My Top 2 Things For Moms To Teach Their Kids

this amazing top can be found at My Cents Of Style (one of my favorite shops)
In your younger years did you ever think you knew the exact mother that you would be? Like, maybe you saw kids in the grocery store or hiding in the middle of the racks of clothes in the department store and thought, "Oh my kids will NEVER do that." Maybe you saw other situations and thought you would never speak that way, act that way or let your children dress a certain way. Myyyyyyy kids will have manners cuz ain't no mama got time for disobedience. Myyyyyyy kids will respect me and do what I say and work hard around the house, love each other, treat other adults with respect, do their homework every night, say please and thank you, put down the toilet seat (insert a "yeah right" snicker), always change their undergarments and shower every night (another snicker). Was I the only one who did this? I cant have been because there are WAY too many memes about laughing in the faces of those that don't have kids trying to give parenting advice. 
I've had so many aha moments having kids and loads of humble pie. Parenting is like watching mini versions of yourself walking around, yes, but mostly for me it's like having a HUGE mirror in front of my face 24/7. I see me in the way they speak to each other, good and bad. I see me in the way they react to someone or something, also good and bad. I see me in so many things they do and it shows me areas I myself need to work on or things that I can be proud of and compliment them on. I think in those younger years of mine I focused so much on what the kids were doing and judging their moms that I failed to look up at those moms to see the wonderful things they were doing. To see them nurturing a hurt child and being grateful for the racks of clothes that could entertain her other kids for a moment. Or the glances they would give to other "knowing" moms and silently saying, "You too? It's a rough day for me as well. Keep on keepin on." 

It is a TOUGH gig being a mom. Not just for all the things you need to be in charge of but because of those moments when you learn that change is necessary. It's not easy to change behaviors...I know this well. My sweet friend Heidi Swapp just said recently we need to be better first responders rather than first over reactors. That is something that is sooooo hard for me to change. But these learning moments, this humble pie can be a cleansing, refiners fire if we accept the challenge. Any fitness expert will tell you that working through the pain will bring results. That reaching your goals will require sacrifice, sweat, tears, grit BUT the end result can be GLORIOUS and worth every step. THAT is motherhood, that is parenting. It is worth EVERY sacrifice, heartbreak and sleepless night and that I can promise! 
A chore family, can still be a happy family LOL
Now, like I said, I have learned a lot through the years and I have fallen on my face as a mom quite a few times BUT there are things that I have also done that I have LOVED!!!! That I wish I could shout on top of the rooftops.....THIS WORKS!!!!!!! I would love to share with you my top two ideas that have made all the difference in my life as a mom.....wanna hear them? Sweet! I was afraid maybe I had lost you after that novel up there =D.

The parenting methodology "Love and Logic" has a rating system for areas in a child's life. To give you some perspective, let's look at a few ratings. Their relationships with their parents is rated a 10...duh right? Super important! . Homework is a 3, grades are a 5 (for more information on that head here. K, you ready for this? Chores is a 10!!!! It's so important that it's up there with your relationship with your child. I hadn't read this till just this year but I was SO glad that it had validated what I felt about chores for so long. It gave me more insight into the "why" behind it's importance. Here's what they say:
"...Chores are more important than homework, grades, and extracurricular activities. Chores… completed without chronic reminders and without pay… help our kids feel more tightly connected to the family team, allow them to develop perseverance, combat entitlement, and build healthy self-esteem. In a Love and Logic home, kids get to do their homework and participate in extracurricular activities after they have finished contributing to the family."
I am in agreement with all except the without pay statement. If any of you know me, you know that we are a huge Dave Ramsey fans and we give the boys the opportunity to earn commissions along with having chores. More on that in a second. Chores are not easy to get kids to do, I get that, I hear it all the time...can I be bold though? Buck up! I say that with all the love I can muster lol. Nothing worth doing is easy and I PROMISE in the long run you will be shouting your praises for sticking to it and guess who else will? Their future spouse and children! That's HUGE that you can be affecting future generations!!! Now here is where my advice on the "how" comes in. Chores in our home started at the young age of about 18 months. They have so much fun that they don't even realize they are learning life skills. Let's talk about a few. Here are the steps we took to help our kids get started and have the chores grow with them:

he can't get over how cute her clothes are =)
*Throwing Game (beginners) - Quite simply we threw clothes in the basket and shouted when we "scored". We would scoot back together and just throw and giggle. We made a mess, sure, but the point was to have fun. 

