One year among my Christmas presents, I found socks, and jewelry, and other random stuff. And a big, red cowbell. I was a little bit bewildered, to say the least. I made a big deal of it as moms will do, set it aside, and wondered. Why a cowbell? I knew my husband had come up with the idea for the child who picked this out. What in the world was he thinking to give me a cowbell?
Then he explained. or maybe he had the child explain. I don’t remember. What I do remember is that somebody had some explaining to do!
You can use this to call the kids in from outside.
You won’t have to yell as much, and they will be able to hear you and know it is time to come in.
Suddenly the gift of a cowbell began to make sense. I’ll admit I was still a bit skeptical, but guess what? It worked — and with a few caveats — here’s how:
Do you yell too much? Do you find yourself hollering up the stairs for children in their bedroom with ear phones on, hollering down the stairs for children who are digging in LEGO buckets, or hollering out the back door for kids who are playing in the creek? With six kids and a health condition that prevents me from running up and down stairs, I found that I was hollering all the time. Not fun!
With one big clatter of my cowbell, my children know to come running. It takes a little training, but it’s a tool that works.
So, just for the record, my recommendation that you get a cowbell comes with a few caveats.
1) Don’t use your cowbell too often, or you downgrade the effect. Save it for times that matter. In our home, I reserve the cowbell for when the boys are outside, dinner is ready, or a child who has been texted or called politely does not respond.
2) Make sure you remove anything that is blocking the bell. You might think this would be obvious – and the first time it truly is. But for some reason play dough gets up in mine occasionally. I haven’t figured out why.
3) Keep the cowbell handy. I keep mine in the kitchen by the back door since that is where I use mine the most. If you hide it away in a cupboard it won’t get used. Mine’s on the windowsill and it looks cute sitting there.
4) Get a big enough cowbell that it will make plenty of noise. This cowbell needs to be heard. Children are loud. The creek is loud. Music is loud. LEGOs are loud. GO BIG!
5) Don’t use the cowbell for stupid things that might cause resentment. I might have done that a few times. It’s not worth it.
6) Go through a training period with your new cowbell and repeat as necessary. For a week or so after getting our cowbell, I rewarded the children who came immediately. Every once in a while, I still do. Rewards can be as simple as a piece of candy, or as amazing as a night off from kitchen duty.
7) Make sure the cowbell is off limits. None of my children (absolutely none of them) are allowed to ring the cowbell! That bell represents one of two authority figures in this house (myself or my husband) and we don’t want anyone thinking it’s just child’s play when they hear the bell ring. “Don’t touch my bell!” It has to remain set apart for its purpose. (Now about that play dough…)
I am pleased to tell you that since my husband got me a cowbell (albeit vicariously through a child since he knew he would be in big trouble if that was his Christmas gift to me) I have not needed to yell at my children as often to get their attention. I’m not saying I haven’t yelled up the stairs since, but this cowbell thing — it’s loud — and it works!