Responsible kids was the furthest thing from our minds when Rich and I were college sweethearts. Twenty years and three kids later, we have dedicated our lives to one another and to our children. Along the way, we've learned a thing or two about raising responsible kids.
Uh oh, where will we store all our stuff??
The home we bought (and still live in) when we were newlyweds has minimal storage. No garage, no basement, no attic. I suppose we could store things in the crawlspace, but there are spiders, so that's not going to happen.
I bemoaned this at first, but I have come to see the benefits of
keeping it simple
. Living in a relatively small house forced us to make decisions about our stuff that we would have been able to put off for years, otherwise.
My vision came from a children's book!
When I think about it, though, I have always found the adage of “a place for everything and everything in its place” to be deeply satisfying. But how to do that with kids? I wondered about that ever since I was a little girl.
Did you ever read the children's book The Country Bunny by DuBose Heyward? Mama Bunny has 21 babies – and you thought your life was tough! She gives each of them a job (laundry, cooking, etc.) and everybody works together to make their household is a smooth running machine. She was absolutely my first mentor for raising responsible kids.
This story deeply ingrained in my mind and heart the idea that kids can and should contribute to the household by doing chores. It's cute and has a powerful message that has stuck with me to this day.
Okay, fast forward a few years...
We now have three wonderful boys and have, from the beginning, practiced principles of shared work to keep the household going. Everyone in the family (well maybe over the age of 3) is capable of doing
. I believe the kids get as much out of participating and contributing to the family as I do.
Soon, the proof was in the pudding.
Over time, many friends commented on our home and our kids. How do you get your kids to help out so much? In a nutshell, I can boil it down to three important goals:
put your kids to work
have fun together
Believe me, these are ongoing goals that require ongoing work on consistency and keeping clutter down.
Recently, though, with ages 6, 8 and 11 years old, I am really starting to see the fruits of our labor pay off in big ways. All my kids do their own laundry and cook (or help cook) once a week. They pick up their stuff and keep their rooms (mostly)
(most of the time). As they get older, they need less nagging to do their chores.
We homeschool, so they are home all the time and use the space all day long. At the end of the day, the house can be pretty trashed – but we've developed a
system of checklists
to bring it back under control. We've even created a specific homeschool checklists for school work.
So, give it a try!
We started writing online articles based on these ideas, and now we're putting our energy into Chores and Checklists. I truly believe in these systems and I hope you can find some gems on this site to help you raise your own responsible kids, too.