*Heave Ho (beginners) - This is when we pulled clothes from one machine to the next. We grunted and groaned dramatically when something wet was heavy and giggled at that too =)

*Colors (intermediate) - Then came time to learn about our colors. We would separate the clothes by color and say the name. Did that help me get laundry done faster? No. Did I have to redo everything when I put them down for a nap? Yes. The point is to praise them for doing a good job and have fun (which strengthens your relationship with them). 

*Articles of Clothing (intermediate) - The next stage (which was a long one) was to recognize the difference between shirts, pants, shorts, undergarments, pjs, etc. This is a GREAT time to read the book Blue Hat Green Hat by Sandra Boynton. Like the color game we would say what the article was before throwing it in a pile. As this stage grows you can teach them how to roll socks so they don't get lost.

*Whose Is It (intermediate/advanced)- By now they should be recognizing the clothes that belong to different family members. Our piles were now being separated into piles of who they belonged to. As this stage grows, the person it belongs to should come and pick it up and put it away based on their level of understanding.

*Folding (intermediate/advanced) - Now this can be tedious and I hate folding myself so in our family not much even gets folded. All shirts, skirts and even some pants are hung. The only thing that gets folded are shorts, jeans, towels and rags. So for us, I taught them how to fold those items, but then how to get clothes on a hanger.

* Putting It All Together (advanced) - This is the stage that we are at now with our boys (ages 9 & 11). I have not yet taught them how to load or what settings to put everything at (I'm trying to let go of that control lol) but they do know how to do everything else. They can switch the laundry, take it out, sort, fold, and put away their own stuff. They also know when they bring their dirty clothes down that they are to go in the proper baskets. 
It was NOT easy to get them to do laundry but I made a point of doing it. I feel a lot of the time I was doing it for them but they learned just the same and I am SO thankful now that I didn't give up!!!


This one is pretty wash and dry (see what I did there) and doesn't require a lot of explanation. This is what was required from the earliest age and as they grew.

- Bring cup and utensils to Mommy. Go back for the plate and use two hands
- Put dishes in sink
- Rinse off dishes and put in left side of sink (thats where we always have dishes ready to go into the dishwasher)
- Rinse off all dishes and put in dishwasher
- Empty dishwasher except for glass items and sharp things
- Empty dishwasher completely (you know when your children are ready for that)
- Set table with all appropriate dishes needed for the evening meal (including placemats), clean up your dishes by rinsing and putting in dishwasher and fold and put mats away.
- All of the above and learn to start the dishes when it's full

Sophie's room photographed by Jordan Bree Photography 
This one I love because I feel it's the most consistent. Now we are at the stage where we say that they are more than welcome to come down and have breakfast once their beds are made.
- Beds are made every morning and when they first started they watched mommy do most of it and their part was putting the pillow on and maybe any stuffed animals. Then I taught them how to put on the flat sheet and blankets after I did the fitted sheet for them. Then I taught them to do the fitted sheet and they did everything else.
- Rooms are more deep cleaned on Saturdays (unless it's the summer see schedule below). Under the bed is clean, all loose hangers hung, clothes hung, no trash anywhere, all clothes put away or put in laundry.
Notice I didn't say pick up toys anywhere? I, for some reason, can't abide toys in the room. It makes them so messy but I understand that sometimes it's necessary due to space. The boys have a separate playroom and all toys stay in there. That also gets cleaned every Saturday. Everything has a place and everything gets put in it's place.

