Chores, A Tradition? Part One

Chores, a tradition?  I don’t think so!  That is what your kids would be thinking of this post.

Ok, so maybe chores aren’t actually a tradition, per se.  But they do accomplish some of the same goals that traditions accomplish.  Though chores might not create the warm, fuzzy experiences that say eating chocolate chip cookies every afternoon while rocking on the front porch may create,  they do produce unity, feelings of belonging, and stability in our homes.  Not to mention it helps mom from feeling like a 24 hour servant!  And let’s face it, when mama has help, the home is a happier place.  When mama isn’t exhausted, mama can spend more time creating those special moments, memories, experiences, and traditions.  Bottom line, when mama is happy, everyone is happy.  Amen?

Honestly, I wish that I had realized the importance of giving kids responsibilities earlier on.  Until recently, we have started and stopped so many different chore systems I could write 10 posts on each system and why it was great in the beginning then lost its steam.  I believe part of the reason we weren’t very good at sticking to it had to do with the fact that I assigned incredibly easy chores to the kids.  I assigned things that honestly would go unnoticed if they weren’t completed.  Or I would just do them myself if it didn’t get done.

Last summer we had the pleasure of having my niece and nephews from out-of-state stay with us for a few days.  I was so impressed with their willingness to help without being asked to help.  If there was a need, one of those kids was sure to meet it.  Quite the impression was left on me.  One would think I would have begun to crack down on some responsibility assignments around the house.  Not so.  Simply because it was just easier for me to do it myself.  It would get done the way I wanted it done if I just did it myself.  I made excuses for myself and my kids.

I have come to my senses.

I realized that:

  1. My boys need to be trained to be servants.  Servants of Christ.
  2. My boys need to not think I’m their servant, rather I’m a servant of Christ.
  3. My boys need to learn to be responsible for something
  4. My boys need to learn that life isn’t just fun and games and it doesn’t revolve around them
  5. My boys need to feel the pride of doing a job well
  6. My boys need to feel they are an important contributor to the family
  7. My boys need to pitch in so I can have more time to enjoy the moments with them
  8. My boys need to be trained to identify where they can help and offer it without being asked
  9. My boys need to learn to help without complaining or rolling eyes.
  10. My boys simply need to be trained.  Period.

I also realized that:

  1. I was doing them a disservice by doing everything around the house
  2. I was failing to provide training and life skills
  3. I could potentially create self-centered monsters
  4. I was exhausting myself
  5. I needed to be okay with okay.  Chores didn’t have to be done my way.  Other ways may actually exist.
  6. I needed to be okay with a different timetable than I prefer for when chores are completed.
  7. My boys would feel important and a part of Team Robinson if the ball were passed to them more often.
  8. My boys would feel stability and unity with the family if given appropriate jobs
  9. My boys could actually do MUCH more than I realized they could do
  10. My boys are eager to learn, help, contribute, and be trained.  Period.

The results so far?  Well, my house is staying much cleaner.  We all have more time together.  Oh yeah, and I’m less tired and grumpy.

Long term results?  My prayer is that God would use these training sessions to grow and develop boys who have servant hearts, desire to help others, see the needs of others before their own needs, and feel strongly connected to our family, feeling secure and bonded to our family unit.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will post the systems we’ve tried and the system we are currently using.

P.S. I won’t mention any names, but one of my sons liked to grumble when asked to do a chore.  Now that he realizes that attitude affects everything, we often find him having a grand time in the midst of completing his tasks.  Here he was singing with a spatula.

He also realized fun can be had in most situations, even the dishes.  He made sure to show me his castle creation before completing the job.

 Who knew working together to accomplish the same goal could be so much fun?

A Bird in Need

As I was preparing dinner, Zachary burst through the door from baseball practice.  My hand flew up to stop him in his tracks in hopes of preventing mud tracks from the baseball field from being spread across the kitchen floor.  He panted, “Mom, come here, there is a baby bird outside.”  Everyone dropped what they were doing to rush outside and marvel at this little helpless creature on our driveway.

Helpless.

Alone.

Scared.

My Jacob could hardly bear the thought of leaving this bird alone to face the world.  “We can’t leave him.  Where are his parents?  He can’t die.”

“He isn’t going to die.  His parents will come for him.  They are close by watching and protecting him.”

“How do you know?  What if they don’t get him?”

