The new year organisation and tidy-up continues…

Christmas has come and gone and left behind lots of new toys and belongings to store and old ones to be sorted out and passed on. The spring clean and cupboard empty continues throughout the house. (My husband thinks I’m nesting – I think I’m just getting the house under control again before school starts up and a new baby makes these projects all but impossible!)

The previous year’s projects, papers, drawings, paintings and crafts need to be sorted, chucked or saved. Some of the methods we use to keep precious projects under control are outlined below.

Desks/Ledges: Each child has a designated ledge, windowsill, shelf or desk for displaying models, junk modelling and any other bulky items they have built. When the area is full, they have to decide for themselves what comes down. No mean Mummy throwing out things they love, they make all the culling choices for themselves.

Digital photographs: To make the transition to the bin easier, we photograph the models with the digital camera and print them out to be added to their scrapbooking albums or personal homeschool diary writing books so they have a permanent record.

Pinboards: The children’s rooms have pinboards for displaying their artwork and other projects. When they are full and they want to add a new item something must go into the bin or move to their workboxes. A limit of one item per child is displayed on the fridge at any one time otherwise the forest of paperwork on there gets quickly out of control.

Workboxes: Each person in the family has an A3 box with lid that we long ago covered and decorated with coloured contact. Throughout the year, all paperwork that is not on display (other than homeschool work) is placed here if the children want to keep it. Even Mummy and Daddy have a workbox for all the pictures, paintings, crafts and cards given to us. We show they are valued by keeping them in our special place and try to remember to date them as they go in. As the children’s boxes get filled, they empty them out and only put the most precious items back in again, throwing out the rest. After some time has passed it is easier for them to be more objective about what is and isn’t precious. EVERYTHING is precious when they have just finished it!

House Tidy and Spring Clean Continues…

Sorting the cutlery is one of the first responsibilities we give to our children, usually just after the age of two.

As part of our spring clean week and before the new year really takes off we usually sit down and take a look at our responsibility (chore) system and evaluate how that is working for us. This year, with the twins not yet ready to take on any formal responsibilities, nothing will be changing and our job allocation will stay the same.

We have used several different chore systems over the years, all of which have worked well for a time. (See this post on chores and responsibilities for  more information on chores, which chores to give what ages and much more.) Here are a couple of chore system ideas:

Index cards: Digital photographs of the chore to be completed are stored in a flip box (photo storage container, lunchbox, Tupperware container or similar.) The child starts at the first card, completes the job and puts the card to the back of the stack. Occasionally a “reward” card will be randomly included and a small treat given.

Upside:

  • Photos give clear indication of what is expected.
  • Mum can see at a glance what they should be doing.
  • Easy to update with new chore cards.

Downside:

  • Children flip through entire box every time before starting to see if there is a treat card included and mope when there isn’t.

Scrub the toilet chore card.

Chore packs: photographs or descriptions of the chores are clipped to the child’s clothing (a lanyard could possibly be used) and the child carries this with them as they work, taking out the finished chore and putting it to the back of the pack until they are complete.

Upside:

  • Photos give clear indication of what is expected.
  • Child doesn’t have to come back to a central area to see what is next.
  • Easy to update with new chore cards.

Downside:

  • Mum can’t see what chore they are up to and if progress is being made.
  • Easy for cards to get tipped out or out of order.

Folding chore card.

Velcro chore picture cards and chart: The child moves the velcro backed picture cards from one side of the chart to the other as they are completed.

Upside:

  • Pictures give clear indication of what is expected.
  • Mum can see at a glance what they should be doing.
  • Motivating to the child as they can see their progress.
  • Easy to update with new chore cards.

Downside:

  • Older children can’t be bothered moving the cards after each chore is complete.
  • With larger numbers of children, these charts take up a bit of room on the fridge.
  • The velcro backed cards make a great sound when they are ripped off and are very attractive to toddlers who like to rip them on and off and lose them in the process!

    Doing the folding??? Jock and knicker hats are all the rage.

