July 08, 2010

summer ideas- chore charts and NON-consistency.

i have had MANY chore charts in my day.
this is our latest and greatest.
actually, the rule is only mom can mark off a job, but i let ellie pose for this picture.  :)

when i was younger, my friend heidi always had the coolest jobs.
i remember writing in my journal... "when i'm a mom, i want to have job lists like hers..."
she would have to bake something, read a book, play the piano and the usual, clean a bathroom, etc....

this is our list.
get dressed
teeth and hair
bed and room
chores- dishes or trash
practice music
ask mom
i have this quote on the bottom "I learned the value of hard work by working hard." by Margaret Mead

i just printed out a chart from microsoft word and stuck it in a $3 Michael's frame, that i had.
(remember, i'm not buying stuff...) 

it is a wonderful start to our day.
and, it makes me happy, everyday.

-- the order is important...
i always teach them to, start with your body, move to your environment.
Chores before fun.

--i like that this chart wipes clean everyday.

--i like that i can personalize it for certain days.

--i use white board markers, and they work great...
BUT if i were buying them, i would get the overhead projector wash with water thin markers... i think they would be PERFECT.

Some THOUGHTS on Being Consistent With Chores.
actually, this may surprise you, but i don't believe in CONSISTENCY as a parent.
i hate consistency.  {i KNOW... can you believe i'm writing this???}
i think that being consistent often gives parents an excuse to be contentious.
if i have a morning where i don't have the energy to do chores and keep it light and joyful.
we don't do them.
and life still goes on.
some days, we leave the beds unmade and the breakfast dishes on the counter and head to the park.
these days are my favorite days.
being consistent-- blah!
i'm always changing things, coming up with new systems...
a new season, a new theory...
It also helps that i am married to Mr. DEPENDABLE, non-deviating...
we must have oatmeal on mondays, eggs on tuesday, cream of wheat on wednesday...
the professor is consistent, and i am the wind that keeps everyone happy and flowing in his general direction.
i really don't care if we eat oatmeal on monday.

BUT... i am REALLY good at getting my kids to do their chores, most days, and they are SELF MOTIVATED and HAPPY while they are doing them.

my kids don't have a tv rule like "only 30 minutes a day" or "you can earn hours" because i don't want to be consistent in that.
if i think they're watching too much tv on a given day, i just turn it off and say "go play"
if they complain... i just smile and say something like,
"i'm your sweet mother, it is my job to protect your brain... and today, it is shrinking from too much tv.  GO PLAY, and someday, when you have children, you can choose to let them have tiny brains..."
but, we do have patterns... MOST days our life is ordered.
really... i think one of my greatest assets as a mother is that i am flexible.
but, i don't hear this much from really good families, so maybe don't listen to this advice.
{here is a WONDERFUL talk, More Diligent and Concerned at Home... suggestion 3-- is be consistent.
i really am conflicted about this... because, i have found, CONSISTENT is what makes me a cranky momma.}

To LOVE is better than to TEACH- a principle.

This is one of the profound moments on my journey to LEARN mothering.
it is a moment that i often reflect on.
a moment where God taught me so i could teach them.

i was a young mother.  
i had a 2 year old, a 1 year old and i was pregnant with Anna.
i had just finished folding baskets and baskets of laundry.
they were ready to be put away, sitting in a line at the top of my upstairs balcony.
the next thing i knew, my boys were laughing and throwing all my laundry off the balcony.
like 6 loads.
in a heap on my entryway floor.
i was devestated and SO MAD.
i was convinced that they knew better.
that they had to be taught.
i remember wanting to throw them off the balcony.
{i know, horrible mommy... they were BABIES!}
right when i was about to YELL... 
to TEACH them not to make MESSES... 
to TEACH them to respect their mother and all MY hard work...  
when i was just about to give it to them and feel completely justified in all my rage because what they had done was WRONG!!!
right at that moment, i felt a still, small voice that asked me...
what is more important?  teaching them to be clean, or teaching them to be kind?
i wondered if my children went off to college and had no idea how to clean a bathroom, or fold their laundry, could they still be good, functioning adults?
i remembered my college room-mates.
they were good girls.
one had a father who was a general authority.
they were messy.
they once cleaned the bathroom with windex and toilet paper.
i remember being surprised that they didn't really know how to clean.
{i'm certain this was just my impression...}
i KNEW at that moment, that it was NOT important to teach my kids to be clean.
i NEEDED to teach them to be KIND even when they were ANGRY.
i NEEDED to teach MYSELF to BE KIND, even when i'm ANGRY.
and...  LOVE is more important.

