Cleaning House {with LOTS of Help}

  I was just thinking a few Saturdays ago, as I cleaned house with 4 REALLY great helpers, how difficult it was.  I also thought how much easier it would be for me to do the cleaning while they were all at school, allllllll by myself.  It would be faster, and sometimes, when I know we have a busy weekend, I will do just that. 

HOWEVER, 99 times out of 100, we do it…..  

ALLLLL of us.

  Do you know how hard it is, to find jobs for 4 really great helpers?

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It’s all I can do sometimes to keep everyone going, but we do it faithfully.  Know why?

  Because as the mom, it is my job to bring up my children to know how to work.  To feel the sense of accomplishment for a job well done.  To create a daily habit of bed making, room tiding, to make a habit of weekly cleaning.
To teach them how to vacuum correctly, wash windows, dust and mop.  Even scrub toilets.

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If I don’t take the time to train them, who will?

  I like Big Picture Parenting. Or Intentional Parenting.  I spend a lot of my time thinking ahead of how such and such will affect my children in the future. That is why I stand by my conviction, that my children age 2-9, can absolutely carry part of the load of household chores. 

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  Most of the time, they love to help!  And, sometimes we even FIGHT over whose turn it is to vacuum. 

And if we aren’t careful, someone gets his toe pinched when he tries to release the vacuum tab all by himself.  Hmm, guess that’s why Mommy said WAIT?

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Other chores we do together:

Laundry

Sorting and starting loads. Folding and Putting away.

Sometimes its just the little 2, sometimes they are all home.  Whoever is home, is the helper.

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  When the laundry is sorted, they can go play.  Once I have finished all the loads, folded and placed the items neatly in each persons basket, the children then come to help sort and fold socks.  Then EVERYONE helps put their own basket of clothes away.  Eventually, I will make them help fold clothes too, but for now, this works.

Daily Chores include:

Unloading the Dishwasher

{this is for whomever is home that morning}

  We start our dishwasher helpers a little before they turn two.  They can easily help with silverware sorting. 

  Destiny came up with a great job rotation: bottom rack person goes to top, top rack person goes to silverware, silverware person goes to bottom.  They all have a job that way!  Paxton always does what we call “easy silverware”.  That means when the utensil rack is empty except for basic dinnerware, it’s HIS turn to help. He does such a good job sorting 2 sizes of forks, 2 sizes of spoons, butter knives and kids silverware, that I no longer even have to stand around and help him.

You will find this to be true with a lot of jobs, train now, and suddenly in the future, they can do it on their own while you help another child.

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Gathering Eggs

  Everyone takes turns with this chore.  It’s easy and fun!  While they are outside getting eggs, they must check the chickens water bowl.  Then, when they come back in the garage, they are to sort the eggs and put them in cartons. 

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Setting & Clearing the Table

Everyone has to take a turn setting the table and filling ice waters with me. This is a great opportunity to teach them to set a tidy table, with silverware where they belong etc.  They also must clear their own plate when lunch or dinner is done, and wipe down their area of the table, catching the crumbs in their hands and throwing them away. NOT on mom’s clean floor! Smile

  The bigger kids can rinse their own plates and load the dishwasher.  As long as the little two bring over their dinner plates, I don’t mind doing the rinsing and loading.  Again, this can all be changed as they get older, I am happy with the level of help they can complete easily for now.

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   Here are some keys to this process:

We remind them to work as if working for the Lord in whatever task they have to do!

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord….” Colossians 3:23

  Once the chores are done, it’s Play TIME! I want them to go have fun and be kids.  To know how good it feels to have worked together to complete our tasks.

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Here are some age appropriate chores from a previous blog post on Chores, we start ours earlier than this age bracket, but I think it will give you a general idea:

Ages 2 to 5
Work alongside your children to help them perform simple chores like putting dirty clothes in the hamper, sorting laundry into color-coded piles, making their beds and feeding pets.

Ages 6 to 8
Children can dust and vacuum, put away their clothes, empty wastebaskets, set and clear the table, care for pets and help with some yard work.

Ages 9 to 12
Kids can unpack groceries, load and unload the dishwasher, mop the floor, fold laundry, wash the car, and help prepare simple meals.