Laminated chore charts: These have spaces next to each chore for the child to cross off or tick that each job has been completed.

Upside:

  • Photos give clear indication of what is expected.
  • Mum can see at a glance what they should be doing.
  • Children enjoy seeing their progress.

Downside:

  • Not easily updated as chart must be re-made for chores to be changed.
  • Children soon loose interest in ticking them off although they can still follow the chart regardless.

Also "helping" with the folding. Singlet hats are the latest thing!

A simple picture and description list: This is what we are using at the moment. It is simply an A4 piece of paper divided into three columns (one per child) with labelled thumbnail sized pictures representing each chore. It is slid into a plastic sheet protector on the fridge.

Upside:

  • photos give clear indication of what is expected.
  • Mum can see at a glance what they should be doing.
  • It is small, covering 3 children’s chores on one A4 page.
  • Easy to update as it is stored on computer.

Downside:

  • Uses ink to reprint every time you need to update.
  • Not as interesting to use as some of the other systems.

    Dustbusting is another easy job for a toddler to do.

New Year House Tidy and Re-vamp: Kids Bedrooms

This week our whole house spring clean has begun as the new year approaches and bedrooms are the focus. With twins soon to go into big beds, we have had some major room overhauls and re-arrangements to our previous systems, but I thought I’d post how we previously managed room cleaning as it has worked well for us for many years.

Tidying their bedroom is one of our children’s morning responsibilities and must be completed along with a couple of other chores before they come to breakfast. (Nothing like food as a motivator!)

One of the best tools I have found for assisting children to tidy their rooms to the standard I am expecting is to photograph every single part of the room as you want it to look in it’s tidy state. Each child has a poster of these photographs in thumbnail size (plus labels for those who can read) pinned on their bedroom doors.

They simply start at the top of the list and work their way down, making each part of the room look exactly as the picture does. It gives those who struggle to know where to start a specific order and system which helps them not to be too overwhelmed and the older children simply use it as a check after they think they have finished to make sure they haven’t forgotten anything.

When you make your poster, break down the room into the smallest parts or jobs you can think of and photograph each one individually, it’s as simple as that. Our door posters end up with around 12 or 14 pictures which sounds a lot but really helps the little ones to break a large job into smaller parcels that they can easily tackle. The same system works well for any room in the house.

If children come out and report that they are done when they have not completed areas, all I have to say for example is “Does your desk look like it does in the picture?” The child is forced to admit that it does not, which eliminates whining and arguing. I couldn’t begin to count how many times before we started this system a child has come to me and said their room was done (and fully believed this to be the case) when I could immediately see a dozen things that still needed to be put away. Children just don’t see mess through the same eyes we do!!

A few of the photos we have used are included below to give you some idea of what you may choose to photograph in your own child’s room.

A picture of their fully made bed with teddies in place is included, along with a picture of dirty clothes in the laundry hamper and pyjamas under pillows.

Tidy desks and a picture of the inside of drawers too as certain children who shall remain nameless like to tidy their desks by simply sweeping everything into the nearest drawer!

Shelving and contents as they should look.

Yes, this is a picture of the carpet, or in this case a mat on the floor. How else do you show a tidy floor?

Empty bin. The children do not have to empty their waste paper baskets until they are full but before they are overflowing!

What’s for lunch Mum?

We’ve all heard it before; get organised and menu plan! Save time and money and get rid of the daily headache of thinking about what we are going to prepare for dinner half an hour before we should be serving it.

I have menu planning systems (weekly, monthly, shopping) and I do use them (most of the time!) but I was finding lunch particularly difficult to wrap my head around. I wanted it to be quick and easy but not just bread, bread and more bread. There were also occasions when I needed to pack lunch boxes and I didn’t want them to be nothing but sandwiches either.

