Friday, February 08, 2013

homemaking

straw, leather, string, linen, petal, leaf, stalk and wax

If I lift my gaze from the floor I am met with simple vignettes in summery hues. My eyes rest here for a while before they return to Poet, and the trail of knicks knacks she leaves in her wake.

The accomplishment that comes from tidying and rearranging is short-lived when you're a mum. You clean only to look around and find that it's all been turned upside down again; a slapstick comedy routine of sorts. 

When Che was younger I used to take him to a Steiner playgroup where we would bake bread, sing songs and sit under a towering liquid amber sipping chai. It's one of my favourite memories from his toddler years and the experience really inspired my parenting. I remember the teacher, a wise woman in her sixties, encouraging us to sing as we went about the housework. "You want to encourage your children to mimic you, help you, and they will if they perceive it as a happy task," she said. 

I can so easily fall into the habit of "tsking" as I clean - it's not exactly the sweetest song. Over the last few days I have been more mindful though and my little shadow has started helping, as if on cue. Poet's favourite job is emptying the dishwasher but she's rather partial to mopping up spilt water too. Yesterday as I wiped down the windowsills she was beside me, doing the same. 

        Cleaning with children is not efficient work; it usually takes twice as long and often requires enormous amounts of patience. Encouraging a five-year-old to pick up all the lego can easily be the most frustrating task of the week. However, I'm mindful of the roles we all play in the home. Responsibility is important - we all contribute to the mess, we should all contribute to the tidy-up. 

This week, as I tentatively stepped into the role of "school mum" I was met by three new words. The first was "ipod," followed closely by "pocket money." 

So tell me, do you encourage your toddler to clean up after themselves - to pack away toys and put their shoes/coat/bag in the right place? Do your older children have set chores and are they rewarded with pocket money? If so, what's the going rate?

update: I've just been informed that Che & Fidel has been nominated for the Best Family & Kids Blog over at Apartment Therapy. If you have a spare minute I'd love your vote....please.


53 COMMENTS

  1. My 4 year old has been making our bed without me asking(after a talk about chores.) His messy "make" of the bed kills my aesthetic mide, but it's too sweet to correct.

    My older son did was on a $5 Friday allowance.. but that has mainly changed to just some Legos ever so often and no money now. The bad part is you would like for them to have a lower allowance, but in this day they would never raise enough to reward themselves.

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  2. I was sometimes too quick to brush my boys aside so I could do the chores "correctly" or quickly but after several times of explaining to them that it's a priviledge to take care of our home and we must treat it as so, it became much more rewarding having them help.
    I think it gives them a sense of belonging and accomplishment to help with the family. "We are all one family and we work together" is what I tell them almost daily. I hope that's something they keep with them forever.

    I say Yes to pocket money...when they go above and beyond in helping. I get a lot more things done around here for me when my boys are trying to save for something. :)

    I'm sure you'll find what is most comfortable for you... your children are very lucky to have parents who work so hard to understand their changes and challenges. I know I've learned a great deal from you on so many things.
    xo Sarah

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  3. nice idea of singing while doing housework, or put some music on could work too :)

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  4. My 3 year old son is happy to pack and place his things when he is done with playing. Sometimes if I start putting things in, he will come and say ' let's help mama!' :) pocket money ? We don't have the culture of giving pocket money in such young age, lets see if times changes soon. :)

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  5. My eldest who is 6 will help dry dishes love to help me dust whilst listening to his fav Jack Johnson. I encourage my 2 yr old to tidy up toys and he enjoys it even though I normally have to re-tidy afterwards.
    we reward with pocket money for things like good reading or open evening at school or if the boys have been super good, rewards can be making a big craft thing together which my son loves to go shopping for glitter paint etc.
    Hope you have some more fun tidy time singalongs together..:)

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  6. We have a 1.5 year old and we are always cleaning together as a family. My husband and I have found that when we show our little girl Stella how to help, she is eager to want to tag along. We also rock out to some pretty good music as we clean, dancing as we go. :)

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  7. I am always encouraging my Elie to clean up after himself but god yes I was just thinking of this the other day, there is always something to clean up. I don't think I'd ever offer him money for cleaning though, the way we see it, it is a duty and something that should be enjoyed because a clean home is happier. I think in our case the reward is a tidy home, of course we're not too ocd about cleanliness, a bit of fun small messes is always fun.

