Saturday, October 31, 2009

Putting Kids to Work

This whole concept was birthed a few years ago when I found myself very run down, out of energy, unhealthy and sick with shingles. The nutritionist I was seeing suggested that I was not the only one living in the house therefore I could expect a little more of my children. At the time they were 5, 4 and 3 years of age. I am a naturally untidy person, (I could do with a whole lot more personal discipline in that area), but I was working hard at keeping a tidy house along with a multitude of other tasks I included in my very full life. I also realized I wasn’t my mother, perfection isn’t my thing but I do like to be able to walk around without tripping over toys.

I started with their toys and the bath room. Children can learn from a very young age that what they play with is their responsibility to pick up.

Rules we introduced…
1. If you play with it you put it away
2. Hang your own towels and if you can’t make it stay ask for help
3. Pack up bath toys and pull the plug

Stage 2…
Then we began to home school, which meant the kids were at home everyday, giving them more playtime which lead to more mess. I started to pick up toys if they were in the way a placed them on one designated chair.

In addition to the rules above we added…
1. Your room is your responsibility (which we have to be a little lenient on when two share and one takes after her mum!)
2. We start school at 8am so before we start – make bed, brush teeth, tidy room, do morning job and brush hair. (So the hair doesn’t always get done but we are working on it!)
3. Put away your things from the designated chair or will we give them away.
4. I made a roster where each child does one morning job twice a week sweep, wipe the table, and unpack dishwasher.

Stage 3…
Our second year into home schooling and I began to study, the kids’ dad was working long hours so I thought we could introduce an afternoon job.

Now the kids include these jobs once a week …
1. Tidy outside. (pickup up rubbish and putting toys away)
2. Clean pool (scoop out leaves and tidy pool toys)
3. Vacuum lounge and bedroom
4. Cook dinner (my 9 year old is learning – the 7 & 6 year olds help when they feel like it)
5. Tidy and vacuum car
6. Tidy and sweep around their desk
7. Put your clothes away (I leave their clean, folded clothes on the table)

Stage 4…
Just recently I started hearing my voice ‘Do this, pickup that, fix this’. Our rule 3 years ago of ‘if you play with it you put it away’, has almost become obsolete as they all play together and we now have a 2 year old in the mix. Our roster system has worked very well so I added to it.

Each child is now expected to include twice a week…
1. Tidy Lounge room
2. Tidy Rumpus room
3. Tidy toys

Stage 5…
This week I thought I would step it up another level. When I left home I’d never cleaned a toilet or bathroom – I’d never been shown how and although I’d watched I’d never actually done it.

Included on my 9 year old’s roster once a week is…
1. Clean the bathroom and toilet

Included on my 7 year old’s roster once a week is…
3. Clean the bathroom

Over the past three years I believe more and more in the importance to train our children in some of the basics. Several months ago I began teaching my 9 year old son to cook and this week I took the time to show the two eldest how to clean the bathroom and toilet. I expect as they get older I will continue adding more responsibility.

If we are out or they are tired I am pretty flexible, maybe even a little soft. What I like about this system is that all I say is, ‘Have you done your jobs?’ I like it when there’s less of my nagging voice and more of them taking responsibility.

Does this mean our house is a show room? Definitely not! Do I still have to do the house work? Yes, I do at times do the above jobs when they need a little extra care.

Please leave a comment on how you introduce responsibilities around the house with your children. What jobs you think are appropriate for each age group. We all learn so much from each other, and there is so much to learn.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Piece of Pie

Michelle D Evans
(Friday flash fiction - Written using 'Write or Die')