My favourite lunch is what we call a ploughman’s plate. Sounds fancy, but all it means is that I pull out all the fruit, salad, veggies, cheese, left overs, cold meats or anything else I can spot laying about the fridge, cut it into pieces and arrange it on a plate. That works great when the fridge is stocked, the fruit bowls are brimming over and there is plenty of choice, but by the end of the week this is not a good option.

I decided to sit down and make a list of as many lunch ideas as I could come up with, barring leftovers and hot meals. Much of my list came from the excellent resources at Meerilinga plus a few ideas of my own.

I have printed it out, laminated it and taped it to the pantry door for inspiration at the last minute and to use when making up my shopping list for the week. You will find a printable version here.


Recipes and food: Snacks – juice pops

Showing off their banana milkshake juice pop moustaches. (We call them juice pops regardless of the ingredients!)

Now that the warm weather is here again, it’s time to dust of the frozen popsicle molds and make some juice pops. These are so quick and easy to make (I can even ask the older children to do them for me) and keep almost indefinitely, so there is always a snack sitting in the freezer ready to go. I like the fact that they are not too filling as some of my smaller eaters don’t need much of a snack before their appetite for the following meal is affected. Also, if I make the ones without sugar syrup in them, they are a healthy snack that even the toddlers love.

I should have put a bib on!

What do you need:

  • A mold (shop bought popsicle molds, plastic cups and popsticks, plastic cups and teaspoons, or scooped out orange halves and popsticks.)

Ingredients:

  • juice of any kind with fresh fruit chunks
  • pureed banana and coconut milk
  • milkshake mixture
  • pureed rockmelon, sugar syrup and a twist of lime
  • left-over softdrink
  • pureed berries or fruit and sugar syrup

Simply puree your ingredients, fill the mold (adding fruit chunks to the bottom first if desired) and freeze. Adding sugar syrup to the juice pops helps prevent ice crystals forming, however I usually don’t include it to keep the children’s sugar intake down and they love them anyway!

Sugar syrup:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 strips of lemon zest

Heat the ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved. Remove zest and add to puree of choice before pouring into molds.

Routines: Table activity ideas

Following on from my post on table activities, I thought it might be helpful to include some ideas of the kinds of things I give my children to do at table time. The toddlers sit in their highchairs to do theirs (see highchair activities) and the older children sit at a variety of tables and occasionally on the floor.

  • Drawing
  • Playdough
  • Stamping (stamp pads and ink stamps)
  • Lacing, threading or beading
  • Puzzles
  • Books
  • Felt board
  • Construction toys
  • Pattern blocks
  • Contact collage
  • Water colour painting
  • Paper craft
  • Sticker books
  • Tea sets and teddies
  • Finger puppets
  • Mini whiteboard and eraser
  • Small chalk board and duster
  • Peg boards
  • Board games
  • Tap tap
  • Scrapbooking
  • Contact pictures
  • Dot-to-dots
  • Mazes
  • Magnadoodle
  • Colour-by-number
  • Stencils

I like to keep table activities separate from our other activities for a couple of reasons:

  • the children only use them during table time, which keeps interest levels high
  • they do not request activities that I do not want them to do at this time; those they may choose from are already set aside for this purpose
  • when I am choosing activities for the toddlers and younger children I don’t have to think of what to get or wander around looking for inspiration, I simply open the cupboard and choose from the selection there, rotating through those that are appropriate
  • the children have ready access and can pack up after themselves
Another time that we find table activities very useful is when we have visitors. We love having friends and family around but the children do get very excited. After some time to talk and play with the visitors (depending on who it is of course) I often direct the children to get out a table activity. It provides a focus, quiets down the excited behaviour and allows the adults to have a conversation. Sometimes Grandparents or other visitors will do the activities with the children (which of course they love) but we find it just gives them a great way to be around the adults and interact appropriately without dominating the entire evening.

Routines: Introducing table activities

Table time is a valuable addition to any flexible routine. Simply put, it is a time when the children sit at the table (or desk or kitchen bench or wherever) and work on a quiet activity. It is a time set by the parent for this to happen and the activities used are those that are previously approved and designated as table activities.

