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The Kids’ New Morning Routine Chart Flopped 911-Badly

This morning was our first go at a morning routine chart for the kids and it went terribly, as in 9-1-1 fire department bad.

Fire Truck on Our Street

The 6yo has been asking for ways to earn money recently, “Like a real job, mom.” I agreed that this was a good age, but I needed time to figure out what things are normal family responsibilities versus extra payable work. I polled friends about chores and allowance, I read articles, I hemmed and hawed. Then my mom died unexpectedly and it all got put on hold as we packed up for South Dakota for a week to do loads and loads of work, logistics, and mourning. It was a miserable time, but the thing about kids is that they stay so grounded, which helps our world keep on turning. They helped without complaint while we were there (or I tuned out the complaints, one or the other). But, as soon as we walked back into our house after the trip, Mr.6 asked me how he could earn some cash. I came up with a list of basic cleaning jobs he could do after the standard 10 minutes of post-dinner responsibilities, and he sprang into action. The kid scrubbed the toilet and mopped the floor, hooray!

But, what about the basic responsibilities for the rest of the day? I still needed to solve that part of the equation. Enter the Morning Personal Responsibilities visual chart. I typed it up and Mr. 6 helped me select clip art. It’s pretty cute, if I do say so myself. 

Morning Routine Chart Preschool Early Elementary

All clip art is from Microsoft Office

Now, we get to this morning. Mr.6 gets through the list with minimal reminders and help. He is clearly so ready for this! Mr. 4 on the other hand…I dare to ask him to brush his teeth by himself after we got the toothbrush ready together, and I leave the room. After a while I notice that he is awfully quiet. I go to the bathroom and find it locked. He unlocks it at my request and comes out with teeth (theoretically) brushed. I smell a horrible smell and run through if he opened any bottles, played with the electrical socket, etc. He denies any mischief and does his remaining steps with malaise, I can’t do its, and needing lots of help and attention either by physical or emotional need.

I start to smell the chemical smell lightly all over the house. I’m a super-smeller, so I wonder if it’s in my head. It smells like acetone, crazy-strong acetone. But, I haven’t painted my nails in about a decade. We don’t have that stuff in the house. I eat breakfast and consult Dr. Google. It could be in my head; it could be a Freon leak from the HVAC system; it could be a meth lab (we can check that one off right away). The advice is to call a heating company or the fire station. I go with the fire station.

I call 9-1-1 and wonder if I’ll get chewed out for my weird smell problem, but they say they will send out a truck. I frantically try to get dressed and get the kids geared up to go out in the cold. I hear sirens which makes me think we really are having an emergency, so I send kids out shoeless. The louder the sirens get, the more I start just leaving our gear trailing behind on the sidewalk to get away, to get to our fire-safety meeting spot across the street. When they arrive, a neighbor takes in the kids while the firefighters check it out. Them, “You smell acetone? Do you have any nail polish?” Me, “No, we don’t keep anything chemically like that in the house.” They go in and out of the house, getting out sensors. Another truck arrives. We wait and watch. Finally, a firefighter comes to talk to us. They have found the problem!

She holds up a…wait for it…a tiny, clear bottle of clear nail lacquer that is easily 15-years-old. Apparently it was open and tipped over in the medicine cabinet. How it even moved with us 7 years ago, let alone got a position in the medicine cabinet, I have no idea. Thankfully the firefighters were so gracious and kind to the children (and me). We got to have a good practice session on getting to our fire drill meeting spot.*

In the moment with the firefighter’s report, I was quick to call Mr.4 to a confession, but he still claimed no mischief. I know the bottle didn’t open itself, but now I’m backing up on my quick blame. After all, this is the kid who needs my help to put toothpaste on his toothbrush, open his water bottle to refill it, clip him in his car seat, put on tricky shoes, etc. So, could he really balance on the sink vanity, get in the medicine cabinet, and open such a tiny, crusty old bottle? I can see it going either way. No matter the culprit, it may be awhile before I ask him to brush his teeth on his own again. As for me, I’ll chalk this up to being highly- reactive from all that the past few weeks has brought our family and laugh that it’s just the kind of crazy kid story my mom loved to hear about.

the offending bottle
*Speaking of fire drill meeting spots, do you have one of these? Have you ever done a family fire drill? It’s a great idea!


About More Green for Less Green

Hi, I’m Pamm. Welcome to my little slice of the web! As a progressive Evangelical female pastor and crunchy homeschooling mom, I’m never quite what anyone expects of me. But, hey, that’s what makes blogging interesting, right? Join me as I try to wholeheartedly parent my three little boys, slowly fix up the trashed foreclosure we bought in 2009, and live simply.

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