Over the last few weeks, I've been sharing some lessons from the farmhouse.
Two weeks ago, I talked about some "home" lessons we have learned.
Then last week, I discussed lessons about marriage.
Today, I'm going to finish out this series by sharing five lessons that I've learned about parenting over the last fourteen years.
Disclaimer: Just like I shared a few weeks ago and last week, I am not the perfect housekeeper or the perfect wife. And I am DEFINITELY not the perfect parent.
With that said, we have been parenting for the last fourteen years. We've taken advice from parents whom we love and trust and we've learned through trial and error. So here are some parenting tips that will hopefully be helpful to somebody.
1. Be consistent.
Do what you say you are going to do.
If you offer a consequence for a certain behavior, follow through with that consequence.
And on that note, set realistic consequences from the get-go. When you ask your child to complete a task, with some sort of consequence attached -- make it realistic. There is nothing worse than when you are in the heat of the moment and you threaten some difficult-to-maintain consequence if a child does not comply with the expected behavior.
"If you don't turn the television off, you're going to be grounded for a month."
If the child doesn't turn the television off, the parents are left with one of two choices.
Sure, in the first choice, the child knows you mean business and will likely comply with your directives for a while. However, a month of grounding is pretty substantial for not following one simple direction.
And in the second choice, your child is learning that your words don't really mean much when it comes to consequence for behavior.
In the above example, I would suggest something like "no television for three days". This is a manageable consequence that truly fits the behavior. After the three days is over, the child will likely understand that when you ask him or her to turn it off -- you mean business.
So -- Be consistent. Set boundaries. Follow through.
2. Teach responsibility.
Our girls help us to manage our home.
Our oldest daughter is responsible for one load of laundry a day. She washes, dries, and folds it and then delivers the clothes to the bedrooms where they belong.
Our second daughter is responsible for dishes. She unloads the dishwasher each morning and after we fill it through the day, she washes it at night. She hand-washes any dishes that are left after supper, also.
Our youngest daughter is responsible for gathering laundry from the hampers in the house and taking it to the laundry room each day. She also gathers up shoes that have been left out and puts them on the mud room shelves.
They also have daily chores to help the family out on the farm -- feeding chickens, gathering eggs, taking scraps to the hogs, and whatever else needs to be done.
3. Lead by example.
This is a tough one.
You know that old saying, "Do as I say, not as I do"?
Yeah. That doesn't work.
Your babies will pick up on your ACTIONS, not only your words.
If you want your children to have a relationship with Jesus -- model a relationship with Jesus.
If you want your children to grow up and have a healthy marriage -- model a healthy marriage.
If you want them to speak kindly to their friends -- speak kindly to them and to YOUR friends.
If you want them to be hard workers -- work hard.
If you want them to admit when they are wrong -- admit when you are wrong (this one is NOT easy!).
We could go through hundreds of examples of this.
Lead by example.
4. Be patient & offer grace.
I will be the first to admit that we have ridiculously high standards.
I have had to find a balance between having high expectations and offering grace to our girls.
We all mess up. We all fall short. NONE of us are perfect.
Our kids are learning and exploring and testing boundaries. Their brains are not fully-developed yet and they will make poor decisions sometimes.
We must learn to guide them through these decisions, with grace & mercy.
We must be patient with them as they learn to navigate this life.
5. Be present.
Put the phone away.
Sit down together at the dinner table.
Play in the snow.
Work on household projects together.
Do craft activities.
Do a Bible study together.
Enjoy the time you have with them because it goes so very quickly.
I hope these tips are helpful for you. What would you add?
Enjoying a day with our girls here at the farmhouse,
1. Divide and Conquer
Our 14-year-old does at least one load of laundry each day for the whole family...sometimes two. She knows that this is a daily expectation and has built it in as part of her before school and after school schedule. The 6-year-old gathers the laundry from downstairs and takes it to the laundry room to help her big sister out.
Our 11-year-old is in charge of dishes at our house. She runs the dishwasher at night and puts the dishes away before school.
Mr. Farmhouse and I have daily chores that we complete, as well.
As John Heywood said back in the 1500s..."Many hands make light work."
2. Daily Routines are Key
My morning routine is an integral part of every morning. It starts when I make my bed and ends when I finish up my prayer journal before I leave for work. Making my bed takes about 4.2 seconds each day. I get dressed and ready for work by 6:00 and I have half an hour to do my Bible study and prayer time before heading out the door at 6:30.
