Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

As school and work pick back up, I realized that I would have a hard time keeping up with the house cleaning.  We clean the kitchen regularly, at least wiping down counters and washing dishes every night, and I spend a little over an hour each weekend making sure all the bathrooms are clean (read about my bathroom routine here).  Laundry also gets done about once a week, with my son preferring to do his own, which cuts down on the number of loads I have to do.

But the one place we tend to fall down is when it comes to dusting, vacuuming, and dry mopping.  I usually wait until either we are having company, or it gets too gross to stand.  My spouse doesn’t like to do any of those chores any more than I do, but is bugged by it all the same, and suggested that we hire a cleaning lady or cleaning service.  In speaking to a friend, I found that a cleaning service would set us back at least a couple hundred dollars a month, and I really feel uncomfortable giving strangers keys to my house.  But what was the alternative?  I don’t mind doing SOME cleaning on the weekend, but I don’t want to blow my entire weekend doing more work!

My kids both get a fairly small allowance since we pay for most of their needs including gas for my son and the occasional movie or football ticket for my daughter.  My son makes extra money walking a neighbor’s dog, mowing the lawn, and picking up after our dog on a weekly basis.  My daughter always felt a little put out that she didn’t have a way to make extra money like her brother.  So, I thought, why pay someone else to clean my house when I can hire my daughter?  Some people might feel it should be a kids chore, either associated with allowance or not.  But I think they approach it a little more positively when it is something they choose to do to earn money, rather than something they are being forced to do as a chore.  Both kids understand that if they don’t do the job well, they’ll either have to redo it in order to get paid, or they’ll lose their job, just like in the real world.  We also have them deposit half their “pay” into a savings account so they can build up a nice nest egg for a worthwhile purchase, maybe a down payment on a car when they are a young adult.

So today I walked my daughter through her cleaning routine.  I will continue to do bathrooms and laundry, but she will be paid for a weekly cleaning of the family room, dining room, living room, and office.  Her tasks include dusting, washing all glass tables (we have 5!) and the glass on the front and back doors which the dog slobbers on, vacuuming the carpet, and dry mopping the hardwood floors.  Even in the training phase, it took her only about an hour.  She will be paid $10, half of which goes to the bank.  When she was done, I asked her if she thought it went ok and whether it was too hard, and she said it was fine.

So I am hoping this will work out.  My daughter is pretty diligent about most things, but has been known to decide things are a hassle and give them up a little easier than her brother, who watches the lawn like a hawk, willing the grass to grow so he can make a little extra money:).  Both kids know that if they put one of the jobs off too long, it will be done by a parent and then they won’t get paid.  Never been a problem with my son, so I am hoping it becomes a habit for my daughter.

For now, though, I have a new cleaning lady, and I feel good about helping my daughter learn some new skills and make some extra money.  A friend even suggested that if my daughter gets good at it, she might hire herself out to some neighbors who might not want or need the skills of a fully-fledged cleaning person.  We’ll see how things go in the next few months and then I might suggest that to my daughter.

Sigh, now if only I could convince a kid to go weed my flowers beds!

Wishing you a lovely weekend and a clean and organized house,




Read Full Post »

Bloggers sometimes get a chance to offer their readers some interesting giveaways, courtesy of generous sponsors.  This week, I am going to run my first ever giveaway, for a $25 Sam’s Club Gift card, courtesy of  General Mills and Sam’s Club, through MyBlogSpark.

They are running a promotion while supplies last to give you 150 box tops for your school when you sign up for a Plus Membership.  Plus Memberships are much more expensive than the regular memberships, but you are supposed to receive discounts and benefits to make it worthwhile.  I could not tell you if it is worth it yet, since I only have a regular membership, but I will soon get a chance to try an upgrade and I am looking forward to seeing if it is worth it.   Look for an update in the future regarding how my Plus membership is working.

Through the end of the month, you can also find many General Mills products at Sam’s with 6 Box Tops on them.

Even if you don’t have kids, or kids in a school that uses Box Tops, I am sure you can find someone who can use them.  I am saving mine to give to a friend who still has kids in grade school.