I choose the activities for my toddlers and younger children and set them out, the middlies usually get to choose between a limited number of activities (“Would you like drawing or felt board today?”) and the older children choose for themselves from activities that they know are already approved table activities. I chat to the children while they play at the table and am able to get the dinner made and served at the same time.

While my routines have changed over the years, for the majority of the time I have used table activities after bath and shower time and just before dinner time. This allows me to get everyone finished in the bathroom and send them to their activities as they are done – no roaming about the house getting into mischief.

I find that it is the transition times, the few minutes here and there between activities, that cause the most trouble and produce the most accidents. Left to their own devices, even for just a few minutes at this time of day, a cranky, tired, hungry toddler or child will rarely make good choices with their time!

The possibilities for table time activities are virtually unlimited. I have a cupboard with shelves that is designated for table activities which makes it easy for the children to see what they can do. Anything you have that can be used independently while sitting at the table is a suitable activity. Some families like to use this time for homework. I’ll be posting some table time ideas soon and of course, any of the toddler, workjob or Montessori ideas I post would be suitable, as long as your child can do them without assistance.

Camping with little ones, heat and ticks.

School holidays are upon us. For those of you who are heading off camping with your families over the school break, well done! You are creating memories that will last a lifetime and taking one more step towards building a strong family identity. I thought I would post the following story which I wrote after a camping trip with my family at the beginning of the year . With five children 7 and under at the time, it was an interesting experience and yes, we will do it again over the Christmas break! (Just without the ticks this time.)

After 2 days of planning and organizing around all the usual daily activities, we woke early and were on our way by 8.30am, which wasn’t a bad start as it was only 30 minutes after we had hoped to leave. We drove the 1 ¼ hour distance to the Neergabby campsite and were pleasantly surprised at how close it actually was. We pulled into the driveway to be greeted by Nan and Granddad and the rest of their 4 wheel drive club and informed that the campsite was riddled with large ticks. After some debate it was decided that it may be best to set up camp away from the trees and longer grass as there appeared to be less of an infestation there. (This of course meant that we were in the full sun on a 31 degree day.) We set up camp without much assistance from the children who were eager to get out and meet the gang and begin events for the day.

We enjoyed a pleasant day of games and craft with the whole group, young and old, lunch on the verandah, cups of teas and chit chat – while looking after our 5 of course. The twins found several willing hands to be passed around to and the older children had a couple of other playmates to run about with. They received an extremely generous Christmas bag from a club member and copious amounts of lolly bags and chocolate prizes throughout the day to give the kids that sugar rush we parents always love.

The late afternoon was filled with sliding down the plastic sheet waterslide pulled by a rope which was enjoyed immensely but ended tragically as the soldier ants whose nest we had apparently disturbed finally came out to find out what was going on over their heads. Several children (including 2 of ours) suffered painful stings. We cleaned up for a sumptuous Christmas banquet under the beautifully decorated rotunda. Mum and Dad were camp directors and had knocked themselves out making it special for everyone and didn’t sit down the entire weekend.

All children were bedded down by 8 and quiet when I checked on them (I think they heard me coming) and all was well for a while, until Master 7 appeared to tell us that one twin had been woken up by everyone else talking. We settled him down, got all the others quiet and Daddy stood guard for noise outside the tent while I returned for the raffle draw. The stayers kept on for the guitar led singsong, but we retired fairly early to bed.

We both struggled to go to sleep, being either too hot in our sleeping bags or too cold out of them. The night wasn’t tooo bad – I was only awakened once for the toilet, twice for “I can’t get back in my sleeping bag” (from a previously hot but now cold child who was under the bag rather than in it), once to feed a baby (also awakened by the sleeping bag incident) and finally to push another child back onto her own mattress (she had turned sideways and was trying to get comfortable at her brother’s feet – grumpily telling him “Don’t, stop it, stop it,” as she was kicked in the head while he tried to push her off him in his sleep.) The kookaburras started at 4/4.30am but went away fairly quickly, the first neighbours were chatting around 6am and the first child was awake at 6.30am, needing to go to the toilet.

