We are working on a few things in our family.

One of them is that we are trying to create some good habits.

Sure, we’ve got some good ones down:

We work before play on Saturdays and we try our best to read together at night. We have family movie night on Fridays and we talk about our “happies” and “sads” around the dinner table.

My kids almost always make their beds and make sure their rooms are spotless in the mornings. It started because we made a rule a couple years ago that they couldn’t hang out with friends after school if that part of their jobs wasn’t done before school…and that thought scared the pants off of them…they LOVE their friends. So now, whether they have lessons or free time after school to play, they still make their beds and clean their rooms before they leave in the mornings. It’s become a good habit.

But in saying this, please know that boy howdy, do we ever have some not-so-good habits!

The worst one these days is that Dave and I have been so frustrated about the amount of STUFF our kids leave strewn around the house. Seriously. I swear they think we live in a barn. And I don’t like to be constantly nagging them to put things away. Especially because I do it so much that they’ve started to completely tune me out.

So last week we got serious. We instigated “Black Marks” in our family. Elle drew up a chart for us with everyone’s name, and we determined that every time someone leaves something out they get a black mark by their name on the chart. The rule is that when you get up to five black marks, no friends the next day (I tell you, the friend thing works like a charm in our family).

And let me tell you something: it’s like those black marks are pure magic. Either that, or someone kidnapped our real kids and gave us some that actually pick up after themselves because man alive, you should see the difference. So far no one’s lost their friend privileges. It makes Dave and I look at each other with our jaws dropped to the floor it’s such a huge change.

I could get used to this negative-thing-to-create-positive-results thing.

We are also working on making some of our habits into righteous traditions. I read this talk by Cheryl C. Lant a while ago and I loved it. It’s really made me think twice about the things we do in our family.

She says, “I would invite all of us to take a moment to reflect on the traditions in our lives and how they might be affecting our families. Our traditions of Sabbath day observance, family prayer, family scripture study, service and activity in the Church, as well as patterns of respect and loyalty in the home, will have a great effect on our children and on their future. If our parenting is based on the teachings of the scriptures and of the latter-day prophets, we cannot go wrong. If every time there is a challenge our hearts turn first and always to our Father in Heaven for direction, we will be in a safe place. If our children know where we stand and we always stand on the Lordโ€™s side, we know we are where we need to be.”

I want so much for my kids to know “where to stand” when tough decisions come up. I want them to have a strong base so that they can not be afraid to stand up for what’s right and good in the world. And I love that this talk helped me remember that the key ingredients in building up that solid foundation for them is what we do in our family…our righteous traditions in day to day life.

I’m trying to start some of my own personal “righteous traditions” too. I told my family last Sunday to see if they could notice any new things I’m doing this week to start better habits. When I asked this morning if anyone had noticed anything new, they all gave me the blank stare. Hmmm. I guess I better step it up a notch.

I guess whether they realize it or not, righteous traditions and good habits are seeping in.

And I like that. Especially if the new habits creeping in can balance out some of the horrible ones we have going on around here.

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  1. Shawni, check my blog for the recent post A weeklong experiment. You will feel my pain!! My kids don't have issues with the bins of barbies or ponies or the making the beds or whatever….it is the trails of kid crud everywhere!!! It was making me bonkers!!! I saved it all in a laundry basket for a week. I have tried a "buy it back basket" but that fizzled. I tried a basket for them to put away daily but I I I was still doing the picking it up off the floor/sofa/counter/etc. I am working on a solution right now too. I just don't know what it is. Here is the thing – I showed the girls the basket and then put it in my room. They haven't missed a single thing. They haven't asked for anything from the basket. My friend suggested I just dump the whole thing in the trash. I may but first I will pilfer the good stuff, like the $80 Bitty Baby! Can't wait to see how the black marks work for for you. I just am not consistent about keeping up on charts.

  2. So, you're saying if I move my kids into a real neighborhood with fun friends to play with, they will pick up?

    Well, then…that's it. I'm moving!

  3. First off, I love your blog and perspective on motherhood!

    This morning, I stumbled onto your photography tips online, which lead me to your book (which i just ordered =) which lead me to do a post on my findings…

    Soon my friend Amy (Gregory) posted that you actually live right here in the valley, and not far from me-at that. How awesome! I love your perspective with photography and your family is beautiful. You are a blessed woman! I am waiting in anticipation for the secrets of motherhood book!

    Any tips for a momma who just had her fourth baby in 7 years? I'm still swimming my way to the top =) Yiikes!! Congrats on your accomplishments, wow!! So inspiring for me.

  4. We do something similar to the black marks. We have a chart on our bulletin board and each child starts out with $1 allowance at the beginning of the week. For each item I pick up of theirs, they get a tally mark on their chart, and each tally mark subtracts 5 cents from their allowance. I call it "paying the maid" to clean up their stuff. This works great for some of my kids. Others don't really care about the money. Good luck with all of those great goals! And I agree with your earlier post about comments. Sometimes it gets to be too much and you need a little computer break. I know I do.

  5. Thank you for this post. It is very helpful. It's one of the reasons I love blogging.

    I do the three strikes rule at my house (as in strike one, strike two, strike three) when my kids do things they shouldn't. (i.e. yell at someone, leave their stuff out where it shouldn't be, don't follow directions, tell a fib, etc). I say "Ok. That is strike one!" (I don't actually strike them. eek.) Strike three means they lose a privilege. Whatever means the most to them…friend privilege, game privilege, dessert privilege, tv privilege, etc. I started the strike thing four or five years ago at bedtime when there were 2 million reasons why they couldn't stay in bed. I was at my wits end. I tried lot of things to keep them in bed to no avail. Then, I started putting their stuffed animals in "jail" but pretty soon I had confiscated ALL their stuffed animals and they still weren't listening. They would come out and say "I have to tell you something" then I would say "Ok but that is strike one". Strike three meant they lost a privilege for the next day. And, it worked. They could still "tell me something" or "get a drink of water" or "go potty" but they could only do 2 things once it was bedtime and then they would have to get strike three if they did it again. It caused them to think ahead for what they needed and do those things before bedtime. Yay for a method that worked. But then I found it applied to other behavioral stuff and adapted it.

  6. Thanks for trying to raise good kids. Thanks for trying to choose the right. Thanks for sharing it! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for letting us chat about it in the comments without you worrying about having to write back. ๐Ÿ™‚

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