It was the perfect dinner party. The dinner June had been dreaming about to celebrate mothers day, both families joining for a roast, the kids outside playing and having a ball. This was the first time they had all been together. Mum, Dad, Mother in law, Father in law, Jason's 3 brothers and one sister and her husband, June's twin brother and 2 sisters with their husbands and children.
The house was full but she loved it. The house was noisy but it just felt amazing to be celebrating with everyone. June wanted to wait for the perfect time to tell them all.
The roast was cooked to perfection and enjoyed by all. She couldn’t be happier. While she was serving dessert she thought I’ll tell them just as everyone begins to eat.
They all sat down once again and Jason's father Paul stood up and asked, 'Is it alright if I grab the pie?'
'Why? We are having tiramisu tonight.' June said.
'No thanks, I want pie, I'll just help myself hey?'
'Oh, sit down Paul,' said Jason's mother, 'I'll get for you'.
'Dad, Mum, June has made a delicious dessert - you are being a little rude.'
'No, I'm not - we brought pie and if I want pie I’ll eat pie.'
June burst into tears.
'June, it's just a piece of pie,' said Paul.
'You just don't get it - none of you do - I didn't make pie - I didn't want pie - it's mother's day - oh for goodness sake.'
June ran out of the dinning room.
'June!' followed her younger sister, 'It's just a piece of pie!'
‘What is it?’ asked her older sister. 'Are you pregnant?'
'That's it we're leaving.' The girls overheard Paul inside.
'Dad wait!' called Jason. 'We wanted to tell you something.'
'Well that's obvious! You are either getting divorced, leaving the country or having baby - my guess is it's the latter. See you then, bye.'

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Apple

Michelle D Evans
Friday flash fiction

She ate the apple, and before she knew it the world had a red glow and the sky was golden. She tried to swallow but couldn't. She tried to spit the apple out but it wouldn’t leave her mouth - she felt she had to keep chewing. Joan her mum walked in and asked what she was doing.
'Eeetchng', Lucy crunched.
'Well, I need to talk to you,' Joan turned her back. 'Come out here when you are finished that apple.' She lingered in the doorway for a bit before heading back downstairs.
Lucy chewed and chewed but just couldn't swallow. Her mum looked kind of orange, the world was now rocking and the colours were swirling in together.
'Mum!’ Lucy called.
Joan didn't return, Lucy tried to spit out the apple but it wouldn’t fall from her mouth. She tried to swallow again but it got caught at the top of her throat.
She stuck her head out the window to see if the fresh air would help. It was crazy, the sky golden - the earth was red raw - no green no trees or blue sky to been seen.
‘I told you,' she heard booming from above, 'I told you but you took no notice,' she slammed the window closed to get away from the voice. 'You can close the window but it won't stop me from getting into your head.'
Lucy eyes darted up and down - she spun in circles looking for the voice.
'You can't see me - you know that. You’ve gone and eaten the apple I told you not to touch! Now what do you expect? Do you think you’ll get off free? Do you expect nothing will happen? I think not but you don't know where to run - you have no where to run. You are stuck, stuck in here with your mouth full. Stuck in a strange coloured world and stuck in your bedroom forever. When I speak - next time listen.’
Lucy ran to open then door but it wouldn’t open. ‘Mum!’ she called, but there was no answer. She ran to open the window but it too was jammed.
‘Your world is now different - yes you will meet others who have chosen to eat the apple, but you will never see anyone unless they come to your room - your mother will understand with time. You will live with these consequences for what is left of your short life.’ The voice was so loud she was sure her mother would come to see what it was.
‘No, your mother can’t hear me; I’m in your head.’
Lucy lay on her bed pulling a pillow as tight as she could over her ears.
‘That won’t stop my voice from getting in. Eat one apple from that tree - I said and your life will not be worth living. Eat one apple form that tree and you will never eat again. Eat one apple from that tree and the colours of your world will be fiery. Don't ever eat one apple was your command.’
The voice boomed louder and louder – nothing would shut out the constant booming voice - this was her new life.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Family Kerfuffle

Michelle D Evans

‘I can’t believe she’d do that!’
‘What?’ Josie’s mother asked.