Somehow, we were able to convince him to come inside to have dinner while we gave the bird some space.  Though we convinced Jacob to come inside, he didn’t make it far.  Head against the wall, shoulders shaking, he sobbed.  Attempting to provide comfort, we reminded him that we had to let nature run its course.

“But mom, what if his parents don’t come back for him.  You would never leave me.  We can’t leave him.”

Jacob has always been compassionate.  He hurts deeply when he sees others hurting.  He imagines the pain, he feels it with them.  And it hurts.

Peace alluded Jacob during dinner.  Honestly, it did me as well.  Jacob was hurting for this baby bird.  I was hurting for Jacob.

A few times through the evening we checked on the bird.  He was still there.  Still chirping.  Still waiting.  Still needing.

I imagine he felt alone.  Forgotten.  We’ve all been there at times.  Wondering if we have been forgotten, are we alone?  We are never forgotten.  We are never alone.

Jacob couldn’t stand it.  Neither could I.  My heart ached watching my son hurt.  He was imagining himself in the place of that bird.  So I couldn’t leave that bird there.  Because I wouldn’t leave my child.  Protecting that bird was protecting Jacob.

After tucking the boys into bed, I went back to the computer to read how to save a bird.  Then I made my way outside to find the nest.  Once I found it, I asked my mom who was here visiting to go get Jacob out of bed so he could watch us get the bird back to safety.

In the process of helping the bird, I knew we could be hurting him more.  Relief was around the corner.  Sometimes the pain becomes more intense before we are able to experience the relief.  It would all be better soon.  But the bird didn’t know.  He chirped louder, his pain seemed to increase.  Jacob was scared.   I was scared.

“Just get him up there,” Steve urged.  Jacob nervously added, “His chirp sounds different.”  Was I doing the right thing?

Gently, I placed the bird in the nest breathing a deep sigh of relief.  The bird was home where he belonged.  My son could go to bed in peace knowing the bird was safe.

As I walked Jacob back to bed, I said, “Do you feel better now?”  His response surprised me, “Only a little.  I will feel better when I know he isn’t alone in the nest.  When I know his parents are back with him.”

Of course, he would feel that way.  The bird was safe, but the bird was still alone, which means the bird was still scared.

Unbeknownst to Jacob, I was working in the background.  I was reading online how to care for this bird.  I was climbing on ladders to find where the nest could be.  I was gathering supplies to move the bird from the driveway to the nest.  And I was praying.  Jacob couldn’t see, but I was working.  Jacob couldn’t see how much I cared, but I did care.

In our pains of life, God is working.  We just may not see it yet.  He is aching with us.  He wants to protect us, love us, and make it all better.  And He is.  We just may not see it yet.

When I tucked Jacob in bed for the 2nd time that night, I reminded him to pray for the bird, to which he replied that he had already been praying.  Of course he was.  I walked out of his room silently begging God to save that baby bird.  I wanted Jacob to experience yet again the realness of this God we proclaim.  I wanted Jacob to see beyond a saved bird.  I wanted him to see a Savior.

When morning arrived the first words out of Jacob’s mouth were inquiring of the bird.  I knew the answer already.  It was the first thing I did.  The mama bird was back with her baby, right where she belonged.  Just like the baby bird, when we are in the arms of our Father, we are right where we belong.  Right where He wants us to be.

Love, Affirm, Pray

The more we show our children how valued and loved they are, the greater our opportunities for creating rich experiences with them will be.  When they know they are loved unconditionally, they will trust us.  When they trust us, they will allow us into their lives.

Our children are bombarded by the world daily.  They hear false messages, they are made to think their value is based on what they do or don’t do, their self-image is often created from fashion magazines and pop culture.  To be a kid or a teenager today is so hard.

When our children are with us, they should feel loved and accepted simply for being themselves, based on nothing they do or don’t do, how they look or don’t look.  They need our love.  The world will not love them like we do.  We can grow strong, confident children by pouring our love into them.   Pouring our hearts into their hearts.

We can tell them repeatedly, “I love you no matter what.  No matter what you do, my love for you doesn’t change.”  We can model to them the love Christ has for us.  Unconditional love.  Start a tradition of letting the last words from your mouth every night be, “I love you no matter what.”

