My Theory Regarding Chores for Kids

When my kids were super young we had a chore chart up on the fridge, I created it and it worked awesome. At some point it was magnetic and at other points it was simply a tally mark system. Each child had set chores, for the boys brushing teeth was even one of those chores to encourage good teeth brushing habits. The tally mark would represent a penny or nickle, whatever it was back then. Each child could lose a tally mark though, if they misbehaved or didn’t follow rules at some point. It was a wonderful system that worked well when the kids were not in school. Now that my three children are in school and with the sharing of parenting between two households, it’s not so easy to utilize the same methods. Here is why my kids really only have tasks during the Summer break season.

I believe that the school year is a time to focus all your efforts on school work, each of my children get A and B grades, this past year my oldest actually got straight A’s all year. They are good students. They also have to live between my home and their Dad’s home, each having different visitation schedules. To me, having to keep up with chores while going between households and keeping up good grades isn’t worth adding a daily chore list to. While I still will ask my children to help around the house, as I believe a strong family bond is created when we all work together to ensure our household is up kept, they don’t have a real chore list during the school season. This has worked for us very well.

Chores for Kids Living in Co Parenting World

My kids are never over scheduled nor over worked during the school year because I allow them the time to focus on school versus a huge list of chores. I believe this is a worthy thing, their school is their job. Being part of the family is their job too, when you have a huge list of school work plus chores plus fun time, it creates this hectic environment and can put kids backwards; they will fall behind in some part of that huge list of to-do’s. I wish to encourage my kids to excel and find a balance, reality is a chore list during the school year will not help them balance because it’s near impossible for them to get all of that done while getting school work done. It doesn’t work.

When summer break hits, the kids are asked to do more around the home. My oldest is asked to handle the dog in the morning while I do my morning shift on Moms.com. The younger two are expected to pick up after their own self; such as dishes in sink after eating, trash thrown away and toys picked up if moving onto another toy. I am not consistent with this at all times, because I am still working on this balance of having all three gone all school year in school, but overall if I ask they do whatever it is that is asked upon them. Summer break to me, is a time to spend with family outings, bonding time and also keeping up with household chores and yard work. We all do our part to keep the family running smoothly and efficiently.

With my oldest, she has an iPhone and part of her Summer list this year is to do tasks for me so that my blog stuff doesn’t fall too much behind between my juggling my job at Moms.com and my freelance work. I don’t get any flack, after all my daughter is already a tween blogger with her own two blogs so helping me pays for her $40 a month cell bill while she also learns the “trade of blogging”. It’s a win/win for us both and she feels accomplished knowing she is working for me at some level. I am working on creating her Summer task list now, it will be no more than half hour a day when she is here to complete and I think that’s fair.

I believe that chores, in a blended household, where the children tend to go off to their Dad’s frequently must be balanced well. I want the children to enjoy being here with Mom and enjoy being away with Dad while also maintaining a good family bond and good character. At the age my children are at, the chores during school year are more a means to just upkeep around here, but during the Summer months, they are certainly expected to help more. I think with blended households and co-parenting most families do it all different while other families still try to maintain this normal level of a regular family where the children have a boat load of chores at both households, I don’t see that as fair. I want my children to grow up enjoying their childhood while still teaching them life lessons; they know when Summer time comes they will be expected to help more around the home, but their reward is a lot of fun family time.

Having a balance is important in every area of my life and my kids have become the same way; I believe that is why we are well rounded, well adjusted and adaptable, outgoing people.

Best Way To Survive Outings with Kids this Summer

It’s summer break and you want to be able to enjoy your children, I see so many parents counting down to the time school starts. Then when school starts, they count down to summer because the school schedule is a pain sometimes. It seems many parents are always counting down to the next whatever – be it summer or school. Stop. Enjoy the time you have with your kids, whether they are being totally awesome and getting along or having a case of sibling rivalry ALL DAY LONG, enjoy those moments. Time flies too quickly to not cherish every moment, yes even those patience testing times.