i will always remember that moment.  sitting at the steps, with my boys in my lap and the mountain of laundry strewn below us.
i hugged them and i cried.
for my weakness and their purity.
i learned that day to tell myself... love them today, you can teach them that tomorrow.

and today, my boys are wonderful!
they don't ever throw clean, folded clothes around the house.
they have learned.
and... i have learned.

be consistent.  yes.
consistently LOVING.  
and, if you cannot teach cleanliness and kindness, pick kindness...
they can learn cleanliness another day.
if you cannot teach potty training and kindness.
pick kindness...
they can learn potty training another day.
if you cannot teach your grand scriptural insights and be kind.
pick kindness... they can learn scriptural wisdom another day.
because if you can't teach with love, you aren't really teaching at all.
you're just enforcing.  
so, i guess i am for consistency... just depends on what your trying to be consistent in.
when it comes to most of life's tasks... i am consistently inconsistent.
when it comes to teaching my kids, loving my kids, keeping calm and carrying on... 
i'm pretty dang consistent.
and surprisingly, when i choose kindness... the other things happen more consistently than you would expect.
it's the loose yourself and you shall find yourself principle.
give up control and you'll find control.
ahhh... the lessons i'm learning...
NOTHING teaches you more than being a mom.
"He taketh the barren woman and maketh her a joyful mother of children.  Praise ye the Lord."  
{psalms something...}
An Example of our Daily Routine.
so, i'm sharing what we do...

--CARTOONS- my kids watch tv when they get up, until i get up and at it...

--MORNING DEVOTIONAL- we start with morning devotional, i turn off the tv, we sing, talk about the scripture chapter that they read the day before, and say family prayers

--SCRIPTURE TIME- part of their chores is prayer and scripture...
so, after scripture time, we just sit for 5 more minutes and silently read the next chapter...
some days, i read the chapter out loud to the kids who aren't fast readers, but we don't talk about it yet...
my husband and i have really studied "Watching with all Perseverance" by David Bedner.  It is so good.
He asks, "Are we as parents primarily giving our children the equivalent of spiritual fish to eat, or are we consistently helping them to at, to learn for themselves, and to stand steadfast and immovable?  Are we helping our children become anxiously engaged in asking, seeking, and knocking?" 

My kids have begun looking for 3 questions while they read...
they either mark them with a ? on the side of their scriptures, or they write them on a piece of paper...
the NEXT day, during morning devotional, we just say, "So, what did you learn yesterday in your scripture study?"  and then wait for THEM to tell US.
"Does anyone have any questions?"
When they ask a question, i say, "Ohh, great question.  What do you think?"
i HARDLY EVER answer any of their questions.
We have them look in the scriptures for the answer and occasionally we ask the other kids, "What do you think?"
interactive scripture times are SO MUCH more effective then the sit and listen to me preach scripture times...  love it.

--WORKING TOGETHER- my kids do chores in pairs.
first and third-- do trash, gather it from around the house and take it to the dumpster.
second and fourth-- do dishes, empty the dishwasher and set the table.
i really like seeing them learn to work together.

my bigger kids are each taking piano or violin lessons.
i encourage them to practice each song 3 times every day.
i don't correct them if they mess up.
for me, music is teaching daily discipline.
i want it to be something they love.
i let their teachers correct them at their lesson and i focus on practicing with a smile.

--LAUNDRY- i like that they have a LAUNDRY job everyday...
some days they gather and sort, some days they fold, some days they put away, and some days it's a FREE spot.

during the day, i keep a running list of little jobs that i never do...
like, pair the mismatched socks, vacuum around the edges of the carpet, wash windows, toilets, mop, wash counters, organize the craft cupboard, gather all the shoes in the house and put them in the right closet, vacuum the bedrooms, etc.
Because i'm not consistent, i LOVE the flexibility of this job.
I also LOVE that this job lightens my load as a mother.
I don't have that heavy burden when i see another job that needs to be done around the house that i never get to.

