Saturday, May 8, 2010

day 127 & 128: ramblings of motherhood--emotions

                                         Ramblings of Motherhood

Ramblings of motherhood—The main thoughts that I have had about motherhood lately are those of the emotions involved in being a mom. Shoo-eee…they can be overwhelming at times. So, I give you my ramblings of motherhood’s emotions this weekend.

Sorry about the caps and the length! I can’t figure out how to bold font on the Facebook notes section, so I capped the emotions I wanted to emphasize. I didn’t want to divide it in two, so I am posting it in its entirety for the two day weekend.

Also, I was going to go through and fix the emotions to make them parallel—all adjectives or all nouns, etc., but then the piece wouldn’t be ramblings, would it??

Happy Mother’s Day with love and best wishes for your Christian parenting!

                          Emotions of Motherhood

The day I found out I was pregnant for Joshua—JOY UNSPEAKABLE!

Coming out of the bathroom at the hospital and seeing eleven-month-old, croup-filled Joshua crawling down the hall as fast as he could after climbing out of his hospital bed. SURPRISED but DELIGHTED.

Graduating from college and becoming a stay-at-home mom with my little first born just before he turned two. RELIEF, DETERMINATION, and CONVICTION.

PAIN AND DISAPPOINTMENT. C-section after thirty-six hours of labor in an attempt to have a normal delivery after my previous c-section.

Discovering that I had developed Rh and kel antibodies at Kayla’s birth that could harm future Rh positive babies. I was so young (only twenty-three) and incredibly OVERWHELMED and SCARED.

SURPRISE and JOY when the doctor announced, “It’s a girl” at Kayla’s birth. Ray only had boy cousins and brothers, so we thought it would be a while before we got a little girl.

Nursing problems with Kayla (and Joshua earlier) that were so OVERWHELMING and EMOTIONAL-LADEN that I thought my heart would break in two as I tried to make it all work out and was met with daily DISAPPOINTMENT.

Reading to Joshua for literally six hours some days when he was four or five…and having him ask for more. AMAZEMENT as I realized the POWER and INFLUENCE I had on my children.

Kayla’s darling-ness—and orneriness—and my DOUBTS that this Christian parenting thing would really work after days filled with correction and discipline and a little girl who was determined to “do it her way.”

Cami’s birth—and the OVERWHELMING feelings that Ray and I both experienced—three kids and only two parents. How could we ever do this?

Being in the hospital over Christmas, holding my baby, and thinking that Cami was the absolute best Christmas present that anybody in the world got that year. JOY, PEACE, and EXCITEMENT.

When Joshua graduated to chapter books during read alouds and story time--and watching him stare into space as I read, knowing that he was “making the pictures in his mind now.” AWE.

HUMORED, watching Joshua, Kayla, and Cami play together—and seeing how Joshua had the girls wrapped around his little finger early on. “Dossie” could do no wrong to them.

Teaching Joshua, Kayla, and Cami how to work, garden, cook, bake, clean the toy room, do laundry, vacuum, and much more when they were so young. HAPPY and GRATEFUL for their joy and cooperation yet STRESSED, wondering over and over if I am doing a good job of this overwhelming role of mother.

Getting up on Saturdays and seeing Joshua get out his school tub and dig in, totally oblivious to the fact that other kids did not “do school” on weekends. JOYFUL and a little SNEAKY (didn’t tell him for the longest time that Saturdays were not school days!).

SATISFACTION and HUMOR, watching Joshua, age eight, learn how to mow with the riding mower and hearing it “putt putt” and stall as he slipped forward—only when he sat all the way back did he weigh the seat down enough to keep the mower running.

Kara’s first three months as “colic Kara” in which she seldom quit crying or screaming and the DESPERATENESS I felt day in and day out with four little kids, one of whom could never be put down and barely put off the breast without intolerable wailing.

Finally getting all of my nursing problems worked out with Cami but then developing mastitis with Kara that resulted in delirious fever and a dark-purple colored breast. SICK, SICK, SICK!

The day I laid 3 ½ month old Kara down on a blanket on the floor to run to the bathroom and discovered that she didn’t scream. She didn’t even cry…just looked around the room. And in an instant, I knew her colic days were over. AMAZEMENT, RELIEF, and HAPPINESS.

When Joshua learned to read, at age eight. Even as a teacher, nearly finished with a master’s degree in reading specialist, I will never forget the RELIEF when he finally “got it.”

