to work.

For me, I didn’t have any problems with uploading pictures or it finding my face, but at the end they said they didn’t believe I was who I said I was and I would have to show additional documents and talk with a live person.  First it let me try again with my passport, but that still didn’t work.

Once I got to all that, it put me on web-hold and when I got to 1 minute it started asking me every 10 seconds if I was still there.  After me pressing that button 6 times, it took me to a video screen.  Every few seconds it would tell me that I was waiting for the conference host to join and if I was the conference host to entire my conference number.

The conference host never joined.

Eventually I went back to the previous page and reloaded and it took me to a new video screen (the old one was still going, but I muted it) and a person showed up right away.

He took my information and a bunch of webcam pictures of my documents and me and I was able to login to the IRS page to say no thank you please hold my quarter of the child credit back with DH’s quarter and the half you’re already keeping.

I get that spreading the money out now is likely good for lower income folks, but what a hassle for the people who neither need nor want it!

Would you prefer to get your tax refund doled out in advance over the year or all at once when you file?  Or are you like us and usually paying estimated taxes?

Ask the grumpies: teen drivers

omdg asks:

How do you feel about teenagers and driving?

#1:  Terrified.

#2:  They have to learn sometime, right?  Kids today don’t seem super eager to get behind the wheel like kids in my generation (#notallkids).  Most of my friends with older kids report forcing their teenagers to get learning permits.  I’m not sure what the change is.  It’s not like we’re living someplace with great public transportation.  Maybe it’s more of the kids spending time with parents and enjoying doing so and not being off on their own much thing that’s been happening.

Ask the grumpies: anything you wish you’d done before marriage and/or kids?

yet another pf blog asks:

Is there anything you wish you had done before you were married? How about before you had kids?

#1:  One of us doesn’t have kids so the point is moot over here. (#2, got anything?) What would I have done differently before I got married? I can’t think of anything. Being with my partner has made the rest of my life easier and more fun.

#2:  Hm, I got married young.  I can’t really imagine single life before marriage.  I mean, I did date some losers in college, mainly because I didn’t know how to say no and a small amount because of the novelty of guys thinking I was amazing.  Those are not good reasons, so it was a huge relief in grad school to be able to stick my hand up and point to the ring when loser guys hit on me.  So definitely not dating other guys (or other people, more generally– I used to think I was DH-sexual, but now I’m fairly sure I’m… what was that word I discovered on captain awkward?  I can’t remember but it’s the one where you have to really get invested in a person before you find them physically attractive, so it seems like asexuality, but it really isn’t.  That’s what I am.  Except younger Pierce Brosnan– he’s still hot, but who knows, maybe I just liked Remmington Steele.).  Everything else I can do while married, I think.

Before kids we didn’t have money.  Now we have money.  Perhaps I wish we had money before kids?  Though getting money at the same time as kids was pretty useful and caused our standard of living to go up instead of down, so maybe not that.  Yeah, I got nuthin’.  I’m not big into regret… maybe it’s time spent in LA with the constant message that everything happens for a reason.  Or maybe it’s just the sunk cost moving forward training in economics.  I guess I wish I’d published more!  But I wish I’d published more after kids too… it’s sort of a never-ending thing with an academic career.

Grumpy nation, is there any day seizing you wish you’d done in the past?

Ask the Grumpies: Opportunity costs to timing kids for physicians

OMDG asks:

Frequently in my line of work (medicine) people will make statements like, “It’s cheaper to have a kid during residency than as an attending because you are giving up much less in salary and because you don’t have to find coverage for yourself.”  I’m wondering what your thoughts are on this.

See, any extra time you take for maternity leave during residency beyond your vacation (which it typically 3-4 weeks a year) gets added on to the end of residency and delays your start of being an attending by that amount of time.  It would seem that the opportunity cost of taking time off for any reason as a physician should equal the amount you would earn at the point in your career where you are making the most money regardless of when you take the time.  There may be other costs/benefits of having kids early vs. waiting as well which are more intangible (finding coverage for your clinical work, paying for childcare when you’re making a lower salary, building your practice).  Is this just another situation where doctors don’t understand opportunity cost/are bad at economics, or am I missing something?

Ask the grumpies thanks you for answering your own question so well and so clearly.

You’re right, they’re not thinking through to the long term/general equilibrium/etc.  We don’t really have anything to add to your excellent explanation other than that this argument is similar to the one we often hear about when a woman (and it’s always a woman) should be a SAHM.  People seem to fixate at the point in time analysis and ignore long-term costs.

And, as you well know, there is no good time to have a baby for a professional woman, so have one when/if you want one regardless of professional considerations (as you did!).

Ask the grumpies: How to play with little kids

Leah asks:

How do you play with your kids when little? Anything I should be doing, or is interaction of any type sufficient?

Short answer:  Any type of (positive) interaction is sufficient.

Longer answer:  The books mostly say to do what I do naturally, probably because my mom was trained as a head start teacher before I came along.  The following will speed things up in the areas you focus on, but so long as you’re not leaving the baby alone in a darkened room, they will pick things up just from experiencing the world and focusing in one area may slow down another.  Basically they’re sponges so it’s all ok.

Talk to your baby even when ze can’t talk back.  Pause for responses as if you’re having a conversation.  Start with baby signs.  Narrate what you’re doing.  Make eye contact.  Create rituals together: these are soothing to babies, kids, and grownups!  Maybe there’s a certain game you play or a song you sing.  But don’t get rigidly attached to the rituals.  Say silly things, sing and dance.

Tummy time!

You don’t have to treat your baby like a delicate flower– babies are surprisingly sturdy.  If you want an earlier walker, carry your baby against you in a sling rather than in a cradle carry or a stroller.  Avoid jumpies, walkers, bouncers, or anything that allows movement without a person actually walking.  Spot your baby while ze practices standing or leaning on things, but don’t feel like you have to give 100% support.  (If you don’t want an early walker, don’t worry about this stuff.)  Carrying baby in a sling while you go through life will also help develop their vestibular system when you bend, twist, tilt, crouch, etc.

If you want great small motor skills, provide lots of things to practice small motor skills on.

If you want an early reader, read a LOT and trace your finger under the words you’re reading.  Babies (and dolphins!) can also sight read from flash-cards, which is rather remarkable, but I’m not convinced that’s actually a useful skill.

If you want an early counter, include counting in your day-to-day activities.  Count swing pushes.  Count baby lifts.  Count fingers and toes and cheerios.

If you want an early pottier, read The Diaper Free Baby and introduce the potty now.  Whenever now is.  Get in tune with your child’s peeing and pooing habits and get out of the diaper and over a potty during those times.

Maybe ask your kid to tell you a story about what their toys are doing.  Say “wheeeeee”  and “once upon a time” a lot.  Show them how to make goggles with their fingers.  Let them entertain themselves [with appropriate supervision].  Take ’em to the park and let ’em loose.  Get a dog [Ed: ??? NO DO NOT!!  This suggestion was quite obviously placed by the one of us without kids.] and let them tire each other out [ed:  you can see that this suggestion is not unlike the “have another baby to tire the first one out” suggestion].

Grumpy Nation:  How do you play with babies and toddlers and little kids?

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