Yesterday, i heard the kids talking...
jakob- "i HATE mopping."
anna- "i LOVE mopping, it's fun".
jakob- "what's your ask mom job, i'll trade you."
anna- "i have toilets.  i LOVE toilets."
jakob- "man, toilets are fun.  please trade."
mom- "what don't you like about mopping?  mopping is fun."
jakob- "i hate sweeping."
mom- "i don't mind sweeping for you."
jakob-  "fine.  but tomorrow can i clean the toilets?"

HA!!  i love it!
seriously, my kids are great workers, i'm afraid that i am lazier than they are.

--READ is a great chore.
some kids take longer to read a scripture chapter,
so they count 20 minutes of scripture study as their read chore.
i LOVE it when they set the timer and curl up on the couch.
i especially love it when the timer rings and they keep on reading.
i don't care if they read for an hour, because i don't care if their chores ever get done...
i mainly use chores as stuff to do BEFORE tv or BEFORE friends...
so, if they spend all day reading and never turn on the tv... i'm ok with that.

when i was a young mom, i worried that forcing my kids to do something would make them resent it.
some of my kids may complain for a minute when they get to read... and i just smile and encourage.
after they start, they are hooked.
i'm all about requiring them to do what i choose.
and in time, they choose it on their own.
{same with tv... we don't have television, just Netflix.  i hate disney channel so i say they can watch tv only if they watch leave it to beaver, or brady bunch, or national geographic or father knows best type shows... at first, they won't choose what i like, but after knowing that they have to, they actually like to.)
i even encourage my little kids do their chores.
my 3 year old will ask, what's next, and i'll tell her she has to read.
she says, "Fine!!" and gets a pile of books.
it's lovely.

--CREATE- this is another great one.
They just have to make something.
Many days, this just expands into our afternoon.
Some kids write songs on the piano,
some play with Play-doh,
some draw,
some make cookies,
some paint.
yes.  create can be messy.  but it is wonderful.
and, i love this job.

we don't always get to this job, but the kids like planning what they are going to practice.
sometimes origami, sometimes it's bike riding, sometimes it's typing.
Create, practice and play are where the kids get to do their summer goals... they choose, i encourage.

--PLAY- another favorite.
this is play not screens.
i love when they play with stuff like legos, barbies, blocks, puzzles, games, outside, etc.

With this job list, my days are lovely.
i have no guilt if we stay home all day, because my kids have done great things.
We are usually done with our list by noon... or at least onto Create, Practice and Play...
so, i have my afternoons free to organize while the little girls sleep.
on the days we go to the pool, we just do the first part of the list, go play by 10 and Create, Practice and Play after lunch while the little girls take naps.
Many days, we don't go on our field trip till 3.
i LOVE going to the park and pool from 3-5pm after naps and before dinner.

NOTE-- this is the other post i wrote this summer on JOBS and letting kids pick their own jobs.
i LOVE this idea...
and i think i will do at the start of EVERY SUMMER or even EVERY MONDAY.
but, it's not the best for every DAY.
it seemed like we were spending A LOT of time writing down our goals each day.
this new chart is flexible enough for them to take ownership of their day...
and, still gives them structure for the things that don't change.

so, once again.  a LONG post, just when i was showing you our new chore chart.
such it is.
and now, time for me to turn off the tv and start my kids on their morning journey.
me-- i'll be making enchiladas for 100... i finished the salsa and mexican rice last night.
wish me luck!!!
fun, fun!!


Teachinfourth said...

"Someday, when you have children, you can choose to let them have tiny brains…"

Brilliant line!

Reading your post made me laugh. You've also got a great idea. I think I'm going to to have to share it with a few friends.


beckyjune said...

I love this post, Jen. I have been trying different chore charts and trying to find what works best with my kids. I like that you are consistent with being kind...it is true that sometimes being consistent with getting chores done turns us into grumpy drill sargeant moms. I am working hard on that one.

Sara said...

Finally had a moment to do a little blog catch up... Love, love, love everything you do! Thank you for always sharing such great ideas and thoughts. In my next life I hope to be as articulate as you. Do you still have the chart from your last blog layout about "not happy - change something"? I think it was from an Etsy artist? If you still have that image, can you email it to me? Sara@epoxyads.com
Lots of love!

Darrin said...

I am not a blog-follower and this is my first time reading your blog, but I have to tell you that it made me cry. I know, crazy. I love your chore chart and I am going to try it, but more than that, you gave me permission to be ME --- to be the consistently inconsistent mom that I am. Thank you for sharing your thoughts --- you have no idea how much I appreciate it. :)

Company EIGHT said...