Our OVERWHELMING move away from our hometown and the JOY of just being our little family of six, not knowing anyone or having any outside demands.

Then LONELINESS and DEPRESSION as I parented four little kids alone fourteen hours a day while Ray worked—and we lived one to two hours away from family and knew very few people in our new community.

Discovering (via cordoscentisis) with great relief that Jonathan was Rh negative. THANKFULNESS.

Joshua’s joy when he discovered that, after waiting for nearly ten years, he had a little brother. BLISS.

HAPPINESS and PEACE as we all enjoyed Jonathan and what an amazing little guy he was…so sensitive, sweet, and happy. He was the girls’ living doll—and they all three became baby crazy (like their mama!).

Watching Joshua build with legoes and draw/color maps by the hour—so GLAD God led us to this way of life.

HAPPY, seeing Kayla devour books, checking out dozens of books from the little Berne library every week, only to have to make special trips mid-week to stock up for more.

Cami’s love notes—on every school paper, journal, notebook, and scrap of paper…”I love Mom,” “I love Dad,” “I love my brothers and sisters,” “I love Jesus,” “My family is the greatest,” “I love homeschooling.” OVERWHELMING GRATEFULNESS and CONTENTMENT.

My scary pregnancy with Josiah. Dozens of ultra sounds, amnioscentesis, and fretful moments. FEAR and DESPERATION.

Josiah’s birth and Rh disease. SCARY moments at the hospital. Ray wheeling me over to the hospital every three hours to pump and hold Josiah. His transfusion. My FEAR that we would never have another baby (since once one positive baby is that sick from Rh, you seldom have a healthy one again).

CONTENTMENT and feelings of SATISFACTION during morning read-alouds with Jonathan playing on his blanket and Josiah being bounced by one of the kids as he sat cooing in his “bouncy seat.”

Making Christmas ornaments and huge messes, but thinking that it was worth it all to see such happy children. BLESSED.

SURE during field trips in which my two sponges, Joshua and Kayla, would soak up every tidbit of information shared. And Cami would inevitably make a friend.

Wonderful Wednesdays, one afternoon a week spent with a different child. PURPOSEFUL and CERTAIN that this life I was living was what I was supposed to be doing.

Watching Kayla, Cami, and Kara play with their American Girl Dolls for literally hours, as Kayla sought to make each aspect of their play as historically-accurate as she could. HAPPINESS and FUN.

Finding out, this time through amnioscentisis, that Jacob was a boy (first time we found out the sex in utero) and that he was rh negative and perfectly healthy. AMAZING RELIEF.

Discovering within a week of Jacob’s birth that he was not going to make anything easy during his first few years. OVERWHELMED, QUESTIONING our parenting more than ever.

JOY, watching the girls play house with the little boys, loving them, cuddling them, teaching them, and spoiling them.

Watching, via ultra-sound over a two hour period, our eighth and final baby, Carly Grace, die in utero at twenty-two weeks gestation during an intrauterine blood transfusion that was performed to try to save her from the Rh and kel antibodies that were attacking her. And feeling like I, too, would die of a BROKEN HEART.

Realizing that I was getting sicker and sicker as I labored following Carly’s death—only to discover that my uterus had ruptured and I was literally bleeding to death internally. The HEART-RENDING moments with Ray before I was wheeled into surgery and RELIEF that should I not make it, I did not have huge regrets for how I spent my life.

Watching each of the kids hold their dead baby sister and trying to comfort them when I had no emotional resources to do so. EMOTIONALLY, PHYSICALLY, and SPIRITUALLY BARREN.

DESPERATE, thinking that I was not up to parenting a strong-willed child as Jacob entered age two and being so GRATEFUL that Ray picked up the slack as he announced, “We will not let him become a brat.”

GRIEF-STRICKEN for months over the loss of Carly and the loss of my uterus, thinking all the while that I have to get up and parent these kids but not having the ability to do so.

Ray leaving his demanding job as a plant manager to take a lesser job in order to raise our teens the way we felt God wanted us to…the feelings of ANTICIPATION and JOY that Ray would be able to be more involved in their lives but the PANICKED moments in which I wondered why in the world we ever gave up that nice paycheck, big house, and new vehicle.

Teenage doubts and my feelings of INFERIORITY—what was I thinking actually believing that I could raise children in this unique way known as Christian parenting?

