I have finally taken the time to offer some household/children ‘management’ tips that we used when our children were younger….proved effective as we all grew together in these areas.
1. “First Call.” We used the words ‘first call’ when it was 5-10 minutes before time to sit down for a meal. It means all those who were in the house planning to eat were to get their hands washed and be close to the kitchen so when it was time to sit down for the “second call” we were there ready to sit down and eat.
2. “Coming.” We have lived in a few places where we were comfortable allowing the children to play ‘in the woods’ or ‘down the street’ away from the house. We wish we had owned a loud bell or whistle, but our voices worked most of the time. Our instructions: when we called one of the children’s names, their only response that was needed or acceptable: “coming.” Not ‘what?’ Not ‘what do you want?’ Nothing but: “coming.” And, of course, they would then immediately begin coming home.
3. “Dust busters.” On a regular basis, we had a collective effort to “gain control” of our family rooms but setting a 10-minute alarm and every person in the house would work as hard and efficiently as possible to vacuum, straighten, dust, etc., the main rooms in the house. It is simply amazing the work that 5 people could accomplish in what was actually 50 minutes, as I look back at it.
Incidentally, we also expected our children to work in their rooms at least once a week to “let us see the floor.” How it looked during the week mattered less to us (respecting their teen years and privacy) but we did need to have the rooms cleaner, etc. They were also pretty wise to realize that it helped that they kept their doors closed most of the days in between those cleaning opportunities.
4. “Cutting the cake.” Sometimes the children would be ultra-competitive, and it would show itself in the kitchen occasionally…even to the point of who got the biggest piece of cake.’ We decided a good way to defuse the situation was to have a different one cut the cake into pieces, and then the different ones would get to choose theirs first…the cutter the last piece that time. Of course, the one doing the cutting would be very-y-y-y careful to cut them the same size so he would get a ‘fair amount.’
* TJ and I would both greatly appreciate any comments offered that would add to this list…for the good of other parents out there.