Saturday, July 9, 2011

A "Loving" Punishment

It was a wonderful Saturday. We were enjoying a BSU football game all while baking cookies and doing laundry at the same time. The whole family was favorite kind of day!

Then it started. At first it was little jabs here and there. I politely asked them to stop. Soon it elevated to constant bickering. I asked not so politely for them to stop. It wasn't long until Taylor and Aubrey were yelling at each other. That is when I step in and make them stop!

I know all siblings will bicker. And most of the time, the kids will work it out themselves. But when it elevates to a point that it's causing too much contention, that's where I gotta step in.

How you react in that instant is what can make or break the whole feeling inside the home. The last thing I ever want is to have to raise my voice louder than what is already too loud and annoying! That does ZERO good. You know that mother who is yelling at their kids for all to hear in Walmart? Yeah, she's really helping, huh?

Solution! Give them a punishment that looks like this...

They had to stay in this position for thirty minutes straight! That might seem like a little much, but they are old enough, and completely capable and needed it that night to learn their lesson! 

They must keep their fingers interlaced behind their sibling's back. The key here is to make it a horrible consequence for one of them who might let go before the timer goes off. That could be anything! Scrubbing every toilet? One hundred jumping jacks in the front yard while counting out loud? This particular night, it was raining outside, and it had been too long since Gunner's poop had been picked up in the back yard. That is a horrible, nasty job that nobody wants! Let go? Pick up all the poop - and Chip added barehanded!!! Think someone is going to let go? No.

Thirty minutes ever so s l o w l y ticked by... the boys kept watching and enjoying the game and payed no attention to the hugging teenagers in the room.

The great part is, although they were angry with each other when it started, it wasn't long until they were laughing at how silly it all was. They stayed for the entire 1/2 hour, knowing the wet soggy poop was waiting for the one who might let go first. They giggled over half the time.

I'm telling you, this worked wonders! Since it happened about 7 months ago, they know what might be coming if they don't stop when asked the first time.

They have also been made to sit back to back while linking arms in other people's homes, hold hands in church, and stand legs spread open in middle of the Target aisle. They become so embarrassed while doing these things, that they realize the argument just isn't worth it!

Try it! Make it work for your own children. If they are young, maybe 15 minutes will do it. Maybe a group hug is needed! Do what it takes... but don't yell like crazy. It simply doesn't work, and just makes things worse. Happy punishing!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Can't Get the Kids out of Bed?

Mornings are difficult - especially when they begin by having to tell your children to get out of bed over and over and over and over and over again. This is SO not okay with me - drives me nuts! It is totally annoying and frustrating and just wrong to have to go into their bedrooms several times, all while trying to get ready yourself and do a thousand other things! I know it is difficult to get out of bed - I hate it too. Tough. After I have asked twice, I refuse to sound like a broken record. "Get up. Ca'mon, get out of bed! Now! GET UP! GET UUUUUUUUP" OH! I hate that.

Solution:  Squirt bottle...(she said with an evil grin.)

The second my children hear me say in a loud, firm voice, "TEN" , they know exactly what is coming. I continue to count down till one. If their feet are not on the floor and they are not standing by the time I finish counting, they know they will get squirted in the face, or anywhere I choose. Do you know how awful that feels in the morning? They hate it SO much that I only had to do it a couple of times. Now it works every time. Sure, they hate me for it, but only for a minute. And it is SO much better than yelling louder and louder, over and over.

Two things make this work.

1) If you get to "ONE" - SQUIRT LIKE YOU'VE NEVER SQUIRTED BEFORE - soak 'em till they are up and going!!

2) ALWAYS, ALWAYS HAVE THE BOTTLE IN HAND AND POINTED AT THEM WHILE COUNTING. I know it sounds so funny! But I'm telling you, if you don't have it in hand and ready to fire, there is not a good enough reason for them to get up, and you result to yelling, screaming, pulling, yanking - you know - all those things you don't really want to do. 

It works, friends!

What if they pull the covers over their heads? Pull them up at the bottom and squirt their feet. No matter what, just keep squirting them!

