Archive for January 17th, 2011

Family Dinner

How many times per week does your family have dinner together?  With busy work and activity schedules, it can be difficult to sit face-to-face with everyone each night of the week.  However, having dinner with your family creates memories that can last a lifetime. 

I’m the super silly one in my house, so antics like kicking my husband (gently) under the table, making funny faces, and saying long prayers while everyone eagerly waits to dive into dinner lightens the mood for an event that could sometimes seem too formal for children.

I love having dinner with my family, because it allows us to spend undivided time together to discuss what’s on our minds, and pray together.  Speaking of praying, one tradition that we established is for one person at the table to give thanks, offer praises, and pray for the needs of our family as well as those of others.  We work our way around the table until we begin the rotation again six days later (we’re a family of six).  Another tradition that we tried was to for each person present to compliment someone else at the table.  Initially, we tried to do that for every person every night.  Needless to say with six people having to compliment five other people each night, dinner was cold by the time we were done.

How to Make Meals Enjoyable

  • Ask about each other’s day
  • Get input from each member of the family for meal plans
  • Ignore the telephone and turn off the television
  • Keep your meals simple and save the multi-course meals for the holidays
  • Save serious topics of discussion for family meetings
  • Set mood music; in our house, it’s Christian music

Family meals are believed to positively impact your children’s grades, bring about lower levels of stress, instill better table manners, and encouraghealthy eating habits.  So why not begin the tradition of family meals in your household today?

Let’s chat!

Love to all!

CC

Do Your Children Have Chores?

I often hear parents grumble about the abundance of chores around the house, but am astounded at how many families don’t require children to do chores. 

Now, I didn’t have children, so that I could have little maids and chefs running around.  I had them, because my maternal instinct told me that it was my primary purpose in life.  Nothing else I accomplish will ever rate higher than being a mom.  That said, children a part of a family unit and where I’m from, each family member chips in to keep the household running.

The children’s television show Barney made cleaning up popular for the young crowd with the annoying, yet highly effective, Clean Up song.  This song inspired the preschool and elementary crowd to “do your share” of cleaning up after themselves. 

Teaching children to clean up after themselves shouldn’t be considered punishment.  It’s simply instilling responsibility and providing skills that will follow them for a lifetime.

When I was in grade school, teachers rewarded students who had clean workspaces.  The same held true for summer camp where we earned “golden nuggets” (spray painted rocks) for working with our fellow campers to ensure that our cabins were clean.  In college, we had weekly room inspections.  Failure to regularly pass room inspection was punishable by eviction from the dorms.  Ouch!  In places of employment, clean workspaces help keep us organized and productive.

Helpful strategies for achieving chore success:

  • Post a chore chart in the heart of the house (family room, kitchen, etc.) and meet with your chidren often to discuss their roles in completing household chores.  Put your chores on the schedule as well, so that they can see that you, too, play a vital role in keeping the house clean. 
  • Do not complete your child’s chores if they decide to throw a tantrum.  Doing so will send the wrong message.  Instead, remind them that their help benefits the entire family; remember to praise them along the way and immediately after.
  • Give your children age-appropriate chores.  Don’t expect a 5 year-old to make a perfect and neat bed.  Instead, praise them for doing their best.  In time, they will perfect the art of making a bed to your liking.  Maybe.

Need help determining age-appropriate chores?  Annie Stewart of WebMD suggests the following:

Chores for children ages 2 to 3

  • Put toys away.
  • Put clothes in hamper.

Chores for children ages 4 to 5

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Make own bed.
  • Fix bowl of cereal.

Chores for children ages 6 to 7

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Sort laundry.
  • Help make and pack lunch.
  • Keep bedroom tidy.
  • Pour own drinks.

Chores for children ages 8 to 9

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Put away groceries.
  • Vacuum.
  • Make own snacks.
  • Wash table after meals.
  • Put away own laundry.
  • Make own breakfast.
  • Cook simple foods, such as toast.

Chores for children ages 10 and older.

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Unload dishwasher.
  • Fold laundry.
  • Clean bathroom.
  • Wash windows.
  • Cook simple meal with supervision.
  • Iron clothes.
  • Do laundry.
  • Mow lawn.
  • Change bed.

Click here for a full list.

Remember to balance the amount and difficulty of chores with other obligations, such as homework, extracurricular activities, work (for teens), social needs, and family activities.  Revisit the chore schedule periodically to determine whether or not it is effective.  Talk to your children to get their input, tweak the schedule, when necessary, and be sure to announce any changes during your family meeting. 

Do your children have chores?  If so, are tantrums, tears, and headaches part of the routine?  How do you overcome those challenges?

Let’s chat! 

Love to all!

CC