Tag Archives: children

work together and play together

17 Jun

When summer time comes, I am just as ready to be outside as the kids are.  I want to garden, go for walks, read a book, maybe play a little tennis or go for a swim.  If I’m not deliberate, I will let all of the work of being a wife and mom (which I love) crowd out the play.

Throughout the morning, the kids and I accomplish much. We clean bathrooms, water gardens, bake bread, move laundry, – this week we cleaned the basement… There is never, ever a lack of work to be done! Sometimes we move in teams and other times individually, but we all work.

Why do I make the kids work?  (I say make, because it is something they have to learn, it is not their natural tendency.)

1. They don’t get bored.

2. They learn how to do sooo…  many skills.

3. They learn to set a goal and accomplish it.

4. They sleep better at night.

5. They learn to work together and make it fun.

6. They build strong healthy muscles.

7. They learn to serve others.

8. They become less self focused.

9. They have a greater appreciation of their free time.

10. Many hands make light work!

Even if there isn’t anything I need done, I will look for something for them to put their hands to and conquer.

At lunch time, it all comes to an end and we take some time to shift gears. After a quiet time of reading, resting,or looking at books, it is time to play.  This is the time when the kids ask me if they can do something… or if I will do it with them…  I make a point to say, “Yes!”  “Yes, I will go swimming with you! Yes, we can go for a hike.”  I want to have fun with my kids!

Why do I make myself play?  (I say make, because it is no longer my natural tendency to take time to play.)

1. I don’t get bored.

2. I learn new skills.

3. I sleep better at night.

4. I serve my kids.

5. I learn to play together with them.

6. I become less task focused.

7. I have a better appreciation of what they like to do.

8. I want the kids to know I love to be with them.

9. I am interested in what they’re interested in.

10. I will gain strong healthy muscles.

The summer flies by quickly.  Take time to be deliberate.  Work together. Play together.


How much sleep is good?

6 Jun

With the longer days, sunshine, and a fun yard to play in – my young children are getting to bed later and later.  It would be okay, except for the fact that breakfast still comes pretty early for the rest of the family’s schedule. On one hand it would be easy to just let them play and not worry about it, but I remember what I learned when I first had children.

Children need sleep just like the rest of us, only they need more.

As we developed bedtimes when our oldest children were young, we followed guidelines that were recommended for their age.  It looked something like this:

First year of life:  15 -18 hours of sleep

One to three years: 12 – 14 hours of sleep

Three to five years: 11 -13 hours of sleep

Five to twelve: 10 – 11 hours of sleep

Adults: 7 – 8 hours of sleep

Over the years, I have found this guide to be pretty accurate.  Of course some children need more than others, but all children need a good night sleep.

I remember going to kindergarten and bringing a mat to nap on.  We didn’t necessarily sleep, but we did have to be quiet and rest.  I am sure it was just as helpful for the teacher as it was for us, as children.   Likewise, it is important in our homes for the kiddos, as well as the parents.

If you are experiencing a grumpy, whiny, sickly family, I encourage you to re-evaluate the sleep patterns in your home.

Take time to rest!

a must have, timeless classic!

19 May

Yesterday, as I read to the children, I found my self chuckling over and over through the pages.  Some books I never tire of.  My daughter had asked if she could pick out the book this time.  I had already made my choice, but decided to let her choose instead, wanting to see what she would pick.

When she brought it to me, I was glad I did! It was Winnie the Pooh

Often when people are critiquing movies or books, they speak of the character development throughout the story. Well, I love the variety of little characters in Winnie the Pooh.  Maybe this is a reflection of my intellect or lack thereof (lol), that I find myself relating to each of them at times.

In the story,  Christopher Robin Gives Pooh a Party, and We Say Good-bye ,  Owl, supposedly very wise,  finds himself at a loss. “Owl tried to think of something very wise to say, but couldn’t…”  At times I find myself trying to think of something wise to say, unable to think of anything – I wisely choose to be silent instead!

Or how about the “Anxious Pooh Song”.  If you aren’t up on your Pooh stories – Pooh is concerned that everyone might forget to come to his party, or worse – forget who he is, or what the party is for.  His little song is a ridiculous muddled up mess! It actually reminded me a bit of those “Chaos dreams” I referred to in an earlier post.   When there is too much disorder in my home, I often I start dreaming about it!

