Friday, September 28, 2012

Chores: How??

I felt the need for a follow up post to yesterday's Chores: Should they have to? post.

As I expressed yesterday I think that chores are vital for a family, for the kids, for the parents, for everyone involved.  I also expressed that I understand and realize that teaching chores to children is demanding work.  They don't just wake up one morning knowing how to wash the dishes or empty the dishwasher.  I can only dream right?

So how do we do chores over here?  Well we do it a lot like we do school.  I have a mental list of what chores need to be done each day.  Sometimes I put the list on paper and sometimes I don't.  As I'm ready for a chore to be done I look around for an available child and call them over to help.  Sometimes it's before I start any school and I assign each child a chore - one to empty the dishwasher, one to empty the dryer, and one to help me fold the laundry.  Sometimes I just want the dishwasher emptied right now because I'm working on cleaning the kitchen so I'll just call in one or two of the boys to do that with me.  Sometimes I do chores with one child at a time because I'm teaching them a new chore and that requires attention and time and patience.

My children do not get an allowance.  They get clothes, and food, and fun activities with their family.  As they get older and are able to do more than the basic household stuff we will most likely find an allowance system but for right now contributing to the family does not get a monetary reward.

We have recently adopted something like this behavior chart and inspired by this blog:

Ours is printed on a regular piece of cardstock and laminated.  We're using the jars and pom poms too.  And once in a while when the kids hop up to help with a chore right away and with a good attitude they get to move their name up!  Let me tell ya attitudes have improved this week. lol  We are really loving this. 

Here's a quick run down: Names start at good job every morning, throughout the day you tell the child to move their name up or down based on behavior, when they hit awesome they get a pom pom in their jar.  At the end of the night if they are on awesome they get an extra 5 pom poms.  Once their jar is full they get a pre-determined treat of some kind.  In our house it's going to be a date with mommy or daddy.  Go check out the original blog Show, Tell, Share to get more details and check out the comment section as she answered several questions there that people (including myself) had.

So to recap:

I think chores are vital!
I think that chores should be done with good attitudes.
For basic chores allowance doesn't happen here but we do have a method of rewarding positive behavior and attitudes.
And chores are going to look different for EVERY family.

We're home all day.  I don't have a NEED to have my kids complete a predetermined list by a certain time in the morning or to rush it all into an hour or two in the evening.  So I'm able to have a looser method with our chores.  But there is NOTHING wrong with people who need, can, and do use a more routine method of chores.  If you've read my blog long you know that routine is not my thing. 

Thanks for stopping by!  Come back again soon!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chores: should they have to?

Do you ever find yourself having a pro and con conversation with yourself that you already know which side you stand on?  Arguing the other side at yourself?  Well if you don't then you're strange.  Certainly.  Because I do this all the time and I know I'm completely normal......

Today a friend posted a link to a list of chores by age that they had come across on pinterest and asked if anybody really follows the list.  I've seen lists like this before and to be honest the first time I saw one I thought "These people are NUTS!"  But over the past two or so years I've changed my mind.  They aren't nuts.  This particular list that I'm going to discuss specifically today was created by The Happy Housewife and is a free printable so head over and grab it if you're interested.

Now I have children in three of these age categories.  And I looked at this list so I could give an accurate count of whether I really do follow this thing.

So let's start with Sierra at 2yrs old.  It would be faster to list what she doesn't do on this list.  She doesn't dust because I am not big on dusting.  There you have it.  The dusty truth about me.  She doesn't swiffer either - but then we don't own a swiffer.  She LOVES to hold the dust pan and carry the dirt to the trash though.  She doesn't make beds.  One, she's still in a crib so really bed making isn't necessary.  Two, I'm not a bed maker.  We don't make our beds in this house.  I'm ok with that.  I have NEVER been a bed maker.  Ever.  And she doesn't wash baseboards though she has the ability to do so should I ever decide to wash my baseboards.  She does help transfer laundry, she helps wipe the table, cabinet fronts, etc., she puts her dirty laundry in the hamper and her diaper in the trash, and she helps pick up the toys she gets out.

Moving on I have two in the 4-5 category.  Ok so technically Sawyer is not quite 4 yet but he operates as a 4yr old would.  They don't load the dishwasher, only vacuum once in a while, and have never washed dishes. 

My almost 7yr old falls on the third list.  He only does a couple of the things on the list for his age category. Note though that the list goes from 6 to 8 which is three years.  So at age 6 he is able to do a few items on the list plus all the previously mentioned chores.  At age 7 he will learn a few more and at age 8 he will most likely learn the last few. 

