Teaching children household skills

I was chatting with some Mum's at the boys kindergarten today and I was sharing with them how I like to do a 'Mum Spot' for family night which we have every Monday night. This family night is an activity where we all get together - no excuses - and spend time learning from each other, playing games and having a yummy treat!

This conversation all started because they were commenting on how much washing/housework I must have to do. Yes, there is lots of washing and housework and finger prints and toys and books and dirt and dishes and mess and enough food on the floor to feed another family...

I am thankful I have such great kids to help me out and can help carry the load of keeping our house in order. Now that some of the kids are getting a little older it is wonderful that they can reach things - like the washing line- and can even take clothes off for me! Woo hooo!

As the mother of the home and the 'personal trainer' on most things cleaning and organising (I say MOST because Matt is wonderful at helping out at this too and he generally has more free time to teach things or so it seems), around here I generally take this training seriously. So I allocate time on our family night to teach a new skill.

Some of these 'skill training' moments have been lots of fun. It is also one of the few times that I have everyone's attention and I can get them all together at the same time. 

Anyway, some of the things that I have done to teach the kids are:

Learning to fold a tea towel or face washer - I found this is great to start the kids off as it is a lot smaller than a bath towel and they can practice folding it over so that the edges touch and we talk about it being a square shape or rectangle.

Folding a bath towel - Once they have mastered the tea towel I then have taught them how to fold a bath towel in half length ways and how to hang it on the rail in the bathroom. Now just remember here they are little kids and the first couple of times it does not have to be hung straight, just hanging on the rail.

Setting the table - My kids learn this one early - even my 2 year olds can put a fork and knife on the table, crooked but still on the table.

Making a bed - Straightening out the blankets to begin with when they are little and then progressing up to learning to tuck in sheets and then learning how to change a bed by themselves.

Brushing teeth - Trying to learn to brush their teeth for 2 minutes and then also flossing. 

Learning what a wash basket is - This may sound silly but I find as parents we forget that we take the names of items around the house for granted. Our children need to be taught what they are called. So pointing out where the wash baskets are in rooms and around the home and what they are used for is a big help. I do this to try to stop all the clothes being left on the floor!

Sweeping the floor - Sweeping the kitchen floor is actually a difficult skill to learn. I teach the children the process of sweeping under the table and the importance of creating a pile.

Using a dustpan and broom - This is great for younger kids as it is just the right size for them to hold and they can start by cleaning up the mess they make themselves!

Answering the phone - I teach them what I would like them to say and not what I would like them to say (example: mum is on the toilet...). I teach them to speak clearly and to ask people to call back if needed.

Answering the door - We teach our children that they are not to answer the door until an adult is with them. They can speak through the door and when they hear a knock they need to come and find me right away. 

You can also use this time to teach:
how to put on socks, 
put on shoes, 
tie shoe laces, 
brush hair, 
tie hair back, 
how to do up buttons or how to hold a knife and fork. 

I want my kids to grow up independent and responsible. To be able to take care of themselves and their future families. Yes, it does take a lot of effort and planning and patience but the results are wonderful. Children who are motivated and happy and getting themselves organised gives me so much free time to do the things that I want to do.

We still have a long way to go around here but now that I am getting back on track I hope to see some sensational results.

Does anyone have any other great ideas to teach your kids?

Paper Mache Egg Activity

At Easter time we decided to get all crafty in the back yard. We decided to try out our own Paper Mache Egg Activity. We blew up balloons and made our own large eggs to decorate.

What an absolute mess but what a fun activity.

Of course we missed the best shot when I had helped Sam cover most of his balloon with paper and glue and then the balloon popped and I was left covered from head to toe in glue...

After painting the balloons the kids decorated them with bright balls and glitter. They did a great job.

Somehow when I was busy helping others, the painting turned into a mass finger painting experience...Go Sam!

The clean up was not pretty...

Sometimes I don't feel like these activities are worth it because the mess is so big but I love seeing all the kids working together, talking together and just having fun together. That makes it all worthwhile.

filling a need

Lately I have been looking at little babies and loving them.
Loving the cute little toes, fingers and chubby cheeks.
Loving their smile, giggles, smell, outfits and gorgeous faces.
Alright...I always love looking at little babies...but what I am really trying to say is that I have been loving them a little too much for my liking!

It is always around this time that I start to get this incredible desire to want more children. My mind starts to dream, to plan and get excited about another little cherub coming to our family.