My kids don't even fight it anymore. It's not worth it to them to try and hide under the blankets. They just get up. I love it.

Yeah, I may not use a squirt bottle to do the ironing. But I find dang good use of it in my home!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five Minute Tidy (with a fantastic twist!)

Out of sorts. Disarray. Messy. Untidy. Disorder. Topsy-turvy. Below par.

You know how it feels - you look around and suddenly you feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Don't you just want to snap your fingers?  I have the next best thing.
I am almost positive this will be my all-time favorite idea to share with fellow mothers! I'm sure lots of moms do something similar - but if not, it's a must-share! One day my sister, Beth, was over at our home, and I yelled out to my children what they hear at least 10 times a week...sometimes 20.  "Five minute tidy! Ready, Set, Go!" Since then, I know she uses it in her home just as often, and EVEN in her 3rd grade classroom!

Before five minute tidy today! (Can't believe I am posting this!)

Ok - five minutes of picking up and straightening - so what's the big deal, right? It's the little twist that makes this so perfectly magically wonderful!

So, once I have set the oven timer for five minutes and shouted, "GO!" - the kids know to immediately get going - because if not.. I instantly add one minute to the timer. And that my friends, is the twist I speak of.... the spontaneous adding of minutes! During the five minutes of picking up, straightening, etc. - I am at close watch. The second I see someone either a) moving too slow in my opinion or b) doing anything other than cleaning, even for a second, (and I am strict - that's why this works so well) I yell "...adding a minute!" Then I put another minute on the timer. Obviously the kids hate that, so they really push and encourage each other the whole time. When I hear anyone be "mean" or harsh, I immediately add another minute after yelling for all to hear, "adding a minute!" For example, let's say Jackson picks up a ball to put away and then starts tossing it up and catching it. I yell, "adding a minute!" That is frustrating to everyone else. So Aubrey might decide to say something like, "Jackson! Sheesh, thanks a lot!" Guess what mama does? Yep, I add a minute, because that's not allowed.

The last thing the kids want is a longer cleaning period, right? SO, they will do whatever it takes to make it as short as possible. That means, they work very quickly and efficiently. Like I said, if they spend even a second doing anything else, or not working to my standards, I add a minute. MAGIC I tell you. Magic.

It is quite rare that I set the timer for 5 minutes, and it stays that way. Nine times out of 10, I have to add at least one minute during the tidy. If I am not strict, the kids won't work as diligently. Remember: The key to making this so effective is to be very strict and quick to add minutes.

So, what happens when the house looks great and there is still time left? Everyone grabs a baby wipe and starts cleaning door jams, around the door knobs, baseboards, and kitchen fixtures.

It's truly amazing what five (plus a few) quality minutes of tidy-ing can do! Truly. We always look around after it's over with a big smile and sense of relief.

Can't tell you how easy it is to yell out "Five minute tidy" rather than, "Taylor please do the counters. Aubrey clear the table. Hannah, pick up the toys in the living room... Jackson blah blah blah!"

We have had days that we have had to do this six or seven times in ONE day. But it works so, so well. I especially like to do it right before we walk out the door to go somewhere. The feeling of walking back into to a nice, picked-up home is invaluable! It can set the mood right then and there.

After the 5 minute tidy - I only had to add one minute today! Success!

So, happy 5 minute tidy-ing! Oh, and don't forget the fun music - always a must. Would love your feedback, we can all help each other!

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chores, Schmores!

I have come to many conclusions as a mom. One, is that a clean home can set the mood and general feeling for everyone. Another, is that not one of us likes to clean it! So, I do whatever I can to make it as pleasant of an experience as possible!

About a year ago, we had one of those Saturdays with zero plans. Looking around, our home looked what most of our homes look like after a busy week. You know....lived in. Messy. A little "out of sorts." Normal! My husband, Chip, had to go to work that day and I was dreading the announcement to the kids of what our Saturday would consist of. I could already hear the groans see the rolling of eight eyeballs. I've experienced that many a' Saturday!! Chores, schmores, right?!  But I was determined to make this work day a fun day. That's when it all came to me - a new system that has worked like magic ever since! It is so simple! I don't know why I didn't think of it before.