Breaky of toast, eggs and leftover ham was up on the verandah in a lovely cool breeze and after this leisurely start, we faced the task of packing everything back in the car and trailer again.

We spend 2 hours in the already boiling sun re-packing all the gear into the car and trailer while the twins sleep in their pram in the shade (lucky them!) Miss 3 1/2 completely lost it and spent the whole packing time crying about her sore arm, sore tummy and how tired she felt and the oldest two pestered us continuously to eat more lollies and chocolates from their Christmas bags. Fellow campers flipped camper-vans back together in 20 minutes and enjoyed a cuppa in the shade whilst pondering the joys of being Grandparents rather than parents and packing for 2, rather than 7. We spent the morning wondering whether all our fond memories of camping growing up were due to the obliviousness of childhood and selective memory, however Mum tells me that no, it wasn’t anywhere like this much work for them!

We finished eventually and took leave of the camp-site, electing to skip the car museum trip and simply head home with our tired crew. Master 7(who sits between the twins) was very patient and kept busy giving the twins offers of milk and finger food during the trip while Miss 3 1/2 told us over and over that her tummy and arm hurt until she finally fell asleep.  Twenty minutes down the road, Master 7 informed us that there was a brown substance (that looked exactly like melted chocolate but unfortunately wasn’t) on the baby toy, his hands and oozing out of a twin’s nappy into the car seat. We stopped by the side of road to change said twin, including his clothes, wipe his seat, Master 7’s hand and wrap up the toy to deal with later. We resumed the trip again to hear a yell from the back seat that there was a tick on the feeding pillow. We stopped the car again and I threw the tick out of the window with my bare hands (Mummy to the rescue yet again.) The final tick count for the weekend: 3 off the sides of the tent, 2 off the floor of the tent, 4 off the children, 3 off Daddy, 1 off me and many sightings. God answered my prayers and none actually bored into skin.

Twenty minutes further into the journey Miss 3 1/2 woke up, cried and threw up in her lap. We stopped by the roadside yet again to clean her up the best we could, wondering throughout whether ticks were crawling up my legs or were they just flies I could feel? As we set off yet again, Daddy and I laughed uncontrollably at the absurdity of the situation and wondered what could possibly go wrong next. We FINALLY reached the city and the home stretch, only to hear Master 7 tell us that he needed to go to the toilet and no, he couldn’t wait 15 minutes until we got home. We pulled off the freeway and stopped by a clump of out of the way bushes for longer than would ordinarily be necessary (apparently he really did need to go) and set off again.

At the next set of lights, the guy in the next car wound down the window to tell us that we were dragging an occy strap, so we pulled over once more, wondering what it could be as we don’t have any occy straps?! Turns out to be someone else’s occy strap which has hooked around the trailer lights and pulled them out of the socket (meaning we’ve had no lights for who knows how long) and badly damaging the attachment which miraculously turns out to still work when reattached but will need replacement later. After looping through the South Terrace area to get back on the Freeway we noted that we had taken 20 minutes to go 5 minutes worth of distance.

On arrival home (which we were amazed to see was only 2 hours after leaving instead of the 3 hours it felt like) we fell out of the car, fed lunch to the now crying babies and older children (not crying but complaining at the removal of their lolly bags for later), washed and re-dressed Miss 3 1/2, put twins to bed, send older 3 to room time, spent ½ an hour unloading the car and dumping everything to be dealt with later, ate some lunch ourselves and collapsed in a heap.

We looked around the house and noted that it had not cleaned itself in our absence and was now littered with all the camping gear as well and decided not to go camping again until all children were old enough to carry their own gear and put up their own tent… until the next time that is – got to build those childhood memories! We hear Dunsborough is nice over Christmas time…..