With already too much on my plate, these thoughts have required some serious action. I am not having any more children so I have had to work out a way to fill this need. After some contemplation, I came up with a solution.

A plant.
Sad I know.

But it has helped me to get through this stage and little plant, our whole family is thankful to you. I did think about naming it but did not want to go that far!

So below is that plant that is helping me overcome my desires.
I water it, put it outside in the sun for some 'outside time', remove the browning leaves and take care of it the best I can.

So far this plan is working well and I am content to hold others little ones and not have one of my own.

Let's hope I don't end up with a house full of plants by the end of the year.

family principles chart part 2

After finishing the family principles chart and trying to work out where to put it. I realised that I had a spare frame that I picked up at a second hand shop (for $20...bargain!) and thought it just might fit in it. 

I loved the silver frame immediately.
We then found the perfect spot for it and it is in our lounge room and love it!

It has taken the place of the television we used to have in that room and is much better to look at.

kids catch up...part 1

The first week back at school has been a busy one.

Liahona had her great friend come visit from Perth and loved being able to spend the whole day hanging out with her. It was sad to see her go again. We love you Mikaela.

Nathan went away to camp. He was both nervous and excited to go.

He came home very tired with dirt in his ears. He was full of stories from his adventures away. He loved the mud activity, the night games and the food!

Chelsea has been working really hard at school and finally achieved her third merit award she really wanted. Well done Chelsea!

Her hair is now starting to grow and looks like those curls are starting to come back...hmmmm...what hairstyle are we going to have next???

Remove your shoes sign

In my blog searching I have found some fantastic blogs with really creative ideas, inspiring women doing amazing things and so many women who are just keeping it real. One of my latest finds is a site called: How Does She?

A group of three women got together to collect ideas on how other women go about being better mothers, better wives and better women. I love it because that is what I think all the time...'How did they do that?'.

One of their ideas I loved was to make this Please Remove Your Shoes sign. 
(I took this picture off their site..I am new to this stuff..and guess I should have asked permission first).

I have so many old frames that I don't know what to do with so this seems like a perfect project. My poor kids, I dragged them outside and told them I wanted to take pictures of their feet...such a funny experience...trying to get them to stay still was a nightmare! Anyway, they know what I am like...the project had to made yesterday!

Ellis legs and feet!

So far I have the pictures, the frame ready and now I just need to find the perfect spot!
If you are interested in learning how to make it click: please-remove-your-shoes

Time out = Jail

My goal each day around here is to do as much as I can to create an environment of happiness. I am not talking about peace and quiet, or cleanliness or perfection, just happiness.

Happiness means different things for different people. For me it comes down to being content, loving each other and finding joy. Doing the things we want to do, together as a family.

As we have just finished the school holidays, I have had time to reflect on how they were and remember the moments when I got to the stage where I felt like I was going to go stir crazy and we need to get out of the house more - preferably in seperate groups. 

Sometimes there are personalities that just don't work no matter what you try or what activities you do. Staying at home on these days is really not a good idea in our house. On one such day the kids asked me if they could use all the pillows and blankets in the house to build something - of course I said 'Yes' as long as they put it all away when they are finished.

Well, I was a little surprised to see that what they decided to build was a jail.
Of all things.

This started me thinking that maybe I have been using the 'time out' escape a little too much. Maybe that is all their little creative minds could come up with - remembering the moments when they were sent to a quiet place to calm down from doing something 'naughty'. Feelings of 'bad mother' started to invade my brain!

I went off to explore and find out what the jail involved.
The jail involved 2 rooms. One room was where all the kids played. When they did things wrong they were sent to jail in another room. There they were then placed in a cage to sit quietly. The cage was a comfortable couch with pillows all around them. When they were quiet for a short time they were given a sticker for being good and then freed for good behaviour.

What an interesting concept and a massive eye opener on my parenting techniques. I was happy to see that the 'jail' was a pleasant experience and did not involve yelling and mean words. It was a calming time when one was sent to jail and the kids were all happy to play the game. In fact I was tempted to join in so that I could have some quiet time myself.

Maybe after seeing this game I can let myself think that I am doing an alright job and I am not coming across and the yelling, crazy Mum that I feel I am sometimes.  I was so glad Matt had a few days off so we could do some more planning on how to keep the kids occupied and re-evalutae our parenting techniques!


Exercise, how I love you and how I hate you.