Our after school routine is just as important -- for me, I walk in, take care of the mail, and get supper going. The girls go ahead and do their farm chores when they get home, then do homework, and relax.
Before bed, we do a quick pick-up (see step 3 below).
3. Quick Pick-Up
Before bed, we do what we call a 15-minute quick pick-up. Basically, we set a timer for 15 minutes and the whole family gets to work picking up the main rooms of the house (living room, dining room, kitchen, mud room, and hallway). Everyone just digs in and picks up whatever has been left out and puts it away. We are usually finished before the 15-minute mark, but this has seriously revolutionized our "house-keeping" when we keep this habit! By picking up each night, we don't let the house get out of control!
4. When in Doubt, Throw it Out
I used to use this phrase when trying to decide if it would be safe to eat leftover food. However, I have come to use it when discussing random extra items in our home.
By nature, I am a keeper. I have been raised to keep things that we might need in the future, to keep things that have sentimental value, and to keep things that I "hope to accomplish someday".
After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White, Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith, and Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin, my mindset on this has changed immensely.
We still have "stuff". Our house is definitely not a stereotypical "minimalist" home. However, we are so much more ruthless when it comes to being intentional with what we allow to take up space here at the farmhouse. It we don't love it or need it...out it goes.
5. Make it Look Like a Magazine
This is a phrase I'm borrowing from my dad. Growing up, when we were cleaning house and reported a room finished, Dad would ask us if the room "looked like a magazine" before he came to check it.
Our home doesn't "look like a magazine" all the time, but when we went through and did a huge cleaning and organization project through every room of the house this past year, we tried to get every room to that point. We went through each room and decluttered, completed any undone projects, and decorated the space with finishing touches that made it feel "homey" and "cozy".
When a room is intentionally organized and decorated in this way, it's easier to get it back to that state when cleaning.
So, there are my five tips that are helping us to learn to stay organized!
What would you add to the list?
Tune in the next few weeks for some more "lessons from the farmhouse" in different areas of life!
Working on our refinance list today at the farmhouse,
Well, here we are.
I have been in school for 3 days now and the girls start this Tuesday.
Things are about to get crazy.
The last few years, we have figured out that it works really well for the girls to have a morning, afternoon, and bedtime routine.
They don't always stick to the evening routines, 100%, depending on what activities we have going on after school...practices, piano lessons, games.
However, the morning routine has really become a natural way of life during the school year for us.
And as long as the girls get out of bed when they're asked to (that's a whole other situation), it really helps our mornings to run smoothly.
The two older girls switch back and forth between putting clean dishes away each morning and sweeping the kitchen & dining room (a new chore with all hardwood floors in the farmhouse!).
I've laminated these lists and the girls use a dry-erase marker to mark them every morning. They like the satisfaction of checking off items in a list, just like their mama.
We have done a list like this for every day of the week, including Saturdays. Saturdays also includes what we call a "quick clean" list that we all work on together for an hour or so to get the house spiffied up for a new week.
Sunday has become our "stop day" here at the farmhouse.
I am trying really hard to just have our family enjoy each other through the whole day and just take an hour or so in the evenings to prepare for the next week.
In our world of busy, busy, busy...it's nice to just breathe, breathe, breathe every once in a while.
Just a few years ago, I was trying to squeeze in photography sessions every extra minute I had (including Sunday afternoons) to help pay off debt and to make sure I wasn't disappointing people.
I've learned that no matter how many sessions I squeeze into whatever extra time I have left, people will still be disappointed when I run out of sessions.
And they will still love me.
So it's really okay!
When I finished this (completely simple and totally amateur) project, I decided to try something a little more complicated.
I found a purple cup in the cabinet that I've been wanting to buy some sort of vinyl decal for and I decided to try it myself to start.
I decided I could always peel it off if it didn't work out.
That way, we'll be free to enjoy each other in the evenings and on the weekends...crafting, and playing outside, and making slime.
We tried that once.
I am not the "slime-making" kind of mom.
I've realized that I spent too many years in the old house trying to manage the home, keep up with my small business, and being a teacher...without spending enough of my time and energy making memories with my babies.
Happy Weekend, friends! Make it a good one! ❤️?❤️
We picked clothes first, added shoes & accessories, and then thought about any evening activities.
