Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Our Family Economy

As soon I as finished the Morning Order charts for my two and four year old, my two older daughters told me that they wanted the same for them. They were asking me for a new chore chart. How could I resist? We had used a great system for about two and half years and it had lost it's luster. We had recently switched to a worksheet where they would check off their daily tasks at the end of the day but I kept forgetting to print off a new one at the beginning of the week and it wasn't doing the job. So I was ready to try something that they were excited about. And all it takes is a file folder, markers, and scissors!

(I've started a terrible habit of taking my pics for these posts late at night, so again, sorry for the bad lighting...)
We had decided as a family two years back what their "daily tasks" should be. We made one small change this year to work better with our routine, but they work well for us. Here they are:
1. Morning Order
2. Practice Violin
3. Homework & 20 min Reading
4. Bedtime Order
They get paid .25 cents for doing each task without being nagged, giving them the opportunity to earn at least $6 a week. If they whine or complain about it, they won't get paid, but in the end, they still have to do it to have the privileges they want. They can do as many extra chores as they desire! We also challenge them to memorize an Article of Faith for their "extra" task. For additional motivation, we allow them to earn the "extra" task by merely completing all four daily tasks, as a bonus. 

In my book, you can never have enough incentives with this chore chart stuff. 

 We have a calendar hung above the charts where they record their earnings at the end of the day. I have them write their first initial, followed by the number of tasks they completed. 

 Today is day two with our new charts. Charlotte asked to do some extra tasks before dinner, which was new and a little thrilling...
 When it comes to your family economy, I think the most important thing to remember is to keep it simple. If your five year old can't explain it back to you, it's too complicated. 

 Second-most important? Change it up! These won't last forever. And that's ok. The lessons they're learning will last as will our system of working hard and reporting back at the end of the day.
What has worked for you and your family?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Morning Order Charts

I don't know about you, but I do NOT always enjoy mornings with my children. Lately, I've sacrificed a lot of sleep and have even moved my workout time (this is new) to 4:50 am at the gym so I can still come home and embrace the calm before the storm. As soon as I hear movement in the hallway upstairs, I tense. It starts with a race between my insomniac four year old daughter, who didn't actually FALL asleep until she played with every single toy in the room, and my two year old son who would probably sleep for two more hours but senses her arousal and rushes to keep up with her quick descent down the stairs. He greets me with a squinty plea for milk, she races to the iPad, and I head upstairs to wake my two oldest for school. The morning catches speed as I find every physical way possible to communicate to my daughters the need to hurry. it. along. I clap my hands really fast, I snap repetitively to accent each word, "GET (snap) YOUR (snap) SHOES (snap snap) ON (snap snap, snappity snap snap!). I have given up packing their lunches. I used to do the cutest things. I used to write notes on their napkins. Now I find myself shouting through the closing van door, "School lunch again!"

So thus, we have adopted and adapted and adjusted THE MORNING ORDER ROUTINE. I wouldn't live another day without it. It calms me. It grounds us, saves me from losing it (snap clap!), and creates HABITS that will some fine day kick in without my sing-songy (so I don't swear) reminders, over and over again, to please do this and that. I love morning order and keep reading, cause you will too.

The key is........start young.
 (I knew I had to write this post tonight or it wouldn't happen, so these pictures aren't pretty, but they'll do.)

The source of this Morning Order routine is Joy School, a taught-at-home preschool program for 3-5 year-olds that I've done with all of my kids. We teach thirteen "Joys," one of which is "Order and Goal Striving." This is where I first heard of Morning Order and several other tools that have helped us keep things cleaned up in our house.
 I actually taught the lesson on Morning Order TODAY and felt the need to share. The little pictures of their morning tasks are provided in the Joy School manual, which you purchase, but I'm sure you could find similar pictures online very easily. Usually we just have them paste the picture onto construction paper in the order THEY CHOOSE and they place a sticker next to the picture when they complete the task. This year, I wanted something that would last longer, but was still very simple to put together. I am NOT cutesy crafty when it comes to printing things off the internet.
 First, I printed the pictures for the kids and had them color them while we talked about each task. This is my four year old's, but she was way more interested in the snack than in coloring, so I finished them for her (in case you're impressed).
 All credit for this file folder idea goes to Amy at My Name is Snickerdoodle. Found it on Pinterest sometime around midnight last night. I cut off the top half of the file folder so you have the nice crease at the bottom and glued the pictures along that crease. Then I made the cuts in between the pictures so they each have a little "door" that can close when the task is done.
 I couldn't find double-sided velcro anywhere in my house, so I ended up cutting up a few Command Strips which work beautifully to make the doors stay closed. Then you get to write DONE! on the back.

I think it's very important to remember to let your child choose the order in which he does the tasks so he feels like he has choices, but I've found that once they understand what needs to be done, the order doesn't matter so much. We only needed the charts for a few weeks until they could remember well enough on their own what was to be done every morning to be ready for the day. My older girls have four tasks that must be completed each day for them to earn money. Morning Order is the #1 task. They still need prompts, but they know. (And that's the killer. You know they know.) 

Mornings can still have a rough start. But I love having a starting point to refer to. "Okay, time for Morning Order!" In our family, I help my school-aged kids complete their Morning Order, we eat breakfast together, then once they're off and I've recovered, I start again with the younger kids. I let them see me make my bed and put my pajamas away. It works well for us. Hope it helps you.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas. We love it.