  Most child-development experts agree that children shouldn’t be paid for household chores, which are part of contributing to family life.

Here are some tips for a positive chore experience at your house from Dr. Dobson:

Give kids ownership:  Have a family meeting and enlist the help of your children in selecting the chores they want to do.  Also have them participate in selecting the consequences for chores not performed in a timely manner.  Let kids know expectations ahead of time.

Use “shaping” to teach tasks:  First, let children watch you perform a chore as you talk through it step by step.  The next time, let children perform one part of the chore.  Each time, give kids a little more responsibility until they’re ready to tackle the chores alone.

Use language cues to spur self-reflection and responsible behavior:  Say “I see books on the floor” rather than giving a direct command.  That helps kids make decisions and reduces any defiance.

Offers encouragement:  Always thank children for their contributions and offer genuine praise for their efforts.  Instead of saying, “Your room looks good,” say, “Thank you for working so hard to put your clothes and toys in their proper place.”

  The key here is not to expect perfection! When Destiny was a little girl, I had to learn not to go tidy her bed after she made it.  Wrinkled or not, she had done her best and worked SO hard on it!  By fixing it in front of her, I was showing her that her best wasn’t good enough.

  I thank God that He allowed me to see her crest-fallen face and slumped shoulders once, early on, so He could open my eyes to what this was saying to her.

Doing chores is not always welcomed, but if you face it with a smile on your face and a cheerful heart, your children will soon learn to work hard, so they can play hard later.  They will learn the value of chores and responsibility!

On days they DO NOT want to help or have a bad attitude about it, we remind them of this verse taken from Philippians 2:14-15:

“Do everything without arguing or complaining, so that you might become a child of God…..”

Now those are some good words to chore by!

~T

 

Gone Country

  Sooo, I have been residing in the Country for a little over 10 years now, and I love love love it.  If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I grew up in a big house in a nice part of town, and never ever once imagined myself being a Country girl.

NEVER. 

  I hated getting dirty, I liked paved roads, neighbors right next door, and being only a minute or two from the nearest mall. I was a make up loving, curling iron toting, don’t get your nails dirty, shop till you drop, City Girl all the way! 

Until I met Dale. 

{SIGH}

Dale

  My Corn Fed Country Boy straight from the Dairy Farm.

  Guess that life grows on ya, because he had me at hello!  Fast forward a few years, and I can honestly tell you, if I have any say in it, we will never move out of the Country. 

  I have learned to LOVE the fact that from my front window, I see trees, not houses or road. I have learned to chase roosters when they try to get my babies. I have learned to shoot a gun.  I have learned to kill spiders with something smaller than a 2×4 and not scream. {not very loud, anyways} And, I have learned that old outbuildings full of junk, make amazing forts for my kids and spots for my photography.

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Without further adieu, I give you:…..

How to “Go Country”

Step 1: Move to the Country and fall in love with wide open spaces.our house017 (3)

  Step 2:  While you are residing there, adjust to mice in the winter, {thank God that problem no longer haunts us} chasing foxes and skunks down the lane with a gun, or broom, either works, and say goodbye to purified water.
You will need to adjust to well water that is high in minerals and comes ice-cold straight out of the pump.  {I used to say you had to chew it. Now, I say Mmm mmm good!}

Step 3: Learn to Garden.  This is an ongoing process, and we still have lots to learn, like when to plant garlic and potatoes. I can NEVER remember in time!  Anyhow, last summer we had 5 different garden spots around the yard, and most, were successful.  YAY!  Oh! Oh! AND I over came a really big fear of mine, and we learned to can! Jalapenos, tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce.  Woo-hoo!

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Step three: Get Animals…..
First Chickens. 

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Then Kittens.  

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Next up?  Cows and pigs this Spring.

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Ho boy.  Now its really starting to sound Country around here!!!!

Step 4: Learn to eat weird, wild things your husband shoots in your own yard.  Like deer, turkey, or even……………….

SQUIRREL.

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  If you follow me on 4 little Fergusons Facebook page, you know what I am about to share.  For those of you that have yet to head over there and “like” us, {pretty, pretty please?} this was my status update:

I can’t believe I just googled “Is it safe to eat squirrel?”
Guess it’s a go, folks. Yikes.

