Thursday, September 6, 2012

From Everyday Messmaking to Everyday Homemaking


"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give aan account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden..."
Hebrews 13:17 NIV

As God's children, we must model in our relationship to Him the same behaviors we would like our children to display toward us. As parents, we should:
  • Submit to authority without rebellion
  • Apologize if needed.
  • Do everything  without complaining
  • Work on skills and character (theirs and ours)
  • Work ourselves out of a job!
Parents ultimately hope their children will make wise choices from changed hearts and a desire to please God, their parents, and themselves. We want our kids to show stellar character and good judgement in their decisions...Give them opportunities to learn from mistakes when they are young, being sure that the consequences are safe and relatively temporary.

...There are some basic principles that must be understood, a foundation upon which the methods or kideas in the how-to sections of this book must be built. These include:
  • Have realistic and age appropriate expectations
  • Establish rules or standards.
  • Have a working knowledge of family discipline.
  • Tie strings to [your children's] hearts
These wise words from the first chapter of the e-book The Everyday Family Chore System byVicki Bentley will strike a chord in most parents' hearts. What parent doesn't want their child to succeed both in life (as in career and/or calling) and in character (as in the value of a good name)?

I know I was extremely concenrned with this ideal when I was a young mother of just one child. I only had one sibling, and he was seven years younger than me, and not to brag, but for the most part we were both pretty easy kids to raise. There wasn't a lot of discipline going on in our house. It mostly wasn't necessary, at least as I remember. We had chores and didn't always do them, but after getting in trouble enough times, I learned to do them as soon as I got home so I could spend the rest of my time doing what I wanted...OR I'd time it so that I'd do what I wanted up until about fifteen minutes before the folks were expected home and then I'd rush and unload that dishwasher and carry up that armload of clothes.

Still, I know my mom was frustrated at times that we'd walk by piles of clothes sitting on the steps as if we didn't see that they were ours and that we didn't always get those few things she asked of us done without complaining. So, if my mom, who had to work, doesn't have all the answers, and she is my  best friend and most trusted teacher, then to whom do I go when I want to find out how to get my children to be a bit more responsive and cooperative in a GENUINE way than my brother and I were?

Well, one place you can go is Everyday Homemaking, a site established by Vicki Bentley, a veteran homeschooling mom who writes about homeschooling, homemaking, and home organization and discipline. I was pleased to have a chance to read her book about helping your children learn to be better contributors to your family by teaching them what is expected of them, then holding them accountable for those things. One valuable idea I read was something I've encountered often as a parent, and that is the need to clarify the difference between God's rules (which are unwavering) and our house rules (which can be respectfully appealed when appropriate).

I also appreciated the reminder to just say "yes" whenever possible. It's true sometimes that as moms who are often repeatedly beseiged with requests by small children, we sometimes start saying "no" just for the sake of convenience or out of habit. The truth is though that we can use those moments of requests to teach our children to accept responsibility by putting the achievement of whatever it is they wanted back upon their shoulders. "Yes, you may jump on the trampoline as soon as you pick up the sticks that fell off of the trees after last night's storm." "Yes, you may invite your friends over tomorrow for the Bookmobile if your room is clean and all of your week's school work is done by dinnertime tonight." "Sure, you may play playdoh after you finish your printing and counting papers." "No problem. You may watch Misty of Chincoteague as soon as you go out and brush Honey and Rosie and lead them around the pasture a few times each." The idea is just so good that I can go on and on about it. I know I have used it in the past, but it's something I tend to forget in the momentary urge to say, "NO! No more messy Playdoh out EVER!" It was a good reminder.

The best reminder of all in the book, however, was that children like rules. They prefer if you set the standards and they know what to expect. They also like routines. It provides structure that they need. Be honest with benefit from it, too. So I read Vicki's ideas about setting up a chore system and I have to admit that I wasn't thrilled with the idea of me having to be the "slave driver" so to speak.

With my headaches, I am not so good at sticking to a set schedule. I never know when I will wake up with a headache and feel miserable, BUT I promised to give it a try and so I wrote out what the most important tasks to be accomplised were, just as Vicki suggested, and it really didn't amount to a lot. I will be honest and say that I started out simply...with four little ones ages 3-8, there's only so much I can hand out to them to do, or so I thought.

It turns out that little guys and gals LOVE to help. My Four Amigos, Ladybug (8), Cowboy (6), Firefly (4), and Boo (3) thought the chore chart we made was fabulous and if I was having a bad morning, they reminded me what had to be done. They even offered to do things I normally did! I was very impressed with them. You will note that my chart is not complex or professional, but using a markerboard did work with my crew. I am sure they'd love the whole shebang one of these days when things slow down, but for now, the markerboard suffices.

It is true that just as is explained in the book that you must spend some time training your new helpers about how to do their new jobs (like how to vacuum, how to make a bed properly, how to wipe the dining room table without making a mess of the floor...there are cards to explain jobs to older kids in the book, but I just had to explain things to my younger kids),

but kids are quick learners, and once mine realized that instead of a constant "Hey, it's messy...we need to pick up" coming from me they got a set routine of when things had to be clean and when there was a litle leeway to "get creative," then they completely got on board with the idea of a schedule. Even Tex, eventually, though as my only teenager at home, and my usually biggest helper, he was the least appreciative of the new routine. It sort of cramped his freeflowing style, but he adjusted.

It worked so well, that when we had to stop the routine for a few days due to some out of the house commitments, the kids begged to get back to their "jobs" once we had a day completely at home. Sadly, Tex had his accident during our trial of this whole routine technique, and that completely rattled things up (though my mom did mention how extra polite and helpful the kids were when they stayed with her and she continued to work on those things with them for me),

and now we are in the middle of our amazing home makeover so you know there is no routine possible with that, BUT I am completely sold on the idea of the routine and the sharing of the weekly/montly jobs. I printed my job labels and can't wait to get my laminator out to make a chart so once this makeover is through, we can faithfully maintain the wonderful organization and newness of our made-over now we can go from everyday mess making to everyday homemaking.

You can purchase the Everyday Family Chore System for only $19.95. You can also purchase a companion one hour audio cd for an additional $6 about Getting Kids to Help at Home. There is a downloadable version available, but it is only a two dollars cheaper and personally, I'd rather have the print version, but you may prefer the instant download.


To see what others on the Molly Review Crew had to say about the Everyday Family Chore System, check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog for more reviews about this product and others by the talented and wise Vicki Bentley.

1 comment:

Vicki said...

Thank you for your kind and thorough review. I'm sorry you've had some setbacks recently -- I found that the system's routine helped me to operate mostly on autopilot so when life broadsided us, we could still function. :)

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