Here is how I survive summer (and other times of the year) with my three, very different children:

how to survive Summer outings with children

Always be proactive – you know how your kids work and what makes them tick. Planning ahead for things that will entertain them, allows the long drive to be more tolerable. For me, the middle child enjoys electronics as a means to keep himself occupied during a long trip, so I charge up the Nabi Tablet and encourage it being shut off when he’s not using it (as I don’t have a car charger for it at this time). For the other two, they bring along some small toys, coloring book and crayons or paper to play tic tac toe. Plan to have everything packed up and ready the night before to ensure you don’t forget anything!

Set Expectations – Let your kids know what you expect of them. If they are not acting properly in the car, I don’t care where you are, pull over and stop that vehicle. Do not yell and scream and get all stressed out because your children are not behaving, sure I get it, stopping and pulling over will make the trip take longer, but it’s worth it to teach the children that you will stop if they don’t behave properly in the car. Also let them know what you expect of them at the outing, such as not running off, staying a certain distance when walking with you, etc. One thing I do with my youngest, who is a bowl full of energy, is that he can run ahead a bit til I say STOP. He must stop when I say stop and not go again til I yell GO. This keeps him from having to restrain his energy, but also keeps him at a safe distance. If he doesn’t listen, I make him hold my hand, this involves him screaming, yelling and being pretty mad, but he learns that is the consequence and I don’t care if people “stare” at us, I am being the Mom.

Have Fun and Be Happy – Seriously, it’s as simple as that. Sure it can be stressful and overwhelming to be at a packed beach or facility, with kids, but get over it! If you set the expectations ahead of time, follow through with a matter-of-fact consequence things get easier. Do not allow yourself to think “well this kid knows better” or get all grumpy because your child isn’t listening. Kids will be kids. They will test limits; they will see what they can pull off, especially being out in public. Let your child know they have a consequence but have fun, don’t get all tense over having to “deal with your child”, it is going to happen, children will make the same mistake over and over sometimes too, it’s all about teaching them how to not keep making the same mistake. Get down at their level, have fun, be silly and let loose. Just because you are laughing, having fun and letting loose doesn’t mean your child won’t respect you as a parent, they actually will learn to listen to you more because they will trust you are able to get down on their level and enjoy this Summer outing.

I am sure I could go on and on with more tips, but these three have been the best for myself, what are your extra tips you may have that work for your family? Do share in a comment below…

 

Parenting: The Approach is Irrelevant, The Ultimate Goal is Important

I think about parenting all day and all night, this has become a huge part of my life since I earned the title Mom. I honestly can say parenthood is the most important part of my life, a close second importance is my work. There are many ways to raise your child, every book and every other parent will lend you advice on what worked for them. The key is that those methods worked for them. The advice you receive, the suggestions others lend, are not made of gold and are not something you have to follow. Kindly accept advice and knowledge shared from one parent to another, but never question your ultimate way of living if it works for you and your children.

One thing about co-parenting or even parenting as husband and wife under the same roof is that not even both parents will have the same approach to every parenting scenario. Mom and Dad do things different, this is just a fact of life. Mom and Dad have a different approach to life, so why wouldn’t they have a different approach in parenthood? Makes sense that they would approach things differently, even in regards to their own children.

What is extremely important as two parents raising children together, is that both are on the same goal path. This means that Mom and Dad both have the same goals in mind with the type of child they want to raise into adulthood. It’s best that you have discussions beforehand about your wishes for your not-yet-planned child, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Life seems to go on whether you are ready for it or not.

The best tips I have for you in regards to ensuring you both have the same goals for your children is to do the following:

  • Discuss what is important to both of you and collide them together in your child’s upbringing.
  • Be sure you both are on the same path to instill the same morals and personality traits in your child.
  • Be respectful that your approach and their approach may be different.
  • Keep open communication to ensure that you both are indeed still working to parent on the same path.

