Tory Dietel Hopps '85 & Jennifer R. Nolan '86
youve met her, the mother of invention
came knocking at fellow mother Jennifer Nolans door in September
2001 in the form of a herniated disk in her back. Accustomed to long bike
treks and the occasional back flip, the chronic pain and need to slow
the pace was a tough blow for the active mother of four sons.
in the best circumstances, every parent knows the challenge of getting
the kids to help around the house without stirring up so much wailing
and gnashing of teeth that its scarcely worth the effort. But taking
on the chores herself simply wasnt an option when Nolans back
locked up. And she didnt have the time or the tolerance for debate
over who would do what and for how long. I needed things done. That
was the impetus, she says.
she explains, to find a better way, a fair way dare we say it?
maybe even a fun way to get the kids to dig in and help out while
mom was down. Nolan went to the drawing board and the work bench. With
inspired bits of repurposing, including an old archery target and the
pole off a little souvenier flag, she cobbled together a sort of Wheel
of Fortune of housekeeping. Wedges around the perimeter specified
various chores and rewards, and the rules were simple. Give it a spin
to find your chore. Spin again for your reward.
Her kids bought into the system.
years later? To my amazement, theyre still into it,
Nolan says. Even early on, Nolan felt she was onto something. She enlisted
the help of UVM friend and fellow greater Portland, Maine resident Tory
Dietel Hopps 85 to explore bringing the activity book/game Spintastik
Family to market. Two years in the process, Spintastik is on sale this
fall through Ronnie Sellers Productions (makefun.com) and will be available
through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets.
a phone interview, Nolan and Hopps bounce off each other with the sense
of humor they credit as a central bond of their friendship. The pair also
share like-minded views on everything from parenting to politics; that
includes a great enthusiasm for Spintastik and all it can do to keep the
peace in homes and teach kids a work ethic.
and family were Nolans first converts to the way of spinning for
chores. (They still use it weekly at the critical Wow, this house
is out of control! moment.) Hopps says that giving kids a greater
sense of ownership over their chores and softening the parents role
as hard-hearted messenger unjustly dealing out tasks is key to making
it work. Theres an immediate sense of justice, Hopps
says. You get what you get.