General Pick Up
picture source: the Container Store
This is pretty self explanatory but essential to you not feeling like a slave all day long or them feeling entitled to your "services". If you have stuff out, you grab it and out it in it's place. sometimes if I have company coming I will gather their things and put it on the stairs for them. That way they still are being responsible but it's not out everywhere looking messy. Mom and dad need to keep up on this too or our own stuff will take over the home!

Toilets & Sinks

This one, believe it or not can be started as young as three years old. I do not use toxic chemicals when cleaning so I feel good knowing they aren't being harmed. We use Norwex rags in our home and I have LOVED it! We have a set for the toilet, sinks, face and body, kitchen, car...you name it! lol When they were little we taught them to wipe the seat and handle. Me and my husband first scrubbed them raw before we started the kids on doing them daily (yes daily) so that we knew even if they didn't do it right or super well, they were clean. I had them wipe down daily because you are less prone to care how well they do it if they haven't been sitting there for a while and then a three year old comes in to clean them. Does that make sense? Daily, bacteria is being killed and maybe no one even used that toilet the whole day and it's STILL getting cleaned daily. It's a good habit. Sinks are the same too. Wipe them down and get the handles. As they grew, they cleaned more thoroughly and we didn't have to watch it as much but I'm still glad I went through most of the work with them to get to where we are now.

When the kids were younger (not in school) we did more chores around the house but it was never a bulk of our day. As the kids are in school now all day long the only chores they do daily are picking up after themselves and making their bed in the morning. That's it. We reserve more clean up time on Saturdays as a family before we start our day.

Summer Schedule

Things are only a pinch different in the summer.......and I LOVE it!!!!! The house is SO clean most of the time (I mean, we aren't robots) and the boys don't complain half as much because most of it is done....ALL the time!!! The weekend before summer vaca we sit down and talk about hours of operation. I want the kids to know that we value their opinions. We discuss when the kitchen will be "open", what we do if someone forgets to make their bed? What time should all chores be done everyday? What happens if we don't get done with chores before the time we set? Here is what has worked for our family.

- More than welcome to come down and have breakfast after beds are made. If you forget, no worries, you can pick a simple chore from the "extra list" and fills moms bucket by doing it that day.
- These chores are done Mon, Wed, Fri: bed, room, general pickup, toilets & sinks (so we have more family play time on Saturdays), playroom, dishes as needed.
- These chores are done Tues, Thurs, Saturday: bed, room, general pickup, playroom, laundry as needed
- One chore that only comes around on Saturday is weeding. The boys choose one side of the house each and get any weeds they see. As they have gotten older they love listening to music while doing this and each have headphones to do so. Because we do this every Saturday, the weeds are few and far between and we are always hitting at least two sides of the house every week (three if you consider I'm out in the front almost everyday tending to plants). I began with us doing all around the house together every Saturday but found that the complaints began after 15 min and it was just unbearable. This works and my planting beds look great lol!

Commissions VS Contributions

Now, I want to talk about commissions vs contributions and how it works with our family. I have always heard the best way to potty train (stay with me) is to give them tons of juice for tons of practice. I want my kids to learn from their own experiences, with not a lot of money, how to handle it. Therefore I want to give them lots of practice. It started out with a dime every time they cleaned the toilet or sink. Then that grew as they got older. It was fascinating to see how each of them responded to money. They both wanted a sucker EVERY time they were paid. As they got older and we taught them more, our oldest realized he could NOT buy a sucker one week and would have enough to buy a candy bar if he saved. Then that thought grew and grew with him till he saved for an entire YEAR to buy himself a cheap tablet (wasn't cheap to him though!). Our second took a LOT longer to learn this lesson and still will go to the store after saving, not see the toy he wanted and just buy anything because he can lol. The point is, we are teaching and THEY are putting it into practice with minimal involvement from us so that they feel the weight of a few decisions in their lives. They get paid for toilets (the oldest does that one), sinks (second born) and during the summer for weeding. The rest of the chores are called contributions. They live in our home and need to be apart of the team that keeps it clean.