HAPPINESS yet LONGING with my first high school graduate—Joshua, under a hundred pounds yet a young man so accomplished, smart, wise, responsible, and kind. I cried a river that graduation.

When Joshua told us he was in love. My dream had come true—my first child was in love with a godly young lady. I was beside myself with joy—and IN LOVE WITH BEING IN LOVE.

AMAZEMENT and GRATEFULNESS that Joshua had learned how to learn when he graduated from college after testing out of all but two classes of which there were no tests available.

When Kayla and Cami went to ministry school. Could a mother’s JOY be more FULL than to know that her kids wanted to spend their lives bringing others to Christ?

CONTENTMENT yet HEART-RENDING watching another child leave home for marriage. THANKFULNESS that Cami had found a young man with a heart so similar to her daddy’s.

JOY but serious LONGING as Kara (my last little girl) graduated from high school. CONFUSION as to whether it was the right decision to allow her to go away so early (for college/internship out of state).

LONELINESS for Kara—especially whenever I knew she was feeling homesick—as she was five states away going to college and teaching drama seminars to homeschool groups and Christian schools. THANKFUL for all of the opportunities God provided for our kids to learn the many skills they have learned.

PRIDE as Kayla graduated with honors from college with a double major—and took her first full time mission position.

HELPLESSNESS when I watch my adult children go through difficulties with relationships, health, underemployment, and other “adult norms” that I just want to rescue them from, but cannot.

HAPPINESS as I spend my days with three teen and tween boys, so GRATEFUL for the older kids’ continued, godly influence on the lives of their younger siblings.

SATISFACTION in relationships with my grown kids—so GLAD to be a huge part of their lives today.

FEAR for my kids’ futures…spouses, jobs, careers, health, when they have children of their own, finances….sometimes FUTILITY in trying to give everything about my children to the Lord every day.

CONTENTMENT and RELIEF when I realize that I have made it to this point—with four graduates and three kids remaining at home. So GRATEFUL that I didn’t give up on Christian parenting and all of the hard work that has gone with it so far!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

day 126: happy mother's day weekend--"dandelions for mother"

                            Dandelions for Mother

May brings out the dandelions in our yard, as it does in any yard that is not treated. I remember when my older kids were little, and they brought dandelion bouquets in to me constantly. I used to take morning walks in a neighborhood then (since we lived on a busy highway), and instead of envying their well-manicured lawns, I always felt sorry for them. I thought it would be awful to go an entire spring without a dandelion bouquet! Now I’ve wised up some, and I secretly envy those with manicured lawns---but I still enjoy the bouquets Jakie brings me—and the promise that “there’s plenty more for the next day, too, Mommy!”

One day when Joshua was seven and Kayla and Cami were three and a half and two, I received multiple dandelion bouquets. It was such a special, wonderful day that I didn’t want to forget it. And I never have….because I wrote a poem about it that I like to reread every spring to remind me of that blessed, hectic, overwhelming time in my life. I hope it blesses you!

                          “Dandelions for Mother”

I heard the sound one afternoon, a noise I couldn’t deny--

“Mama,” she squealed in her sweet voice--my toddler’s ”I want in” cry.

I made my way to the back door, where she stood with a dandelion bunch,

“In,” she said as I opened the door, with a smile that expressed so much.

“For you,” she beamed proudly, holding in her hand—a wilty dandelion prize

I hugged her as she gave them to me; then she scampered back outside.

That sure was quick I thought to myself, and I turned to go back to my chores,

I put them in a vase, as my centerpiece---I didn’t know there would soon be more!

“Oh Mother,” I heard another sweet voice and someone opened up the large back screen;

It was my four-year-old, smiling from ear-to-ear, like the two-year-old I had just seen.

Her hands behind her back, she gleefully said, “I have a present for you!”

I held out my arms and closed my eyes, the way she always wants me to do.

“Surprise,” she shouted, “I picked them for you because I love you so much!”

I acted astonished, as she handed me a second dandelion bunch.

I got a quick hug (four year olds are busy, you know), then she went on her way,

I put them in a vase on the table; two centerpieces in one short day.

The next thing I knew the four-year-old was back, her hands so full once again,

“I brought these from brother; he’s guarding our fort, so now, he can’t come in.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” I replied to my little dear, “how thoughtfully you share,”

“Come over here to mama’s arms; let’s rock in my big blue chair.”

