Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Morning and Evening Routine Charts (for the babies)

About a year ago, I realized that we needed to set some expectations for morning and evening routines for our three youngest. They were 4, 4 & 5 at the time and I wanted them to do their routines without help from me. At first I tried to use my big job chart, but then I realized that they needed their own chart in their room.
Since I wanted tabs that could be turned over and used every day, I came up with the following chart.

To make it, I simply used some Dollar Tree Document frames ($1 each). (You could also use 8x10 frames, you'd just have to cut down your paper.) Then I created and printed the back ground of the chart on colored card stock. Here's the file I used (it's a Publisher file, so you'd have to have Microsoft Publisher on your computer. I don't think you can preview or open the file without it):
Morning and Evening Routines
Yes, I realize that this is in German. Since we speak only German to our little people, the job chart is in German. So, for those who don't know German, the morning jobs are: Prayer, Get Dressed, Brush Teeth, Make Bed and Clean Room. The evening jobs are: Put on PJs, Brush Teeth, Clean Room, Read Scriptures (I read to them), and Prayer.
So, now for the CLEVER part: In order to make hooks, I took the little round head brass paper fasteners and stuck them through the paper from the back, so that the pointy part stuck out the front side (I made a little slit with the tip of a sharp knife to help them push through the paper). Once I stuck all the fasteners through the paper, I secured them on the back with clear packing tape. Then, on the front of the paper, I bent the ends upwards to make little hooks! (I KNOW, IT'S SO CLEVER, I CAN HARDLY STAND IT). Anyways, after that, I made little job tabs with pictures. On the back of each tab, I drew a smiley face. Then I laminated the tabs and punched holes in the top. Lastly, I took the glass out of the frame and put my chart into the frame, securing it on the back with tape and hung it in the kids room.

Immediately, our morning and evening routines were transformed. Now, when they come out of their room in the morning, I ask them if they've turned over all their jobs. If not, they run right back in their room and do it. At night, I can send them upstairs ahead of me and tell them to do their jobs and if they get them all turned over before I come up, then they get an extra story. They love having a routine. They love knowing what's expected. It helps the whole family, since often an older sibling or my husband is putting the kids to bed. The chart has really helped our mornings and evenings run so smoothly.

Love my charts!!!

Jobs, jobs, jobs

Recently some friends asked to see some of my job lists. I had posted a photo of my funny son's comment which he wrote on his job list for the week. I had unintentionally left a blank spot and he filled it in with his awesomeness.
Anyways, I absolutely LOVE a good job chart. Detailed job charts make me happy, because once it's written out and assigned, then I can forget about it. Of course, a good job chart is all in the details. How detailed you make it depends on the kids being assigned the job. The other thing I love about detailed lists, is that I don't usually enter the assigned cleaning area and have to say "You call this job done?" Because, as long as every thing is checked, then their job is done.

So, I have so many different lists. Here are a few (and really, this is only a fraction of the lists on my computer).
Here's a sample weekend list:

Here's one that includes the little kids. You might notice that the little ones' jobs are written in German, but the big kids' jobs are in English (that's just how things roll in our home). I usually cut the list up and give each kid his own portion.

Some mornings, I'm feeling overwhelmed with everything I need to get done. So I just start writing everything down at the top of a page. Then I take some of those things and start divvying out chores to the kids. Once I do that, then I start feeling less overwhelmed. Often, I'll let the kids pick which ones they want.
Fill in the Blank

I did want to mention how I often divide chores. Actually "doing" your chores is not an option, but you do have an option as to which chores you do. So, I often whistle and announce quite loudly (so that everyone can hear) that I'm about to hand out chores. The first person to arrive gets to pick first. This ensures that the kids usually hurry as fast as they can so that they can get the first pick.

Here are my some of my favorite lists. These are the Company Clean lists. I pull them out when we're expecting company. We were expecting company this past Sunday, so on the previous Sunday (during our family council meeting), I printed out the lists and let the kids choose which ones they wanted to do. I LOVE these, because they have actual check boxes in front of each item (I don't think the check boxes show up in the Google Docs). They're also fairly detailed. I hang them up in the assigned area, where I can see them. I usually give them a few days to complete them (this is usually in addition to their daily kitchen jobs...I'll do another post on Kitchen Jobs...because that's a whole other topic). Anyways, I like to see them making progress. I remind them during the week to check off a few things each day. As I walk through the house, I can see who has been checking off their boxes.