GREAT idea!! I love the chore chart!

Amir B. said...

Just happened across your blog. What a great post. I love what you said about teaching kindness now.. and whatever else later on. So important to be reminded. Thanks!

The Loden's said...

My friend sent me this link to your blog, and I am very impressed! I love the Chore chart and loved the conversation about be consistently teaching kindness!I really need to work on that I also have a 2yr and a 1 yr old. They throw my clean clothes on the floor all the time!! it made me cry. Thank you for this little inspired look into your life!

The Loden's said...

My friend sent me this link to your blog, and I am very impressed! I love the Chore chart and loved the conversation about be consistently teaching kindness!I really need to work on that I also have a 2yr and a 1 yr old. They throw my clean clothes on the floor all the time!! it made me cry. Thank you for this little inspired look into your life!

emily said...

Just found your blog via brown paper packages blog. I have just returned to teaching full time this fall. My 4 1/2 year old twins are adapting pretty well to our new schedule but some mornings we really struggle to get out the door with out too much drama. First I love what you said about consistency! There have been times when I've felt like an awful mommy because I don't want to always be consistent! So good to hear that it's okay. I really like how your chore chart starts with their bodies and goes to the environment. I am trying to come up with a chore chart that helps give them a routine. I will be adapting your ideas to my chore chart!

Jen Bailey said...

Wow. I found this post in a very random way but I think I was led to it. THANK YOU for sharing your encouraging, inspiring experiences. I think I'm going to post the words "PICK KINDNESS" all around my home.

Heather Goodwin said...

I love, love, love this post! Not only did I get some great ideas but your style of parenting and mine are so in sync. I also think that schedules are best flexible, and principles are what don't change: for instance, not a set time to do homework, but it better be done. Choose being kind over being right, and teaching your kids that they are valuable and important but treating them as though they are. The way some people order around their kids makes me cringe. I expect to be spoken to politely, so I model that behavior, and so on. I am proud to say that both my kids grew up to be kind, wonderful, capable people that love God and demonstrate His love by loving their neighbors. Our house was more fun than tidy, but they are both very neat and orderly (by some miracle.) They both get A's, my daughter in college, my son as a junior in high school. Enough bragging, I just wanted to tell you I think you are brilliant and I got great results with this method! (Also I got very blessed and lucky, lol)

Melissa said...

I am very proud to say that I have a very kind 6.5 year old son, and a nearly-5 year old we are all 'training'! My husband and I both work full time and feel really busy constantly, but reading your blog has reminded me that I need to teach myself to be kind to myself....

I love your chore list and will attempt something like this with my little-uns as I am tired of being the official cleaner of our family and just can't fit it all in! I do love your flexible style - some days we just don't want or need lots of structure!

What an amazing woman with 7 children - as a mum of just 2, I am in awe of you! Congratulations on having time to blog - something for yourself, and obviously having a loving family home!

KT said...

Thank you for this post! This is so similar to what I do in the summer. I added plan a meal a few years ago. Each kid cooks one night a week during the summer. They learn a skill and I get a break from constant cooking. Even the youngest can decide what to make and make it with help.

I always feel a bit guilty that I am not as consistently consistent as some of my friends. But this articulated why so well. Being flexible is one of my strengths and too much rigidity in consistency makes me an angry yelling mother. Patience and being there for my children is more important. I try to keep core patterns intact, but I'm not going to yell if the practicing isn't done at 4:00 sharp or the bed isn't made every day.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post and wonderful blog!! Wow! I will be visiting again! I am expecting #8 and I just love your attidude... The 'freedom to not be consistent' that you write about is so refreshing to me!! Thank you so much!! Blessings, shalimamma

Anonymous said...

Wow thank you for your post,found it on pinterest! I was expecting an organization blog but got something more valuable, a mom talk. I blush to tell I am at the laundry intersection . God bless!

Anonymous said...

Just saw this post on Pinterest and I am grateful to my friend who pinned it because I needed the reminder to choose kindness over all the other things. I have struggled with myself about not being super consistent because I love to just pick up and go with the kids or get really into something fun with them and leave the 'have to do's behind for a day. After reading your post I feel better about the way I parent and hopefully I can remember to feel good about myself as a mom whether I'm being validated or not!

tammylxhiggins said...