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    1. Elie is almost 2, by the way. So he's still at the 'I like to clean up but my attention span defeats me.' His favorite tasks are throwing his dirty diapers in the trash bin and sweeping.

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  8. I am really going to make an effort to bring some joy to the tasks I hate doing. Singing seems like the perfect solution.

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  9. I am guilty far too often of just doing it myself to get it done more quickly and the way I'd like it. I am trying to change my ways. Seems easier with my 7 year old girl. She is always willing to help. My 9 year old boy on the other hand, is not so keen.

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  10. I find it so helpful to read your thoughts and the ideas of others. Such an encouraging conversation to have when you feel like you are the only one trying to figure out these things. Thank you! I really needed to read this today as my almost 6 year old boy howls when we ask him to clean up (with us) and will only do it for a quarter! I have to say he is very good 'saver' for lego! My almost 4 year girl on the other hand will hang up her dresses and pick up playmobile and help me wash dishes! Go figure.

    Loving your blog.
    Johanna

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  11. Oh and I wanted to say that I have a blog and I've joined your beautiful photo a week of your kids for a year. Love it!

    messylabstudio.blogspot.com

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  12. I did not have her tidy up when she was younger (under 5) but now we are starting a tidy one activity then begin another sort of adventure...we have cotton puffs that are rewards that go in a jar and when the jar is full she gets her age in money...I can reward her for anything really - being kind, helping out, good school work, finishing lunch, etc...as for "cleaning" I like her to feel like she's doing something without it getting in the way, so I've discovered a spray bottle with a mist setting and water plus a cleaning cloth go a long, long way...and in general she's always eager to help out. I just say, I need some help, can you take the laundry out of the dryer and she does it right away...so all in all it seems to work.

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  13. Love this Jodi. Though mine is too little for pocket change, I am definitely taking interest in your reminders to stay happy while cleaning... (something I'm terrible at in both regards). If only you could see our home right now! Thinking I might turn on some tunes and make it more of a cleaning-dance-party. ;)

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  14. I have a 5 and a 7 year old and we have tried quite a few different systems. Mommy bucks work best for us. We use them for behavior also...that is awarded for great behavior and taken away for disappointing behavior. They are received when they have their beds made and they get ready in a timely manner in the morning. When they help with different chores such as sweeping and dusting. They don't have set chores, but I have been thinking that they should at this age. Helping sweep and dust is still very fun for them. Oh, they also enjoy cleaning windows.
    They can use 2 mommy bucks for an extra book at night. Five money bucks gets them a dollar store toy or a toy in the dollar section at target. Ten, gets an ice cream cone at Rite Aid or a sundae at McDonald's.
    The mommy bucks can come and go pretty quick depending on their behavior. I keep the mommy bucks in a jar for each child in the kitchen. They used to keep them, but they seemed to get lost or switched up a bit if you know what I mean.

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  15. I'm trying (keyword) to teach my daughter the ropes of cleaning up. I have a feeling she's not going to like it haha ; )

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  16. I probably sound mean but we don't do pocket money, my kids are taught that certain jobs are part of being a family, that we all have to pull together to get everything done.
    That being said they don't go without anything they need and get most of the things they want. My oldest got a job as soon as she was old enough and I'm not sure she would have been motivated to had she been getting pocket money.
    I have friends whose children get pocket money but the jobs have to be above and beyond jobs (not cleaning their toys / rooms as that is expected).
    What works is different for everyone and I'm sure you'll work out whats best for your family because you parent very thoughtfully.

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  17. Hi Jodi, I definitely encourage Ilo to clean up but by doing it with him and by yes, singing a song. When he was a bit younger he was quite fastidious about cleaning up his things but unfortunately that has passed for the time being.
    Poe is amazing at cleaning up, he loves a clean room and he loves setting up little displays of his dolls and toys. We have spoken about pocket money now that Poe is 6 but it is not tied up with household chores; everyone is part of this family and part of this home and is expected to help. He only receives pocket money if he has a clear objective, something that he seriously wants to buy, something which we have spoken about and thought about. He recently saved pocket money, birthday money and earned money (from a little stall) to buy a beautiful ukelele, it took him months and he adores it and is currently learning chords. Beautiful wishes to you all.