I am not one of those people that others come up to and say 'Wow! you look great...what exercise are you doing?'. That is normally what I am asking other people, looking for new ideas so that I can mix things up and keep myself motivated to exercise.

You see, exercise and I don't get along very well. I do have moments where I enjoy it but most days it is something I have to force myself to do. I know I always feel better and look better when I do it so overcoming those nagging feelings of laziness are worthwhile.

I also find that exercise emotionally gives me a boost. I feel positive on the days that I have had some physical exercise. My thoughts seem clearer and I feel happier. Maybe it is just the fact that I have done something for myself.

Lately I have taken on a new challenge.
Since having a good look at myself (which some days I seriously avoid doing) and admitting that yes, my clothes are getting a little tighter...again...I have committed myself to take on Jillian Michaels 30 day shred.

My first day I thought I was going to die and had to keep telling myself it was only 20 minutes that I need to last for. Since then I have been enjoying it, feeling stronger and I like the break up of cardio, muscle strength and ab work.

Hopefully I can keep it up all the way through the 30 days and by the end my clothes might be fitting a little better!

never ending clean up....

I had a sleep in this morning ... made it to 6:30am....normally I am up around 5 or 5:30am and today I could have stayed in bed until lunch, it was one of those mornings where it was just the right temperature, I was comfortable and my dreams were delightful.

On these mornings when I am trying to catch up on sleep my schedule gets thrown out the window. I rushed out of bed realising I am now behind and throw myself into the day. It always amazes me how behind I can get and how frantic I start rushing around every time I try to get a few more zzzzz's.

It is on these days that I feel like the clean up from breakfast goes all the way until lunch time and then starts all over again and that leads into dinner time and then it takes me all night to get things sorted out and I end up feeling just as exhausted as if I had gotten up at 5 in the morning! I am left wondering....is it really worth trying to get these few priceless moments of sleep after all?

Today it does not feel worth it.
Maybe I should try tomorrow and see how that goes!!!

Families Are Forever and Pizza!

This weekend has been so lovely.
We hung out as a family and watched General Conference Video's.
I loved that some of the kids are older and enjoyed the talks as well.

We laughed together, ate together, felt uplifted together and they watched me cry together. It gave me a glimpse of what a forever family is like and why all this effort is worth it.

One of my favourite things around our house is my Families Are Forever sign that hangs in our kitchen with our complete family in willow tree figurines. When I walk past it, it reminds me of the great love my husband and I have and that all the kids are unique and have different personalities and talents. The kids love it too and it looks great!

Just on a different note: Before this weekend I was excited to get in the mail a pizza discount from Domino's. We don't eat out very often and I thought it would be great to order in some pizza whilst watching conference at home. Anyway, here is what pizza done the Ellis way looks like, even with little kids...hate to think what it will be like when they are teenagers!!

Eight boxes were eaten! Insane!! 
The older kids were each able to pick out their own pizza it was sooo cheap...

Family Principles Chart

I have been doing some blog searching lately and came across this great site that has lots of craft ideas. It is called Tatertots and Jello and they have excellent links and instructions.
One of the ideas I loved was to make a family rules chart that was made by The Pleated Poppy.
I just happened to have a spare canvas that I could recycle and thought that this was an activity that I immediately had to do.
After some discussion with the family we decided to call our chart the 'family principles' chart because we believe in teaching our kids correct principles and letting them govern themselves. 
We all talked about what we wanted to have on our chart. The principles needed to be simple and easy to understand as we have many little ones still. Then I went off to Spotlight to get some paper and decorations and Liahona, Chelsea, Harmony and I went to work.
We had lots of fun and are so delighted with our finished product. It is a large looks great and we hope to refer to it often. Good work girls!!!

Easter Basket String hunt

For Easter this year we decided to try a new hunt.
It involved all the kids having to follow a piece of string around the house to get to their Easter Basket. I went off to the op-shops and managed to find 8 different coloured balls of wool for around $2.50. Of course I had to include Matt in this as he went without chocolate for a whole year last year and was very excited to be able to participate in the chocolate egg eating this year.

I started at the front door with the shoe basket (not very original but I needed something that would hold the string in place) and tied the string to it with everyone's name on it.

Once they had their piece of string they then had to follow it all around the house to get to the end and find their basket.

With some of the smaller kids I gave them a bag to put all of the string in as it was too hard to keep rolling it in a ball. The bigger kids and Matt had longer string to follow and had a great time going under tables, over couches and all over the house searching for chocolate.

