We go in phases with our job charts.  Does anyone else do that?  Some weeks we are just ON IT, and those kids know we mean business.  The keys of the piano stay warm from use, bedrooms are spick and span when the kids leave for school, everyone is at scriptures right at 6:30, dishes get done.  
But then we start to relax.  Gradually the sink stays more full.  The girls trickle in late for scriptures, beds are carelessly thrown together, job charts stare blankly from the wall.  And then some kind of straw breaks the camel’s back…Dave and I get huffy that things aren’t getting done, and we start to rule with an iron fist once more.  We grapple for any ideas to keep this train moving.  Here was my idea lately:

I figured they see that chalk board every single morning as they come out of their bedrooms, that’s just going to whip them into shape lickety-split.  And it does for a day or two.  But then the system needs to be re-worked.  And again after the next try.  And then again and again again.

I think that’s how motherhood is…parenthood in general.  It’s constantly shifting and moving.  One thing will work one week and not the next.  Or one thing will work awesome with one child but will be a giant failure with another.

As I always say, parenthood is not for the weak of heart!

I guess the key is to keep moving.  Keep trying.  Don’t throw in the towel.  Ask for help…reach out to a friend or parent or sibling for advice or help…or most importantly, reach up to God.  Who always knows the way.

I like to compare living the gospel like a stairway going up.  It takes work.  We have to move our “spiritual muscles” and keep them in shape to keep going.  It’s not an escalator we can just stand on and think it’s just going to keep moving us in the right direction.  We have to reach up and move.  We have to let our hearts be open for inspiration…and act on it when we receive it.

And you know what? Parenting in my opinion is so similar that way.  We can’t just stand there and let the systems we have in place just continue to work for us, because they don’t.  At some point they come to a dead end and we have to work at it…take every angle and shift and tantrum and moody teenager outburst and re-work our balance.  We have to keep using those parenting muscles to take those steps to get us where we want to be.

The trick with parenting though (that is different from the gospel analogy), is that those darn kids have free agency.  Ha!  But really, sometimes don’t you think it would be great if we could take away that free agency for a little while in the teenage years?  I guess not much growth would happen that way but boy howdy…

Bottom line is that I think we have to always re-work parenting.  Every age and stage and child and parent for that matter needs so many different things.  So sometimes when I get so frustrated at those empty job charts maybe I need to just look at it as the next challenge…the next “reframe” of my Boggle game (back HERE).  And figure out how to re-work and renew.

It’s ok to have those failures along the way…even the giant ones.  Because that means we’re progressing.  Comfort doesn’t progress.  We pick ourselves up and try again and morph and change along with what needs to be done, and our parenting muscles become stronger and more durable as we go.

Sometimes I just need to remind myself to enjoy the journey of all the ups and downs along the way.  Because this time is too short to be frustrated for long!

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  1. Hi! Love reading your blogs. Love the fact that your family spends time together playing card games. I want to copy that idea. Can you list some of the card games you play please?

  2. This doesn't work for everyone but my kids only have one chore during the school week, but then they do more work on Sat. I also don't mind a completely destroyed bedroom, because I don't have to live in it or clean it. However my kids rooms are tucked away downstairs far from my eyes.

  3. How timely is this post?! I am working today on creating a new chart (the simple tried and true wheel chart) because what we were doing was just getting lax and worn out and just wasn't working. I don't know how well my almost 4-year-old will catch on, but here's hoping! When did you start assigning your little ones jobs? I can't remember what it says in the Entitlement Trap. Also, I like your escalator comparison here 'cause it's so accurate. No coasting or riding things out in life!

  4. Your schedule, kids included, is constantly changing. I think that is the real trouble with the charts not lasting more than a few weeks. It’s not a worry. They are constantly improving themselves. They all seem to occupy themselves.

  5. I feel the struggle! And it's not just families and kids that change, so much in our society is changing. Great, flexible, and long-enduring parents more needed than ever. You're doing great Shawni 🙂

  6. I think it's the lack of consistency that is the issue. Your kids know they can ignore the charts and chores for a period of time with no consequence, then they know you and/or Dave is going to blow up and they have to start back again.. for a time, until you zone out again… They have it figured out.

    1. I think the parents are as busy as the kids. Maybe rooms can wait until later in the day to be picked up? Maybe they only need to be picked up 3 times a week. If they aren’t eating in their so what if a bed is made at bedtime. Who is going to be in there? Maybe let go of the expectations? Maybe everyone drops everything they are doing and straighten things up a bit for 10 minutes before bed or after scriptures and forget the assignments and grids?

    2. I agree. As they get older, just make them responsible for their own laundry and their own rooms. Everyone chips in on the common areas. Or hire a cleaning lady, it's not like you can't afford one!

      Also, agree that the adults are the reason the kids are so "busy". They are ingrained from birth to participate in anything and everything, with not a lot of down time. Even their vacations are not relaxing times, they are structured to the minute with activities and weird homework.

    3. I agree. As they get older, just make them responsible for their own laundry and their own rooms. Everyone chips in on the common areas. Or hire a cleaning lady, it's not like you can't afford one!

      Also, agree that the adults are the reason the kids are so "busy". They are ingrained from birth to participate in anything and everything, with not a lot of down time. Even their vacations are not relaxing times, they are struct

    4. I shut the door on my kids rooms during the week. They are expected to do their laundry (once they become a teenager), practice their music and do their kitchen jobs during the week. But then Saturday comes and their rooms and other jobs must be done before they go out and hang out with friends. Our weeks are busy as I have 5 kids but our home needs to be orderly, not perfect but everyone helps and gets the house in good shape.

  7. Hey Shawni! Love the idea with the chalkboard and can't tell you how much I agree that you just have to keep moving and trying in different ways. It's an ongoing project like columbia house that you continuously keep improving and coming up with new ways to "re-work" your approach. Hope to get my little ones on a job chart. The fact that you have one is a big win.

  8. I haven't read any blog posts from any blog in months and then I randomly read this. The timing could not have been more perfect for me. Thanks for sharing. It spoke to me in ways that I really needed today.

  9. Been working so hard to re-read your old chore charts, allowance, and motivation posts as well as underlining, studying, and preparing a slam-dunk Family Home Evening that includes our kiddos giving their ideas (hopefully) and then sharing how they will be earning their allowance and how it will be dispersed. Good times! I am so grateful for your posts! So glad I can be a mom and the determination it takes to bring up responsible, hard-working adults. 😀 –Melanie

  10. This post Shawni is SO true and you are definitely not alone in this. I'm constantly reworking my mothering. Amen to everything. Each trial brings new insight and growth and trying new ideas over and over again! And vdg family Melanie – so fun to see you my sister in law who I ADORE who lives across the continent from me!

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