People, they have lots of questions for me

Hi Chris, I am a mother of 4 ages 3 boys-9 months, 3, 6, and a 9 yr. old girl (who thinks she is 25). I cannot seem to find a plan and stick to it. We have done so many charts and such, but honestly I just want them to carry their own weight and behave most of the time. I find myself at night wondering what I can do to really make the house run a little smoother and have the kids really take a more active roll in keeping the house clean (this is done on most occasions, but it takes a lot of negotiating before they finally do something).

Anyway, I was just looking for a little advice in this department when you have some extra time (ha ha).I think the key to having any chore system work is to stick with it. Even though that sounds like such trite and easy advice, we all know that it is very easy to let things slide and the next thing you know your kids aren’t cleaning up their own stuff, mom is feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and the children are balking at helping out.

In my house we are a team. I tell my children that if they all help out we can do the things that need to be done more quickly and then have time for other fun things. Are there times that they refuse to help or stall? Of course, they are children not trained circus animals.

But the consequences of not helping are logical, natural consequences. Want me to play a game? Sorry I had to clean up the entire kitchen alone and now it is too late.

You didn’t want to pick your Legos up off of the floor? Sorry, they are now inside the vacuum if you want them you should go sort through the debris in the canister and retrieve them.

Children have to be shown how to do household tasks many times before they are ready to do it themselves. Telling your nine year old to clean up the family room will not mean the same thing to her as it does to you. Sending her off to with the order to “Clean Up!” without instruction will just result in frustration for both of you.

Ask me how I know this, better yet, don’t ask, just look at my gray hair.

Break the chore down into small manageable pieces and do it with her until she knows exactly what to do. At first it may seem like it is more trouble than it is worth, but if you stick it out the payoff will be there, for both of you.

Children like to please us. They like to feel important and like a contributing member of the team. So above all praise, praise, praise. Tell them what a good job they did, overlook the things that weren’t done exactly how you would like them. A little positive reinforcement goes a long way.

Good luck! And the next time my head threatens to spin around on my shoulders and pea soup to come spewing out of my mouth, I am going to try to remember my own advice.


Hi Chris,I just recently discovered your blog…love it!
I was just wondering, what kind of camera do you use? Your pictures are beautiful (so are the kids, even though they are full of arsenic and covered in deadly DEET…sheez!)

Thank you.I use a Kodak Z740. I am happy with it and the picture quality. It isn’t an expensive camera and is no Nikon D70 or Canon Rebel, but for taking pictures of the children I have no complaints. And you can hardly see the children’s phosphorescent glow or third arm that is sprouting out of their backs.


Sometimes, people email me answers to the burning questions I have, like is there a cream to take care of wrinkles and blemishes at the same time?

Olay’s anti-blemish anti-wrinkle moisturizer I’¬íve been using it daily. Not bad!

I will have to try this. Thanks!

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