Archive for the ‘do it yourself’ category

Kids have more time for chores in summer

July 2, 2012
Kids and chore are important, especially during summer when they have more time for chores. Get children and teens to choose their own chores at home during a family meeting to help out. Use encouragement, not praise.

Borrowed this wonderful photo from http://fabandfru.com/2009/10/kids-chores/.

Kids like structure. Kids like to feel connected and competent. Summer disrupts those opportunities at school, so parents have to work a bit harder to compensate.

Summer is a great time to teach kids good habits and life skills by involving them in what you’re doing — laundry, yard work, cooking, dishes, fixing things, or anything else around the house. The earlier you start including them in chores, the more natural it will seem. The younger they are, the more they love to help out. Ironically, the older they get and more skilled, the less likely they are to contribute.

We raised our four kids frugally — probably to a fault. However, they learned how to manage  money and avoid the debt epidemic. We didn’t hang-dry laundry when they were growing up. It’s an excellent kid-chore because the youngest kids can do it.

I created a hang-dry system near our washing machine to give up the dryer. It took some time to install and some help from Reliable Bob.  I saw instant savings in my electric bills since we’ve started hang-drying most laundry. I like coarse air-dried towels — they’re like a spa, and soften up after a few uses. Sheets dried outside have a wonderful smell. Usually I’m too lazy to go further than our little dry furnace room right next to the washing machine to dry sheets.

Here I am creating a new energy saving system that the kids got used to to hang dry laundry and save money. it's an excellent chore for kids to hang up laundry, be frugal and save the planet. Using less energy is what we all need to do.

I’m attaching a thick cable to the wall to install a strong indoor clothesline.

Take some time to set up energy-efficient systems this summer.  A work ethic, frugality and knowing how to fix things can take your kids a long way in life. Take the time this summer to set up green systems. Let your kids take apart some old appliances and electronics to see how they work and challenge them to put them back together.  See if they can fix things. Find appliance parts at PartSelect if needed.

Let them make a mess. Encourage them to experience trial and error by taking apart appliances, tinkering with old computers, cooking, growing seeds, sewing or whatever interests them. Investing in messes and chores plant seeds that will grow for a lifetime.

Plant seeds, have hope

July 11, 2011

exploration, children, toddlers, babies, natural exploration, natural and logical consequences, helicopter parenting, learning, education, allow them to find their own way, according to the latest research. Babies & children can benefit from parents getting off their backs!Look dad, here’s my piecrust!

Summer can be an ideal time for kids to do chores regularly without the interruption of school and other activities.

Make time for regular family meetings and ask them what jobs they want to do. Allow them to stretch. It’s fun to let them cook and enjoy the results. My motto is “It’s hard to hurt homemade food.”
My friend Carol, who is like an aunt to our four children, remembers Kristen’s first attempts at making pies. Carol told me, “Her pies weren’t that good, but you said, ‘Mmm,Kristen, this is good!'” An expert pie maker, Carol kept quiet and ate the pie. Kristen eventually mastered pie crust and makes fabulous pies today. Mastering the art of pie crust gives young cooks the idea, “If I can make a pie crust, I can cook anything.”
Kristen is spending the summer as an intern at Franconia Sculpture Park north of Minneapolis, Minn. In addition to helping resident sculptors and doing her own sculptures, Kristen takes turns cooking dinner for 13 to 15 people.

She has called home for a few recipes and said, “Thanks Mom for teaching me how to cook. I’m one of the better cooks and I can time everything to be done all together.”

I smiled and remembered how I taught Kristen to cook.

At 4:30 or 5 pm, I’d call up to her bedroom where she would be sequestered reading. “Kristen, come help me fix dinner.”

Long silence. “Kristen?”

“Do I have to?”

“Yes. I need your help.” I still hate to cook alone.

making pie from scratch is a way for kids, tweens and teens to learn how to cook. summer vacation is an excellent opportunity to slow down and cook with kids and allow them the independence to cook whatever they want. Allow them to make cookies and other goodies. It will teach them how to cook with confidence. Encourage their cooking efforts. Parenting is about building confidence.
These strawberry rhubarb pies were really delicious.

“I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

Ten minutes later I’d call up again. “Kristen! You said you’d be down in a few minutes!”

Five minutes later she wandered down reluctantly. This is how Kristen learned to cook — reluctantly.

It’s an example of how tweens and teens can resist being included in family time, but they still show up. They like to be invited, to be wanted and included, BUT they can’t show too much enthusiasm because of their age and hormones.

What are your kids doing this summer now that they might have some extra time? If they want to stretch and learn new skills, like making pie crust, appreciate and encourage their efforts. Have patience and hope. You’re planting seeds that will blossom in ways you can’t imagine now.

Let them mess up the kitchen

May 11, 2011

Making cupcakes can be messy. Let children get their hands in the batter, lick the pans, and experiment in the kitchen. Here's a parenting tip: cook with them.

It has been at least a decade since I made cupcakes. I needed a hiatus after sending cupcakes to school to celebrate many birthdays of my four children for years.

Sadly cupcakes are banned in many schools today.

Kids still need to be encouraged to cook. As I managed the batter in and out of the bowl and made the icing, I remembered how hard it was to make cupcakes when I was in elementary school. It was hard to follow the recipe, divide up the batter neatly and evenly and to ration the icing. They had to be baked them the right amount of time and I tried my best to not spill the ingredients.

My mother never complained about the mess we made when cooking. She encouraged us to cook, even sweet treats. It saved money off the family grocery bill — always a concern when you have nine children — and gave us the life skill of cooking confidence and self-esteem.

Because she gave us free rein in the kitchen and coached us, I have the attitude that I can cook anything if I follow the recipe. I’ve saved thousands of dollars by knowing how to cook and not needing to eat out regularly.

Cooking together is an excellent way for families to bond and to encourage cooking skills in children. STart with simple recipes- especially "betty crocke"r.Today I hate to cook alone. I miss having the kids around to break eggs, mix up the batter,  lick the bowls and appreciate the results.

I licked the bowls this morning and started the day with an excellent chocolate/sugar surge.

I wish these cupcakes were destined to celebrate a child’s birthday at school. They are for a reception at a memorial service, the father from a family my children grew up with.

Life is short. Do what matters. Make cupcakes with your kids today and relish the moment. You’ll be giving them a gift that will last them a lifetime.

Taking care of something else is good for the soul

April 25, 2011
Taking care of pets is an excellent chore for children. Children and pets teach self-discipline because pets need daily care. Taking care of pets teaches children responsibility because it must be done every day, whether they feel like it or not. Here, my husband and teenage daughter are washing the dog. They're also learning teamwork here. The water is SO COLD when they rinse her off.
Gonzo the dog gets a good cleaning from a father-daughter team.

Gardening can be good for the soul according to research reported by the Boston Globe today. Scientists figured out that digging in the dirt, planting seeds, weeding and even watering a jade plant is good for young and old patients in a hospital.

I think the patients feel better because they’re doing something worthwhile. Most people in hospitals are receiving treatment. They’re passive. They don’t do anything for anyone else. Gardening gets them out of that rut.
Gardening provides a plethora of regular chores, as does pet care. A human being must keep plants and pets alive or else they will die. Call it chores, jobs, work, gardening or pet care. Call it anything you like. Just set up a system for your children — starting as early as age 2 — to contribute to the greater good of the family.
Have a family meeting. Make a list of everything you do around the house and have them do the same. Compare the two lists of very different lengths! Ask the youngsters what they would like to do around the house to get some of the chores off your list and onto theirs.
Get someone to take notes. Record the jobs the children volunteer for, and post it on the refrigerator. Make sure you ask them by what time and date they will complete the jobs. Then parents must follow through with as few words and NO nagging. Point to the job that needs doing. Leave notes — “This toilet stinks.” Ask questions. Take action or don’t act.
For example, if a child neglects to set the table after one request, put the meal down on the table, sit down and wait for the utensils and plates to appear. If a child neglects to feed the dog after a question, “Did you feed Gonzo today?” Say without sarcasm, “Gonzo must be awfully hungry today.” And leave it at that.
Act, don’t yak (source: Dr. Sam Goldstein). These three words are useful in many areas of parenting.  Get off your duff and take action. Restrain or remove. Parents have the responsibility to teach accountability. It’s not easy. It takes time, patience and follow through using the magic of kindness and firmness.

Time or money? And my new mittens.

January 28, 2011
time or money when raising children? Taking the time to be together. FAmily connection. Parenting: about, boiled wool mittens, connection to teenagers and tweens and children and toddlers, crafts, children and crafts, crafts for winter days, fleece mittens, boiled wool from thrift stores, spending quality time together, Family time, positive parenting, positive disicpline

Ian is sewing some of the shrunken wool. At left is the sweater I used for my mittens, before cutting.

One of my clients just decided to give up her paid job and focus on taking care of her children. It’s an investment in the future and the present. By reducing the stress, she can take better care of herself and her marriage, then take better care of the children. With less money and more time.

Time is love. Good parenting is all about time. Love is spelled T-I-M-E.

Time is love. Time is an investment in children and the future. Time diffuses stress. Rushing creates stress. Children don't care about image and buying things unless you teach them that. Money is not as valuable as time. The more money you have, the more you spend. Taking time to be with children and teaching them things like sewing, cooking and carpentry is an investment in your relationship. When they become teens and tweens and adolescents, children can have common interests with you. You can do these things together and have fun. It takes time. Having two careers  creates a lot of stress.

My finished mittens lined with fleece with a shrunken sweater shell. I used fancy yarn from the yoke, and a darker sweater for the left mitten because after I took them apart AGAIN, I needed more material. Because they're original, they will not get stolen at a ski area.

spending time with children is the best investment. Time over money is a good choice. Love is spelled TIME. Good parenting is about connection, which is achieved through spending time together. Time with children , tweens and teens is an investment in the future, It bully-proofs your child. Bullying is not possible when children feel good about themselves.

Ian custom-built this pine door around the stained glass window.

 

The more money you have, the more you spend. The less money you have, the more carefully you spend it and the more you learn to do yourself. The most important things in life are not things.

Doing-it-yourself can be fun — like the mittens my son Ian is sewing. He saw me cutting out the fleece liners for a pair of ski mittens and said, “I want a pair, too.”

Ian and I spent an afternoon together designing and redesigning the mittens, then fitting them and re-designing them.  It would have been easier to download a mitten pattern or buy one for a few bucks!

Ian is just as comfortable sewing mittens as he is building a door and installing it. They are SO WARM!  I’ve had two pair of expensive mittens stolen from ski areas. These are steal-proof.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Get from your closet or a thrift shop a few 100% wool sweaters with some design if possible. Wash it on the hottest cycle and dry it in the dryer.

2. Get a mitten pattern at a store or download one. Make the mitten lining out of fleece — any color. Make the outer shell slightly larger and longer. Mittens take very little fabric.

3. Sew the two together. Adjust the design if necessary. Add elastic if you want. Wear and be warm. Enjoy spending time with your child, tween or teen on this project.

We have spent more time than money with our kids and have taught them to “do it yourself.” I don’t know if our marriage could have survived the stress of two careers. Someone has to take care of the family and marriage. The myth of superwoman is just that, a myth.