Thursday, August 28, 2008

How I got the "Coach" nickname

In honor of my son, Mike, who left for college this week, let me share the story of how I got the "coachmom" nickname.

One day when Mike was 16, I was trying to give him a pep talk about his school work. Notice I said "trying to". LOL! He was sitting on couch because he had learned that it was to his disadvantage to be six inches taller than me. He couldn't help looking down at me and it infuriated me! And now he's about 8 inches taller than me!

Anyway, there the poor boy was sitting on the couch, listening to me and watching me pace back and forth. I told him that I knew he was smart but that he needed to "get out there and show it to me" and that I wanted to "see the fire in his eyes". Trust me, there was at least a hundred sports metaphors in this 10 minute tirade.

All finished with this great work of parenting art, I looked at him and said, "Well what are you waiting for? Get upstairs and get to work."

With his blue eyes sparkling, he said, "Coach? Oh, sorry! I was waiting for the whistle."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

...Assign age appropriate chores!

Many people ask, "How do I know what chores to assign my children?" Some people mistakenly believe that their children are "too young" to help with chores. But the fact is that when they are young is usually when they want to help you. So why discourage that? Start early promoting that "team" culture in your family!

Chore charts with stickers or smiley faces are a great way to encourage younger children. "Allowances" that award a small stipend of money or privileges for chores completed is a great way to encourage older children. But beware the allowance comparison game. I don't really care what the "going rate" is for allowance. The point of giving my older children an allowance is to teach them responsibility in saving, spending, and tithing.

And now...The Charts!

Preschoolers - 2's and 3's
  • Stripping sheets off the bed on laundry day.
  • Take your clothes to the laundry room on the laundry room.
  • "Making the bed" - putting pillows and stuffed animals in place. Helping pull up the comforter. (Obviously, not tucking the sheets in neatly at this point! ) But this sets the stage that this is your bed and it is your responsibility to make it everyday.
  • Pick up toys and books at the end of the day.
  • Help feed the pets - in the simplest form - putting a scoop of food in the bowl.
  • Put napkins, spoons and forks on table before meals.
  • Put spoons and forks in dishwasher after meals.
  • Wiping up spills. Teach them that they will wipe up a spill that they cause.
  • "Dusting" - just don't expect perfection! But once again it sets the stage for later.
  • "Sweeping" - especially with a tool like a Swiffer sweeper.
Pre-K and Kindergarten
  • Anything that is on the preceding list.
  • Making the bed - at this point start working towards pulling up the sheets and straightening out the wrinkles. Just don't expect perfection. As they get older move up the standard.
  • Unloading spoons, forks, plastic and wooden items from the dishwasher. Putting them away in the proper drawers and cabinets. Hint: I moved my plates and cups to the bottom cabinets and moved my casserole dishes and breakables to the top so that my kids could unload the dishwasher. Anything they could put away was in a cabinet on the bottom that they could reach.
  • Set the table completely for meals. Hint: make a "cheat sheet" that has a picture showing the placement of the plate, napkin, cup, and utensils. The first few times have this map out so the child can follow it.
  • Clear the table completely after meals.
  • Dusting - expect more!
  • Keeping their room and playroom clean. Encourage the "one thing out at a time" rule. Make sure they understand the concept of "a place for everything and everything in its place."
  • Mopping the floor.
1st and 2nd graders
  • Anything that is on the preceding list.
  • Hint: Start a life skills book! Take a picture of how the job looks when it is done right. Take a picture of how it looks when it is NOT done right, but in a way that you have found it done before by your child when they told you it was "done right".
  • Making the bed - at this point you can expect it to be done right and keep sending them back until it is done right.
  • Taking care of pets - including giving them fresh food and water, walking the dog, and brushing them.
  • Taking out the trash.
  • Completely load and unload the dishwasher.
  • Fold and put away their own laundry.
  • Vacuuming.
3 - 5th Graders
  • Anything that is on the preceding list.
  • Hint: Update your life skills book! Add a detailed description of the chore into your life skills book.
  • Wash the car.
  • Wash the dishes by hand that need to be.
  • Help prepare meals.
  • Clean the bathrooms.
  • Rake leaves.
  • Weeding

Middle Schoolers
  • Anything that is on the preceding list.
  • Planting flowers or other gardening work.
  • Make a meal once a week.
  • Anything on the quarterly cleaning list.