To enter, leave a comment below telling me your favorite reason for shopping at Sam’s Club.  Contest will close on Thursday, August 12 at 11.59PM EST.    One reader will be selected through random number generation to receive a $25 Sam’s Club gift card.   I will announce the winner on Friday, August 13 by 5pm EST and contact them by email.  The winner will have 48 hours to contact me and provide their mailing details or their prize will be forfeit and I will select a new winner.  One entry allowed per household.  Must be at least 18 years old to enter.  US Entries only.   All comments must be approved, so please be patient in waiting to see your comment posted.

Required disclosure:  The gift card has generously been provided by Sam’s Club, General Mills, and MyBlogSpark and will be fulfilled directly by MyBlogSpark.  As part of this promotion, they have generously provided me with a $25 gift card for myself as well as an upgrade to a Plus Membership.  Any opinions expressed here are my own.

Read Full Post »

Once again I must apologize for the regular lack of posts.  Week before last I was fighting off a cold (thank you dear daughter) and this week has just been busy.  But I wanted to share a funny tip that my husband recently came up with.

What parent doesn’t complain about kids who waste too much toilet paper?  My mom used to nag about that and “wasting bandaids.”  Go figure.  When I was on my own, it was a thrill to buy nice soft TP and use as much as I wanted and to feel free to stick a bandaid on whatever I darn well pleased.  But then my kids came along and behold, bandaids and TP disappeared at the drop of a hat.

Another problem we seemed to have was when toilet paper rolls got near the end, they sometimes spontaneously unrolled into a small heap on the floor.  My husband came up with a simple cure for the unrolling problem which also helps with using too much TP.   When we put a fresh roll on the spindle, we squeeze the sides enough to turn the cardboard tube from a circle to an oval.  This prevents the spontaneous unrolling but also adds a small bit of resistance as you pull on the roll – not enough to be annoying but enough to get you to slow down and think, whoa, I have enough TP before you get a gigantic wad in your hand.

It’s a small thing, but I think it helps.

I hope you are having a good weekend.

Best regards,


Read Full Post »

When my son was in 4th grade, his teacher told all the parents that she had told the students something like – “Your parents have already passed 4th grade.  Remember that this is your material to learn, not theirs.”  It’s easy to want to help our kids when they are struggling and that is great, but we have to remember that they won’t learn if we do all the work for them.  That same teacher commented to me later in the year that she knew my son did his own math homework because he always did better on the tests than he did on his homework, whereas some kids that were doing great on homework bombed the tests and it turned out that their parents were “helping” just a bit too much.   We were both very aware of my son’s talent for zipping through homework so we were not surprised that he would do better when it “counted.”

When my kids are struggling, I try to ask them questions to lead them down the right path, or start them on the first few steps.  Yesterday, my son asked for help with physics.  I got a piece of scratch paper, read the problem with him, named a few variables and set up the first equation.  He immediately said, “ahhhhh,” grabbed the paper and headed off.  I try to pause as I do things like this with him so I can hear the “aha” moment and know when to stop. Sometimes just talking through the problem statement with them can help.

This wraps up education tips for the week.  No idea of a theme yet for next week so let me know if you have any ideas.

Best regards,


Read Full Post »

Start as early as possible training elementary school kids to do their homework when they get home from school or soon after.  I know scheduling conflicts can make this tough, but if you’ve ever had a frustrated, tired kid trying to do their math at 9pm at night after sports practice, music lessons, and dinner, you know that high levels of frustration can go with doing homework this late.

When my kids were in elementary school, they got home between 3 and 4pm, depending on the grade.  They’d usually relax for 15 minutes to a half an hour, then get busy on their homework.  Because it was fresh in their minds and they weren’t too tired, they usually were able to get done in a reasonable time.  They were then able to relax and enjoy the rest of the evening and so were their parents!  Now that they are older, it is second nature to get homework out of the way early and they usually don’t have to be nagged about it, which is a plus.

If you have difficulty finding time for homework before dinner, ask yourself whether your current schedule is working for you.  It is great to expose kids to lots of opportunities like sports, music, and arts, but it is also easy to over-schedule them.  Consider limiting participation to one or two things a season.  I have always felt that a kid’s biggest jobs are to do well in school and enjoy being a kid, in that order.  Anything else has to fit in after sufficient time is left for the first two items.   Our kids play two instruments each, so we work around weekly music lessons and band events, but I think we would all go crazy and school work would suffer if we were constantly running to practices and other organized activities every day.  Naturally, your family will have to find what works for you.  But do consider whether you are leaving enough “prime time” for your kids to get home work done.  Helping them find this time is a great step to helping them do well in school.

