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A Book Review For Mom’s Like Me — Behind Closed Doors

editor’s note: I wrote this post simply because I appreciate a good book and a recommendation from someone I trust. But this post also contains affiliate links. Meaning if you decide to by this book off of Amazon by clicking on the link in the post, I will receive a (very small) commission. That helps me keep up with costs for this site.

But I got my copy of the book from the public library 🙂

It’s time for another book review!

First, a disclaimer.

I was not an English literature major or anything in college. So don’t be expecting anything professional.

As a busy and exhausted mom who still does not have large amounts of uninterrupted time to read anything, my criteria for a good book are as follows:

1) Degree of Difficulty — I like to read for entertainment. To escape. And I don’t want to have to think too hard. My attention span and level of energy are better than they used to be, but they still kind of suck. So… it needs to be a fairly easy read.

2) Narcolepsy Factor — I need to be able to read more than two paragraphs before I fall asleep.

3) FWOFF (First Week of Facebook Factor) — Obviously, if I find myself not being able to put the book down, and if I want to ignore my kids as much as I did those first few days I discovered Facebook and Pinterest, then that’s good.

4) Vacuum Factor — It can’t take like 100 or 50 or even 25 pages to suck me in. It kind of has to be immediate.

5) PTBD (Post Traumatic Book Disorder) — When I finish the book, I want to be missing the protagonist. Like to the degree of depression I felt when I watched the final episode of Breaking Bad.

6) The Goldilocks Factor — Too much sex, too little sex, or just the right amount of sex. A little bit of a naughty factor is good. But massive amounts of smut don’t really appeal to me.

7) Zoloft Factor — It can’t be depressing.

8)  Do Over Factor (DOF) — I don’t have to go back and reread pages, paragraphs or sentences multiple times because I can’t remember what the hell I just read.

9) Potty potential — If the chapters are short enough for me to read while I’m going to the bathroom, that’s a major bonus, because sometimes that’s the only time I have alone to read.

10)Neat Package Factor —  If the ending sucks, that’s not good. I’m a sucker for a happy ending. Or at least an ending where everything is resolved and wrapped up with a bow and I’m not left wondering why I spent all that time trying to get to the end of the book when I still have no idea how the hell the story finishes.

Now onto the book:  Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris.

In a nutshell, this book is about a a couple who appears to have the perfect marriage. It’s like peoples’ Facebook and Instagram posts. But we all know those aren’t a true depiction of reality.

If you like a twisted story, or if you want to be reassured that your marriage isn’t as fucked up as it could be, then this is for you. (I told you this wasn’t a professional review).

Now for the scores:

1) DD (10 = easy read, 1 = whoah, I have to think way too hard to follow this shit): 10 

2) Narcolepsy Factor (10 = I can’t believe I’m still awake, 1 = I’ve been on the first page for four weeks now): 15

3) FWOFF (10 = I haven’t checked on the kids in 90 minutes and I cannot put this book down, 1 = I think I’ll go check Facebook because this book kind of blows): 20

4) Vacuum Factor (10 = I’m sucked in before the end of the first page, 1 = why the fuck am I reading this?): 10

5) Post Traumatic Book Disorder (10 = What will I do without the main character in my life?, 1 = Wait, who was the main character again?): 10

6) Goldilocks Factor ( 10 = just the right amount of naughtiness, 5 = no naughtiness at all, 1 = I should have just watched a porno): 1

7) Zoloft Factor (10 = it’s all good — no drugs necessary, 1 = I think I need a stronger antidepressant): 8

8) DOF (10 = no do overs necessary, 1 = I think I’ve read that sentence seventeen times): 10

9) Potty Potential (10 = I can finish a whole chapter by the time I have to flush, 1 = does this book even have chapters?) 6

10) Neat Package Factor (10 = All situations resolved, 1 = WTF?) 10

Final Score: 100/100

I loved this book. LOVED it.

If   Sleeping With the Enemy and Silence of The Lambs had a baby book, it would be this one.

There was just the right mix of fucked up crap in it, and when I was done reading it, I was left really missing it. (But if you like some serious sex scenes, you’ll be disappointed. Actually, if you like any sex scenes, you’ll be disappointed).

I wasn’t, though. I read it in a weekend. (It’s a great book to read if you are at the beach on vacation.)

Check this one out from the library asap!

(or you can get it on Amazon here):

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The Family Meeting

Eight days ago I lost it on the kids in the car on the way home from Costco and then I wrote this post after I decided that I was no longer fucking around and I was going to have to make some changes.