Sometimes, instead of lists, we call them tickets. We used to do "job tickets" all the time. The deal was that we had some reward at the end of the day and that in order to take part in that reward, you had to turn in your job ticket. I don't have very many of these on the computer, since I usually just wrote them on 3x5 cards. But here's one example that I found:
Job Tickets

I also had another kind of ticket. These were "pay jobs" that the kids bid on at the beginning of the summer. I would give it to the kid who bid for the least amount of money and who promised to do it by a certain date. Here's a list of our job auction items from a few years back:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Family Council and why we LOVE it!!

We started doing family council when our oldest kids entered the preteen years. We've always had Family Home Evening on Monday nights (What is Family Home Evening). But as our kids got older, we found that the "family business" was taking over our family home evenings. So, we started doing family council on Sunday nights.

Family council is the time when we conduct all the family business. We also set and review family goals. It really keeps us on track. Running a family is like running a business or  organization. If you want it to be successful and effective, you need to have a purpose and goals. Our primary and over-arching goal is to return to live with our Heavenly Father, which means that we want to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him. And we know that living in such a way will result in our own greatest happiness. To some, that might sound like a strange or quirky goal. But this goal truly directs all of our decisions as a family. We want to be together forever, because we REALLY like each other.

Over the years, our family council agenda has morphed to fit the needs of our family. Since we speak both German and English at home, the agenda started out in German. I really pushed the German for a long time, but after a while, it just got too difficult to communicate effectively. It just got too hard to discuss the business of our English speaking environment in German. So, eventually, we switched to English. But as you can see on the later agendas, "Speaking German" is always listed as one of our goals. Here's an example of one of our earlier agendas:
German Family Council Agenda

Here are some of the English family council agendas we've used over the years:
English Family Council Agenda (early years).
English Family Council Agenda (middle years)
English Family Council Agenda (another version)
Family Council Agenda filled out with service hours

Nowadays, I bring up the file on the TV screen (instead of printing it and writing on it). I actually fill it out on the computer as we talk. Sometimes, I bring it up on the laptop and then link the screen to the TV so that everyone can see what I'm typing. When we're done, I just "Save As". It's so nice to have a whole history of family council agendas saved on the computer. It's fun to look back on past years and see a snapshot of a given week.

After we're done with family council, I often print out page 2 of the agenda (the page with the goals) and post it where we all can read it throughout the week.

Most Current Family Council Agenda
As you can see from the agenda above, we finally began including the younger kids in our family council meetings. They love to participate and with the older kids at college, it's nice to have a bigger group contributing. When the little ones are participating, we do most of our speaking in German, even though the agenda is in English. If you look at the "goals" section of the above agenda, you'll see that the big kids have English goals and the little kids say their goals in German.

Many years back, we came up with a family motto and added it to our agenda. At the beginning of each family council, one of the kids reads the motto. Some of us have it memorized because we hear it so often. I love hearing the kids read our family motto:

We will have a home filled with laughter, joy, kindness and fun. We will treat each other with respect and love. We will support each other in all that we do. Our entertainment choices, our language, our appearance and our activities will invite the Spirit of the Lord into our family.  Each of us will strive to have a strong, personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. We will put others’ needs ahead of our own. Our focus will be to lift, comfort and bless those around us.  We will create fun and lasting family memories and avoid anything that would cause lasting regret. 

By the way, I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it, if a native German speaker could translate our motto for us. With our younger ones starting to participate, I would love to be able to read the motto in German. I could do it, of course, but I don't think I could do a perfect job.

I also added a "service hours" section a few years back. This has been super helpful. Each week the kids report if they've done any service hours and I log them. It's been so nice to have that info at my fingertips as the kids have filled out scholarships and applied for NHS, etc.

Having family council has blessed our family so much. It has brought us closer together. It has helped us to support each other in our goals. It has helped us to just work out all the logistics of running a family (like who is driving which car to which activity and when). It's helped us to divide the work around the house. It has helped us to celebrate our uniqueness. But mostly, it has helped us to all be on the same page as we work towards the same long-term goal.

I love these articles on the importance of holding family council:
Family Councils---A Conversation
Working Together in Family Councils