Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tidbits for Family Living #1

"Wow!  You have a big family!"

Those aren't words I ever imagined having people say about us.  When we were dating, we did talk about family size and I thought that 4 kids seemed like a good number but I guess I never considered that having 4 kids made you a large family.  (Still don't but apparently a lot of other people think differently.)

Perception aside, I do think any family has their own way of doing things that makes their lives run more smoothly.  I am always curious how other families manage their lives and love hearing good ideas from other moms and dads.  So I though I'd start sharing some of the strategies we use around here to keep the chaos and noise to a dull roar.

"Wow!  You're a Big Family" Tidbit #1
I try hard not to do for my kids things that they can do themselves.  When I hear someone say that their kids don't do any chores, I am always amazed.  I want to say "Get ahold of yourself!  Make your life easier!  Put your kids to work!"  (Rationale about making your children responsible citizens aside.)  So that's strategy number one.  All of my kids (except Kai) have chores.  The big kids have a morning chore and an evening chore.  In the morning, one of them feeds and waters the dog and the other one empties the garbage and recycling.  After supper, one of them cleans off the supper table and sweeps under the table and the other sorts the laundry into darks and lights.  Zeke just earned the responsible of unloading the plates and bowls from the dishwasher.

Some tricks to making chores doable?  Rearrange things so that it works for your kids.  Our plates and bowls are not up high in the cupboards. They are in a bottom cupboard on a shelf so Zeke can reach them.  Our dog food is in a container with a lid that is easy to open.  The kids use a small hand broom to sweep under the table. Our laundry room is set up with two sorting baskets for lights and darks.

We also rotate chores each week for the big kids so they don't have to always do the same chores.

Be flexible.  Will your kids drop plates and break them?  Yep.  Will they mess around in the laundry room and throw your underwear up in the air and get it stuck on the curtain rod?  Yep.  Will they spill the dog food and drop the bowl full of macaroni salad in between the kitchen and the dining room?  Yep.  Just expect some goofy kid behavior and some mistakes.

And I don't always wait for them to do their chores.  If the garbage needs to go out and the kids aren't home, I take it out.  If I need the dishwasher unloaded so I can run another load of dishes, I unload it.

What about whining and being a slow poke?  It all depends.  Sometimes I just let them poke around and reap the natural consequence of being slow.  (ie missing out on another activity)  Sometimes, I consequence it by making them do the chore again the next week.  Sometimes I give grace and offer to help so it goes faster. Sometimes I try to lighten the mood by playing beat the timer or by asking them to pick a song to listen to and then turning to that on Spotify.  And sometimes I yell...but don't tell anyone.

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