A list like this isn't meant to intimidate.  I was initially intimidated by this list when I saw it or something like it a year or two ago.  I felt defensive.  When I feel defensive it generally means I've hit upon an area of parenting where I don't feel completely confident in what I'm doing.  And I was NOT teaching my children the things that lists like this told me my children were capable of.  There were a few reasons for this.

One reason was that I wasn't aware of all that my children could be capable of at such young ages.  It never occurred to me when Kayd was two that he could help with laundry in any way. 

A second reason was that I was busy.  I had four kids in just under 5yrs.  I didn't have a space of time where life wasn't chaos with a baby in the house.  I went from one baby to the next and teaching most of these chores really requires an amount of energy, time, and attention that I wasn't able to muster during those years.  Now Kayd and Colton and Sawyer could certainly do a couple of the things on the 2-3yr list when they were 2-3yrs old but those were things that had been learned out of necessity.  You put your own diapers in the trash/hamper, you put your own laundry in the hamper, you clean up your own toys.  But mostly it was faster and less chaotic to just do things myself.

Sierra is now 26 months old and I do not currently have a needy baby in the house.  It's amazing what can happen once the baby turns one and there isn't another on the way.  I made a point of teaching the boys chores that it never occurred to me before that they should be able to do.  Kayd can fold towels, the boys all put their own laundry away in their drawers, they put away the hand towels and wash cloths in the kitchen.  They unload the dishwasher and they can empty the dryer into an empty hamper. 

Now there is a camp of people out there who might say that my children shouldn't HAVE to have so much responsibility around the house.  I think that's just hooey.  They live here, the clothes in those hampers are about 3/4 theirs, the dishes in the dishwasher are half theirs, the dirt on the bathroom counter is all theirs.  My children don't spend their days slaving away keeping our house spotless.  Anyone who has ever visited my home or looked closely at the background of pretty much any photo I post on my blog can see very clearly that spotless is not a word my house experiences often, if at all.  My children help with the chores that are necessary to maintenance in our home. 

A few things come to mind on this matter.  One thing that occurs to me is that my children are home schooled.  They spend a fraction of time on school each day in comparison to their same aged peers.  Nobody would look at their peers though and say that they shouldn't have to clean up after themselves after arts and crafts time, that they shouldn't have to keep their desks tidy, help straighten up the toy areas or reading areas after play.  It's logical that in a classroom setting if the children aren't picking up after themselves to some extent then the teacher is having to do it all and that is time she could be spending with the children.  Why then is it any different at home?  Why then should I not expect my children to help with daily maintenance and keeping up after themselves?  My children aren't also spending time on a school bus traveling to and from school so the bit of extra time they're busy helping around the house isn't cutting into the precious couple of hours of "free time" they have between school, dinner, and getting to bed.

I'm raising my children with the future in mind.  Sure I could wait and teach them all of these home ec types of things their last year under my roof.  But why wait?  My children are learning at a young age what being part of a family is about.  They are learning at a young age that the more they help, the more we all work together, the more that mommy can be a part of things too.  How many pictures do we see where the mom is absent because they are behind the camera?  Isn't life a lot like that sometimes?  Where we're not there for moments because we're too busy doing it all by ourselves while our family lives life. 

Should children HAVE to do chores?  I wholeheartedly and unashamedly say yes.  They absolutely should have to do chores. 

Are lists like the one above too demanding?  In my experience with four very different children - NO they aren't.  Unless of course you mean too demanding of us as the parents having to find the time and energy and patience to teach each of the chores to our young children, in which case yes it's demanding.  But I haven't found a part of motherhood yet that isn't demanding - or I'd still be there wallowing in it.

What's happening?

Well, life.  I try to blog regularly.  And sometimes I succeed for a while.  But sometimes life is too busy happening and well that is as it should be.  Blogging is a hobby for me.  A way to share our lives with our friends and family and to share ideas on schooling, organizing, cleaning, and being a wife with others on the great world wide web.  But over all of that living life with my kiddos is my priority.  I MUST be present here in today. 

But I have been snapping pics for blog posts for the past few weeks of my absence.  I have a great post about my new organized kitchen, another tot school post, a DIY project post regarding storage for the princess monkey's bow collection, and a few field trip posts.

For today here's a recap of the past few weeks.

September started with a bang, a great labor day weekend - which was one of my last posts.  We followed that up with KOJ's birthday on the 12th.  For which I made:
mini apple pies and banana muffins with fudge frosting
I arranged for his friend and bible study leader to pick them up and surprise him with them at his bible study that night.