Chores and responsibility

Every child who is old enough to participate in even the smallest way has chores in our family. We view chores as a way of fostering an “others centered” attitude, rather than a “self-centred” one. Chores are seen as a way for children to be involved and invested in our family and to understand that we work together to serve and help each other because we are Pascoes and we are blessed to have the family that God has given us.

We also assign chores to develop personal responsibility which we value as an important character trait. What parent does not want to raise a responsible child? Chores are one way to foster this and it is for this reason that we refer to them as responsibilities. Children are asked “Do you have the freedom to come to the breakfast table” or “Are your responsibilities complete?” to keep the awareness on the character that we are developing.

 The children are not paid for the chores that they do, they are simply an act of service that helps our family and are completed because we all work together. Children tend to value what they spend their time on and we want them to invest in this family and value being a part of it. They also do not receive pocket-money. Now, I can hear you all exclaiming that they need to learn to manage their money and how to be good stewards and how will they do that if they don’t get paid?

                                                  (Yes, she is using a dirty floor cleaning cloth; but it’s the thought that counts!) 

It is our opinion that children will value and manage their money responsibly when they have earned it themselves through labour. They need to understand that if they want something they need to work for it and that there is a direct correlation between the amount of work they do, the amount of money they earn and the amount of “stuff” they can then buy. A child who has cleaned windows, vacuumed out cars and pulled weeds to earn enough money for the latest Lego set, will in turn place a high value on that Lego set. They will also then have some idea how much work goes into purchasing the items that they already own or are given and will have a greater respect for their property and the property of others. Money that is earned is shared into 4 money boxes titled tithing, wealthing, saving and spending. 10% for tithing, 10% for wealthing, 10%for saving and the rest in spending or whichever one they choose.

When a bucket of weeds equals $1.00 and the doll they long for costs $30.00, a child who has worked to earn their money will be doing quick addition sums in their head as they place a value on that doll. Hmmm, that doll equals thirty buckets of weeds; perhaps I’ll be content with the 3 dolls I already own. Wise money management!!

Jobs to earn money are always available and are given what we feel is a reasonable rate of pay. Enough so that they can feasibly save up for an item, but not so much that the effort required is negligible. At the moment, the jobs that are available for earning money are collecting snails from the garden, weeding and washing and vacuuming out the car. I accidentally overpriced the snails at 10 cents each the first time, thinking that the children would have to really spend time hunting them down and it would be quite an effort to gather a large amount. In only 20 minutes, the three eldest collected enough snails to cost me $15.70!! Ouch! Snails were subsequently re-priced the following day.

Below are some ideas of the kind of responsibilities (chores) that children may be assigned, remembering that these are the day-to-day acts of family service that do not have a monetary value attached to them. When you are assigning chores, there must be a training process for children to be able to successfully complete their tasks to an acceptable standard. More on that another day.

Obviously all the chores listed below in a younger age category can be given to an older child, although I haven’t repeated the same ideas in each older age group. These ideas are just a start; you will be able to think of others that suit your unique family situation. You may also need to introduce certain chores at a later age or could introduce more difficult chores at an earlier age, depending on your children.

Responsibility (Chore) Area

1-2 yr olds

bedroom/play areas help Mum pack away toys after play, beginning with play pen
bed (once in big bed) PJ’s under pillow, pull up sheets & doona with help
dressing  
dirty Clothes put dirty clothes into hamper
washed laundry pass wet clothes to adult to hangPut pegs away when taking washing off line
folding find matching socks, deliver simple items (eg bibs to kitchen drawer)
food preparation share given items between plates
setting/clearing table put out placemats, coasters, cutlery, unbreakable cups and dishesClear own dishes, push chair in
dishes empty cutlery from dishwasherdry unbreakable dishes (towel system)
rubbish put rubbish into bin on request (not without permission)
bathrooms put out fresh towels & face washer
toilets nappy in bin
floors pick up for person sweeping/mopping & replace items afterwards
outdoor/garden tidy outdoor toys
deliveries deliver given items to their place (e.g. bib to dirty clothes basket)
misc open curtains