“Sorry,” she said, “we’re fighting the battle---the Philistines are ‘bout to attack.”

“Brother told me to give these to you, then be sure that I come right back.”

She bounced out the door like a summer breeze, and tenderly blew me a kiss-

A sweet, long-distance one--to replace the rocking she knew I would miss.

I got out a third vase and filled it with water and put in the brand new flow’rs.

What more could a mother ask for----three bouquets within the hour!

I always love to receive some flowers---as so many women do,

A vase filled with roses or carnations---or perhaps a plant or two.

I’d wait for each special occasion, with my hopes built up so high.

Would the florist come to my house today--or would he pass me by?

How silly I finally thought to myself; to wait for the florist’s van,

I’ve gotten flowers every single day---since well before spring began.

And how wonderful these dandelions are---delivered by special hands,

Brightening my life every spring day---as only small children can.

And right at that moment, I realized, how vast are the endless joys,

That come with being called “Mother” by these precious girls and boy.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

day 124: structure and story time

“During lunch Mother read the older kids’ history book out loud. I kind of like it too. It’s about the Pilgrims who rode on the Mayflower. I like the Indians. She read more of it while we cleaned up lunch.

Right after lunch Josiah, Kara, and I picked out our stories for story time. We snuggled on the couch with Mommy and read them. I was so happy ‘coz it was my day, and I got to pick two stories today. I picked Curious George and a book about astronauts. Story time is my favorite time of the day.”

                                    “Jonathan’s Journal”

This excerpt from “Jonathan’s Journal” demonstrates two important components of a preschooler’s day: structure/predictability and story time.

I have written at length about the importance of consistency and structure for the preschooler (well, really, for all of us!). One thing that I tried to do for my littles was to have each day as similar to every other one as much possible. Obviously, life happens; however, my young children knew, for the most part, what their days would hold as long as we were at home during the week. This provided structure and predictability for my kids. Rather than, “Are we going to read stories today?” It was, “Is it almost time for reading?” Rather than, “Can I eat cereal and watch a movie when I first get up?” It was, “Can I choose the lunch book today?”

I found that having structure keeps children from getting bored. They know what to look forward to during each part of the day. Children get bored easily if they have an entire day or large period of time to fill (thus, the popularity of video games and television programs).

Within this predictable schedule, I liked to alternate child-led activities, parent-led sessions, naps, sibling-shared times, and more. Every moment of every day was not booked (as evidenced when you take a look at “Jonathan’s Journal” as a whole), but our preschoolers definitely did not determine what they wanted to do all day long every day.

Story time always took place after lunch. Again, this provided predictability. But it also prepared the young child for his afternoon nap (more on that in a day or two). Story time signaled a change in pace. Time to slow down, settle down, prepare for rest.

Story time is several posts in itself. So stay next week as I give story time tips, followed by story time suggestions—Newberry winners, Caldecott winners, Gold Medal winners, and Reish winners!

day 123: final thoughts on chores and household management—flylady review

                                Chores No More--Some Final Thoughts

1. Work on your own lack of diligence and disorganization first. I have said it over and over on this blog about every area of life: we cannot expect our children to be something that we are not. I did not mention this in the “resources” post a couple of week ago, but an outstanding online source for helping women who feel chronically disorganized in their household work and personal care is that of flylady ( ). This source helps women take baby steps to get control of their days; I highly recommend it.

2. Focus on daily work first. There are plenty of daily tasks in an average household to go around. And it just plain makes sense that everybody should share in them. Start with your children’s personal daily tasks, then add care of their own rooms and beds, then add other daily jobs at each child’s level. Finally, create times that all of these will be done and enforce that schedule.

3. Train, train, train! Last night as I was talking to our daughter, the nurse, I asked her if she had, had a busy day at work, to which she responded, “Yes, it was hectic. I had a preceptee (a nurse in training). It always takes longer to show someone else had to do each task than it does just to do it yourself.” This is true in every profession—including parenting. And yet, in the professional world, a preceptor (the training nurse) would never “just do it herself.” She knows that she must get the new nurse up to speed in order for their floor to be successful, and in order for the novice nurse to be skilled. The same is true with training our children in diligence and responsibility. At first, it will not feel like it is worth it to take the time to train your children in various tasks. It will likely take twice as long to do work than it would to just do it yourself. However, you are going to reduce your work load exponentially when your children take some of the family work load. Your “floor,” that is, your family, will become more successful. Furthermore, you are preparing your children for their futures, giving them life skills that they will use to be successful adults.

