At the start of Lent the kids ran out from school excitedly to show me their Trocaire box.
The Trocaire box is an Irish traditon - a small cardboard money box that all the children take home to fill over Lent, which they then return on the last day of term. The funds go directly to the Trocaire charity and the competition amongst classmates is fierce.
This time the 8 year old was determined that we would do better than our measly effort last year.
She runs through some, frankly idiotic, ideas.
'We could have a car boot sale and put the money we make in there!'
'Never going to happen' I say, picturing 5am starts and broken toys.
'We could bake stuff and set up a stall outside the house!'
'Never going to happen' I say, picturing a destroyed kitchen and fighting children.
'We could sell Baxter!' she says. I have a moment of silent contemplation before he starts hitting her and shouting.
And then I have a brainwave.
'How about we all put money in it every time one of us says 'shut up' to one another instead?' I suggest. 'It will mean everyone is nicer to each other, and if not we'll be collecting money for a good cause'.
They all shrug their shoulders and agree.
It was all going great for the first week until one day the 6 year old had a massive tantrum due to being thrown off the playstation.
Threats and cajolement weren't working and after 10 minutes of tears, shouting and bubbling stress I break, 'Oh just shut up!' I hiss at him.
He immediately stops and looks at his sister, similarly frozen to her spot.
'You said shut up. You have to put money in the Trocaire box' she says with a little nod of her head.
'Mum, you said shut up. You're not allowed to say shut up. You have to put money in the Trocaire box'. She waves the box in my face.
'Oh shut up' I mutter at her putting my hands in my pockets.
They look at each other in glee.
'She said it again!' 'You said shut up, you said shut up, you said shut up' they chant.
I throw coins at them hoping they'll hit.
They do a little dance of excitement.
Man this charity business is hard work sometimes.