It’s really irrelevant if your spouse handles your child differently than you do, what really matters most is that you both are working to raise the same type of child. This is important. Everything else is just fluff, and honestly a child who has two parents who approach things differently will assist that child in having more of an open mind to life as they get older.

My Honest Truth About Divorce – Get Over Yourself

Divorce is something I’ve always called “The Big D”, it reminds me of that country song “going to the big D and don’t mean Dallas …” I went into marriage knowing darn well that I wouldn’t back out of marriage with divorce on a whim, it wasn’t something either of us “believed in”, unless absolutely necessary. Still, after two sons and about 3 years of marriage, we were divorced. I often wonder if we made the right decision, if that was indeed what was best for us and our family.

It was the best decision at the time, based on circumstances and our sons are happier now than they ever could have been with us under the same roof.

As I co-parent with my ex husband in such a perfectly normal way, it still creeps into my mind once in awhile that I wish we could have made this work better as a couple. We couldn’t have back then though, and together we are two different people. It’s easier for us to co-parent so positively and be friends because we ended our marriage before we got to the bitter hatred point and because as co-parents we focus on our sons without anything else mattering.

As a divorced couple, all that matters is our children. That’s it. It’s easy really.

I am here to talk about the honest truths about divorce, in hopes that I can get more people to think harder before jumping to that decision, you see, I learned a lot from my divorce and some lessons learned were extremely valuable to me as an individual. I thought I would share my honesty about divorce today.

Thoughts/Circumstances that Come into Play After Divorce:

  • Hindsight is always 20/20 – If you are currently divorced and raising your child(ren) amicably, get along with your ex and can even be friends it’s normal to have some questions about whether divorce was the right answer. Remember, we always see things differently looking back, than in the moment. Circumstances that led to divorce were real, don’t ever think they were not, apparently certain things were important at that moment in your life and you need to accept that, not dwell on the “what ifs”.
  • Confident in Divorce - No matter how confident you were in getting divorced, it’s usually not easy for anyone, especially if you can’t just divorce and move on, never speaking to that person again due to raising children together.  Remind yourself, when those whimsical thoughts come into your mind, that you divorced this person for a reason, even if the reason wasn’t extreme, it was a valid reason during that time period.
  • Friendship After Divorce – I have met far too many people who are co-parenting and despise their ex. I say Let it Go. I don’t care if they cheated on you, I don’t care what in the heck they did to you to hurt you deeply, get yourself help through therapy and move on. This is to better yourself as a person and to ensure you don’t allow negative feelings towards your ex affect your parenting responsibilities.  I will be honest, many ex’s are a much better person after you get divorced, because they too learned something from this life changing experience!

What you should do before filing for divorce:

  • Has Communication Broken Down – Raising kids can take a lot out of you, as an individual, which means communication can be broken during the child bearing days. Even if your partner isn’t taking the initiative to communicate properly with you, do your best to try your hardest to be a better listener for your partner, lead them by being a compassionate example of great communication.
  • Therapy - I am an avid supportive of counseling services, these are great people who specialize in getting you two back on track. They don’t work miracles, but you must be certain to try couples therapy before throwing away a marriage, believe me, it may be a lot of you causing some issues and you just need a professional to open your eyes to it.
  • How Will This Benefit the Children – Many people will say it’s best to stay married for the children, sure they do play a huge toll in whether divorce is the right answer or not. Remember once you are divorced, you have to give up those wake ups, goodnight kisses and so much of the family unit time together. Make sure that you are fully aware of how the family dynamic will change after divorce and that this will be beneficial to the kids long term.
  • Have You Stopped Paying Attention to Each Other – The days of listening to your spouse in awe over their excitement and joy in life can dry up, you may be sick and tired of hearing their voice. You may be tired and exhausted from working hard to support the family. Whatever reasons, drop the excuses, your partner should always be treated like gold. Even if it’s something simple like doing a kind gesture for them, saying a kind word, snuggling up to give them a kiss every night, even if they have already fallen asleep. If things have gotten real bad, they may not take to this right away, but keep trying!