When our kids have the opportunity to hear someone other than their parents speaking their praises, it can make a big impact.  How many of you had an influential teacher in your life?  Teachers spend more hours of the day with our children than we do oftentimes.  When a teacher is able to point out a strength in a child, it has the ability to encourage that child to try much harder in that area.

Our school year wrapped up a couple of weeks ago.  Awards Day left my husband and I in tears as we listened to the teachers speak about each of the children they were able to influence.  Our older two boys were completing kindergarten and second grade.  As we listened to the awards each of them received, and the words spoken about them, we were unable to hold back our tears.  They said things about our boys that we thought only we had seen in them.  Of course, we recorded each of them receiving their awards, and I have replayed them at least 10 times.  Each time wondering if it penetrated the hearts of my boys like it did mine.  Did they hear what others noticed about them?  Did they understand that the good was noticed and it did matter.  Did they hear?

The words spoken about them were so special I wanted them to be remembered forever.  I wanted the boys to have access to those words anytime they needed a little bit of encouragement.  So I spent one evening playing back the awards over and over in order to write down the speeches exactly as they were delivered.  I printed them onto cardstock and gave them to the boys.  I have a special binder for each child to hold special letters and cards they have received.

Have you captured a memory or a moment in time that you want to write down as a reminder?  Maybe it wasn’t an award, but another parent commenting on a character trait they observed.  What if we wrote down these compliments and stored them in a journal for our kids?  They could flip through them whenever they needed to be encouraged.  We can take these special moments and preserve them for our children.

We all need to be affirmed.  Though we want our children to be humble, we also want to provide encouraging reminders of the good they hold inside them.  We can love them, we can affirm them, we can preserve other’s affirmations for them, and we can pray, pray, pray.

We can pray that the positive traits that are being recognized will continue to develop and mature.  Then we can watch God’s workmanship as He molds and shapes our children.

Artwork Treasures

My boys are constantly drawing me pictures or writing me notes.  Their sweet pictures are precious to me, and I hated them being stuffed into drawers and boxes.  I wanted the boys to know that their time and effort to create something was appreciated and loved.

I also wanted their creations to be organized in a way we could continue to enjoy them together.  (One thing you will come to learn about me is that I LOVE organization.  When my world is ordered rather than chaotic, my creative juices flow a little more freely and I’m able to create more moments of life to enjoy. )

I decided to organize and store their creations using a 2 inch vinyl 3 ring binder.  I made divider sections for each year by age.  Next, I filled the binder with their sweet treasures.  Now that their artwork is in a binder, they can thumb through it anytime they like.  And I can look at it and see how much they are growing based on their drawing and writing.

I love having these memories in one location.  I love that my boys and I can sit down and look at their pictures together.  I love that I can show the boys how special their drawings are by giving them a special home.  I love the many moments and memories we can share together reflecting on their creations.

And the winner is…..

Congrats, Jen Hunt!  I hope you and the girls enjoy some fun with this.

Wishing everyone a memorable Memorial Day Weekend!

Would a $50 gift card kickstart summer for you?

As a grand opening of sorts for Barefoot Walks, I will be giving away a $50 American Express gift card to a lucky commenter.  Use it to bless someone in your life, use it for a family vacation or outing, use it however you desire.

What is Barefoot Walks you ask?  Step on over to the menu pages at the top of the page to read About Me, Why Barefoot Walks, and Traditions.

Barefoot Walks is all about the journey to create moments, memories, experiences, and traditions with your family.  It’s about recognizing the moments that are right before our eyes.  It’s reaching out and grabbing them before they slip away.  It is a journey, a walk, we can take together to inspire and encourage one another.  It’s a step at a time.

This walk is not just for those of us in the child rearing stage of life or just those of us with children.  Grandparents, aunts and uncles, empty nesters, we want you to take this walk with us.  This stroll is for anyone who desires to create moments, create memories, capture hearts, and invest in the lives of the ones they love.  When you invest this time, you are providing security, stability, acceptance, and strength to the individual, which they will carry on to their own families one day.

Barefoot Walks is an attempt to help you (and me) focus on the joy in the moments we are given.  Focusing on the simple things, the beautiful things this life has to offer.  Joy is all around us.  Joy is a choice.  Even when life looks messy, beauty is there, waiting to be discovered beneath the mess, dusted off, and beheld.  You will be my accountability partner.  I promise to be genuine, truthful, and authentic with you.  I can’t write from the heart if I’m not living it out.  I fail time after time.  I mess up constantly.  Thankfully, there is grace and mercy from our Heavenly Father.  And though I feel unworthy and ill-equipped to write or to inspire, the Lord has laid it on my heart.