Teaching children to eat??? I know, sounds weird right? Put it in your mouth, chew, swallow end of story! Well, you would think! I came from a family of 5 kids and for the majority of my growing up it was all boys. None of us were picky eaters and we ALL wanted seconds! We were EATERS I tell you!!! I had never even really heard of a picky eater until my first came along. We are talking not wanting to touch food at all (first time mom be screamin "WHAT ABOUT THE PINCER REFLEX YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO LEARN?????") He would gag on things, he would throw up some things...I was not prepared for this! What do you mean you don't like food? How are you my son? As he got older we realized that we really needed to take action. To give you a little backstory, my husband was a suuuuuuper picky eater as well. As soon as he left home he moved to Russia for a little bit and he realized that nothing over there was familiar and he couldn't be picky. He had to eat something! As he tried more things he realized how much he did enjoy other foods. Now he takes forever in a restaurant deciding what he wants to eat because he never wants to get the same thing. 
picture source: Huffington Post
Because of that experience Kevin put a little more pressure on Kayson because he knew that he really would like things if he just tried them. I was a little more timid to make him eat because I had heard horror stories of it backfiring and getting worse by forcing it into their mouths. What we decided is on the "three thank you bites" rule. Mom thank you so much for making this meal I will take three bites of each thing you have put on my plate. As he started doing this, and had to try things multiple times, he started to realize that there are some foods that he enjoys. It still isn't perfect because there are things he doesn't like but he has now realized how much he loves sushi, jambalaya, borsh, salmon, and other random things that a picky eater typically wouldn't enjoy. Our other kids are pretty good eaters but we still do the three thank you bite rule every time we try something new. Another thing that we do to help promote healthy eating is our salad bar. I have done multiple periscopes on this and I have add people ask me to write this all out so I'm so glad I'm finally doing this. 

We usually do spinach as the base of our salad. What we do is we put out tons of scrumptious toppings. These are the types of things that I like: black beans, olives, raw almonds, broccoli, Cauliflower, sweet peppers, carrots, corn, dried fruit, dressings, sprouts, mushrooms, egg whites, asparagus, chicken, you get the idea. I don't put all of these out at the same time but I have at least seven toppings out for people to choose. Our rule is a handful of greens and then they need to choose at least five toppings...dressing does not count as a topping. We spoken to our boys about what it means to fuel our bodies and to give us proper nourishment to grow. We talk about lean meats, sodium intake, good versus bad fat. 
I have learned so much from my friends about healthy eating, cleeeaaaaan eating and I absolutely love it. Ladies......I may be a pretty clean eater but I have THE hardest time being a leeeaaaan eater. My portion sizes are quite frankly out of control and my love of real butter is unmatched and it's a struggle I face daily. I want my kids to be better than me (am I alone?). It has been a struggle to get the rest of the family on board with the strictness with which I want our food to become. I've had to let go of the dream of the bread I had been buying....they only want white. BUT I try to find the best darn ingredients I can for that white loaf!!! Every Christmas Eve we have Captain Crunch Berries (my side's family tradition) and Lucky Charms on St. Patty's Day but other than that no sugar cereals. I have also had to let go of planting my own edible garden....I stink at it! I can grow plants all over my yard that are for looking at but when it comes to eating? My thumb appears to be black! I did love having the occasional snap pea and tomato from our garden while it lasted though. There was something romantic and nostalgic about asking them to run out and grab a few veggies from the vine {sigh}. One day friends, one day.

Another good practice is to take them shopping with me so they can be educated on labels. For the most part if they can't pronounce it, we don't buy it. We turn it all into a game and it's fun (totally inspired by Mary Poppins of course).  
Again, I don't profess to be all knowing about eating perfectly but I do know that after trial and error (a lot of error) we have found what works for us. 
I have two other areas I'd love to write about. Sleep training and screen time. But we will save those for another time. I felt these two were the things that were most important to our family for the long haul when they are out of the house and have their own families. Are there things you have found with either of these two categories that work for you? I'd love to hear them!


