I have seen some things on the web and on Pinterest that people have obviously take your idea and changed it a little bit. Are you ok with people using your ideas (things for kids, decorating, mission statements, etc)?

Absolutely. That’s one of the reasons I put them here 🙂 Of course I don’t want people taking pictures or things that I write and calling it their own, but I love sharing ideas whether they are mine or great ones I’ve gathered from others.

I know you write out list of chores on Saturday morning, but i wondered if you have a starting time, and how long does it usually take the kids to do their chores? Also do u have a Saturday friend rule?

In an ideal world, I try to print out the job charts and leave them on the counter on Friday night. That way when the kids wake up in the morning they can get going on them before they start on anything else. (These are all printed on their own piece of paper and yes we do rotate them every so often…more about these charts and Lucy’s too back here.)

It can take anywhere from an hour to all day long depending on how long the dawdle. They are usually pretty motivated to get them done quick because they want to hang with friends. Usually we require that I check every job before the kids head out to do their own thing. Most of the time they’ve forgotten something and I make them re-do it. I love having the satisfaction of having a clean house and then getting to enjoy the rest of the day in whatever way we choose.

Now let’s get real for a minute: I say “in an ideal world” because let’s face it, Saturdays are crazy around here (as I know they are for most people with a slew of kids). There isn’t really a regular Saturday, especially when kids get older. There are Saturdays where we’re running from the crack of dawn and so many when I’ve been out of town lately (which makes me appreciate “ordinary Saturdays” like precious gems). But the job charts are pretty much our “constant.” The kids know them by heart by now and they know that even if the day gets jumbled up with different activities, there’s no relaxing and friend-hanging-out until those jobs are done.

We don’t have a Saturday friend rule because every Saturday is so completely different. Sometimes we are scrambling to get from one sports thing to the next, other times the kids are strewn across the neighborhood with different friends. It just kind of depends on the day.

Can you tell me about your ‘house cleaning’ schedule. I am a bit of a clean freak, but then I find myself cleaning all day and not doing spending a much time with the kids as i would like. But i really do not function well in a messy house, and with smallish children, i clean mess from mess to mess. Do you clean after they go to bed? How often do you mop floors, vacuum, change beds etc? HELP hahah

Well, see those Saturday jobs up there? They help a lot. But day in and day out we have other jobs. The kids rotate doing the dishes, clearing and sweeping. And we (meaning specifically Dave 🙂 is really good at following through that they do those things. Grace and Claire know they have to have the kitchen sparkling before they leave for school. Lucy thinks she is the master-sweeper. Max takes the trash out regularly. Everyone has to make their beds and clean their rooms before they leave for school. Yes, there are occasional days when they forget, but they have learned that I’m pretty serious about not letting them do anything fun after school if their stuff isn’t done in the mornings.

Yes, the kids are good helpers and we really to take pride in training them well. (Read this book if you want tips on teaching kids to clean. It is amazing!! I wrote more of my thoughts about it back here.) Even very small children can be responsible for keeping things kept up around the house and I think it’s SO good for them to have that responsibility.

BUT, I think it’s important to disclose that I don’t take pictures of our house when it’s a disaster (and believe me, it is that way quite often) and I have some cleaning helpers (aside from my kids:) Man alive, I adore those ladies. I talked about them in more detail at the end of this post back here. We scrimp by on some other things so that we can have them come and help and I know that is a humongous luxury and the best gift I can imagine. Dave is such a neat-freak (and I mean that in a nice way) so it saves some serious grumpiness on his part to have things in order as much as possible. But I’m always trying to find the right balance on how much help to get and how much to push the kids. Right now we are taking a little break from having our helpers come because our kids are getting too relaxed about cleaning. This week I’ve had “chore lists” waiting for them when they get home from school and I love getting them deep cleaning more often. We’ll see how this shakes things up.

I, like you, don’t want cleaning to get in the way of nurturing, but I think teaching children to clean is one of the best ways to nurture that there is. My favorite thing is working hard on something together and helping the kids feel the satisfaction of a job well done.

I have a question for you for your next go around of Q and A…We live in quite a rural community and the school system does not seem to have a good rep! My oldest will need to start school next year and I am fearful for so many reasons. He is a smart boy. I have never considered home-schooling until we moved here, but am seriously considering it now. I want my boys to be able to develop in every aspect of their lives, and of course I just want to do what will be best for them. Anyway, my question is what is your take on home-schooling? Obviously your kids are in public school, but do you have an opinion?!

My opinion about home schooling is back in the middle of this post.

I am doing Joy School with my daughter and I am curious as to who is singing the Joy School songs. Some songs sound older with the piano playing and the younger kids singing- could it be you and your siblings when you were younger?!?!

Totally. Growing up, us “big kids” used to get to stay up a little later than the “babies” and sit around the piano and sing Joy School songs. My Mom would be at the piano and my Dad would occasionally add in funny animal sound effects while holding the recording microphone. My kids get so delighted listening to those old songs. (More about Joy School on the side bar.)

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  1. Okay, I have a question for your next Q&A (or whenever you get to it): I have 3 kids (#4 on the way) and it seems that whenever I want to spend some quality time with one child, the other one (the 3rd is still pretty young) will whine and complain that it's not fair. It kind of sucks the joy out of it for me, and I feel like I'm constantly pulled in all directions and no one is ever happy. My kids seem to have this hugely emotional reaction to how unfair the world is, and I don't know how to teach them to have a positive attitude and know their time will come. Any suggestions??

  2. Oh, and to Inspiration Station, my parents didn't ever do home schooling, but they counted some of our travels kind of as "schooling." Their motto was "Don't ever let schooling interfere with your education" which I have adopted as one of my favs. too.

  3. Brilliant Q & A's again.

    Just one question: when you say "clean" a room does that mean tidying it? Here in the UK to clean a room means dusting & hoovering it etc.

    Sorry, I just get a bit confused what clean means in the US:)

    The chore lists are a great idea. Have you ever done them on another day apart from a Saturday?

  4. Hi Shawni… I love recommendations for parenting books (I just ordered my copy of The Parenting Breakthrough… exciting!), but I don't have time to read too many parenting books. I was wondering if you have a short list of your favorites… parenting books that have really inspired you and given practical/usable advice. I'm thinking five books or less. Thanks.

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