Friday, April 23, 2010

Having Only Children Ages 6 and Younger

I call the years of children ages 6 and under "in the trenches."  I don't think I originated with me.  In fact, if I remember correctly I think I may have actually heard Sally Clarkson use that phrase.  After a few conversations with younger moms, I thought I would share some of the things I did while in the trenches that has really freed up my time now that I have older children.

Please read what I have here and pray before you attempt anything.  Makes sure that any ideas that I have are ideas the Lord has for your family.  And certainly don't attempt to do all of this at one time.  Pick what is most needful and go after that.


1)  Plastic dishes when possible - If it's possible and not costly, work your primary dishes to being plastic.  I have found the plastic plates and bowls that I do use with the children to be invaluable.  Why?  Because it allows you to get them involved in kitchen clean up without the stress of broken dishes.  (I realize that many are being to move toward more natural living - as are we - and plastic doesn't necessarily fit here.  I do believe that sometimes there are compromises that must be met.  I never microwave my plastic. . .NEVER.)

2)  Move all these dishes to a lower cabinet.  Why?  So you don't have to put away what they are getting out of the dishwasher.  This changed the whole way we did kitchen clean up.  They start emptying the dishes with an older sibling when they are 3 yod.  We start them on the silverware.

2)  Find some kid friendly lunches and dinners.  To begin training them at 4 & 5 yod to be in the kitchen and do things independently has been one of my best moves.  We start with learning how to spread nut butters (or peanut butter in our case since my 7 yod is allergic to nuts.)  With that they learn how to put the chips on a plate as well as a handful of carrots.  As they get older we move to gently and slowly slicing cucumbers (with mom's supervision, of course.)  One of my favorite kid friendly recipes is our family Simple Pasta Salad.  Yummy!!!  I used this recipe to teach them knife skills.  First they start by cutting black olives with a butter knife.  They eventually get to the move to a sharper knife as they prove to be trustworthy with the butter knife.

3)  Don't be afraid to include your children in kitchen clean up.  We have a family kitchen clean up every night.

Here is our kitchen clean up schedule:

EVERYONE - clears off their plate
Mom - change diapers, nurse baby
Dad - sweep the floor, supervise
11yod - load dishwasher (remember, most of this is plastic)
9 yod - take out trash, empty garbage bowl
7 yod - clean off rest of table, Thieves table (Thieves is a natural cleaning product that is made with antimicrobial essential oils.  I use this in place of bleach type cleaners.)
5 yod - take out recycle bag, move chairs
3 yod - move chairs
17 mod - w/ mom, helps with recyclables

Children want to be included in cleaning house and there is much they can do that doesn't always require help or supervision from mom.

Household Ideas

Kym Wright has an absolutely fabulous book called Women: Living Life on Purpose.  She includes a whole chapters on chores as well as a very thorough list of what children should be able to do at what age AND when they should have it mastered.  I bought this book for the chore list but it ended up becoming my favorite Bible Study as well.


Teach your kids to fold laundry early!!!  For those of us who are perfectionist, this is very hard to do.  But it is absolutely essential to our children that we lower standards a bit to train them in the process of work.  The standards can begin to return as they get older and are more capable of doing a thorough job.

We started with wash clothes and cloth diapers.  Then we move to the cleaning and bath towels.  Then it's on to your own laundry.  We hang alot of clothes in the house because I found it easier for little hands to actually do their laundry.  We also have limit drawer space so it just made better sense to hang things up.  We have a family closet as well, but that is another blog.

Using Appliances

I also start teaching them at age 5 how to run the washer.  I certainly didn't set them free to do all this at 5 yod but training them as left me able to do that now.  I don't wash laundry anymore.  My 5 & 7 yod empty the dryer when it's done.  My 11 yod moves the clothes from the washer to the dryer.  My 9 yod starts the next load of laundry.  We've been doing laundry this way for nearly 2 years now.  What a difference it made to take the extra time to train them in how to use the appliance.  Oh, I did the same with starting the dishwasher.

Safe Cleaning Supplies

I can't tell you enough how much healthier we are as a family when I switched using the heavy chemical cleaners to more natural and sometime homemade cleaners.  No only did it get the harsh chemicals out of the house (and made my life easier so I could breath again) but it opened up doors for my children to learn how to clean earlier.  My kids cleaned my bathroom this morning so that I can have a clean bathroom to birth my baby in if she comes this weekend.  They did a great job using baking soda, vinegar, and the Thieves cleaner I mentioned above.  They also LOVE to vaccum.

Emptying Trash Cans

Trash cans are a great job for little boys.  We call it a manly job and my girls do not do it (although they do know how.)  I do spend a bit of extra money to buy the yummy smelling trash bags but that is become the Walmart bags do not fit the size trash cans I prefer for the rooms.

I used to make what we called "Trash Bag Bags."  This simply held enough small white trash bags (vanilla smelling) for all the small trashes in the house) as 2 black trash bags to put them in when emptied.  I stored them in a gallon size zipper baggie that we would use for more bag later on.  We don't do it anymore because I have different boys on different parts of the house doing trashes.  It got too confusing trying to keep up with who needed what and where.  My 5 yod is about to take over this job and so I may go back to these bags to help him out.  He's more spacey than his older brother and could use the help.

Great Resources:

Here are some links to some great resources and cleaning supplies that I have found to be fantastic to use with my kids.  Some of these I have mentioned above.  I hope you are able to find something that will help you while you work in the trenches.  And remember, don't try to tackle everything at one time.  Pick ONE thing and help them learn it before you move on to the next.

The Clean Team
Young Living Essential Oils Thieves Cleaner (I am a consultant if you are interested in trying this.)
Managers of Their Homes**
Managers of Their Chores**
Women: Living Life on Purpose by Kym Wright
Sue Gregg - Lunches and Snacks cookbook (great for teaching kids)

**The Maxwell's also have a book called Managers of Their Schools.  If you are feeling overwhelmed with homeschooling your children and need a different perspective, this would be a great place to start.  They advocate using textbooks BUT you might find their reasonings are just what you need to bring peace back into your life.  We've chosen this path and are thoroughly enjoying the changes we've made so far.  By mentioning this book I am not saying you MUST change.  Nor are the authors.  But I found as I read the book that much of what they were saying are things I have thought or said in the past.  What peace we've found.

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