Yes, the chore chart is a great idea, but what really spoke to my heart was the freedom that you give yourself to love your kids and not to just control them. I just about cried while reading your laundry story because I have those kinds of moments most days with my 5 who are 3-8. I'm incredibly inconsistent at home--looking for a better way to mother, cook, clean, organize, pray, read, talk to my husband... maybe now I can feel OK about being that way. As much as I enjoy order (I have been known to go back and admire my work on a freshly organized toy closet, or pantry, or anything for the few minutes that it actually looks good!) I also want to live life AND I want to be able to recognize and enjoy those kairos moments with my family.

So, thanks for sharing :-)

jenifer said...

thank you, thank you for all your sweet comments on this post. as i've read back over this throughout the years i ALWAYS agree with myself. :) hah! i have changed much of my parenting philosophy as i've added to my family- but the principle of choosing kindness is an eternal principle. raising children is so fun. we are blessed to be mothers. thank you for reading this post and for all of your sweet comments. You are doing a better job than you think you are!!

Wendy said...

Thank you! I am a consistently inconsistent mom as well. It was nice to know that there are others out there. Loved your ideas for a chore chart.

Melis said...

Loved this post!

I'm an LDS mama of one (so far) and wife of a future professor. I have a long history of making schedules for myself and not sticking to them, and making task lists and only accomplishing a quarter of the items on them. Thank you for providing a working example of how to be non-consistent without being INconsistent.

Regarding: {here is a WONDERFUL talk, More Diligent and Concerned at Home... suggestion 3-- is be consistent.
i really am conflicted about this... because, i have found, CONSISTENT is what makes me a cranky momma.}

I don't think you have any reason to be conflicted. Elder Bednar advocates two kinds of consistency in this talk.
The first is in consistently having family prayer, scripture study, and FHE with your children, even if you wonder how much is getting through; you do that. The second is making actions consistent with words (not being hypocritical); it sounds like you do that, too. He doesn't say ANYTHING about a consistent system of rules or schedules.

I know I'm late to comment on this but I just found this post through Pinterest. I'll be back to read more!

HollyAdele said...

Ooh! A new blog to love.

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Unknown said...

Searching Pinterest for "chore charts for multiple kids" & led me to this post. As I was reading I said out loud "I love this woman." I was looking for a chore chart to "get it together," but you showed me that I already have. Thank you! I think I just may go & join the craziness I hear upstairs :)

Anonymous said...

I love your blog many great ideas for me. Thanks for posting them.

Unknown said...

I love you! I want to be like you...or at least your new best friend. How wonderful to realize that kindness is the most important so early. I'm going to print this out and make it my new mantra. These kinds of posts make me so happy for the internet. Thank you for your beautiful post!

Unknown said...

I love you! I want to be like you...or at least your new best friend. How wonderful to realize that kindness is the most important so early. I'm going to print this out and make it my new mantra. These kinds of posts make me so happy for the internet. Thank you for your beautiful post!

Karyn said...

I loved this post. Found it on pinterest as I was searching for a chore chart for my sweet six kiddos. I love your perspective. Thanks for helping this momma chill out a bit. ;)

SOMETHING about Mary said...

Thank you for saving me and my children from years of disastrous chore chart forced consistency that is completely unnatural for me and yet seems to be the going standard. I am so grateful for this post and the embrace of making the person and the day more important than the checklist. xoxoxo :)

Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed at women who have time to mother as well as blog about it. I have 8 children as well. My oldest just turned 16 and my youngest is 11 months. You'd think at this point we would have it all figured out and others seem to look at us as if we do. Ha!!!! We don't. At least I don't. Most days I feel completely inadequate and overwhelmed. But, at the same time, I wouldn't have it any other way. My children are each of them wonderful and a joy! My husband is amazing. I'm am truly blessed. Thank you for your thoughts and wisdom. I needed this reminder.
It's funny, I got on pinterest to revamp my chore charts because my house is always a mess. I came across your post and realized....she's right. Kindness, patience, gentleness, smiles, hugs, laughter, love.... Yes we need them to be responsible as well. We can do all sorts of things, including insisting on a clean house...but if we don't love, it's nothing.
You have no idea how much I needed this reminder today.

Thanks for being so transparent,


Mary said...

so incredible!!! i love the teaching kindness above all else--SO GOOD! I wish I'd read this when I was that angry mom of two and pregnant with #3...oh well, better late than never, right? God bless you and your family Jen!

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