Originally I was going to wait until school was done to establish some new ground rules and routines, but the Costco car incident made it clear that for my own sanity, I had to do things differently starting immediately.

So last Sunday, we held our first family meeting.

The idea of the family meeting came from my favorite Positive Discipline book.

Why I didn’t think of this myself, I don’t know.

Many teachers hold class meetings to start off their weeks.

Even in most preschools, your kids have circle time which is the same concept as a class meeting.

So last Sunday I held our first family meeting. It wasn’t  quite the entire family, because Number 2 and my husband weren’t there.  But I couldn’t wait any longer, so the first meeting consisted of me, and Numbers 3 -7.

Having a family meeting was a new thing. And because of that, the kids didn’t really know what to make of it and they weren’t exactly well behaved. Well, three of them were. And two of them were just being total pains in the ass.

The reason for that is because family meetings take some training. And I fast forwarded over all the training parts to get to what absolutely needed to be done. We  needed to find a way for all the kids to share responsibility for things that need to be done around the house and to have some respect for and understanding of the amount of work  it takes to keep the house from turning into a complete and total shit hole.

So at our first family meeting I asked the kids to come up with a list of things that need to be done on a daily basis to maintain some semblance of order in the house. They needed a little guidance, but  after a few minutes, we came up with the following things that need to be done every day:

  1.  empty the recycling
  2.  feed the cat
  3.  empty the litter box
  4. wash, dry and put away the dishes
  5.  clean/straighten playroom
  6. clean up the pool deck
  7. sweep the kitchen floor
  8. clean the upstairs toilet
  9. clean the downstairs toilet
  10. fold/put away clothes
  11. make beds
  12. empty out lunch boxes
  13. hang up swim bags/ back packs where they belong
  14. put shoes away where they belong

Of those  fourteen things, we determined that 1-10 were jobs that could be shared by everyone, and we determined that 11-14 were jobs that each person in the family was responsible for every single day.

Next, we made a list of all the jobs that need to be done on a weekly basis. We came up with this:

  1. cut the grass
  2. clean the upstairs bathroom
  3. clean the downstairs bathroom
  4. vacuum upstairs
  5. vacuum downstairs
  6. sweep the stairs
  7. clean under the couch

Then, rather than me assigning jobs, each kid took a turn picking and “every day” job from the list.  We went in order of youngest to oldest first. Then everyone picked a second every day job, and we went in the opposite order. Once everyone had two every day jobs, we moved on to the weekly jobs. Everyone got one of those.

That was  our whole family meeting. It lasted about 15 minutes, which is kind of long for the first time you try it out. The first meetings usually work better if they are about 5 minutes and all you do is practice the first step ( which is compliments, something I actually started doing a while ago with the kids, but we will get to that next week).

I didn’t do anything fancy with the list of jobs, mainly because I just didn’t get to it.

Some of the kids  forgot what their everyday jobs were, so we just referred to the list I had written down in a spiral notebook.

I could have had one of the kids make a chart to help everyone keep track of their jobs. Maybe I’ll include that on the agenda for next week’s family meeting.

Anyway, the kids were, for the most part, fairly good about doing their jobs. Choosing them at the meeting definitely helped, because first, they each had a say in what their job was, and second, they saw that everyone had a job, not just the older kids.

But we all noticed that there wasn’t really any area of the house that got super messy because when everyone did their everyday jobs, um, every day,  things were easy to maintain.

The hardest thing for me was to remain consistent in  requiring the kids to do their jobs, especially on those really busy days.  But I was pretty good about it.

During the week we realized we needed to add a couple jobs (washing the kitchen floor and bringing the dirty clothes downstairs).

We had our second family meeting today (we were all there ) and we added the new jobs to the list.

I thought about blowing it off tonight because we had a long day with a swim meet and a baseball game and it was 6pm on  Sunday and we still hadn’t even eaten dinner or taken baths. But without this routine of the family meeting, I think we will have trouble establishing the other routines we  so desperately need.

So we killed to birds with one stone and had the meeting while we had dinner. It didn’t run super smoothly — there was some farting and then some arguing and then some kids falling off chairs and being silly and annoying, but overall, it was a success. Everyone got to pick new jobs, and they will start on those tomorrow.

And as I write this at 8:41 on a Sunday night, the litter box is empty, the cat has been fed, the house has been vacuumed (most of it, anyway), the kitchen is clean, the kids have all put away their laundry, and the toilets are clean,

And all that was done by the kids without one single Costco Car Freak out.

I’m not sure I have ever been able to say that.

So I think we are on to a pretty good thing.

Check back next Sunday for more tips on how to  start running a (successful) family meeting at your house!

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