Life Skills: Home Management, Part 2

Life Skills: Housecleaning & Home Repair

At our state homeschool convention years ago, my oldest discovered a program given by Don Aslett, writer of several books on cleaning. Our family shares all parts of home life, from schooling, to home-based business, and yes, housework. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised that he wanted to purchase a couple of the offered books in hopes of improving cleaning chores.

Please don’t get the idea that my kids love cleaning. In fact, I think his first thought was to find ways to make cleaning less like work. And indeed, Aslett’s books do provide many ideas on improving techniques and simplifying the chores. My son read through them quickly and shared what he learned with his younger siblings and myself.

Interesting note: I decided to purchase some of Don Aslett’s cleaning supplies, which did work very well. Each time a delivery of his products arrived, I announced that our Home Ec supplies were here. Not surprisingly, the kids were less impressed with the new tools and products than I was, but we did put them to good use. In time, I noticed that they grew to appreciate our occasional deliveries!

Parent-led Home Economics

My own dear mom taught us to clean meticulously — not easy with two home-based businesses: my dad’s garage and tow business, and our family farm. Still, our home was to be kept neat and clean, inside and out. It’s a trend I have attempted to continue with our own children.

But, teaching housecleaning is not really a scheduled week-long venture. We live together, learn together, and yes, clean together. I don’t remember the day I taught each to sweep into the corners or dust behind the pictures. I’m not sure what age they learned to take out the garbage or wash windows. Actually, I do remember tiny fingers helping with window washing, often adding some smears as they attempted to get that crystal clear look.

Learn by Doing

Indeed, learning to maintain the home is like learning to use silverware. To borrow the 4-H motto, we “learn by doing.”

But, we also teach, mostly by example. Children learn to appreciate a clean house and the work it takes to keep it clean. That becomes a double bonus. Not only do they help clean, they also try to avoid leaving any clutter or mess. Knowing the work involved in cleaning, they attempt to keep our home neat and clean!

Home Maintenance or Shop Class

Another skill highly valued in our family is that of home maintenance. While it is possible to hire a handyman to replace a fan, repair a window, or even hang a new door, we prefer to teach the skill to our youth.

And, learning these skills does more than saving money. Indeed, kids put their math, reading, and science skills to work and take pride in being able to do such maintenance work. Moreover, they may find a career path along the way.

Commercials create thought, too.

A recent commercial on a news station struck me a bit. The man states that he is quite handy about the house, but now that he has kids, he doesn’t want to spend his weekends repairing and maintaining the home. It’s an ad for a handyman referral service. However, I saw a sad take on our current thinking.

Is it really more important to take the kids places to play than to offer them the opportunity to learn by helping us? Some of my favorite memories of childhood include helping Mom paint the walls, or Dad with the car repairs. I learned to install a window, tune up a car, and recover chairs. In fact, we poured concrete using an old cement mixer, and troweled it by hand.

Work? Absolutely. But what an incredible education!

Value in Life Skills

The hours spent cleaning the home and maintaining it do more than saving on the family budget. Our children learn important skills. They also learn an appreciation for what they have and what they can do.

Homeschool children rarely lack for something to do. Learning life skills helps ensure they are never bored!

In addition, these skills enable our youth to be of service to others in their neighborhood. When an elderly person finds housecleaning too challenging, teens and even younger children can take an hour or two a week to assist. New moms also appreciate help. What an incredible way to bless those in need!

Just the Beginning

Life skills education goes well beyond making the bed and washing dishes, though it should include those, too. Enjoy daily life with your children as they learn to maintain their future homes and serve their family and neighbors. Who knows? They may choose one of the life skills as a future career path!

Tools Trump Toys!

A few weeks ago, my then-ten-year-old son sent me this email:

(I purposely did not correct his grammar and punctuation errors so that you could know it is authentic. We can work on those later.)

Hi, how are you doing? I am doing good. I want a bird (chickadee) cake for my birthday and strawberry ice cream. I  want to go swimming and roast hot dogs on the fire and have watermelon for lunch on my birthday.

Here is a list of present’s:
Drill
Drill bits
Saw
Nails
Screws
Garden tools
Clippers
Love, AJ

Well, my heart smiled, and I immediately sent it to Grandma so that she could share my enjoyment, as well as have a list of birthday suggestions. Then, I studied the list more and began to wonder, “Are these gifts normal?” Do most soon-to-be-11-year-olds wish for clippers, drills, and garden tools?