Let me know your thoughts.

Best regards,


Read Full Post »

I think kids are more inclined to be ready to get to work at school if they start their day well-rested, well-fed, and not stressed from a hectic scramble to get ready for school.  How to accomplish this?

First off, bed times, even for older kids.  We have a rule that through middle school, kids must be in bed by 10pm and in high school by 11pm.  Before Middle School, bedtime was between 8 and 9 pm depending on age.  If they are really not tired, they can read in their room for up to a half hour.

Second, getting out of bed should be routine and happen fairly easily, but not jarringly.  I wake my kids up by beginning to speak to them as I enter their room, maybe turn a light on using a dimmer, and sit down on their bed to tap them on the shoulder and start to wake them up.  If they are still sleepy, I might ask a question – what do you want for breakfast?  They have to be at least half awake to answer.   Most important, don’t leave the room until they are up and moving.  I may occasionally have to turn down covers to get people moving, but do it nicely – no one wants fighting or trouble in the morning.

Breakfast is important.  Nothing big or fancy is necessary, but they need fuel.  My kids might have some milk and cereal or a bagel or some yogurt.  Occasionally an egg or some toast.  I sit and eat with one or the other of the kids (they are usually not quite on the same schedule).  I have enjoyed this quiet time with them since grade school.

Leave yourself enough time so eating and getting ready is not rushed.  If you have a slow poke, keep your eye on the clock and check on them while they are brushing teeth, etc., so they don’t fall behind.

A good start to the day is nice for your kids but nice for you too.  Who wants alot of stress first thing in the morning?

Best regards,


Read Full Post »

This week’s theme revolves around ideas to help your kids excel at school at any age.  A tiny, tiny bit of bragging here – I am blessed and priviledged to have two bright children who do really well in school.  How did I get them?  Was it Nature, Nurture, or just plain Luck?  Actually, I think it is a bit of all three.  But once we’ve got ’em, about the only one of the three we can address is the nurture part.

Read, read, read to your kids starting at as young an age as you can.  We read board books to them over and over again when they were babies and read every night before bed from about age 2 well into grade school.  Even when they could read on their own, I would read to them at bedtime.  It was soothing and calming to both kid and parent and let them enjoy the ebb and flow of words without the effort of reading themselves.

We occasionally used to read out loud as a family, taking turns.  We went through a whole Harry Potter book this way.  To this day we have this crazy Christmas tradition of reading aloud Santa’s Evil Twin by Dean Koontz.  It is a picture book and epic poem and each person reads a page, then passes the book on.  My kids think a lot of things I come up with are corny, but for some reason that tradition is one they like to maintain.

We bought them as many books as we could and checked even more out from the library.  I really think all the early reading helped both kids develop good vocabularies, understand the structure of grammar, and helped them learn to read on their own.

Let them see you reading.  My husband and I both read a lot.  The kids see us reading fiction or other books (my husband is partial to things like a big fat Einstein biography and I like all kinds of self help books).  I keep a stack of magazines on the coffee table and read whenever I have a few spare moments.    We get a daily paper and the kids see us read it most mornings.  As soon as they could read enough to read newspaper articles, we started passing them the paper when there was an article of interest – “Hey, they wrote about your school in the paper….” or “There’s an article here about your trombone and guitar teachers….”  It helps them see that reading is a normal adult activity, not just something you do at school.

My daughter continued to be a voracious reading right into her teen years, but like many boys, my son would only do school reading after about 3rd or 4th grade.  Not long after that, he begged me to take him to go see a thriller/horror movie that was coming out at the theaters.  It just so happened that I had read the book the movie was based on and knew it was action packed.  I told my son I would take him to the movie if he read the book first.  He started to read the book just to see the movie, but soon he was hooked and devoured the book.  Turned out the movie was only VERY loosely based on the book, but he enjoyed both.  I realized I could get him to read books by certain authors in the action/adventure/thriller/horror genres.  My husband also managed to get him hooked on the Anne Rice vampire series as a teenager.

Some good authors I like for teen boys with good reading skills who need to be lured back into reading:

Anne Rice vampire series

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs (there is a movie version of one of their books (Relic) that is pretty good and my son liked both)

James Rollins

Jeff Long

Kids’ interest in reading can ebb and flow, but just keep giving them opportunities.  What are your thoughts on kids and reading?  Let me know!

Best regards,


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »