Archive for the ‘self-discipline’ 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

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.

Model a positive attitude when you’re powerless

October 31, 2011
halloween storms remind us how important it is to set a positive attitude as part of positive parenting. What you DO is more important that what you SAY. There are plenty of chores when the power is out. Work together as a team. Encourage their efforts. Use the extra time to have a family meeting. You can discipline children without getting angry. Children, tweens, teens, and teenagers respond to positive parenting.

Power outages call for creativity. That a measuring cup of milk heating on the wood stove insert for a mochachino.

Settling in for three to seven days without power in Ayer, Mass. with 640,000 people, reminds me of the importance of parents setting a positive family attitude.

My friend “Jill” grew up as the oldest of eight children in a family that struggled to make ends meet. On days when there was no food to eat in the house in the 1950s, when milk and bread were still delivered door-to-door, her father would steal food to feed his hungry brood.

Jill’s mother then toasted the bread, heated the milk, poured it over the bread and sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar to make an old-fashioned treat called milk toast.
Here’s where attitude came in. As she served the milk toast to her children, Jill’s mom said, “Mmm. Isn’t this good?” and passed on the priceless gifts of attitude and gratitude. They had something to fill their bellies and it tasted good. Any food on an empty stomach tastes delicious.

Parents convey attitude towards our children non-verbally more than with words. Children pay more attention to what we do over what we say. Attitude can be conveyed in body language, what we don’t say, and how we say it.

I copied my mother’s attitude towards sarcasm. My mother made it clear to her nine children what she thought of sarcasm, calling it “the weakest form of communication.” Avoid sarcasm if you can, and If your family uses it to communicate, put “sarcasm” on the family meeting agenda and talk about the pros and cons of sarcasm. There aren’t many “pros.”

It’s easy to be happy and patient when things are going our way. When raising children and keeping long-term relationships going, it’s the challenges, disappointments and hardships that test our character.

My biggest challenge in raising four kids was to learn to manage my anger, develop patience and learn positive parenting skills like encouragement and family meetings. Parenting is THE most difficult and most important task most of us will do in our lifetimes, with the longest lasting legacy.

I remember one winter when my children, then ages 8, 6, 4, and 1,  had back-to-back cases of chicken pox and strep throat. I was home all day and night for nearly a month. In those days, the phone was my connection to other adults to keep my sanity.

My mother provided a friendly ear, and encouraged me by saying with a laugh, “You’re developing character, Susan.” She instilled in me the priceless gift of, “You can do it” which carries over to every aspect of my life. Surprise Halloween storms and unexpected bumps of parenting provide many opportunities to develop a positive attitude and character.

Have some fun with your kids this week. Use the extra time to have a family meeting, one of THE most powerful parenting tools to develop your child’s critical thinking, self-esteem and confidence, make a strong family connection, set a positive family atmosphere, enhance communication and practice teamwork and mutual respect.

Family meetings are worth the investment of time and energy. See my free tip sheet and other postings on how to hold them. You’ll be glad you get into the habit.