We have boys. Pretty much from the time they were able to recognize a saw, they used sticks to make pretend ones. You know how it goes: a simple stick can transform into a chainsaw, a sword, or a violin bow, just as quick as the imagination changes gears. I don’t say that this is unique to boys; they are just what I have to observe. I’ve known little girls to turn a cell phone into a pretend ultrasound probe and scan their daddy’s belly. Kids just make up pretend tools according to what they are exposed to, because they want to do “real things.” In fact, if you stop to watch little people, many of their games are attempts to copy what their adults do frequently.It’s no wonder, then, that in our family, when our oldest boy turned nine (a few years ago), he scrimped and saved his dollars to purchase a used lawnmower, so that he could be just like his daddy, who ran a lawn service. Sure, he liked playing with Legos like most boys, but he mostly saved those for the winter months, when he had to be cooped up inside anyway. He always had a desire to do something useful — build something, make something, or try to figure out how something worked. He led the way in the “Tools over Toys” philosophy that we have preferred since we began our family.

We have never been opposed to toys, but as children grow and multiply, so do their toys! I began to inwardly groan whenever holidays and birthdays rolled around, because really, children don’t need as many toys as they generally have. They are hard to keep organized, and easy to lose. Thankfully, our extended family has been very respectful in the types of toys shared. As time has gone on, and especially since we are gearing up for a move into smaller living quarters, I have seen our boys begin to evaluate more closely their possessions. Suddenly, we all have to prioritize, and only the most important items get to go along with us! I’ve seen many toys go out, and we have shifted to the new era of Big Boy Toys.

Big Boy Toys are those that men and boys alike appreciate: power tools, ratchet sets, etc. Once every three weeks or so, my boys will convince me to take them to Harbor Freight Tool Store. I’m afraid I go into that store like my husband would enter a Hobby Lobby — dragging my feet and groaning to myself. I set a timer; otherwise, we’d stay for hours! One reason I go is the very reason I hate to go — I know that a good percentage of what’s sold, or given away for free, in that store is going to be a disappointment. I hate to see good money used up on trifles, but once I’ve stated my opinion of the necessity of some of the freebies, I hold my tongue. Time does teach lessons here — those “free batteries” let you down just when you are getting ready to take that great shot of the eclipse; the “free” headlight really doesn’t provide enough light for your trail; and you can only use so many amazing grabbers! So, the lessons learned by purchasing or acquiring cheap stuff is a good one, better taught by experience than by parental advice. Our sons are slowly learning that there is quality to be found, but they may have to wait, pay more, or both, in order to find it.

Transitioning to real tools instead of toys will likely happen naturally, if the conditions in the home provide opportunities to learn to use them. A girl won’t desire her own rolling pin and apron if she never gets a chance to try out making cookies or looking through cookbooks. Boys who never get to see under a hood of a car will learn to assume someone else should fix the car instead of jumping right in there to see what’s wrong. But, I was very glad last week with my just-turned-11-year old! We were in town, and my father asked us to drive a homeless man to my parent’s house where we would eat together. Dad and our other son jumped into Dad’s truck and took off! Well, my car would not start, and the man in our car was elderly and had crippled hands, so I knew he was dependent on us. Our youngest hopped out, flipped open the hood, and proceeded to tap the battery; then when that didn’t work, he dug out the jumper cables from the trunk and helped the other man who stopped to help us. I felt very proud that our sons had learned some basic lessons (informally) under the hood. It’s because Daddy has allowed them to watch and help that they feel confident to at least try some basic repairs.

In our homeschools, one goal is to graduate our children with the knowledge they will need to do practical work once they leave our supervision. So, practical training is vital to their success in life. There are many recommendations in the Spirit of Prophecy about practical training. We have been reading through the book Education, and the chapter on “Manual Training” is very useful for this topic. A few nuggets that I dug up are these:

“When children reach a suitable age, they should be provided with tools. If their work is made interesting, they will be found apt pupils in the use of tools. If the father is a carpenter, he should give his boys lessons in house building, ever bringing into his instruction lessons from the Bible, the words of Scripture in which the Lord compares human beings to His building,” Child Guidance, p. 356.

“Your means could not be used to better advantage than in providing a workshop furnished with tools for your boys, and equal facilities for your girls. They can be taught to love labor,” Healthful Living, p.137.1.