My Last Tidbit of Opinion About Divorce

If there is any part of you, whether large or small, debating if divorce is really the right answer, listen to yourself. Take the time you need to fully absorb all that divorce will entail; the changes the kids will have happen, the changes for you as a person, the changes for your spouse, etc etc. Think long and hard, make sure all of these challenging changes that come about after divorce are worth going through without your spouse. Be certain that you are not making the decision to divorce for your own selfish reasons, this happens without us even realizing it.

Also, remember, even if you did divorce this person that it’s possible to turn back the decision and re-marry them. Just get over your stubborn self and accept that you made a mistake, I have seen many couples who got divorced early on in the marriage, then find out later on that they were ready to be together, forever. They re-married and have been together for many years since! Nothing is final in life, except death and even that is questionable.

Cleaning Your Room – Parent vs Child

The biggest battle of parenthood I see as a “choose your battles wisely” topic is cleaning your child’s bedroom.  So many parents complain about how messy their child’s room is, or complain about how they can’t get their child to clean their room. I see two types of parental mindsets with the topic of children’s bedroom cleaning;

  1. The parents who simply want their child’s room to be clutter free, organized and presentable.
  2. The parents who want their child’s bedroom cleaned and organized their way vs the child’s way.

Both parents are perfectly right, who’s to say it’s going to ruin a child by making them clean their bedroom a certain way. I am sure the child will survive the life of having to keep a clean and tidy room whether by their own standards or their parents standards. I simply choose to take another route. Spending many years in therapy with my middle child has really helped open my eyes to what battles are worth fighting for or not.

Cleaning Your Room - Parent vs Child

“Image courtesy of varandah / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

How I think A Parent Can Handle Cleaning of their Child’s Room with Less Stress

First off, one thing that bothered me from my childhood was the constant need for me to fold clothes the way the parent did it, clean room the way the parent wants it, and even wash dishes the same exact way my parent wanted me to. I see a flaw in this; I believe parents are suppose to guide children to be individuals. No two people will do the same task in the exact same method but they can end up with the same positive result; meaning my bedroom can be clean by my standards but it may not be up to par with your view of what clean is. The dishes may end up clean, but the process I took to get there is not the same process you took. This is all perfectly okay.

Again, one thing most parents start to realize is that we parent based on our own experiences. I parent based on my own to shed a positive light upon things I felt agonized about as a child.

The key to alleviating stress when it comes to cleaning your child’s bedroom is as simple as allowing your child to clean their room in their own unique way. For example, my daughter has a clutter fest of a bedroom, she is a person who hangs onto everything. It drives me bonkers! I had a discussion with  my daughter, I listened to her side of what a clean room should be and came to my own conclusion of an acceptable approach to her bedroom cleanliness.

My mission is simple: I want the bedroom to be sanitary without food or trash anywhere. I want to be able to walk through my daughter’s room without stepping on anything, including trash. I want to be able to know which clothes are clean and which clothes are dirty in her bedroom and I want her room to be fire safe.

Pretty simple, right?

That’s how I handle the topic of cleaning a child’s bedroom. I allow that to be their space, organized just how they want but it must be a presentable place where I can walk into and hang out with my child or read a book with them without stepping or sitting on things. I want no trash nor food in the room so that the house is sanitary as a whole. This works for us and has actually increased the times my daughter cleans her room close to what I would clean it to more often than not.

There is no arguing over her personal space and there is no stress involved when I say “go clean your room up a bit please”. It’s a win/win and the way I look at it is this; if there comes a day when she can’t find something because of the way she “organizes” her bedroom, then maybe she will change her method up a bit. For now? We live in peace with sanitary bedrooms. I am good with that.

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