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    1. Oh and the pocket money is $2 a week.

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  18. I tried pocket money for a while when my son was in Prep. The be fair to his younger brother, only 17 months behind him, he received some money. For us, it just didn't work. They seemed to be fixated on the money rather than the task that needed doing to earn the money. After one too many tantrums about trips to the toy shop to purchase yet another useless and quickly discarded plastic toy and not enough care for saving up for a prized possession I sat them down and explained to them that pocket money would stop for a while until they were a bit older. They dealt with that change really well and now I find they do a lot more tasks around the house without being asked or expecting anything in return.

    I find they are learning each day to clean up by watching my husband and I, and I also find they are learning the value of money by watching my husband and I. Our spending habits teach them so much more about money than the little pocket money experiment that I tried. Each time my husband and I make do with what we have, or each time they hear about how we are saving up for something or they watch me pay a bill they are learning.

    Like everything with parents and families it is all about doing what works best for you. Perhaps I need to refine my approach and come up with a different way of approaching pocket money before I try it again.

    Love your idea about singing while cleaning up. I noticed the teacher at my son's kindy does that and all the kids start singing along with her as they clean. So adorable to see. I think I might give that a go at home, too.

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  19. We struggled with the pocket money concept for a long time. In the end we decided that we did not want to pay our children for helping around the house - it is part of being a family and having pride in our home and our environment and cooperating together. So, we do give the children pocket money each month, but it is not attached to jobs or tasks. We still wanted to teach the kids to be responsible with money. Our children receive $20 a month, it seems a lot, but a portion goes into their piggy bank and they know that that is all they have to spend. They are learning how to save and how long it takes to have enough to buy something really good.
    This year our nine year old son is saving for his ski ticket - he won't have enough for the whole lot, but he realises that sort of an activity is expensive and a priviledge.

    Good luck!

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  20. When I was a kid, my mum gave us $5 a week, and to earn it we had to do 2 chores a day - one "small" chore and one "big" chore. Small was taking out the garbage, picking up all the clothes on the bathroom floor and taking them to the laundry etc. Big was unloading the dishwasher, hanging out the clothes on the line, vacuuming etc. But this was when we were a bit older, from memory maybe 3rd or 4th grade.

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  21. "The accomplishment that comes from tidying and rearranging is short-lived when you're a mum. You clean only to look around and find that it's all been turned upside down again; a slapstick comedy routine of sorts." Those are true, true words : )

    I do encourage my three year old to tidy up. And, in turn, my one year old usually follows. Sometimes we use it as an incentive-- we'll say, "if you clean up all of your cars and trucks then you can ________". Other times it's a simple, "you must clean up this mess!". : )

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  22. Head on over to mamamia today, they've got an article on pocket money today. When I was a wee one, there were jobs around the house that were 'expected' and then bonus jobs for pocket money. For example, we just to have lots of weeds growing through our pavers and Dad said that I could have 1 cent per weed (I think?, although at one point there were so many weeds I think it was reduced to 20 weeds for 10 cents or something). It was a good lesson in actually working for money but on a task that I wasn't expected to do.

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  23. My 22 month old is super into putting things away at the moment but I haven't done much to facilitate this, I guess she is just following my lead like your Poet is. My 9 year old is expected to tidy his room once a week so I can vacuum, but I let the lego creations and works in progress go untidied for the rest of the week. It breaks his heart to have to destroy his elaborate works before they are complete and I am not interested in having any kind of drama over it. He feeds his cat, puts out the recycling once a week and sweeps our kitchen floor daily, all simple tasks that are achievable and quick to do but still instil that idea of contribution. For this he receives $5 a week which goes straight into his bank account. He has savings goals and can withdraw his money when he has got enough to buy the thing he has his sights set on. He does really well with this, and it has changed his attitude to 'stuff'. He rarely asks us to buy him toys any more, just has endless discussions about what to save up for next. Good luck with Che, I think J was a similar age when we began his pocket money plan. x