After our piles were made, we would transfer them to the closet and the girls would bring them out and put them into our hallway landing spot each night to prepare for the next day.
One thing I liked about doing it this way is that we had the big "discussion" about specific outfits that either I didn't really agree with or they didn't really agree with on Sunday night. We compromised.
And eventually, we had five full days worth of outfits and items needed ready for the week.
It's awesome to have this discussion on Sunday evening, instead of throughout the week, each morning, in a panic!
The system has always worked pretty well.
In fact, I was kind of sad to see it go when we moved, as the farmhouse is just set up differently.
And let's be honest...the girls are older now.
They can handle getting up in the morning and getting dressed and ready for school in their bedrooms without much intervention from me.
Let's be honest.
It's not always a big fun event to get the kids to do chores or help out around the house.
However, I really feel like it's necessary. I can't always get everything done that needs to be done without help.
Mr. Farmhouse is a great help-mate and helps inside and outside of the house, but sometimes (during hay season...or calving season...or bean-planting season...or...), we need to have a big marathon cleaning day and I need help from the girls.
Over the years, I've realized that the more fun we can make this process, the quicker it gets done and the less likely I am to scream like a crazy person by the end of the day.
A few winters ago, over Christmas break, when I was trying to get the house back in order to get ready for third quarter at school, I had a breakthrough.
I started to make cleaning a game...for all of us.
I started to think about ways we could make our mundane housekeeping tasks a competition, a team event, a game.
Over the last few years, I've come up with several of these "cleaning games".
I usually let the girls decide which one we do for the day.
I thought today I would share them with you so maybe those cleaning days can be a little more enjoyable for everyone involved!
The Disappearing Post-it Notes is one that the girls really like because you can watch the amount of post-it notes dwindle down to those last few tasks and then BOOM...the fridge is empty!
The rule is that the right side of notes has to be empty before they start on the left door.
The left door includes what I call "finishing" tasks. They are all somehow dependent on the ones on the other door. For example, on the right door is "clean out refrigerator" and "load dirty dishes from sink". So on the left door is "run dishwasher". In other words, they need to gather up all the dirty dishes from anywhere in the house before we run the dishwasher. Other "finishing" tasks would include dusting the flat surfaces in the house, sweeping the floors, putting all the clean clothes away that they have folded on some of the other post-it notes.
2. Note Card Flip
Another task-oriented game that we play sometimes is what I have called "Note Card Flip".
Again, I put all of the tasks on note cards. I have a whole set of these that I created a few summers ago that include basically every task that it would take to do a quick deep-clean of the house.
I add anything that needs to be done that day specifically and then I make some bonus "fun" cards.
I always end with a "last card" that is something fun.
Almost always, it involves a slush or shake Sonic.
Basically for me.
Because Sonic's unsweetened raspberry tea is my favorite beverage EVER.
There is an iPad and iPhone app called 30/30 created by Binary Hammer.
I cannot believe how much it helps our productivity level by keeping us on task and focused when we need to get some serious work done.
I use it in my classroom, when I am working on photography edits, and the girls and I use it when we clean.
When the five minutes is up, the app starts the timer for the next task.
We take our list of things we have to get done and add them to the app.
After every 30-40 minutes, we add a 10-minute break right into the app.
So our whole cleaning spree is timed there.
Sometimes, to keep us on task, we add our "lunch break" and anything else that we know will be taking our time that day.
4. Task Competition
The last one we use at our house is one I've never really named until just now.
And "Task Competition" is probably a boring name...you can rename it at your house if you so desire!
I make a list of tasks in black pen.
There is always an uneven number of tasks.
Beside each task, I draw a box.
Each of the older girls picks her own color of marker and I say "go".
They work until the list is completely done.
Every task they get finished with gets the task's box colored in using their individual color.
When all the boxes get colored, the girl with the most boxes colored gets some silly little prize.
Maybe a popsicle, a piece of candy, or a medium drink instead of a small at Sonic (I told you...I have a problem).
These are all ideas of how we try to make cleaning fun at the Newkirk house.
I hope you've gotten some ideas to use in your own homes!
I'd love to hear any other ideas you have for getting kids involved in the home management process!
Feel free to comment below so others can learn from your knowledge!
Thanks for reading, friends! Happy Friday! ❤️