How to get your kids to appreciate you

Ingratitude. It’s the age-old battle all parents wage with their kids. But I have found the solution for instilling gratitude:

Leave them for a week.

I recently spent a week in Canada for some family matters. I arrived home to jubilant children who pelted me with their stuffed animals and doused me with hugs and kisses. Their excitement was augmented when I brought them their very favorite food in the entire world: Tim Hortons Timbits (thanks to Dad for enduring a 4 a.m. doughnut run before my early flight).

But with time, the children started whispering.

“Do you see that pile of dishes? It got to be this high!”

“I have no clean underwear. Have you seen all the dirty clothes in my laundry basket?”

And the worst one of all:


Though I left a fridge and freezer full of healthy food, McDonald’s and pizza became the staples (though you didn’t see the kids tattling about that).

I won’t mention when I called 40 minutes after bedtime on a school night and they were waging a mixed-martial arts competition after watching Here Comes the Boom. In the background, I could hear Bode saying, “Daddy said we could have three cookies!”

Sounds like he coped just fine with his store-bought Oreos.

This is not a knock on Jamie…far from it. The dude was a single dad for a week while he juggled a demanding work schedule, Bishopric, homework, poor health and shuttling the kids to their various activities while making sure they were fed. I couldn’t have gone  home if my wonderful husband hadn’t generously stepped up.

But it was a wake-up for all of them that clean clothes don’t just magically appear, delicious, homemade food doesn’t make itself, and darn it, those dishes don’t wash themselves. Maybe that lady we call Mom does more around here than nag us to keep a schedule, do our chores and to make our beds.

Though apparently they got a bye on all those things last week.

They don’t know how really good they had it.

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