Tim and I have turned into broken records. Can I even use that metaphor anymore? We have become those parents who say the same things over and over again but expect different results. We have officially started to exhibit insane behavior, so it is time to stop the madness!
Our children have responsibilities every morning and night; these expectations have not changed, and we have trained them on how we desire to have these things done. Here is a checklist we use to stop the cycle of bad or chaotic behavior: discuss expectations, train how to do the tasks, reinforce with praise and disciple with consequences, post expectations visually for all to see.
Good news is that proactive parenting helps. Bad news is these are people in training. They will not succeed everyday. Do adults succeed in fulfilling all of their obligations everyday? Let’s face it. Sometimes we can be the most demanding bosses of our children: come when called every time, drop what you are doing to listen and obey, put the family’s needs over your own, follow all the rules with a happy heart, be joyful and respectful in correction or criticism, remember all the time what the rules are, give your best ability at all times. These are goals to aspire to but seldom possible to attain.
Systems can help families succeed in organizing the chaos of a family. They can lead to fair and impartial treatment of several different personalities living together. They are not fool-proof. Our hearts are foolish and we act like fools sometimes. A system needs to be grounded in grace in order to train kids. We don’t reach goals everyday. Some days we can’t because of external circumstances, and others days we sabotage our own efforts. Hunger, emotion, hormones, lack of sleep and daily stress wear on our ability to measure up to the goal. To quote a pirate movie regarding processes or regulations, make them “more of what you would call guidelines than actual rules.” Processes are helpful as long as we do not lose sight of the needs of our family by becoming enslaved in them. Stopping the madness of a busy house does not have to involve abuse through guilt and shame.
Here are some organization systems that work for families of differing ages
Magnet board: Children move picture magnets from sun side to moon side. Example: picture of toothbrush gets moved to sun when it was done in the morning and back to moon when done at night. One magnet for all expectations: pick up toys, pray, make bed, etc.
Before you leave checklist: List of things to do or have before you leave room or house. We have this on the back door so I do not have to yell it through the house.
Before you leave the car checklist: This can be posted on the door or dashboard so things are not left in the car that are needed elsewhere.
Computer, Phone or I-touch Checklist: Kids can input their lists and store them on their devices. There are even apps that help with this and alarms to remind them in the data section of their devices.
Books we like: Families where Grace is in Place by Jeff VanVonderen
Websites with ideas we like: Responsibility chart ideas for kids that read, responsibility/behavior/reward chart on magnet dry erase, routine charts for preschoolers, morning routine ideas for working parents, morning routine chart video