PrillwitzKolak said...

Beautiful written I totally agreed with the teaching of how to handle money and teaching them how to eat. On that note I don't argue with the chore part...I am a stay at home mom. My children go to school, have school obligations and activities. They also have a social life. I can't justify me not working and having them come home and also do what I could be doing all day while they are at school. In my opinion mom's who have their children do chores are "lazy moms" especially the ines who don't have an outside of home job. What do they do all day if the kids have to come from school and do chores? Working mom probably need the help as there is only so many hours during the day. I want my children to enjoy a carefree childhood as childhood is such a short time in their lives. My children god willing will have 60+ years of cleaning their own home not to mention working and adult responsibilities. My children do occasionally help around the house like "can you bring me this" unloading the car. Sometimes taking out the trash. But I feel I am the mom the homemaker that's my job to maintain my home. We are a united family. I grew up not having to do chores I was the eldest of 6 and was also never in charge of my siblings. I got to play, be lazy and enjoy being a child. As an adult I carry the responsibility of my home I maintain a very clean home, make home cooked meals every night, and all the other mom duties. I watched what my mother did and knew when I was one that's what I had to do. I am grateful my parents let me enjoy being a child. I would have disliked the fact that from the time I was 18 months till death I would be doing chores instead I got to enjoy 19 years of just being a child. My siblings are all responsible adults are we are as united as a family as ever. We never felt a discontent because we weren't cleaning our home or made to do chores. My husbands family growing up had the chore chart and they all hated doing chores. They aren't very close and only see each other during holidays. Everyone is entitled to raise their family in what they believe is best. I see you have a beautiful family. I have had my moments of failure and had that Slice of pie more often then I had wanted. Thank you for your opinion and hope it helps others with what's best for their families.

The Winkels said...

I completely agree with having your children do chores, especially from an early age. Helping my children learn to work hard, to work together, to respect your home, and to be a good citizen are hugely important to me! It is sooooo hard to be patient with them when I could do their jobs a) better and b) faster but I like to think they (or at least their roommates or spouses) will be grateful one day for these important tools!

Jen said...

I love that you took the time to comment, thank you!!! I'm super fine with people not agreeing with chores, totally! I also want my children to have a beautiful childhood, but, I'm not super okay with being put in the category with being a lazy mom. On the contrary I feel I'm getting them ready for so many things in life and also to serve others in their family. I guess I don't see chores as doom and gloom, we look at it as beautiful service. I grew up with chores and it was some of the best times for me. We made it fun and I don't look back on it with bitterness. I'm so sad your husbands experience wasn't the same but it does differ from family to family. We are all still super close and I couldn't adore them more. I agree, I have all day to do my own work around the house, I have the time, the boys do sports and play with friends, but I love the idea still of them helping mommy and serving their family. Seriously though, I haven't been writing for a while and I haven't seen many comments, I want to reach out and hug you for commenting 💗💗💗.

Unknown said...

I love this post! I agree that kids should do chores because as a stay at home mom, my job is to teach my children and prepare them for life as well as make their life magical! We make chores a game. They can draw a pop circle stick out of a hat and it's have a chore on it and it may have something fun to do on it. It mixes it up and makes it fun. We also blast music l, have races and fun rewards we work towards as well. And it's not like I'm not doing chores either. They are simply asked to pick up there toys or close or occasionally fold a towel or unload dishes. They are pretty little still so they don't even see them as chores. But I will say you are DEFINITELY not a lazy mom. I know I'm not either. ����

Unknown said...

Whoa lots of typos lol sorry!

PrillwitzKolak said...

Ahh so happy you responded. I have followed your blog and loved the makeup tutorials you use to do. I may not agree with the chores but you have helped me with many things. I got ipsy based on your recommendation, started David Ramsey and love one soup that you posted! Keep up the hard work. Thanks for being a positive influence.