High Schoolers
  • Anything that is on the preceding list.
  • Help plan the grocery list and do the shopping.
  • Operate the washer and dryer.
  • Mowing and edging the lawn.
  • Cleaning the pool

...Time to clean!

Looking for a great "spring cleaning" checklist? Some people swear by I use But this cleaning checklist is one that I have developed as a compilation of many sources.

Basic tips for cleaning...

1. Always clean top to bottom. Start at the back room of your house on the top floor and work forward and down.

2. Gather all your cleaning tools and cleaners and take them with you as you go. This wasting time having to walk up and down the stairs to collect them.

3. I would not try to do all of this on one day unless you have an army to help you clean. It is best to break it up across the week or even two weeks if you need to!

Supplies to gather
- long handled dust mop; broom; vacuum with brush attachment; step stool; cleaning rags; bucket; sponge; cleaning brush; glass cleaner; surface cleaner; shower cleaner; toilet cleaner; stainless steel cleaner; wood cleaner; cleaning wipes; and trash bags.

3. As you go from room to room, take a 4 way mind set with you (think about that show Clean Sweep) - think Trash, Give Away, Sell, and Keep. Do it as you go, anything that you can give away don't put it back on the shelf, put it in a box with the name of a person or organization on it immediately! If you are going to sell it at a later date, and you are being honest with yourself that you really will have this yard sale, then you can store all those things in one designated area.

4. Find a "distraction"! For some people, it's music. For me, it's talking to my friends on the phone. I put on a headset and talk my way through hours of work. Praise the Lord for long distance plans!

5. But "stay on task". Don't go from place to place. Work on one thing at a time until it's completed. Don't start cleaning the bathtub and then leave it half done to go make the bed. One completely clean room will feel much better than 3 rooms that are one third of the way finished.

The Bathroom Super Clean

  • Take all dirty clothing and towels to the laundry room.
  • Wash bathmats.
  • Dust the fans and vents.
  • Clean light fixtures.
  • Dust the ceiling and corners.
  • Wash walls.
  • Clean switch plates.
  • Dust any framed art on walls.
  • Clean doors.
  • Wash curtains and dust blinds.
  • Wash windows.
  • Scrub tub and shower. Don't forget the fixtures.
  • Throw away any empty shampoo containers or old soap.
  • Wash down sink and fixtures.
  • Clean mirror.
  • Dust any knick-knacks.
  • Clean out medicine cabinet. Throw away any old prescriptions.
  • Clean out underneath sink.
  • Organize linen cabinet.
  • Scrub toilet.
  • Clean baseboards.
  • Sweep and mop the floor.
  • Empty and wash out trash can.
  • Put out any finishing touches...clean towels, fill soap dispensers, and freshening candles.

The Bedroom Super Clean

  • Straighten up room before you start. Putting away clothes where they belong. Throwing away trash. Putting knick-knacks, books, and toys where they belong.
  • Dust ceilings and corners.
  • Wash walls.
  • Clean switch plates.
  • Dust wall art.
  • Wash doors.
  • Clean ceiling fan and vents.
  • Wash curtains and dust blinds.
  • Wash windows.
  • Wash all bedding, comforters, mattress pads, and pillows.
  • Vacuum mattress.
  • Flip mattress.
  • Clean under bed.
  • Dust knick-knacks.
  • Use vacuum attachment to clean lampshade.
  • Dust dressers, and other furniture.
  • Organize closets and drawers.
  • Clean flooring.
Living Area Super Clean

What is a "living area"? Anything that is not a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, or dining area. It can be anything from a refinished basement kids playroom to a den to a traditional living room. So you may have to skip some things on this list that do not apply to your room.