  See, “Do It Yourself Dale” wants us to be able to butcher the afore-mentioned cow and pig OURSELVES, so he built us a meat cooler.  Naturally, he needed to walk the property and “shoot something” to try it out. 

Enter Squirrely the Squirrel.

{Bang}

RIP Mr. Squirrel.

  No, we haven’t eat him yet, he is still hanging in the cooler.  I have tried Black Bear and Beaver at a Game Feed, but Squirrel just seems so, I don’t know, domestic? When we consume him, ugh, I will have completed step 4 to “going Country”.

  ANYHOW, the whole point of this oh-so pointless post, is that I have taken yet another step in embracing this new Country Life of mine, here is it………..

Step 5: Own a pair of boots you call “Chore Boots”, as well as “Bibs” and a “Chore Coat” to keep you warm in the winter.

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Clearly, I can check Step 5 off my list, because my sweet husband used his Christmas money from his Momma, to buy me a set of “Bibs and a warm Chore Coat”.  I was super honored and surprised at this announcement, and I think it is oh-so sweet!  I felt very loved and cared for by this thoughtful gesture, but I am fully aware, that it could also be that he acted out of sheer sympathy.  ‘Cause I may or may not have chored the other day in 3 inch wedge heeled fur boots. 

WHAT! 

I was on my way into town and didn’t want to change.

Note to self:  When choring in 3 inch wedge heeled fur boots, go ahead and duck those additional 3 inches when stepping through the chicken coop opening.

Just sayin’.

  Alright folks, here it is.  Step 5 and proof I have “Gone Country”.

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Awww! Look at our Chore Clothes hanging together in the garage.
It really is the little things that mean so much…..

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  This is my “Gone Country” face.  I think it fits the look, don’t you?  Just missing a piece of wheat coming out of my mouth. 

Yehaw?
~T

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Taking Chore Charts To the Dot.com World

  I talked to you yesterday about chores.  Ugh, chores.  The necessary evil.  Actually, that’s not entirely true.  The older Destiny gets, the easier it is to send her to her room, knowing when she exits, her laundry will be put away.  Or when I send Ty and Avery out to the kitchen, I know they will put away the majority of the dishes from the dishwasher without my help now, which is a nice change.  It took some one-on-one training and it took some extra time, but eventually they mastered the chore to the point of doing it alone most of the time.  The payoff I am seeing so far, is so worth it!  It gives me hope that one day I can hand them a dust rag, vacuum and the windex and send them to clean their own rooms!

  We used to use only sticker charts to reward good behavior and getting chores done promptly.  But recently, I discovered a site that helps keep track of your kids daily, weekly, even once-a-month, chores.  I promptly filled it out and we have been successfully using it ever since.  I love it and the kids are so proud to get to come to the computer and check off their items. 

MY JOB CHART was created for the conscientious parent as a tool to help teach their children to work.

….. An online job chart helps parents manage household jobs easily and efficiently.

Using an innovative job chart that is based on technology, positive feedback, and mutually determined rewards, myjobchart.com helps parents help their children be responsible and develop a good work ethic.

Here is how it works:

I log in and manage all chores and their point value.  I decide what days what chores need to be done, and myjobchart.com does the rest, listing off each child’s chosen chores for that particular day, in an easy check-off list. 

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This is what my screen looks like.  I can edit chores by day, or change how many points each job is worth as needed. It’s so simple!  

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Once after school and once before bed, each child logs in and checks off their completed tasks. The kids seem to respond best when they get to check chores off right away, otherwise, we’d not be logging in twice a day.  I supposed older kids would be fine logging in right before bed and feel rewarded for the tasks they had completed in the morning.  But little ones? Definitely still into instant gratification! :)

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The kids love the log in part, because they have their own password! SUPER COOL!

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This is the screen Destiny sees when she first logs in:

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  She checks the boxes of her completed tasks and off to the right you can see her total points are 133 so far.  Below that is a sticky note where I leave her messages.

This is an example of the reward page.  It keeps track of how many points your child has earned, as will as automatically subtract points when they spend them!