I began by making slips of paper to be drawn by the kids. What was written on them is what made this system work as well as it did, and still does today. We do this at least once a week, and I can honestly say that my children look forward to doing chores. Yep, I said it - they look forward to it - they get excited!!!

Coming up with what goes on the papers is my favorite part! My goal is always twofold. One, is that the house gets clean and chores get done well. Two, is that FUN is had by all at the same time. Here is how that mission is always accomplished.

Fill out the strips of paper with regular chores, unique chores, fun chores, and simply FUN! You choose how many of each - depending on how much time you have, and just you want the whole experience to be like. Read on...

It is very important that a) the "regular" chores on the papers are not too big and/or overwhelming  b) there is a wide variety of all of the chores and c) that there are plenty of fun and/or silly things to draw also.

An example of a regular chore would be exactly what you might think. They key to this part however, is not to make it a big overwhelming chore. For example, one slip of paper would never say "clean the bathroom." Instead there would be a six different slips of paper. One paper in the bowl would say "bathroom sink." Another would say "bathtub." Another would say "toilet." One would say "bathroom mirror," or "bathroom counters" and another "bathroom floor." The kitchen is also broken up into many small chores such as "unload the bottom rack of the dishwasher" and "wipe down outside of the refrigerator and dishwasher." Or "third fridge shelf" - that means, clear that shelf, clean it, put everything back.

More examples of regular chores are:
  • vacuum/sweep entry way
  • straighten living room
  • wipe down dining chairs
  • empty all little trashcans
  • clean sliding glass door
  • transfer (put clothes from washer to dryer)
  • throw load in washer
  • dog poop (always the dreaded one.. it's like drawing the Old Maid!)
(you get the idea here of course)

The unique type chores are fun for me to come up with. They are typically chores that might not work in every one's home - only yours. And these are the chores that really vary from week to week. The whole key to this is fun, and variety. For example, we have a movie cabinet that always has loose DVDs laying around. I also like to keep movies that are watched the least on the very bottom and the most popular at eye-level. So, one of the papers will say "movie cabinet" and the kids know exactly what I mean. Another one might say "magazine basket". We keep one in the guest bathroom but seems to fill up quickly. There seems to be random things ending up in there all the time too, so that chore includes getting rid of the oldest magazines and making sure there is nothing in there that doesn't belong. Our silverware tray collects lots of crumbs because the drawer is right under the toaster. So one chore is usually to empty the silverware tray, wipe it down, and put them back nicely.

More examples of unique type chores are:
  • Make porch look nice (sweep, straighten things)
  • Clean out all trash out of the car (another would be non-trash)
  • Hang up all jackets/coats (too many always end up on the closet floor during the week!)
  • pantry (close open boxes, organize, crumbs on floor)
  • clean out your backpack (if there is something like this that I would like all four kids to do, I put in 4 papers saying the same thing but if they draw it twice, they just throw it back in and draw again. Eventually, all four kids get it.)
  • bring me 5 things from your room you can get rid of (there is always stuff cluttering their room!)
  • clear top of washer and dryer (I hate those clutter places all around the home.)
  • etc, etc, etc! Like I said - they are fun to come up with
I always love to make some very fun unique type "chores" also. These usually aren't chores that are not dreaded much. And they just make for more fun. Check out some of these I like to include:
  • massage mom's neck (I'm a smart one)
  • write in your journal
  • send a thank you e-mail to gramma (or whomever)
  • brush/play with mom's hair
  • prepare a snack for everyone for after the chores
  • tell each person in the room something you love about them
  • entertain Ella! (the little one I take care of) This would work perfectly for a family with a child too young to participate - and I would make it so someone always has to be entertaining the little one! :)

I also always write down "ten things" on about 5-ish papers too. That means... look around and take care of ten things that aren't right. It usually means pick up ten random items, but it could also mean straighten the hand towels in the bathroom, or push in the dining chairs.

