Tag Archives: parents

10 Chores That Young Kids Can Do

This piece also appeared on The Grit and Grace Project.

One of the things I’ve tried to establish early in in my parenting is my desire to raise responsible children who contribute to their community (be it their family, classroom, society, etc). In our culture, this can be difficult… they’re busy, they want to watch TV, or they’re used to being told “You’re too young to do that.” But I’ve got 9 things my kids can and should be doing to contribute to the housework load.

1. Help unload the dishwasher. My kids do their plastic dishes, their cups/bottles/all those parts, and all the silverware (not including sharp knives). I just ask whichever of them is around when I need to get it unloaded, and almost always, they’re eager to help.

2. Put away their laundry. This one is a big one. We often watch some TV before bedtime, and I set a timer for 4-5 minutes at a time, and we pause the TV, and everyone puts some clothes away. Sometimes it’s their own clothes into their own dressers. Sometimes it’s towels, or something of mine or Hubby’s that I have them carry to our room for me to put away later. They’re quite good at helping, and they’re learning to keep their drawers organized… or everything won’t fit!

3. Clean up their toys/pick up their rooms. I don’t make them do this all day every day. We frequently have toys left out, even when we go to bed sometimes. But I do ask them to keep things fairly organized (in labeled bins!) and mostly off the floor. If it gets too out of control, we spend a morning or evening cleaning EVERYONE’s room. But I help, not really facilitate. They know what to do.

4. Bring dishes from the table to the sink. I like having them help clear the table. That way, they can’t just get up whenever they feel like it. They tell me they’re full, and I say when they can get up, take their dishes to the sink, get their hands and faces clean, and go play.

5. Gather/Sort/Switch over laundry. I have them bring their dirty laundry to the laundry room, and often to sort it, help me start a load, help me switch it to the dryer (they’re a little short to get in my top-loading washer), and bring it out to be folded.

6. Clean the table/windows/doors. I let them loose with a roll of paper towels and the Method Glass Cleaner. Boom. It’s not as streak-free as when I do it myself, but they learn that their contribution is valuable at any level.

7. Sweep/pick up crumbs. My kids really like to sweep, and I have a handheld broom and dustpan for them to get everything up off the floor. We try to do this once a day (but then again, it depends on the day).

8. Weed, water, and harvest in the garden. They love this one, simply because they love being outside. We’re teaching them to recognize weeds, and the right way to pull them up (getting the WHOLE weed). They’re also learning when our vegetables are ready to pick – or to eat right off the plant, in the case of several tomatoes and cucumbers!

9. Pack lunch. This one I’m going to start soon. Once I’ve given a good idea of what a healthy lunch looks like, I’m going to have things semi-prepared for my kindergartener to grab a few things to put in her lunch box each morning. I’ll choose a bit, and let her choose her snack and a few add-ins. That way, she’s more excited about eating it because she picked it.

10. Help make the bed. I haven’t set a good precedent about this one, but I often find myself having them help, even if it isn’t first thing in the morning. Having lots of decorative pillows can make the job cumbersome, but pulling up sheets and blankets and putting the animals on TOP of the blankets is pretty darn easy. As is helping Mom or Dad strip the bed and change the sheets! My kids like the putting-on of the pillow cases the best!

What are some things your kids to around the house? Are there other chores I should start my kids on early?

Things Toddlers Say

HEY! We are leaving for Florida tomorrow for a week, so I can’t promise how good vacation mom is at writing down the funnies… so enjoy these to last you till then! Happy Tuesday!!

Hubby helping EK with a crossword puzzle: What’s the thing that goes on pizza that’s round?
EK: Mozzarella?

Hubby: What do y’all want for lunch?
EK: We haven’t had Mexigan in a while.

J, knowing about science: Baby ducks are not chicks. Baby ducks are baby ducks.

EK on Easter: Does Jesus die every year?
Our friend Drew: Well, it only happened once but we celebrate it every year.
EK: I don’t know if I believe that.

EK to our pastor on Easter: You did a really nice job today.

D, being more like me than ever: *Using his bacon as a spoon in his grits*

J at bedtime: Daddy, your love makes me a happy boy.

EK to me: Phew. I better not get in trouble any more.

What are your kids saying these days?! Inquiring minds want to know!

Silence Is a Virtue

This piece originally appeared on Everyday Exiles. I’m now on the other side of this struggle, but it’s no less real and difficult because it’s already happened.