Okay…I’m really stopping on chores! Can you tell I think they’re important?

We are going to head back to Jonathan’s Journal for a short time, to cover the following additional information about preschoolers:

1. Importance of structure in the life of a preschooler

2. Comprehension skill building for pre-readers

3. Story time—book recommendations; signaling a change in pace for young children; introducing chapter books

4. “First” and “best” day for each child

5. Outgrowing nap time

6. Computer games, game systems, entertainment, and the young child

7. “Breaks” for Mom

8. Deference and patience in preschoolers

9. Fun and educational activities with Mom

10. Ending the day with love and affirmation

I want to spend the last two weeks of May/first part of June focusing on summer:

1. How to help your children academically in the summer (whether they are homeschooled or they go to school);

2. Some reading tips for various ages of students;

3. Providing an atmosphere in your home that replicates that of “natural readers,” giving your young children every advantage you can;

4. Helping your late bloomer;

5. Resource suggestions for helping your students in the summer; determining whether your young ones are ready for academics (especially learning to read); and

6. Much more

Thanks again for stopping by PP 365!

day 122: age appropriate chores—teens (part iii of iii)

                  Giving teens “responsibility” vs “chores”

I have discussed (probably too many times!) over the past several days an important aspect about children and chores that we discovered in our parenting—that of not giving tasks to older kids, but rather giving full responsibility. This especially comes into play with teenagers and chores.

So much of chores and responsibilities is truly expectation. We can expect our sixteen year old to set the table for dinner on Thursdays—and that is what she will do. Or we can expect her to plan and prepare dinner on Thursdays—and that is what she will do (with training and years of working alongside us, of course).

Four of our kids have been out in the “real” world of college, work, marriage, etc. in the past few years. They have used the skills they have learned at home—and they have been successful in work, study, service, and more. Our son was seventeen when he served one semester as a state congressman’s aid/intern at the Oklahoma state capitol. (The following year he did the same at the Michigan state capitol.) He went on to test out of his entire college degree except for two classes of which there were no tests available. Our next daughter began writing a language arts curriculum when she was fifteen, having already learned all of her household skills and finishing nearly all of her mandatory high school credits early. (She went on to work her way (first in our family’s newspaper delivery business, then writing for our family’s publishing company, then teaching classes to homeschoolers and providing private tutoring, then as a nurse’s aid, then as an RN) through three degrees—along with the full ride academic scholarships that she was awarded at all three colleges she attended.) Our next child, a girl, began a disability ministry in one of the largest churches in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when she was seventeen. She, along with her husband now, have grown it until currently, four years later, it ministers to over one hundred cognitively disabled adults each week. And finally, our next daughter learned to key punch and typeset books at the age of fourteen until by the time she graduated from high school, she could have gone to work with a magazine or book publisher easily. (At nineteen, she now travels around the country with a ministry teaching children and teens Christian drama.)

Guess what? All of this started with putting their books in their book baskets when they were one, picking up their toys when they were two, having a daily morning routine chart when they were four, doing the dishes and setting the table when they were six, doing the family’s laundry for thirty minutes a day when they were eight, learning to cook when they were ten, taking care of the yard single-handedly when they were twelve, maintaining freezers and refrigerators when they were fourteen, and learning whatever skills we had to offer them when they were sixteen.

And it all began when their parents learned the difference between token chores and responsibility—and when their parents had high expectations for their children’s behaviors, skill development, and character—anything that was in the kids’ control. Our children can, and probably will, meet our expectations—assuming these expectations are reasonable, in their control, and preceded with proper training and a whole lot of love.

Monday, May 3, 2010

day 121: age appropriate chores--teens (part ii of iii)

                                  Paying for chores and responsibilities

We have never paid our children for contributing to the household via chores and responsibilities. We have paid them for “extra” things, and we pay them for working for our publishing company and family ministry (though in the beginning we did not have the money to pay them—and they did the work in order to help our dream come true of ministering to families and helping homeschoolers.