  • Straighten up room before you start. Throwing away trash. Putting knick-knacks, books, and toys where they belong.
  • If this is a playroom area, go through your toys with the "clean sweep" method.
  • If this is a "tv" room, organize your movies with the "clean sweep" method.
  • Dust ceilings and corners.
  • Wash walls.
  • Clean switch plates.
  • Dust wall art.
  • Wash doors.
  • Clean ceiling fan and vents.
  • Clean light fixture.
  • Wash curtains and dust blinds.
  • Wash windows.
  • Dust knick-knacks.
  • Use vacuum attachment to clean lampshades.
  • Use vacuum attachment to clean couches and chairs.
  • Wash or dry clean any pillows or blankets.
  • Dust furniture.
  • Clean flooring including spots on carpet.
Dining Room Super Clean

  • Dust ceilings and corners.
  • Wash walls.
  • Clean switch plates.
  • Dust wall art.
  • Wash doors.
  • Clean ceiling fan and vents.
  • Clean light fixture.
  • Wash curtains and dust blinds.
  • Wash windows.
  • Dust knick-knacks.
  • If you have a bakers rack or china hutch, wash crystal and china in display.
  • Wash down dining room chairs and table.
  • Dust furniture.
  • Clean flooring including spots on carpet.
Kitchen Super Clean
  • Run ice and bleach down the kitchen drain. Run the garbage disposal until ice has cleared.
  • If you have any dirty dishes lying around, wash them and put them away.
  • Organize the kitchen cabinet and drawers. Remember the "clean sweep" way! Throw away anything that is broken and give away anything you haven't used in more than a year!
  • Dust ceilings and corners.
  • Wash walls.
  • Clean switch plates.
  • Dust wall art.
  • Wash doors.
  • Clean ceiling fan and vents.
  • Clean light fixture.
  • Wash curtains and dust blinds.
  • Wash windows.
  • Clean outside of the cabinets by using brasso on the hinges if they are on the outside, use oil soap and then a wood polish.
  • Dust knick-knacks.
  • Clean inside and outside of stove/oven.
  • Clean inside and outside of microwave.
  • Clean other appliances.
  • Clean out the refrigerator!
  • Clean out the sink.
  • If you have an eating area in your kitchen, clean the table and the chairs.
  • Clean flooring. The old fashioned hands and knees method really does work best for a deep clean.

And that's it! I'm sure you are exhausted. And it will probably take all week! If you want a list for something I forgot here, let me know.

...Cleaning? Use your kids!

Today's topic is motivating you into making your kids help you clean. There is a reason they call me "coachmom". I love sports, especially football and baseball. My kids have gotten accustomed to me speaking to them in sports metaphors. Hopefully, you will too!

Your family is a team. God created your family to work together as a cohesive unit! If one person is not playing their position, the team is not going to be victorious. Your children need to be taught this mindset. Children learn through repetition or "practice". Therefore, as teacher or "coach", you are going to have to be consistent. Send them out onto the field and if they do not perform the drill properly, you will have to go out there and demonstrate it for them and let them try again until they get it right. This takes patience and perseverance on your part. In the end, it will be worth it.

"That's great," you say, "but how do I make this happen?"

First, you start with daily chores. Even a three year old can put spoons into a dishwasher, or put napkins on the table for dinner. Then you inspect their job, correcting gently where correction is needed, and praising in both cases. Find something to praise about the job in either case. Correct first, then praise something. I know this sounds like a very "modern" philosophy but don't you want to work harder when you feel appreciated?

Move up to weekly chores, involving them in chores that you are not in the room for. Once again, inspect, correct, praise. Send them back to perform a chore again until it is done properly. Sooner or later, they will get the picture. Do NOT redo the chore for them. They need to learn that it does not affect you one way or the other if they spend 30 minutes or 3 hours doing that chore, so they may as well get it done right the first time. So only do this training method on a day where you were planning on staying home all day cleaning.

Once your children are trained to do daily and weekly chores, then they are ready to be involved in the quarterly chores! This will not happen overnight. And yes, my children still drive me crazy at times. They have to be retrained from time to time, when I was not consistent about my inspections. But I have heard from many people that my children are well trained in the chore arena. (Just don't tell them that!)


The first few of these columns will be repeats from my other blog. That way I can transfer what should have been on this one! This will make it easier for everyone to find the column they are looking for later.

Thanks for bearing with me!

God Bless!

By Request

My friend Siobhan asked me if I would "Coach Mom" her. So by request, I am starting a column on this new blog. I am keeping it separate from my other blog so that my extended family and friends can use that one to keep up with things going on with the kids.

Get ready for the whistle!