Most of the reason the kids truly do get excited to spend their day doing chores, is because of what the rest of the slips of papers say:
  • Play a game on the computer! (I like to give them a specific game - more fun) There might be 5ish of these in the bowl.
  • Make up a song on the piano!
  • Choose something from the candy bowl and enjoy! (I always put plenty of these)
  • Play solitaire!
  • FREEEEEEEE TIME!!! (I always add several of these to the bowl - at least 10!)
  • jump rope in the living room!
  • DANCE! (it's fun to say "you may not stop dancing for the whole time- that's your chore!")
  • Color a page in a coloring book!
  • See how long you can balance a ball on your head.
There have been days that I just put about 25 or so "FREE" slips of paper in so they can think of their own thing to do. That's fun too.

Coming up with these is super fun for me, and there is always something different so the kids can have fun anticipating what they draw next.

Now for the logistics, and how exactly it is all played out.

Sometimes I fold up all the papers and put them in a bowl. Sometimes I spread them out flat all over the table. Again, even changing this up keeps things fresh, and that is important! Regardless, the kids choose one paper, one at a time. (I always choose the order of the kids choosing and make it different every round for the same reason - simply to keep it fresh).

Let's say Hannah chooses first this round. She opens it, and reads it out loud so everyone knows what she got and so I can do any explaining that might be needed. Then whoever I choose next does the same thing, until all kids have chosen and read their paper out loud. I yell "GO!"  - and they are off!

Sometimes nobody gets a fun activity, sometimes three of them do, etc. Depending on how much time we have that day, I might set a rule like "only one fun activity can be drawn per round." But there is always the rule that you cannot draw back to back fun activities. You have to have one "chore" (unique, regular or fun chore, doesn't matter) in between game, activity or free time.

Some chores might say "A or T" on it meaning "for Taylor or Aubrey only" - that is because if it's something like "fold laundry in dryer" - I just don't feel like Hannah or Jack can do it up to par yet. After a few times of doing this, Aubrey and Taylor started to really dread the "A or T" papers, so for fun I wrote "send a text to an aunt" on a couple of them because they are the only texting kids. This helped a lot knowing it could be something fun also. If I had younger children (ages 2-4 ish), I would make a special bowl for them to draw from and all the papers would say is the name of an older child. Then they would either help that child with their chore, or they would get to do the same fun activity with them.

Some of the rules include:
  • If you groan about what your draw... your next "free time" or fun activity must be given to someone else and traded for a chore. We really go by "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit" here. They know that they might get lots of "good" papers next week!
  • Once you are finished with your chore, you get to "chill" - relax until everyone is done with that round. (the one who gets a fun activity always hopes that there is a long chore for someone so they can spend a longer time with their fun pick!) Then they all pick again in my order!
  • No trading slips of paper. Period. This just makes it clear for everyone and easier too.
  • Whistle while you work! In our home, that simply means have a good attitude and make it fun however you can! There is always fun music playing - so they can literally whistle while they work too. That is a must for me.  :)
Everything about this system is awesome!! I think the reasons it works best are:
  • The kids love the anticipation of what they might draw since there's always something new.
  • If they draw something not so desirable... they a) want to finish quickly in hopes to have down time while the others finish b) want to draw again quickly in hopes of a fun one c) know that it's a chore that isn't too huge or overwhelming (unless it's dog poop!)
  • We make it fun by always playing a great itunes list of "working" songs which are always very upbeat and fun to sing and dance to.
  • The "fun" things are unique and/or unexpected activities they really enjoy doing.

I just love how it all works! In the end, I have happy children, and a clean home. (For that day at least!) I mean ca'mon... my home is certainly not always clean, and my children are certainly not always happy! But I still try my best. And one thing I know for sure, is that this is certainly the way that has worked best thus far. (It's about time, my oldest is 16)! It might not work for you, but maybe you can take something from it that does work for you, or maybe you can share it with someone who it could work for.

Questions or comments? Go for it! It truly is fun, and it has made working an enjoyable experience in our home. Who knew?!

Thanks for visiting!