In the book Seven Deadly Habits of External Control, William Glasser describes one of those habits as bribing, which many experts believe paying children for daily, regular household chores falls under. It is the idea that if you clean your room, make your bed, unload the dishwasher, put away your laundry, and dust the living room, you get money (an allowance, for instance), but if you do not do these things, you do not get the money. It is using money to foster some behavioral change.

Don’t even get me started on how damaging this could be to our children as adults. I once knew a child who was paid to do nearly everything—and even asked to be paid fifty cents each time he refilled the ice cube trays that HE emptied! There is a sense of entitlement that occurs when children are paid to do regular household duties—jobs that are required in order for a family to live. It is this perceived entitlement that causes that same child as an adult employee to say, “I’m not staying an extra ten minutes to finish that. I don’t get paid overtime.” It creates poor employees in the work force and lazy, irresponsible adults in general. Adults do not get paid for the upkeep of their belongings, and children shouldn’t either.

That leads us to many other questions. What about teaching children about handling money? What about allowances? What about “extra” jobs, those jobs that are above and beyond the call of duty as a family member.

We have given our children allowances through the years as we have been able to afford it. (And I wish we had done it more than we did just for the sake of teaching money management.) However, we never linked the allowance to the children’s chores. Chores are what they did as members of our family; an allowance is what they received as members of our family. One did not affect the other.

While paying children to do regular household tasks feels like bribery to me, paying children to do extra jobs, within reason, seems sensible as a way that kids can earn money. However, we must be careful that these extra jobs are truly extra—not anything that is a regular task in maintaining a household on a daily basis.

We have heard of families who handle this dilemma in this way: The regular chores are listed and marked with F for family. These are distributed among the family members and at the very least include all of the daily work in a home. Then any jobs that are available for payment are listed and marked with an X for extra. To me, these should only be tasks that you would pay someone else to do.

We didn’t use that system, but I could see it working in a limited sense. The problem I had with that approach (and the reason we didn’t utilize it) is that I consider nearly everything we do around the house (washing the car, mowing the lawn, babysitting the littles, etc.) to be F for family! Smile…

One more day of chores! Tomorrow we wrap up with another discussion of token chores in Chores vs. Responsibilities, especially as it pertains to teens.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

day 119: age appropriate chores--teens (part i of iii)

Over the next three days, I will present information and ideas about teenagers and chores. If you began early teaching your teen to work and be an integral part of the family operations, you will probably not need a lot of the information in these three days’ posts.

However, if you find yourself still begging your sixteen year old to unload the dishes or you actually find yourself fearful of asking your teen to help with household work (“walking on egg shells”), please consider the next three days’ posts carefully. We owe it to our teens (and anyone who will be involved in their lives (spouse, offspring, employees, neighbors, and more)) to help prepare them for life.

“I’m walkin’ on sunshine… I mean, EGGSHELLS…”

If you have indulged your children to such an extent that you feel as though you are walking on eggshells every time you ask anything of your teens, you do not need to be told that something is very wrong. It is a paradox of parenting. We want to raise our children to be Christian, responsible people, yet we feel this irrepressible urge (oftentimes) to make them happy and comfortable. When we follow the latter inklings more than the former, we find ourselves surrounded by self-absorbed young adults (teens) that are neither Christian-like nor responsible.

Ray and I have made many mistakes in parenting. When we have found one of our kids in bad shape in some area of life due to our erroneous parenting skill, we have had to admit it and ask for the child’s forgiveness. If you are walking on eggshells with your teens much, much more than you are walking on sunshine, you might need to do the same. Depending on the age of your teen, you have a limited number of years left to turn around irresponsibility and laziness that you have caused in an effort to make him happy and comfortable. My approach would be to go to the teen (with your spouse, if possible), and say, “We have made a drastic mistake in our parenting that we want to talk to you about. We realize that in an effort to be “good parents” and ensure your happiness, we have not equipped you for the future. We have had low expectations of you in terms of diligence, responsibility, and time management and have crippled your ability to work hard, study well, etc. Please forgive us. We want to discuss ways that we can teach you to work hard, learn household skills, be responsible, and work towards a more successful future for you.” Then I would start by letting the teen throw out some ideas of how he can start working around the house, learning more life skills, and being more responsible. My goal would be to end this interchange with definite steps that we would take immediately to remedy this.