“While attending school the youth should have an opportunity for learning the use of tools. Under the guidance of experienced workmen, carpenters who are apt to teach, patient, and kind, the students themselves should erect buildings on the school grounds and make needed improvements, thus by practical lessons learning how to build economically. The students should also be trained to manage all the different kinds of work connected with printing, such as typesetting, presswork, and book binding, together with tentmaking and other useful lines of work. Small fruits should be planted, and vegetables and flowers cultivated, and this work the lady students may be called out of doors to do. Thus, while exercising brain, bone, and muscle, they will also be gaining a knowledge of practical life,” 6 Testimonies, p.176.

This sentiment is voiced from several individuals that have experience in educating children. One is Dr. Raymond Moore. He recommends a balanced approach to education, with three areas comprising most of the student’s education: work, service, and study, in equal proportions. Here is his counsel on what will help a child to learn practical skills:

“Instead of toys, give them tools (kitchen, shop, yard or desk), encyclopedias, magazines; use libraries, etc. Don’t be shocked at their interests, even if they are guns or motorcycles! From these they can learn chemistry and physics (internal combustion motors), economics, math, history, geography, languages, cultures, and manual skills (at local repair shops or in home businesses). Girls are usually a year or so ahead of boys, at least until late teens.

“The ‘antennae’ sprouting from the brains of most students are blocked by mass-education’s cookie-cutter substitutes for life that destroy creativity. Kids come out uniform-sized cookies, or sausages.”

You may read more about this tried and true approach to education at the Moore Foundation.

As I was gathering my thoughts about this post, I stumbled across an excellent article here (No Greater Joy).  It has been years since I have read any of the material from No Greater Joy, but in this article, Michael Pearl shares his perspective on why many young people, boys in particular, drift away to an aimless life. He believes that, “Boys have a greater need to explore, invent, achieve something objective, conquer, and compete. They have a need to be meaningfully engaged in pursuits that yield objective results, like rebuilding automobiles, painting a house, cutting firewood, building something that others will admire. They are little kings looking to build a kingdom and furnish it. Idleness (including entertainment) breeds self-loathing and wanderlust.” And also, “The child who is not needed as part of the team will gravitate toward loyalties outside the family.” In other words, our children absolutely need to not just feel needed, they need to know they are needed! It reminds me of another page from Child Guidance that says we need to “let children feel that they are part of the family firm” (p. 126).

A couple of years ago now, my husband did a mulch job for some neighbors. The boys sometimes go along to help out, but this time they didn’t. But, for some reason the gentleman gave my husband a little extra money, designated for the boys, so that they could each purchase a little something. The funny thing was that, when we trekked out to Wal-Mart to buy their gift, they each chose a garden tool! I drove them by the neighbor’s house for them to show him what they had chosen with their money, and imagine his surprise when three young boys marched up to the front door with rake and shovels! He exclaimed, “What’s this? Are you coming to dig a hole?” They simply told him that the tools were what they had chosen with his money. He really did scratch his head over that one, but several years later, when he needed someone to cover his lawn for a few weeks, he gave the job to the boys with the garden tools!

So…we can encourage our kids in the areas that they have an interest, and if we help them to build up their stash of tools appropriate for the task, they will not only be better equipped, but they will also sense that they have our support.

For (not just) boys, the list is almost endless:

  • Garden tools
  • Saws, clippers, and pruners, pocket knives
  • Toolbox tools: hammers,wrenches, screwdrivers, tape measures, drills
  • Power tools
  • Photography equipment
  • Science tools: microscopes, telescopes, magnifying glasses, ID books
  • Rock tumblers, gold pans, metal detectors
  • Knot trying and climbing books, rope
  • Bike fixing supplies: tubes, wrenches, tire tools

For (not just) girls, all of the above, plus:

  • Kitchen essentials: small baking pans, smaller sized oven mitts, aprons, kid cookbooks
  • Knitting needles, crochet hooks, and yarn (Knitting looms are fun and an easy way to make hats and scarves.)
  • Sewing machine and fabric, simple patterns (Boys like this too! My husband always wanted a sewing machine until someone told him they were for girls. But…what about tailors?)
  • Hair cutting supplies
  • Books on wild edibles, compass

The list really could go on and on! I think the point is to get ourselves and our children into a mindset of learning useful skills, and to provide equipment and training so that they gain the confidence to pursue their interests.