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    I am so pleased with this website and how responsive our kids have been to using it.  Best of all….it’s FREEEEEEEE!  And if it’s free, then it’s for me!

Go check it out!  www.myjobchart.com

  And no, they are not paying me to tell you about this, just something I’m excited about.  Hmm, that WOULD be nice though! :)

~T

Chores

   Our kids are expected to do chores, from unloading the dishwasher to feeding the dog.  We had not yet started Tylan, age 3 and Avery, age 1 1/2, on chores when I got put on bed rest while pregnant with Paxton last year, but that changed things in a hurry! Everyone had to carry some extra weight with Momma down for over 6 months! 

Here is sweet little Avery, at 20 months, doing a great job on her part of the dishwasher…the silverware!

 Destiny and Ty do the “regular” dishes, bowls and plates.  I do knives and the “extras”.   Ty’s favorite is when he gets to stand on the counter to put away the dishes.  Destiny was at school the day I took these, but every other time, one stacks clean dishes on the counter, and the other puts them away.

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    The children are also expected to make their own beds every morning, get dressed and brush teeth.  On laundry day, they are required to put away their clothes too. (the little ones still need my assistance)     We reward their good obedience and a job well done with stickers for their sticker chart062

  On cleaning day, Dale and I have recently started dividing the kids up between us, and helping them with dusting and vacuuming different parts of the house.  Destiny is also responsible for keeping the kid’s bathroom tidy during the week. This means toothpaste free sink, polished counter top and fingerprint free mirrors.

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  A new chore we’ve added since our chickens joined the family, is gathering eggs and feeding and giving water to the baby chickies. Ty and Destiny do this chore together after school :

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  We’ve only had one egg mishap for each kid. Destiny dropped one in the garage during her transfer to the fridge, and the other day Tylan, tripped out in the chicken coop.  Bye-bye 7 eggs!  That’s ok Ty, accidents happen!

  Below is a list of age appropriate chores for your kiddos that I got from Dr. Dobson’s website a few years ago. Yes, it takes longer to unload the dishwasher then when I do it myself, and things aren’t always done as tidy as this momma wants them, but I know this is teaching them a valuable lesson in responsibility.

Here are some age appropriate tasks:
Ages 3 to 5
Work alongside your children to help them perform simple chores like putting dirty clothes in the hamper, sorting laundry into color-coded piles, making their beds and feeding pets.

Ages 6 to 8
Children can dust and vacuum, put away their clothes, empty wastebaskets, set and clear the table, care for pets and help with some yard work.

Ages 9 to 12
Kids can unpack groceries, load and unload the dishwasher, mop the floor, fold laundry, wash the car, and help prepare simple meals.

  Most child-development experts agree that children shouldn’t be paid for household chores, which are part of contributing to family life. 

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Here are some tips for positive chores experience at your house:

Give kids ownership:  Have a family meeting and enlist the help of your children in selecting the chores they want to do.  Also have them participate in selecting the consequences for chores not performed in a timely manner.  Let kids know expectations ahead of time.

Use “shaping” to teach tasks:  First, let children watch you perform a chore as you talk through it step by step.  The next time, let children perform one part of the chore.  Each time, give kids a little more responsibility until they’re ready to tackle the chores alone.

Use language cues to spur self-reflection and responsible behavior.  Say “I see books on the floor” rather than giving a direct command.  That helps kids make decisions and reduces any defiance.

Offers encouragement.  Always thank children for their contributions and offer genuine praise for their efforts.  Instead of saying, “Your room looks good,” say, “Thank you for working so hard to put your clothes and toys in their proper place.”

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  The key here is not to expect perfection! I had to learn that I was crushing Destiny’s spirit when I’d go tidy her bed after she made it.  Wrinkled or not, she had done her best and worked SO hard on it!  By fixing it in front of her, I was showing her that her best wasn’t good enough. 

  I thank God that He allowed me to see her crest-fallen face and slumped shoulders once, early on, so He could open my eyes to what this was saying to her. 

Have a great one!  ~T

PS  Stay tuned, I am getting ready to post again, this time a FOOD post! I was excited enough to share it with you, that it deemed a double post day. Yup, deeelicious……