• Stephannie Bramlett

Clip Chart Chores

There is such a fine line between allowing kids to be kids and teaching them the skills they will need in life to be productive citizens of the world. As moms, I know we question ourselves on a daily basis. Am I doing this right? How much therapy will my children need when they are grown? Will they remember the good stuff? Do they know how much I love them? Are they ok? I've begun to realize all the questioning and worrying is just part of parenting, each phase with its own set of worries and fears! If I get to feeling overwhelmed about something in particular, I just hand it right on over to God in prayer.

When I was in college, I had a friend that was incredibly smart. She could ace the hardest of tests. But, when it came to certain life skills... well, I can only assume her mom and dad had done everything for her. I remember her telling me she was too scared to call and order a pizza. She had no idea how to do it. I remember thinking, "How do you NOT know how to do this?" as I called and asked them for the specials. I am sure her parents did everything they did for her out of love. However, I made it a mission right then: I cannot be the type of parent that "does it all" for my kids. I refused to send a kid to college that could not order a pizza!

Fast forward several years from college, and I became a parent. I was your stereotypical first time parent. I read every book. Each week, I documented milestones and concerns. Only the most expensive diaper brand for my princess to poop in was good enough. Cold wipes out of the container? Heaven, forbid! Only warmed wipes from the wipe warmer could embrace her bottom. Stride Rite shoes to form the perfect walking gait for my toddler were the only shoe option. Miss nap time for a family lunch after church? You must be CRAZY! Her perfectly formulated schedule could not be interrupted. Store bought baby food? It must be poisonous for sure! Only breast milk and homemade organic baby food for her gut to process. The ridiculous list goes on and on. As her mommy, I only wanted the best for her. About two and a half years in to this parenting gig, and baby number two came along. Most of the parents of multiples are probably laughing about now. Yes, I had two children two and under, and I quickly had to let go of several of my expectations of what parenting would look like.

My precious red-headed Charlotte came into this world and taught me so much! For what seemed like 25 years (3 months), she had colic during the hours of 6pm-9pm EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. At about nine months old, she would not stop biting me each time she nursed. I was determined to continue breastfeeding her, so I asked my grandmother for some tips on getting her to stop. My sweet, precious, southern grandmother told me to flip Charlotte in the mouth the next time she bit me. Per the usual, she bit me with the next feeding, so I gave her a flip to the mouth. Wouldn't you know, she went on a month long nursing strike! She absolutely refused to go anywhere near my breast. I had to pump during each feeding and give a her a bottle until she finally came around. I will say, she didn't bite me anymore; however, I don't advise the flipping in the mouth method that my grandmother shared! Also, Charlotte was regularly sick with croup and crazy high fevers that even landed us in the hospital.

Parenting my second child was and is so very different. When Charlotte was one year old, I feel like I finally came up for air. Honestly, much of that year was a blur. I don't remember certain milestones or set schedules with food or sleep. None of that really mattered, though. I had two beautiful girls that needed me to be the best mom I could be. I adjusted my expectations of myself as a parent, and let God's grace embrace me with the failures.

Fast forward to today, I now have three girls: 10, 8 and 3 years old! Recently, I had a friend post on Facebook asking about appropriate chores for her children and it got me thinking about my parenting tactics. It is my hope that giving children an age-appropriate amount of shared responsibilities in the home will help grow them in to contributing members of society. A reasonable amount of chores empowers them by allowing them to accomplish a goal and gives them a heart of appreciation for everything their dad and I do for them. Parents, we are doing nothing for our children by cleaning up after them every day! I'm not suggesting that the innocence of childhood be lost in a workload of chores, but more, finding appropriate ways for them to be a part of the team! I try my best to teach through this process and allow them to help with chores they enjoy. Here is a list of what I have my children regularly help with in our home:

Carly Deane (10)- load and unload dishwasher, make bed, put away laundry, clean litter box, feed dogs and cat, vacuum, set table for dinner, tidy bedroom and bathroom

Charlotte (8)- unload dishwasher, make bed, put away laundry, clean litter box, feed dogs and cat, wipe windows/glass and counter tops, tidy bedroom, help with cooking

Chandler (3)- put toys away in toy box, throw away garbage, put dirty dishes in sink, put dirty laundry in laundry basket, hang up backpack on hook, carry in groceries

In addition to some basic household chores, I empower my girls with other things they can do, as well. For instance, as soon as they are able to talk, I encourage them to order for themselves at restaurants. I realize this can be slightly frustrating for the staff. Overwhelmingly, though, they comment on what a good job the girls do and encourage them. Additionally, Carly has a bank account and keeps track of her savings. We regularly discuss costs of items so that each of them will have a basic sense of money and cost as they begin to spend and earn their own. Finally, my girls participate in varieties of service activities. It might be as simple as walking the neighborhood and picking up stray garbage, but they learn the importance of giving their time to an overall better world.

Our goal as parents should not be to create adults that believe they are the center of the universe. If you have been "doing it all" for your kids, take a moment and think about some things you could do differently to help your children learn to be a part of your family team. We use a clip chart style system in our home and it is fluid and allows me to alter items as they grow. My girls LOVE this method and the direct visual of moving their clip to the completed side! Each girl has their own individual chart. Proverbs 22:6 is a favorite verse of mine: Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. If you feel the tug to make some changes, I urge you to lean on this. Don't let the dreaded "mom guilt" or fear of failing hold you back from taking steps and making changes. Create the atmosphere that God wants for your family!

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