Through Barefoot Walks I hope to encourage you in your quest to spend time with your loved ones.  Therefore, I vow not to post something that will take you 30 minutes to read.  I will not fill your inbox with more resources than you have time to muddle through.  I want you living, experiencing, creating, loving, and making the most of every single moment our Lord gives us.  I will try not to post more than twice a week, unless you beg for more of  course 🙂

My prayer is that my blog will not become a distraction to your moments.

So, let’s take a little barefoot walk together, shall we?  Each step along  our walk leaves a footprint.  Our footprints create a path to a legacy.  When we reach our destination, we can look back on the richness of the moments in our past with a sense of peace and satisfaction rather than regrets and sadness.

It’s never too late to start your barefoot walk.  Let me repeat:  It is never too late.  Even if you have adult children.  Even if you have grandkids.  It doesn’t matter.  We all have moments in our life to behold.  We all have people who love us and we love back.

Ok, so let’s kick it off.  Here is the nitty-gritty:

In order to qualify you must :  leave a comment AND include which of the following you participated in with link backs.  If you do all, you increase your chances!

  • Post on your Facebook page and become a friend
  • Tweet this and follow me on Twitter
  • Pin this on Pinterest
  • Subscribe to BW via email subscription
  • Post on your own blog with a link back to Barefoot Walks
  • Send an email to your friends sharing Barefoot Walks
  • Be the second to comment and you are entered for 2 chances (my comment doesn’t count 🙂
  • Be the last to comment and you are entered for 2 chances

You can leave your comment on any post I’ve posted or any page (About Me, Why, etc).  You can leave any comment you like or you can comment on your favorite summer memory or tradition to this post.  Don’t forget to include which of the above you participated in with the links.

How many chances in all could you potentially have? 8!!  Comments must be submitted by 11:59pm Thursday night.  Winner announced on Friday.

Memory making on the cheap

Summer provides a great opportunity for creating memories and experiences with your family for little to no money.  If you spend a little time scouting and planning, you can plan some really neat activities that would typically be too costly to partake in.

Lego Monthly Mini Model build

http://stores.lego.com/en-us/StoreEvents.aspx  (Ages 6-14)

I can’t wait to surprise the boys with this FREE outing.  My boys love Legos, and they love visiting the Lego store.  However, we don’t visit too often because it only creates a want in them that can’t be satisfied.  This will be a fun way to make a couple of trips to the Lego store AND walk out with a toy AND spend no money.

Regal Summer Movie Express

http://www.regmovies.com/specialvalues/

$1 G and PG movies every Tuesday and Wednesday through the summer.  Our boys love going to the theater, but we rarely go simply because it is just too expensive.

AMF Free Bowling for Kids 

https://freebowling.amf.com/

We signed up for this a couple of years ago, and it was a blast.  I would highly recommend this if you happen to live near an AMF.

Library Summer Reading programs

We love these.  The boys love reading anyway, but the excitement escalates as they fill in their reading chart knowing a prize is on the horizon.  It’s a great way to keep your kids reading through the summer.

Restaurant Kids Eat Free nights

I really love these.  Many restaurants allow 2 free kids meals with each adult purchase.  It is a great way to treat your kids to a night out to eat.  Plus you beat the weekend crowds as most programs are during the week.

Pool, lake, or spray park. –

We live in the Charlotte area and have a few of these spray parks nearby that are free.  When my boys were younger, we took advantage of these a lot.  Although they don’t believe they are too old for them, I’m scared they would accidentally take down an unsuspecting 3-year-old!  So now we just find a nearby soccer field that is watering the grass and let them go!

These are just a few ideas to get you started!

Overwhelmed at the thought of searching out ideas and planning them out?  Follow these tips:

  • Block out 1 hour of planning time-One hour of planning will save hours of frustration when you are in the midst of summer and running out of ideas.
  • Do a quick google search to check locations and dates of what you are interested in
  • Make a master list of all ideas that are appealing to your family
  • Sit down with the kids and allow them to help pick out their favorites
  • Make a summer fun calendar together
  • Add your selections to the calendar to make sure they actually happen

Happy Summer Planning!