Then, there is  Kanga, speaking as a mom often does, “Drink up your milk first, dear, and talk afterwards.” I think I must have sounded something like that at the breakfast table this morning.  “Please eat your breakfast, sweetie, you can practice your pig-latin when you’re finished.”

Eeyore, Tiger, Piglet, and Rabbit  all have their own fun little quirks… but most loved of all, is Pooh!

No doubt, Winnie the Pooh is a timeless classic worth passing down to the children and grandchildren.

finding order in the midst of chaos

12 May

Do you ever have dreams that seem to haunt you over and over? For years after I graduated from school, I would occasionally, but regularly wake in a panic unable to remember my locker combination or schedule of classes.  Through the years, these visions have diminished only to be replaced with reoccurring “chaos dreams.”

“Chaos dreams” tend to play out something like this:  Ten in the morning – I’m still in my pajamas, not showered, can’t figure out what to wear, the bed is not made, laundry is piled sky high, and stuff is everywhere. In the next scene, company arrives – usually  lots of company, expecting to be served brunch. I am not prepared.

I am quite sure this would bring a laugh to anyone who really knows me.  I love to get up early, the laundry is done everyday – so it doesn’t pile sky high, I make my bed when I get up, and we all enjoy serving guests brunch! Even so, disorder has a way of sneaking in.  If I start having “chaos dreams,” I know it is time to get in gear and regain order!

So the question is:  How do I maintain order?

In a house with many people, it requires teamwork.  There is no way I would be able to accomplish it by myself.  Even if I could, it wouldn’t be good for me or the family. With each place we have lived, a “morning job” list has been designed to fit the needs of that home.

These are a few goals that I look for when setting up the morning jobs:

✓ Every child should be included. ( for example: I put the baby in the front pack to watch, while I cleaned. A two year old can be given a moist cloth to dust. That age also enjoys the process of cleaning the tub, especially if given the opportunity to climb in and scrub, keeping them busy while I cleaned the toilet.)

✓ The child’s morning job shouldn’t require a large amount of time.  Fifteen quality minutes, required to be done before breakfast in our home everyday, goes a long way in maintaining a clean house.

✓ Watch for problem areas in each room and try to accommodate for them on a daily, weekly, or monthly routine. For instance, something I overlooked on our current morning job chart are the light fixtures.  Presently our kitchen light and fan is covered with dust! Yuck!  Had I put it on the schedule, it may have been overlooked occasionally, but it never would have become so bad.

✓ The morning job charts are posted where the kids can easily see them and covered with plastic slip covers.  At least to begin with, the children check off the chore when it has been completed.  After it becomes a habit, they seldom refer to the chart, but it continues to be helpful to me in holding them accountable.

✓ Walk through their personal chore with them the first few times, making sure they have a clear understanding of what is expected and how to accomplish it.

✓ Even if one lives alone, breaking the housekeeping into bite size chunks that can easily be accomplished increases productivity.

✓ Follow the schedule! It works!

If you are interested in seeing my Prevention Plan, I attached some links. Feel free to download and reformat to fit your own needs.

May all your dreams be sweet and filled with order!

• Clean the Office and Living room Doc.Download

• Taking out the Trash Doc.Download

• Clean Bedroom and Bathroom Doc.Download

• Clean the Dining room Doc.Download

• Clean the Kitchen Doc.Download

– all without being told?

4 May

One of the benefits of spending a little time away is the fresh perspective gained upon arriving home.  The kids all looked happy and healthy, the yard was lush with new growth, and the house looked beautiful!  I love coming home!

As usual, the children had been conscientious  in achieving order before we arrived.  Yet, within minutes, the order began to dwindle.  A sweater draped over a chair, water glasses with the remains of muddy hands left in various places, tennis rackets, balls,  crayons, papers, shoes… Things were taken out, yet nothing put away.  Disorder emerged so quickly!

I suddenly realized how lackadaisical I had become in this area. Letting my expectations drop, little by little, poor habits settled in.

So, what are my expectations?

I expect –

– the children to put their things away when they are done.

– beds made in the morning and a tidy room in the evening.