Let me set the stage. I’m a mom of three kids five and under. I’m a worship leader by trade, meaning, so to speak, that I sing for my supper. I taught music before that, and studied vocal music in school prior to that. I have been singing by trade for as long as I can remember. When I was a senior in college, my voice teacher noticed I struggled with something she herself had dealt with, and sent me to an Otolaryngologist (that’s a fancy name for an ENT) in town. He hooked me up with a little medicine and a slightly altered diet, and I’ve been seeing him once or twice a year ever since. However, I just began seeing a voice therapist to try to solve my ongoing problem of vocal fatigue (basically I’m hoarse after limited vocal use) once and for all. Fast forward to this week: I go into my therapy appointment very optimistic. I’ve been working my butt off to “relearn how to speak” so that I am using my voice to its fullest potential and not incorrectly (and thereby causing fatigue). I’ve finally started to feel like it’s sinking in, and I’m getting magical results. I get in there, she’s happy, I’m happy, and she says, “Let’s do a scope before we discharge you from treatment.”

A scope. Okay. I’ve had those. (It involves sticking a tiny camera through your nose or in the back of your mouth to see your larynx and vocal folds/chords. Ew. Not comfortable.)

She proceeds to tell me the therapy is working. (YAY!) Then she says I have a hemorrhage (that’s a scary word in ANY situation) on one of my vocal folds and I need 7 days of total vocal rest.

Total. Vocal. Rest.

Do y’all know that means I can’t talk… OR SING… or whisper or laugh or cough or chat on the phone with my bestie or read books to my kids. Or say anything. Period.

I began this stint of vocal rest by crying in the doctor’s office. Selfishly, I’m sure, because I’m a loud, outspoken extrovert (often to a fault) and it sounded like pure torture, but also because if the hemorrhage becomes a recurring problem, then I have to have a laser (!!!) procedure to make it stop. More stuff? More work, time, money, effort, and heartache put into this issue that hinders me from doing what I love most?

Let’s pause here, because this next part is what’s important. I believe my voice is a gift that the Lord gave me. I use it to glorify His name whenever possible, and now I do that professionally – which was/is my life goal. Boom. But having my voice taken away from me? I’m like Ariel – “but how will I communicate?!” (Ursula would say, “You’ve got your looks, your pretty face… and don’t underestimate the importance of body language – HA!”) That isn’t going to work so well. An extroverted singer doesn’t have time for not using her voice.

But what I’ve realized is that not speaking has given me a freedom to stay silent when I don’t know what to say. It gives me reason to think before I speak (or write something down, since speaking isn’t an option). It gives me extra margin to think, to pray, to consider what I’m ingesting from all the outside influences (good and bad) without needing to respond to them immediately, or at all.

It’s also given me cause and time to ask the Lord for healing, for strength for the next few days, for a blessing of quiet joy as I learn things about my personality I hadn’t known before – such as how often I interrupt people, which is impossible to do when you’re writing things down – the topic of conversation has already changed by the time I have written my quip. This silence has forced me to pause and appreciate being home (since going out and extroverting means using my voice more) and staying and resting in the stillness whenever possible. These things are hard for me, y’all, but I know that He provides strength. I’m crying even as I write this, because it’s a battle for me to know that in all things, He is working for my good (Romans 8:28) but I also know that we are sometimes grieved by various trials so that our tested and genuine faith results in praise (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Things Toddlers Say

I’m so glad it’s Tuesday! I love sharing these little quips and sillies with you. I hope you enjoy them!

J: Can I have a special drink tonight that isn’t sprite?
Hubby: What’s wrong with sprite?
J: Sprite wasn’t working for me.

J, trying to get his buddies to surprise us: Okay, on my count. One, two, threeeee!

J at an Italian restaurant: It’s nice to be in this place. Well, it’s nice to be in the whole world.

J’s new favorite word: defint-ly. (Definitely. And he definitely says it several times in one sentence.)

D, reaching his hand into my pasta: Let me share with you!

Annie (their grandma): Do you want five more M&Ms?
D: Six!
Annie: Six?!
D: Seben!

J, holding up one of his hands toward me: Every single finger on this hand has a cut. I look… damaged.
(Same convo, a little later.)
J: The most what is on me is cuts.
Ek: No, the most what is on you is hair. And pajamas. And dirt.