Happy learning, and go find some tools!

p.s. The Lord tested me on this on the very next day after I wrote this article. We planned our “first day of school” for that day, only to find that my husband needed help on a project. I struggled, but realized we could be inside “doing school” with him needing help, or I could let the boys go help. I chose the latter, and what a blessing it was to see them working alongside Daddy — with their own tools! We can still maintain the balance of work/study/service. Some days are almost all books, and some are more heavy on the service or work. But, I would not trade the experience that they had working with Daddy — it’s real life, and he really did need them!

Resources:

  1. White, E.G. (1954) Child Guidance. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald.
  2. White, E.G. (1897) Healthful Living. Battle Creek, MI: Medical Missionary Board.
  3. White, E.G. (1901) Testimonies for the Church, Volume 6. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press.

Planning for Success!

As you read today’s blog post title, you might be thinking, “Ah, yes, the old adage, ‘Failure to plan is a plan for failure,’ by Benjamin Franklin.” Today we won’t be talking about academic success, but rather the ability to plan our homes to have a successful homeschool environment.

As our family has grown, and we’ve added more children to our homeschool, my time has become more limited! Sometimes I think homeschooling hasn’t been my children’s journey, but my journey as I mature as a mother. Growing up, I don’t remember my mom ever having a plan for meals, chores, or any schedule for my brother and me. She just winged it! But, she also wasn’t a Christian, didn’t raise five children, and certainly didn’t homeschool.

In order for our home to excel in creating a loving, Christ-like homeschool environment, the basic necessities of family life need to be planned. Today I am going to share with you five basic and yet vital steps that are helpful in creating an orderly homeschool and home environment. (Note: These practical steps are in addition to the standards of morning and evening worship, and daily personal devotions.)

With four growing sons, and a very selective daughter, food is on their minds and stomachs more than on mine! How can we keep a healthy, plant-based diet and yet not spend so much time in the kitchen?

1. Meal Planning: Every week, usually on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon, I plan out every meal for the following week. Some plan for the month, others for the pay period, but what works best for me is weekly. I usually plan at least one soup night, one rice night, one casserole night, etc. You get the general idea.

Once I have the food scheduled for the week, carefully selecting meals that fit the day’s activities, I can rest knowing I don’t have to think about what to make next. If I am making something that uses dry beans, I can have them cooking ahead of time. If there are meals that require overnight soaking, I can do so. A point worth mentioning is how to record your meal menu. I’ve used various methods, including paper and pencil, apps, weekly homeschool planner, and my phone’s “Note” section. It doesn’t matter — just write it down in a place you can find it!

Besides meals at our house, there are other anchor points, tasks that must be completed daily in order to have a well-functioning home. Clean clothing is a basic necessity for our family, so the second most vital point in our plan for success is having a set routine for laundry. With seven people in the home, including a potty-training toddler, we go through quite a bit of laundry. I cannot spend one or two days doing it all; my septic tank can’t handle that!

2. Daily Laundry Routine: Every morning, each room’s dirty laundry hamper is brought to the laundry room, where it is sorted by the respective child into whites, darks, and denim. One child is responsible for emptying the dryer, and another for starting a load, during the morning chore time. Mom is responsible for moving it throughout the day, like during break time. Every morning and evening chore time, each child is responsible for folding an entire load of laundry. Each child and parent has their own clean laundry basket, so as soon as it is folded, it is placed into that person’s clean basket. Once a day, the laundry is put away into drawers.

You might have noticed that we have designated chore time. Before we start school, chores are to be completed, then after school ends and before dinner, we have another set of chores. Because I have learned that some children like to sneak away during work time, I have preassigned the chores to be done by specific children. If the dishes aren’t unloaded and put away, I know exactly who is responsible. I have also provided a physical prompt for them to remember it is chore time.

3. Chore Routine: In order for me to spend time with my children during school, I need to make sure the cleanliness tasks are accomplished. Although I would like to say our home is very clean, the truth is, we are home all day long, every day. Kids make messes! Knowing that, at least twice a day, chores are being completed to clean the home, I can rest and be still. It will get done, eventually! If you would like to know more about our chore system, I highly recommend “Managers of Their Chores,” by Teri Maxwell. It is purposeful, logical, and practical!
Managers of Their Chores, by Titus 2 Ministries and Teri Maxwell

Another principal that I’ve had to accept and not murmur about is the correction phase to school. Many smaller homeschools may not have to have a parent guiding and correcting, but as I manage four grades and a toddler, I’m not so fast at grading anymore. Frankly, when my older kids were younger, we were so hands on that we rarely took tests, etc. Now that my oldest two are in middle school, I’ve begun to have tests more often, and expect assignments to be written and completed.