– them to take responsibility completing their daily chores.

– a respectful answer when spoken to.

– all without being told [this is a high standard but worth working towards] :)

Should children be held accountable when these expectations are not met? Yes, if they are based on a prior mutual understanding and agreement! First, I need to ask myself, “What kind of an example am I setting? How am I following through?” As the children grow,  self-discipline will be required, so while still a child, it is my passion as a parent to prepare them well.  Instilling in them the joy of industriously pursuing excellence comes through working together, supporting, and challenging each other.  Trying, failing, and trying again.

Throughout a child’s life, what is expected of him will grow and change. A few key concepts to help this transition go as smoothly as possible are taken from a previous post: A Room Full of Life and Adventure.

1) Give the child a clear understanding of what is expected.

2) Walk through the process with him ahead of time. (practice, practice, practice)

3) Have a clear understanding with the child of appropriate, meaningful consequences.

4) Calmly follow through with the plan and be consistent!

Taking the risk of being an irritant, once again, I am pulling in the reigns.  The standard is being raised.  There is no need to repeat myself, or become a nag, I am determined to simply follow through and be consistent.

Who’s ruling the roost when you aren’t there?

27 Apr

I walked into the house yesterday to find my two youngest children with their noses in separate corners. Attempting to conquer another area in the yard, I had been working with the others outside.  These two had come in a little ahead of me to play a game of cards, which apparently wasn’t as “fun” as they expected and they ended up with their noses in the corners of the dining room.

What happens when we (as parents) are not home? How are the children cared for? How do they communicate? How are they disciplined?

My favorite place to be is at home, yet sometimes I need to be away. Whether it is simply a few hours or an extended period of time, the children’s caretakers should be informed of what we expect.  What is acceptable  behavior and what is not? How should the unacceptable be addressed? What form of discipline do we trust the caregiver to use? Although this may look different in each home, it is worth taking the time to be prepared.

Through the years, our older children have become aware of the house standards.  Authority has been given to them in our absence, and likewise they have earned our trust and respect in handling it.  Not everyone has the luxury of built in sitters in the home. In fact, it took us many years to get to that point! Whoever it is that steps in to that role for your family, be sure to give them some tools to work with.  Don’t let those sweet little ones rule the roost!

Loving older sis took the time to confront the kiddos, discipline, and follow through with some constructive instruction. Much to my appreciation, she even thought to have them fold their hands behind their backs, keeping the muddy fingers off of our freshly painted walls!

Full of Anticipation!

21 Apr

This week we have begun the official Bi-Annual Sort Through All of the Clothes Process.  It isn’t one that I especially look forward to, although it is much easier now than when all of our children where young. This year, I only have four wardrobes to go through, other than my own.  The main motivation for conquering it now, was to be prepared with outfits for Easter.

When I was little, I remember my mom making a point to have us wear something extra special. Often she would surprise me with a new dress or pair of gloves and a fun hat. We are not purchasing new outfits for all of our dear children, but I do want them to look nice and fresh.

Easter is a wonderful celebration! It is well worth taking the extra effort to build anticipation and even some expectation for the special day.

Here are a few things I am working on to help the day go smoothly:

-Prepare each person’s clothes ahead of time.  Be sure they are washed and pressed. Check if they need tights or socks. Usually by Sunday morning at least one shoe has mysteriously disappeared! Try to find them both ahead of time. (My youngest already found her tights and was using them for “dress ups.” I may just put a padlock on each outfit!) lol

-Explain the sequence of events with the children so they know what to expect.

-Don’t forget to practice, practice, practice…     For instance:

-How should the children sit in church? We used to line up all of the dining room chairs and practice with the stuffed animals.  The children had fun being the pastor, the usher the  passing the offering plate, or the musician leading  singing.

-Practice the table manners ahead of time.  Simple phrases like,  “May I please have some…”, Thank you for dinner!”, and “May I please be excused?”

-Last of all, remember the post, “Embarrassing for Everyone“? By now, hopefully all of our children will remember not to complain about the pickled beets that their Aunt Ethel made- but rather, find something to compliment the chef on!

Yesterday we conquered the little girls clothes. Today we are on to the boys.

May your days be filled with a growing sense of anticipation and expectation!