D, bringing EK’s mittens: I want EK’s thumbs!
Hubby finally explained to me why he might call them that… whenever we put mittens on him, we always tell him to stick out his thumbs!

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday!! I hope you enjoy the funnies!

EK: He made your soup so fast!
J: No…
EK: Yes he did!
J: No… he made it quickly.

Me: One, two….?
D: …
Me: …
D: …
Me: Three! Four, five, six,
D, interrupting me: Seben!!!!!!!
Me: You got seven but not three?!

D, with a rolling pin inside his shirt: Mama look! I got a sword in my pocket!

Hubby: Here’s some falafel for you!
J: This isn’t waffles!

EK: And guess what?! We got lollipops! J got strawberry and I got watermelon and D got… he got green bean.
Me: I think it’s green apple…

I had asked EK to run a bath, and she came back up shouting: Mom! The light has run out of power in there!

EK referring to hand, foot, mouth: …and we all had footprints.

D about pterodactyls: I need da carrot-dactyl!

A few one-liners this week, eh? What are your kiddos saying these days? Or shall I say “saying improperly” these days?!

My little people aren’t to blame. 

This post originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

I’ve written again and again about losing my patience. Again and again, people comment… “Me too,” they say. “I know what you mean.” and “It gets easier.” are other common responses. I get texts, private messages, and comments right on my blog or my Facebook page telling me what I already know is true: “Every parent loses their patience sometimes. Kids can be totally frustrating. You aren’t to blame.”

Well, my little people aren’t to blame, either.

What is our culture’s obsession with blame? We need someone to be in the wrong in every unfavorable situation. Our president or the government is to blame. My boss is to blame. Our spouses, our parents, our kids. Well, what about the recent hurricanes? Who is to blame for that? No one. We’d love to pin down who caused all the destruction, who could be held responsible for the damage done, the property lost, or the money that will be spent on rebuilding instead of vacations and Christmas presents.

So when I get upset, annoyed, frustrated, or just plain angry, my little people aren’t to blame. I might need reminding of this fact, but they simply aren’t to blame for their tendencies toward mess-making, misunderstandings, or sleep-deprived moodiness. My little ones aren’t to blame for the fact that scrambled eggs aren’t their favorite breakfast, or that they have to wear pants today, or even the fact that they can’t survive off of fruit snacks.

But you know what, I do agree that I’m not to blame either.

You see, the kids and I, we are human. We are broken. We are prone to mistakes and sins. The only thing that can redeem us of those things is the grace of God. It’s by the grace of God we love each other through and in spite of messes (literal and figurative) and it is by His grace we can sometimes rise above the little things that often get under our skin. It’s by the grace of God that I even have these perfect little people in my life, and I wouldn’t dare say that my frustration outweighs the daily joy they bring to my life.

Things Toddlers Say 

Happy rainy Tuesday! At least if you’re in North Carolina. I hope you’re safe and well, wherever you are, after this past few days of craziness. Here’s a little bit of humor to cheer you up!

J: Did you know when we keep scratching our booboos they hurt more?
Me: That sounds right.
J: Yeah, it’s right, ’cause EK told me.
Me: She isn’t always right.

D: I ‘uf you, Joe Joe! I ‘uf you, Joe Joe! I ‘UF YOU JOE JOE!
Me: J, do you hear him frantically telling you he loves you?
J: I love you, too, baby brother.

J, pointing at hexagonal floor tiles in a bathroom: Mom! Look at those pentagons!
Me: Those are actually hexagons, but I’m really impressed!
EK: Stop signs are red ones of those!
Me: Actually, stop signs are octagons. *cue 20 minute discussion about many-sided figures.*

D, every time we put him on the potty and he doesn’t pee: It’s broken!

EK, putting my birthday on her planner: I just upgraded ya, Mom.

D, all day: I wan’ delly jeans! (Jelly beans)

EK explaining fire, tornado and lock down drills: Well, it’s so we’re safe. Like, just so there’s a fire, or a tomato, or if bears or lions come.

EK to her cinnamon roll: I’m coming for ya, cinnamon!

J, after snuggling with Hubby: Um, I put a little too much spit on Daddy’s ear.

J, looking at Hubby’s phone: Who’s that girl-man?
Hubby: …Barry Manilow…?
Me: *dead*

Well, I hope you enjoyed the little conversations, and the series of one-liners! Have a great rest of your week!