4. School Prep and Correction Time: Because I expect my older children to work more independently, I write down their assignments for the following school day in their school planner. I make it very clear what needs to be corrected or redone, and what new tasks need to be completed. This is also a time I can thoroughly look at their work to understand their deficiencies. For example, if a child gets half of a math worksheet incorrect, is it the new concept being taught, or old concepts not showing proficiency?

Although I try to make our homeschool a happy, loving place, there will be times that it might be frustrating, challenging, and not what I would expect. My last point in planning for success is to truly believe that my expectations won’t be met every single day.

5. Surrender Thy Will: Our school is for God’s glory, for the bringing up of His children for His kingdom. Yes, I wish to provide character training for my children — diligence, integrity, and positive attitude — but I also want to provide grace, love, and joy. My children will disappoint me, because they aren’t perfect! And, it is no poor reflection upon my Christianity or character, if my child takes longer to grasp a skill, an attitude, or a desire. I need to be at the feet of Christ daily, with our homeschool in heart, to surrender what I think is most important. I need to consult the Greatest Teacher every day!

When we can plan our home to succeed so that Mama is not burned out, feeling overwhelmed by the daily tasks at hand; if we can accept our role and responsibility to the homeschool, even after the school day has ended; and we can surrender our own expectations, but day by day keep turning to him for His will and grace, we can set ourselves up to have a happy, successful homeschool.

Life Skills: Home Management, Part 1

Home management

As homeschoolers, we often concentrate on ensuring our children learn academic skills. However, learning life skills might prove just as valuable, perhaps even more.

One of the first life skills we expose our children to revolves around the home and car. Even before learning to walk securely, children enjoy helping with laundry, sorting pots and pans, and other seated jobs. Beginning early instills good work skills and enables “learn by doing” to become ingrained.

Knowledge and useful skills for all

We teach our sons and daughters basic life skills, including home management. While some might never manage the home, leaving that to a spouse, we feel it’s essential that they know how to do so, should they ever need to. So, boys help with laundry and house cleaning, and girls learn basic household repair.

Where do we begin?

As mentioned, toddlers might already begin helping with laundry. Folding washcloths, sorting laundry into piles, and helping put it away, they learn to pitch in and help Mom.

As they grow, they naturally progress into sorting laundry before it’s washed and folding all types. Young school age children are usually capable of loading the washer and moving to the dryer or helping hang clothes on a line. By the time our children are teens, they are already managing their own laundry, from hamper to putting away.

Not only does this help lighten mom’s laundry chores, more importantly, it teaches children to manage their own clothing. When they need to wash their own clothing, they learn to appreciate the need to care for it properly. And, they learn to keep clothing better maintained.

Meals and groceries

I’m always amazed when an adult cannot cook a basic meal. I grew up helping Mom in the kitchen, just as she did with her mom. Unfortunately, it’s not as common as we might think.

Our children, like so many homeschoolers, grew up helping in the kitchen. Toddlers stir batters, oil pans, and fetch the measuring cups. Before the age of 10, they create basic foods on their own, and young teens prepare entire meals. It’s a learning process and one that doesn’t happen overnight, but encouraging them from an early age allows them to build the skills they will need throughout life.

We are building memories!

A side benefit not to be overlooked is the great joy we receive and memories that are built when we cook together. Daily meal preparation time becomes daily family enjoyment, too.

Entertaining together

Additionally, preparing larger meals for family get-togethers and holidays builds more memories and offers opportunities for practicing skills we don’t use every day. Some of my favorite memories revolve around all of us together in the kitchen, preparing for a holiday feast. It might just be my favorite part of any holiday!

Planning and shopping

While our children learn basic cooking skills, they also participate in grocery shopping and meal planning. From the time they are toddlers, we make our list together and head off to the grocery store. Shopping with children might slow the trip a bit, but they are learning critical skills. Price comparison shopping will help them throughout life, as will reading labels and discerning ingredients. Knowing when a fruit is ripe and how to shop in the bulk area might seem trivial, but indeed, attaining competency in food choices, preparation, and cooking will help greatly in their adult life.

Food budgets

We stress food budgeting during the teen years, but the education behind it begins in early childhood as we shop. We price compare and look for sales with our children assisting. This naturally leads to budgeting for our shopping trips and expenses.