‘She’s gone and purposefully not invited me to her 30th!’
‘Really? Why would she do that?’ asked her mother.
‘I don’t know. She’s probably got some underlying reason that she’s too scared to talk about.’ Josie stormed out of the room to attend to her children fighting in the rumpus room.
‘Would you like Dad and me to talk to them?’ Mother asked.

Josie didn’t reply or hear, she was yelling at her children.
‘Don’t you worry about it love, I’ll get Dad to give them a call.’ Mother picked up the phone.
‘Hi Hun, Josie’s getting herself into a flap, her sister’s gone and left her off the invite list for this Saturday.’
‘What, Diane’s 30th? Can’t this wait ‘til I’m home? I’m kind of in the middle of something here at work,’ said Dad.

‘No! We need to fix this now, before it gets out of hand.’ Mother said abruptly. ‘Look, can you ring and see if you can get through to them?’
‘OH! All right then!’ Dad hung up and rang Diane’s number in his phone.
‘No, it’s Brad. How are you Mr P,’
‘Oh, Brad, look what are you and Diane thinking leaving Josie off the birthday party list? Her mother’s angry and Josie’s upset! What’s your problem with her? There must be a reason for you doing this?’ Dad rushed.
‘No, no reason, I heard Diane invite Josie herself last week’.
‘What?! No reason? Come on there must be some reason behind this mess.’
‘Mr P, what mess? And she is invited,’ stated Brad.
‘Look, you and Diane and better do some serious talking to sort this out. We expect more of you. Oh, a client has just walked in, get Diane to ring her mother,’ clunk.

Hi honey,’ Brad rang Diane.
‘Brad, I just got a text message from mum – something about Josie not coming to my 30th.’
‘Your dad just rang and gave me an earful. She thinks you didn’t invite here, don’t want her there and that we have a problem with her,’ said Brad.

That doesn’t make sense, we invited her last week,’ Diane was now feeling anxious, fears of turning 30 had been haunting her all week and now stupid family issues blowing up.
‘Honey, I know, I was there, why don’t you just ring Josie? I’ll have to get back to work. I love you.’
‘Ok, I will. I love you too,’ Diane hung up the phone to see her 3 year old over flowing a cup and cordial spilling over the bench and floor.

‘Charlie! Susie, grab the mop, John can you get the cloth from the sink. Charlie, stop pouring. Leah, can you help Susie with mopping up the mess I can hear Anita waking for a feed.’ Diane sat feeding her baby wondering how on earth Josie would think she wasn’t invited. I’ll ring her when I’m finished here.
‘Mum, Nanna’s on the phone,’ John handed his mum the phone.
‘Hi, Mum.’
‘How could you do this?’ Mother asked irately.
‘Mum, are you with Josie?’ Diane asked.
‘No, I’ve just left. You’ve made her so upset it’s ridiculous!’
‘Mum, I’m feeding Anita, I’ll call back.’

How has this happened? Diane stared out the window.

‘Mum!’ called Susie. ‘John just put the Wii remote through the TV!’
‘Jonathon!’ Diane forgot to ring her sister and found herself deal with one thing after another until Brad finished work.

When Brad arrived they decided pile the 5 kids in the car and visit Josie. As they pulled into the driveway they noticed their father’s car there as well.

Inside they faced a firing line, ‘Why?’ ‘How could you?’ ‘What’s your problem?’

Diane couldn’t talk for the tears streaming down her face and the golf ball in her throat.

‘You are all terribly mistaken,’ Brad’s neck was red but he spoke calmly.
‘Diane invited you to her birthday last week, perhaps you were distracted with all of the children running around. Then I rang to see if you were coming and left a message…’ Brad saw Josie side stepping towards the answering machine, so he dived ahead of her and pressed the play button. ‘Yes, and there it is. So now I’m wondering who in this family really has the problem?’
Brad gathered his family and left.

When Diane had stopped crying she managed to get out, ‘Honey, you might want to have a world with Johnnie about the TV when we get home.’ And they drove home in silence.