6 posts categorized "Chores"

Happy No Housework Day?

April 07, 2014

Dishes_urbanmamas
Denise on BlogHer's Facebook page announced, "Happy No Housework Day!" Not that she is celebrating the day properly. Not that I am any one to judge.

I've had my own very (very very very) tortured relationship with housework. On one hand I love housework; I said once that every essay I write could begin, "I am washing the dishes. I am washing the dishes again." And in this daily task is often a kind of meditative calm that I desperately long for when I'm too busy to wash the dishes (or too busy to wash the dishes contemplatively).

Today is such a day. Too busy for housework, though indeed I will do some, I suppose, thank goodness I have people in life who take so much of the load from me. I can never decide, do I love to do housework? Do I value creating more; writing and painting colors on walls and growing things in the garden?

Continue reading "Happy No Housework Day?" »

Garden work and the magic of friends

June 03, 2012

Urbanmamas_yardpocalypse
"I'm too lazy!" is the answer when I asked my oldest, almost 10, to help with yard work. Occasionally he'll be overcome by a project and lift and dig and plot with me for a while -- maybe a half hour or an hour if I'm crazy-lucky. He's certainly not lazy; his idea of after-school relaxation is to run around and around the house playfighting with his brothers. He once rollerskated seven miles in an afternoon. He can bike anywhere I can.

But, when it comes to repetitive, back-breaking, dirty drudgery, he's just not my guy.

Until, that is, we went over to a friend's house yesterday for a garden remaking. We missed out on the hardest part; slaughtering blackberry vines (though I got to stuff some in the chipper for an hour or so, ridiculously satisfying work), but immediately when he arrived he joined a band of several kids about his age whose task it was to help shovel, carry and distribute wood chips and lay the cardboard beneath it to cover the grass and weeds.

Not only did he work the whole afternoon -- nearly six hours -- he rallied the team uncomplainingly, vigorously leading the effort with an older girl. Oh, he did complain; when we left to take him to a birthday party. "I want to WORK moooorrrrre..." he whined as we biked away.

Continue reading "Garden work and the magic of friends" »

Who doesn't love a shortcut?

March 02, 2012

I asked one kid to empty out the clothes dryer, and other kid to transfer the washer to the dryer.  It's a pretty easy task.  The next time I passed the laundry area, I found wet, clean underwear, a sock and a dishrag lying on the floor between the washer and the dryer.  And, there was a trail of clean, dry laundry along the way from laundry area to my bedroom.

I asked the kids to empty out the dishwasher and put its contents in their proper places.  I found utensils dumped into the utensil drawer, none of them separated into their individual recpetacles.  I found dishes put in the dish section, and I found everything else, from tupperware to frying pans, all in a messy heap in one of the storage areas, even if they know there is a place for each of these things.

Continue reading "Who doesn't love a shortcut?" »

How do you view housework?*

February 09, 2012

Urbanmamas_truman_dishes
photo Sarah Gilbert; guest post MaryJo Monroe

I have one child, who is now 6. When he was a toddler and I was a full-time stay-at-home mom just starting my consulting business, I used to look around my house at the end of the day with guilt and depression, noticing the pile of laundry that didn’t get folded, the dirty dishes still lying in the sink, the toys still sitting out on the floor. And I didn’t have the energy to do a thing about it. But here’s the clincher: The business I was starting was an organizing business. I am a professional organizer.

Continue reading "How do you view housework?*" »

Sunday Meal Planning: Getting Kids Involved With 'The Whole Family Cookbook'

April 24, 2011

My friend Michelle Stern was still pitching The Whole Family Cookbook when I met her face-to-face a year ago during the IACP conference in Portland. Once she closed the deal and started creating recipes, I did a little testing and, as you'd expect, lots of photograph-making in the process. Because her book is focused on cooking together with children, I wanted to get Everett and Truman and Monroe involved; and I was immediately surprised to see how much benefit we get from having them join in the cooking fun. [Note: Enter a giveaway for the book by commenting; details at the end of the post.]

Urbanmamas_everett_lemons

Even months before we got the book, then, we were discovering how much healthier kids might eat if they just take a hand -- not just in cooking the food -- but in planning that cooking. I'd ask Everett which of a couple possible recipes to try, and we'd discuss whether a recipe had ingredients he'd like together. I was a little thrilled when he said one of the recipes we tried was too sweet for him -- and we made another variation on it that had honey and a small amount of sugar and that we all loved, adding a great sherbet recipe to our family repertoire. (The recipe that made it into the book is a delightfully tart buttermilk lemon sherbet, a winner indeed.)

Handing kids a cookbook with lots of pretty photos of healthy food and asking them, "find something for dinner tomorrow" is the best way I can think of to get them involved in this hardest parental job (filling their stomachs with good "growing food") and to make sure the hard work you put in to choosing sources and shopping and lugging the stuff home and cooking it all on demand pays off. Until, that is, they're old enough to do all the shopping and preparing on their own (I was particularly freed by the image of Rebecca's teens from last week's post making turkey sandwiches and sweet potatoes). I did that one night, and the next night, we had taco salad straight from Michelle's book (my recipe adds red cabbage to the onions for a little extra nutritional zing).

Continue reading "Sunday Meal Planning: Getting Kids Involved With 'The Whole Family Cookbook'" »

To do list for the kids: Chores

January 10, 2011

Once, after my husband came back from the bank to deposit some checks, he wrote down on his list of things to do: "go to bank, deposit checks".  Then, he put a check mark next to it.

There is great satisfaction to checking off items on a list.  A to-do list keeps us on track and focused.  Until recently, though, I haven't really employed a to-do list for the kids.

Now, I have to.  I can't keep telling them to bring their markers/artwork/sweater upstairs or put their clothes away.  Instead, these are items with check boxes next to them:

  • put clothes in hamper or closet
  • put activities in craft bucket

I make a new list every day, with three top things to do.  Some of them are "project-like" (i.e., "write thank you cards for Christmas gifts") as opposed to everyday tasks ("put out clothes for next day" or "empty out lunch box").  There is gratification for the kids when they go to the list for the day and slowly check items off.

How do you handle the list of things to do for the kids?  Do you have a master list in the main room?  Do you just rattle off verbally what they need to do?  Give them a list on a piece of paper?  I am [always] looking for ways to keep the kids organized, keep them focused on things they need to do...