Drastic sounding? Overly dramatic? Maybe, but maybe not. We all know young adults who do not know how to set up study schedules for college and end up having to drop out. We all know young adults who cannot hold down jobs because they are lazy and irresponsible. These bad character traits are formed at home—when we parents emphasize happiness over holiness and comfort over character.

day 118: age appropriate chores--upper elementary (ages 10 and 11)

“Before I knew it, it was time to set the table for lunch. Josiah and I raced to see who could get done with our jobs first. I slowed down at the end so Josiah could catch up---then I let him win! Mommy took me into her room alone and gave me a million hugs. She said she was so happy that I was learning to see how others feel—and that I make Josiah feel important. I think she’ll probably tell Daddy, and he’ll say, “Jonathan, Mommy told me a good report about you!” I love it when he says that—he always has a big smile on his face and tears in his eyes when he does.”*

All of the “Help” and “Chores on his Own” listed in yesterday’s post (early elementary, ages 8 and 9)

1. Make a freezer entrée, learning to double and triple ingredients, such as meat loaves, enchilada casserole, hamburger stew, taco meat, etc. ***

2. Learn to operate some other outdoor equipment, according to maturity and difficulty of tools

3. Teach ironing, beginning with square, small items and moving onto more difficult ones

4. Start learning to operate grill, including how to cook various meats to proper temperatures, etc.

5. Teach any cooking methods that you have not taught previously, such as crock pot, griddle, broiling, grilling, etc. with the goal of the child being able to grill burgers, broil chicken breasts, assembly crock pot meals, fry eggs on the griddle, etc. all on his own by the end of this time period

6. Work together on cleaning out and organizing freezers (again, do not leave this child unattended to defrost freezer)

7. Teach proper cleaning of appliances, instructing child to unplug first; not fill things with water that should not be (i.e. some electric skillets); not to stick metal in electric appliances, such as toasters; etc.

8. If child cannot maintain certain systems, such as toy shelves or linen closet, etc., work with him on these until he could be given a certain area to maintain (not that he would be given many, but knowing how to set up an organizational system and maintain one is a skill he should start to learn). (This works best if child has developed system with you, such as developing organization of toy shelves or book cases, etc.)

9. Learn to pack for trips, refilling toiletry bags, figuring underclothes needs, making packing lists, etc. by packing with you

10. Help scrub kitchen appliances, such as fruit bin from refrigerator, inside of microwave, etc. with direction and oversight

11. Help clean out buildings, shed, garage, etc.

12. Hang up loads of laundry; teach him how to operate on permanent press; how to remove from dryer and hang on hangers quickly to avoid wrinkles; etc.

13. Teach proper phone etiquette, including taking clear messages

14. Teach how and when to change sheets (not just daily bed making)

15. Learn to do other outside cleaning, such as lawn furniture, grill cleaning, etc.

16. Teach some simple mending, such as buttons and re-sewing hems that have fallen out

17. Learn more advanced baking, such as biscuits, bread, frosted cakes, etc. with you

Become Own Chores:

1. Cleaning car alone, either inside or outside (Do not allow child to run car vac at the same time he is cleaning outside of car. It is important to teach kids that water and electricity absolutely do not mix.)

2. Mow small yard alone

3. Weekly clean bathroom from start to finish by end of this time period

4. Dust entire room, including ceiling fan with feather duster; moving things to dust; carefully dusting frames, etc

5. Entire vacuuming job, including corners, under sofa and furniture etc.

6. Evening meal complete from start to finish

7. Weekly cleaning of refrigerator, including scrubbing shelves and door units

8. Full responsibility of own bedroom now (daily, weekly, monthly—though you will likely still need to help with seasonal, especially seasonal clothes rotation, etc.)

9. Babysitting for short periods of time as many children as can handle; not infants unless napping for sure

10. Prepare packed lunches

11. Clean windows

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link:

**If you have been reading PP 365 long, you probably remember that we focused on giving our children entire chores/areas rather than just having them “help” forever….this builds self-esteem, responsibility, and skills. Anything you can “give” your older elementary child (i.e. weekly bathroom cleaning; one evening meal; etc.) will help him towards more and more responsibility.

***I found it was important to write my recipes in “child-friendly” form—with a numbered list of steps beneath the ingredients. Also, in the early years of cooking, it is helpful to write out the words cup, teaspoon, etc. in recipes, as opposed to c., tsp, etc. I always told my kids that teaspoon was what you drank TEA with (the smaller one) and tablespoon was what you served food at the TABLE with (larger one).