School's out! Christmas is around the corner! This is where, in a perfect world, my to-do list is almost done and I can read Christmas books, make and eat treats, and craft with my kids all the live-long day. I really am not a crafty person. But in my head, doing crafts with my kids with snacks and fun music on in the background--that is home. That is motherhood. Here's what we've been up to.

Christmas Cards 
I don't do Christmas cards. I'd blame it on my kids, but I never did do them. I have a tough time paying to develop photos and pay postage so someone can look at it and then chuck it. SO, we do homemade cards just for grandparents, who treasure them and keep them forever, I'm sure.

 This year, Edison was my most willing and enthusiastic participant in crafts.
Love him for that. I can't get enough of his handprints.
 (While painting, he had an itch. Or two.)
For part of our family service project this year, we wrote letters to all of the missionaries we know and sent them packages with treats. I was amazed at how much I felt the spirit as I put these packages together and addressed them to these awesome missionaries. Worth the effort. 

Popsicle Stick Snowflakes
 During the Santa Run downtown after Thanksgiving, we ate dinner at Rooster's on 25th and they had giant snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, made out of popsicle sticks. 
I told Hazel that we had to try it.
 We used hot glue, paint, glitter, gems. All very girly.

Hazel decided to spray paint hers two shades of blue. We ended up hanging these in our window.
 Edison brought some manliness to it all by mixing the red and green to make a nice dark brown, which he covered in glitter. His was a small snowflake for my tree.

Painting Pinecones
 I had a bag of cinnamon scented pinecones leftover from last year that I pulled out for the kids to paint.
 Paint + Glitter = Limitless possibilities.

 These turned out so cute that I had the girls use them for gifts for their teachers at school. Hazel made hers into an apple!
Warning: Glitter everywhere...always.

Gooey Snowmen
We did these just this morning! School is out and I was excited to have my two oldest girls join us for  a nice quality "Activity Time." We read a few Christmas books I picked up at the library. I love these books about snowmen by Caralyn Buehner:

Since we ended with these books, we decided to do a snowman craft and my oldest daughter, Hazel, had an idea she wanted us to try.

Basically, you cut out three circles, large to small, and stack them with a thick piece of cardboard in between each layer so there's space (we used foam stickers instead). I think they turned out cute and it was fun to let Hazel take the lead. I used to feel like activity time was a fail if the craft didn't turn out. Now it's a little easier to remember it's all about the time spent together folks. 
(I've had lots of failed crafts, lots of GREAT crafts with horrible unexpected 3 year old meltdowns--you never know how these things are going to turn out.)
 Hazel drew the circles for everyone and they set to work with their scissors.
 Because we actually had a half FULL bottle of Elmer's glue, I decided to mix my favorite concoction of glue + shaving cream for some SNOWMAN GOOP. Edison could hardly believe it.
 Added a little glitter for flare. I hope my son survives us.
 Once they cut out their circles, I had them add the goop onto the top, just to give the snowmen some life. It dries like puff paint. I love it.
 Plus it feels good in your fingers.

 Some of us took a lot longer with the scissors, but didn't give up.

 Like I said before, we glued a thick foam sticker in between each circle to give some depth.
 We bathed a bit in the goop.

 And then put handprints on the door. I told her to clean it up and then remembered that I have an irrational adoration of my kids' handprints, so they stayed. And more were added later, of course.
 We slipped in a scarf, nose and eyes and there you have it!

Once there was a snowman...
Here's a fun one to try. I cut out a paper spiral and glued it between my circles so that he could "grow" and "melt" while my kids sang "Once there was a snowman..."

A few years ago we started a tradition of allowing the kids to open their presents for one another on Christmas Eve, so they got the special attention they deserved. I love how excited they get when they see their sibling open a gift they paid for with their own money, or made with their own hands.
 I taught the girls how to "tie a quilt" for their dad. This is the closest I get to quilting.
(Hope he doesn't read this...)
 Eloise insisted on helping with the scissors, so she trimmed the edge, with support from Ed.
 Here they are, tired from tying.
 This year, they each had only saved about $8 to $10 (because they have NOT caught the vision of my system yet...) so we headed out to DI where they could afford some pretty great (used) toys for each other. Here Hazel is fixing up a Barbie that cost .50! Win win.
We definitely had moments where they really wanted to spend their money on what THEY wanted. I think good lessons are taught through this tradition.

Every year, we do a family service project. It has varied from taking dinner to a single mom every day for a week to delivering dolls to a local shelter. We always try to squeeze in some treat deliveries with our favorite: DOORBELL DITCHING. This was a huge success the first year we did it; because we only did it at one home. The next year, we expanded and delivered goodies to five families, but had to stop halfway because Eloise (barely three at the time) thought we were Trick-or-Treating and could not figure out why we were running away from the door! 

This year, we decided to throw out all logic and increase our deliveries to SIXTEEN houses. At house #2, Hazel was racing back to the van and slipped and ROLLED into the gutter, covering herself in mud. 

We decided to just knock and sing a Christmas carol to the rest of the homes after that.

This year the girls decided to pick out a few toys that they liked, but no longer needed, to give to a little girl that they love a lot in our ward. 
This is hands-down my favorite part of Christmas. I hope it's what they remember.

And THAT, is Phipps Christmas in a nutshell.
That, and THIS:


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