Responsibility (Chore) Area

2-5yr olds

bedroom/play areas pack away own toys/equipment after play, tidy own bedroom
bed make bed & strip bed sheets (take to laundry)
dressing get dressed into clothes chosen by Mum
dirty Clothes take all dirty clothes baskets to laundry & empty, sorting dirty clothes into light and dark loads
washed laundry peg items onto clothes horse & bring in dry washing from clothes horse
folding learn to fold all washing, starting with simple items such as t/towels and face washers. Put away own folding
food preparation kitchen helper (e.g. measure ingredients, stir mixture, wash salad veg, peel veg etc.)fill water glasses
setting/clearing table set table with crockery, clear all table items, wipe table, place mats, scrape plates, stack dishwashersweep under table after meals, wipe backs of chairs, spray & wipe kitchen cupboard doors, splash backs
dishes wash unbreakable & sturdy dishesdry all dishes (bar sharp items etc.) unpack dishwasher (barring large breakable items)
rubbish empty rubbish bins from bedrooms and bathrooms
bathrooms wipe bathroom sinks/benches/bathreplace towels
toilets replace toilet roll, restock spare rolls, spray and wipe toilet seat and button
floors dust bust small areas, moving on to sweeping & vacuuming floors
outdoor/garden water pots & garden plantspull weeds (supervised)
deliveries empty delivery basket daily
misc feed pets, wash and refill drinking waterspray and wipe door knobs, light switches, fingermarks off walls

Responsibility (Chore) Area

5-7+ yr olds plus

bedroom/play areas tidy assigned areas/rooms of the house
bed strip & re-make bed
dressing choose own clothes as directed by parent (e.g. put on round the house shirt & shorts)
dirty Clothes load washing machine (check pockets)
washed laundry hang out and bring in full load of washing
folding fold and put away all kinds of washing
food preparation full meal & snack prep under supervision (barring hot areas)independently bake a cake, put bread on in a bread maker etc
setting/clearing table sweep/vacuum/mop meal areas
dishes wash and dry all dishes (bar sharp knives etc.)
rubbish take kitchen rubbish out & replace bin bags
bathrooms full bathroom and shower clean
toilets full toilet clean
floors sweep/vacuum/mop floors (divide house into zones)
outdoor/garden sweep sandpit spills, patiorake leaves, yard work, water larger areas
deliveries  
misc clean up after animals wash pet bowlsclean windows, mirrors, TV & computer screens

Mel Hayde’s Book “Terrific Toddlers” at  US Book Depository has some information about introducing chores with toddlers and the excellent book is “What Every Child Should Know Along The Way” at  Amazon or Growing Families Australia is another great resource.

Terrific Toddlers: Tantrum Free Two's-Almost!: Tantrum Free Two's-Almost!

Toddlers and Cupboards.

What is it with toddlers and cupboard doors? They are naturally fascinated with opening and closing doors and of course checking out what you have stored away inside your cupboards. It is possible to simply train your toddler not to open any cupboards in the house and this may be the preferred option for you. I have in fact done this with several of my children, with the idea that I don’t want to clean up any more mess and that children need to know their physical boundaries and simply obey their parents.

While obedience and boundaries are certainly important, I have slowly come around to the conclusion (helped by having twin toddlers) that it is simply easier for everyone if there is one special door (or drawer) that toddlers can be directed to when they are itching to explore.

They will still gain the understanding that there are physical boundaries and need to obey when Mummy says “Don’t touch,” however being able to redirect that interest with the simple instruction to “Go to Jamie’s cupboard” makes obedience more palatable for them. Some parents use the plastic storage area, the pots and pans cupboard or clean out a bottom drawer. I have a ground level cupboard with a shelf that I fill with a small selection of books and toys and occasionally rotate.

As you can see by the picture, the attraction here is the cupboard itself, rather than the toys and it didn’t take long for the twins to work out how to remove the little shelf and insert themselves – usually at the same time!