Healthy eating, too!

Nutrition finds its way into many areas of our life skills training. It’s a natural fit when planning meals and we expand upon it as we teach health aspects. Sometimes it results from a topic that springs forth either in the news or from a relative or friend’s need. We feel it’s essential and needs to be built upon wherever it appears.

Building life skills day by day

From birth, children learn. Encouraging them to participate in each activity and chore instills skills useful throughout their life.

While, initially, chores take longer with little children assisting, we reap the rewards as they learn and become more helpful. In addition, we assist them in preparing for eventual adulthood.

We teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, for sure. However, we teach life skills that reach far beyond the school years, too.

Homeschooling as a Single Parent, Pt 5

Teaching, Cleaning, and Working: Balancing it All

I think, with all the challenges of being a single homeschooling parent, managing the house was the most challenging of all. I have to confess, sometimes I failed dismally. In my early years of homeschooling, I would often compare myself to other homeschool moms who appeared to have it all together, and feel even more of a failure. Never mind that these moms were not single parents. Never mind that they didn’t have a child with challenges or health issues of their own.

Housekeeping would fall way down on the list of priorities many times. I remember one time I had an unexpected visit from a relative. This person started in on criticizing me that my dishes were not washed. I told this person that they were washed each night before I went to bed, but I had more important things to do with my time than worrying about dishes three times a day. I had the habit of doing the dishes after I put the kids to bed (they were young then). I would do the picking up and all the house chores after bedtime.

We often run into well-intentioned family and friends who think our homes need to be magazine-ready since we are home with the kids all day, right? I have to warn you that having children at home all day, living life as a life-long learner, doing experiments, creating art, etc., will often leave the home in a state of minor chaos.

I will share some ideas that helped me through the years as I slowly gained my “sea legs” on the homeschool journey.

First step is always to downsize as much as possible. An excellent resource is Flylady. She has a lot of free information on setting up cleaning schedules, etc. I must warn you that she does send out a lot of email/reminders. You can fix your settings so you do not get these and only access the information online. Flylady is very well known and has helped many families.

Second step is to set up a cleaning schedule. Again, Flylady can help here. After the schedule is set up, I would assign chores to the little ones. If they can walk, they can help clean in some way. It is a huge disservice how many parents refuse to give chores to their children today. They want them to be “kids” as long as possible. The problem is that they are not teaching them responsibility or life skills that are very important. There are easily found sites online that have age-appropriate chores. There are also sites online that give lists of life skills teens need to have before they move out on their own.

An example of a site: http://www.momjunction.com/articles/everyday-life-skills-your-teen-should-learn_0081859/. Kindling Dreams, my organization, does offer a Life Skills 101 class for junior and seniors. We cover a variety of basic skills to equip teens as they move out on their own.

In order to develop these skills, children need to begin learning them from a young age. Everyone in the home contributes to the general well-being of the home.

When the children were young, chores were mainly picking up after themselves and keeping their room clean. As they got older, they began helping with dishes, and even helped in preparing meals. I would let my children experiment with meals in the kitchen with the one rule that they had to eat whatever they created. All of my children can cook, males and females.

As they became older, I divided work into zones. They would be assigned a zone for a month. There was a kitchen zone, outside zone, living area zone, etc. They would also have responsibility of shopping and preparing menus/meals. Once they hit their teen years, they had to do their own laundry. They were assigned days. If they missed, then they had to work with their sibling to fit into another day.

As children age, they also assumed more responsibility for their own learning. I would give assignments for the week, and they would be responsible for making sure they were done by Friday.

These suggestions may need to be adapted if a child has challenges. It is important for the child with challenges to learn as many life skills as possible. It may take longer to learn. They may also need notebooks with lists created so they have reminders.

The main thing I had to remember was that housework, while important, is not the top priority over work, learning, and life. If a parent begins early to teach general pick-up, then the chaos remains on a low level. If the limits are set — chores before play — then there is no question of the answer if Susie wants to go play with Lori next door, but has not finished her chores. Setting simple limits and being consistent is very important in achieving balance in the household chores just as in other areas also.

One thing my father would say to me was “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” It’s all small stuff at times when it comes to maintaining the home. We want to remain ahead of the “house condemn” stage, but also remember the importance of allowing children the freedom to “experiment and get messy,” as Ms. Frizzle (The Magic School Bus) says.