The kids started awana for a new year.  I now have two sparkies and a cubby.  Craziness I tell you!  Craziness!

The kids and I have done story time at the library a few times.  We took a nature walk, had a phenomenal play day at my sister's house, and most recently took the kids roller skating for the first time with a local group of homeschoolers.

We had a LOT of fun.  All the kids enjoyed themselves and there was some success by the end.  The kids are chomping at the bit to get out to the skate rink again.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Making Fall Fun

Ooh guys we're almost there.  Fall is right around the corner.  I can see it and I can feel it and I'm super excited.  I love fall (and spring but fall is probably my favorite season).  For our family fall involves a bit of busyness.  This is a list of things we'll be doing this fall:

Raking and jumping in the leaves
decorating pumpkins
baking lots of pumpkin treats
celebrating Kayd's 7th birthday
celebrating Sawyer's 4th birthday
celebrating KOJ's birthday
go trick or treating
go on a hayride
go apple picking (again)
go to Apple fest

Fall lends itself to so many great activities.  We'll do fall themed stuff in school too.  The kids love fall as much as I do.  But then maybe that's just my enthusiasm spilling over onto them. 

Fall is Kayd's favorite season because of his birthday and Halloween which are back to back.  I can't blame him.  Fall is my favorite season because I have children and experiencing fall with them and the birthdays involved are just so much fun.  Not to mention all the great yumminess that can be made with apples and pumpkins.

So today is Thursday and I'm thankful for FALL!  For seasons that change and yet each year stays magnificently the same.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: End of Summer Fun

We had a very busy weekend this past weekend.  We had it stuffed full with lots of summer fun.  I'm going to caption the photos but otherwise the pictures are the post today.

All my ducklings all in a row.... off to apple picking we go
when did princess monkey get so independent??
KOJ and Sierra pick an apple together.  Love his hand over hers.
Kayden picking an apple.
group shot of the monkeys and their cousins (their mama would probably also call them monkeys too!)
Exploring what dairy cows eat.
Colton petting the pregnant cow.
the kiddos thought the calves were so cute.
tractor riding
milking a cow... sorta.
Sierra's turn to milk the cow.  My little cow girl.
End of summer family bonfire has become tradition.  This is all but a couple of the cousins.
KOJ got the bonfire going and then oversaw the roasting of the marshmallows.
The kids enjoyed "Shadow dancing" when we turned on our headlights to see the picnic area while we were cleaning up.  

And thus ended a good summer.  And onward to fall we go.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Sometimes change feels good.  Sometimes it feels bad.  Almost always it is hard.

I feel a wind of change blowing into my life recently.  And amazingly as the sun is shining outside my windows and my boys are playing almost quietly a few feet away the idea of this change feels so positive, so happy, so good, so God.

I just feel like things are going to be different but it's a good different.  It's a scary and intimidating thing for me, these changes, but ultimately I see good and I see God's hands on my life.

Do you ever just feel like you're on the cusp of something but have no real good way to put it into words?  That's where I am.  On the cusp.

We had a major change recently.  Our car died.  As in forever.  It was a 98 and the poor thing had done it's job mostly well for the past 7.5yrs for us.  We were sad to see it go, it was our first vehicle as a married couple, it carried us back and forth between MI and RI several times and has taken KOJ to work since he got his job.  But one fateful evening it decided not to bring him home.  Ever again.

The thing is though that we're not at a place where we can replace it.  So that is a HUGE change.  It means that KOJ takes our van to work and back now and the children and I are mostly home bound.  It brought about the opportunity to be upset and anxious or to count our blessings.  I've done both in the last few weeks.  I'm not perfect.  I have my concerns.  Being with only one vehicle makes me feel super vulnerable because it means if it breaks down KOJ has no extra vehicle to get him to work.  It means that the kids and I can't go do field trips during the week.

But the blessings are that it broke down about three weeks before the tags were due for renewal and saved us 80.00 in doing so.  We were able to remove it from our insurance saving us a decent chunk a month that can now be put towards the extra cost of the lesser fuel efficient van.  It wasn't the vehicle that fits our whole family that died!  That in itself is a huge blessing.  And it's causing me to think outside the box about things.  I can't go to a co-op, I can't do field trips, I can't go visit my sisters for play dates.  But I can walk with the kids to the library story time because we only live about .5 mile from the library.  I can invite people to join us for play dates in our home.  I can open myself up and the car dying can become a good change for our family.

And so today change is something that seems good.