Goodbye, Chores!

Goodbye, chores!

Hello, personal responsibilities and acts of service!

In preparation for this upcoming school year, I’m FINALLY getting around to reading Laying Down the Rails- A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook by Sonya Shafer. This book and its habit-training companion, Laying Down the Rails for Children by Lanaya Gore, are full of ideas and activities, thoughts and suggestions for cultivating habits of good character. Both books are causing me to think about our home and habits- what we do, why we do it, and the importance of these things in our lives.

“Sow a habit, reap a character.’ But we must go a step further back, we must sow the idea or notion which makes the act worth while.”

Charlotte Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education

The books give reason and offer inspiration and encouragement for habit training. Over sixty habits are broken up into sections. It is suggested that parents learn how habits are formed, select one habit to focus and work on over several weeks, and be watchful each day to help children apply the concepts being learned.

Our family is starting with one of the “Decency and Propriety Habits” of cleanliness.

Cleanliness is being careful to keep clean to stay healthy and keep surroundings clean and orderly.

In thinking about how to go about keeping a clean and orderly house, chores always come to mind. Over the years, we’ve tried several different chore charts and systems with little success. With each new system, we usually got off to a great start, but quickly burned out with systems too elaborate to keep up with or not motivating enough to care about.

I needed a simplified system, one that was easy to keep up with and effective. We like simple charts. I started thinking about what might a chart look like and include for our household.

There are primarily two types of things I ask the kids to do around the house:

  • personal responsibilities– things like getting dressed, making beds, personal hygiene, and taking care of personal belongings and space. Things that benefit the individual person.
  • chores or jobs– Things like folding clothes, delivering them to the correct room, sweeping and vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms. Things that benefit others and the whole family.

From there, I made a personal responsibilities chart for each child to hang in their room. The other “chores/jobs” (things that needed to be done around the house), I hung on the side of the refrigerator and marked with a erasable marker with who is responsible to complete.

The plan is everyone is responsible, every day, for the things on their own chart and then we (as a family) will take an time in the morning or afternoon to do the other chart together. We’ll try it for a couple of weeks, revisit it, and adjust if necessary.

You may notice that instead of calling it “chores and jobs” on our chart, I’ve decided to call them “Acts of Service.” An acts of service is something one does to show love and care, respect, honor and value to others. When we clean and take care of our home and belongings, we are showing care, respect, honor, and value to God for his blessings and provision, and to each other.

Now let’s be honest….

Are acts of service still chores and jobs? Yes!

Does changing the language or the name make it magically different? No!

Will kids jump for joy and scurry off with a smile and a twirl when they see their name on the chart? Maybe. (most likely not)

It’s all in the presentation and explanation.

Whenever you are about to implement something new, I think it’s important to get your children involved in the process as much as possible. Make it fun! Take time to teach and explain. Allow your children to ask questions and offer suggestions. Come up with a plan together. Be ready to work hard and stick with it. Habit training is not easy. I think the mistake many people make (including myself, i.e. past chore systems) is doing too much, too fast, and not being consistent.

Please keep in mind, what works in one home, might not work in another. You need to find a system that works best for your family. This takes time, trial and errors, but I would encourage you to keep at it, keep trying, because the benefits of finding something that works will help prepare your children for life, as independent, responsible kids with a good work ethic. And that is a beautiful thing worth working for.

(Below are a few printable I’ve created that might be helpful if you are looking to start some habits of cleanliness in your home. I’m also in the process of creating a Pinterest board with ideas and activities to teach cleanliness. The link is below if you want to check it out and follow along. )


2019 Word of the Year- HABIT

It could just be me, but I seem to hear more about breaking bad, unhealthy habits than building good, healthy ones. While eliminating bad habits is an admirable, brave and an important thing to do, it’s more important to replace those tendencies with new systems and support. Add the action to the inspiration. Put the “how” into the motivation to change.

That’s where I feel things are lacking. There is an endless supply of motivational quotes and memes. Things that get us thinking about change, but what happens next? How do we actually take the next steps to action? Are there things holding us back? Maybe it’s the lack of time, maybe it’s the effort required, or maybe it’s the overwhelmedness of where to begin. Maybe there’s something more to help us make those next steps to healthier, consistent and permanent good habits. I want to explore all of these things this year. 

My word focus 2019 – HABIT.  My goals include pursuing healthy habits in my heart and mind with grace driven, spiritual disciplines. I want to cultivate good habits in my children’s lives and around our home. And I want to incorporate healthy habits for the better physical health of my family.

Building new habits require work and perseverance that lead to character and transformation. Through this year’s word journey, I’m sure I will have my share of hard work, fumbles, fails, and mistakes as I work toward change and transformation. I’m hoping to share with you want I learn and I want to encourage and equip you as I do. Stayed tuned for what I am sure will be a great journey!

Do you have a word for 2019? If so, I would love to hear what you have chosen?  


Choose Gratitude Over Grumbling

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Hold on to your donkeys, elephants, porcupines, and stop to consider the Earthflowers. With Election Day on Tuesday, this week is sure to be an emotional one. The election has created an atmosphere of negativity and complaint that will continue if we do not do something about it. Come Wednesday morning, some Americans will be happy and celebrating and some will be angry and grieving. And regardless of who becomes President, I would like to suggest we all should be grateful.

Just like voting, we have a choice to choose gratitude over grumbling.

Did you know that grumbling is bad for your health? Complaining rewires your brain to expect more negativity forming a habit of negative thinking. Researcher, Professor Sapolsky at Stanford Medical School found exposure to just thirty minutes of complaining and negativity per day (including viewing this on TV) can cause physical damage to your brain.1  Indulging in negative emotions can weaken one’s immune system and triggers physical symptoms such as anxiety, increased blood pressure, and trouble sleeping. 2 Negativity attracts and breeds negativity.

On the other hand, gratitude makes your brain and body healthier. It changes our perspective, helping us to see beyond self-pity and self-centeredness. With practice, our brain becomes wired to seek out the good and positives in any situation and help us to appreciate the people and situations around us (even in the most dire circumstances.) Practicing gratitude has been associated with many health benefits including improved kidney function, reduced blood-pressure and stress-hormone levels, and a stronger heart. “A grateful stance toward life is relatively immune to both fortune and misfortune,” says Robert Emmons, a pioneer of gratitude research. We see the blessings, not just the curses.3 

For those of us who follow Christ, we are commanded to be thankful to God in all circumstances. Our heart and thoughts turned upward and outward in His love extended towards others through us.

This is the day that the Lord has made;  let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24(ESV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Philippians 2:14-15 (ESV)
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17 (ESV)

You do not have to be happy with the election results. It is okay to be disappointed. In the days following the election, let’s all think before we speak. Expressing our dissatisfaction in respectful discussions that do not include stereotyping, assumptions, and accusations. Disagreeing in grace and in love. Allowing the words out of our mouths not to be ones of anger, wrath, malice, and slander (Colossians 3:8) but rather words used to build each other up (Ephesians 4:29.) Use the days to come as an opportunity to be an example to our children, our neighbors, friends, and our family members. Let our gratitude attract gratitude and let our words become actions that point others to the real Hope of these days. The hope of Jesus!

REFERENCES:

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

(3.) Kamps, L. (2016). What Gratitude Can Do For You. TIME Magazine: Mindfulness:The New Science of Health and Happiness, 54-57.