The best part was eating the chocolate and for me seeing the delight on their faces enjoying a fun family activity. Of course I made Matt's string hunt really hard and he was going for some time after the others had finished.

I found this idea on 71toes blogspot. Thanks for the idea Shawni.


When we were out in the bush Liberty let me take these wonderful pictures of her. The lighting was great and I had a gorgeous model. What else could I ask for???

I love being a mum to this little treasure...she is fiery, delightful, full of personality and cute as anything!

Loving my garden

I am sooooo loving my garden right now.
I love pottering out in the garden and watching everything flourishing.
It has been taken over by pumpkins.
I emptied our compost bin onto the garden and pumpkins and tomato plants have sprung up everywhere.
Looking forward to getting some vegetables!!! Pumpkin soup here we come!!
The chickens have been a great help clearing the place of pests and are enjoying the pumpkin plant that is growing right up their chicken coop.

No Rest for Mothers Who Love

Naomi doesn't know I am trying to do my first ever blog. I sometimes help her with little things here and there but I have never actually tried to add to Naomi's blog without her knowing. he he he, sneaky aren't I???

In order for this to be worth anything, I need to include a picture of Naomi doing something that only a mother could do and perhaps something that is tiring.
Oh boy, this is not to be taken lightly. As you can see we have children who are painting paper mache balloons, finger painting and painting foreheads. I think in this picture, Naomi may be looking at another child and the crazy mess he just made...
In one sense Naomi is right at home, because the night before this family activity Naomi was painting the front entrance way of our home, because it needed it. She has a vision and I have learned that when Naomi gets a great idea, I actually need to step out of the way. My only problem is that I am the one who keeps getting in the way... I am sure women have heard this all before.

Well enough painting, I actually wanted to say that I really love Naomi and say that she is the best wife ever. I am a very lucky man and couldn't ask for anyone better. Naomi is the hardest working person, up early - go for a run, get ready, get the family ready, get the chickens ready, upkeep the house and make it a "place we want to come home to" and still have enough energy to do all the afternoon things before finally preparing the next day with all the evening things so that it can happen all over again. I just want to say that it is every small thing done by love that makes all the difference in our home.


Creating Harmony

Harmony has been one busy girl lately.
She has been building train tracks all over the place. 
In the lounge room she sets up these great tracks for everyone to play with and it has been a great help for me. Keeping the little one's busy is always a help to me! I look forward to seeing how this talent comes to use in the future.
Thanks Harmony...love you.

Easter Testimony Meeting

This year to make Easter more meaningful we decided to go up to a really high mountain and to have a testimony meeting.

We headed off early in the morning and caught a great view of the city.

We found our own little spot in the bush and sat down to enjoy hearing each other's thoughts and feelings about family, life and the gospel.

One of everyone's favourite moments was when little Libby stood up and shared many thoughts and feelings with us. She was very serious the whole time, with her arms folded and everyone had a smile on their face as she shared her heart with us. After all her words were finished she said.......


Loved it!!!

Easter Hunt

For Easter we were blessed to be invited to attend an Easter hunt with some good friends. We went to park lands and whist the kids were kept busy 'Easter Bunny' came and hid lots of eggs around the trees for the kids to find.

The kids went crazy running around finding the eggs.
It was wonderful to see the older children helping the little one's and making sure they collected some eggs too. Thanks big kids!

The Easter hunt was soooo good that even the adults had to get involved....hmmmm...who is really doing the hunting here!  

Great excitement with the stash and bounty of eggs!

Let the dividing begin!!! I was really impressed with the kids...great sharing, great patience and great fun! Thanks Gibsons!!

Harmony Easter Class Visit

To start off Easter this year Liberty and I went into Harmony's class to have an Easter Party. Harmony was very excited to have us there. 

She was very lucky to have a boy in her class arrive with a massive box of Easter rabbits to hand out to everyone in the class. I even was given one too!

Liberty enjoyed the hand made treats that the class made and Harmony was such a lovely host for the afternoon, making sure we were taken care of the whole time. Thanks Harmony.

One of my favourite things that happened on the afternoon was looking at all of Harmony's school work. She has put a lot of effort into her stories and her writing was great. Great job Harmony!

Car washing

Washing the car is quite an experience in our house.
I don't know too many other people who need a step ladder to wash their car.

Or who even need children on the roof to get it clean.
We certainly do things differently in our house!