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  24. Making cleaning a "happy task" is such a lovely reminder. We've tried to make things kid friendly to encourage Bijou to help. SHe can now set the table by herself by helping herself to placemats, coasters, cutlery from a basket and glasses from the cupboard. Just bringing things down to her height and giving her some tools i.e. a basket to carry things to the table, has made a big difference. She shows such pride when she's finished her task. Thanks for sharing your world :) x

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  25. Jarvis is only 14 months old but he 'helps' with the housework. When I make the bed he hands me the pillows, when I vac he pushes it from behind. I try to do the housework with music and we stop in between to dance. Plus we always pick up his toys together. When I cook dinner he sits up on the bench with me with his mixing bowl and whisk (both metal so he loves the clanging sounds). I think he is learning to help out, well I hope he is.

    http://iliska-dreams.blogspot.com.au/

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  26. I once read that you don't do for children what they can do for themselves. This was an eye opener as I realised I did too much for my first born. I think everybody has a different situation however it is good to get good habits started early.

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  27. The relentlessness of cleaning up after children drives me quite insane. I do try to get them to own their own things, but it is slow going work! I try not to let the mess get to me too much, as long as it's all neat and tidy at day's end, then that's enough for me these days. x

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    1. There comes the point where you have just got to let it go, I know that much...x

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  28. I liked this piece and also reading all the comments! Our boys at 10, 7, and 6 are expected to help with daily chores like setting the table, making beds etc, but if they want to earn some dosh on any given week they can do extra things like hanging out the washing, mopping the floor and so on. I think it's super important for children to grow up capable of looking after themselves and others, so they need to do daily housework, and all the better if I could set a good example by doing it happily (I'm not as well-mannered as tsk-ing though!) Also RESIST THE IPOD for as long as you can! Setting boundaries for those things and then following through is my idea of hell! And depending on their efforts, between $2 and $5 per week (pre-agreed).

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  29. little tate is in charge of taking out any recycling and i don't even have to ask him, he just does it.

    quinn is in charge of emptying the little rubbish bins throughout the house like the bathroom, bedrooms, ect.

    they get paid .50 cents a week which is distributed at the sunday night family meeting, they spend it at the milk bar usually buying bubble gum for at baseball.

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  30. Lego and spilt drinks that drip through the folds of our extendable table... Easily the most frustrating bits of my day! I think you probably echo every mother in the land. I find music helps to keep me in a light frame of mind, music with a beat. It doesn't do anything as far as getting them to help me any more, but what it does do is keep me from snapping. Usually we end up dancing together and I tidy as I go. I'm a little uncomfortable with the concept of pocket money at this stage but I guess that may change once I'm a school mum. We don't have anything rigid when it comes to chores (probably because I'm not very rigid myself!). Luca enjoys doing any chore that involves Daddy - cleaning out the car, clearing sticks and debris ready for mowing etc - and anything in the garden with me. Just writing these words makes me realise that I should be thankful for that; he's not very good at keeping his room tidy but I can live with that. x

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  31. Beautiful ideas! Yes Jude's been helping to pack his things away but that's about all for now. He enjoys watering plants, collecting the eggs and sweeping on second thought...

    Jude's been heard singing at montessori. Jemma and Dimitri have both told me that in a silent room they will just hear Jude burst into song as he does his work, or just quietly hum to himself. My baby. Isn't that the sweetest? He's going okay. Lots of tears this week at drop offs. :(

    x

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  32. gosh Jodi 'ipod' and 'pocket money' were very quick to enter Che's vocab - in the first week!! No ipod or pocket money here. We do as Jay mentioned above, if there is something that the boys really really would like to have (such as a scooter last year) then they save for that specific item and they do so by doing jobs that are not part of the expected 'being in the family' list and also when they visit family members they phone ahead and say they are saving and if there are any jobs that nana or aunties would like done then they do them and earn money that way. River has written his list of jobs down and it is on the fridge - empty compost, make his bed, fold his clothes and put away, put away toys, empty recycling he has to do these jobs each morning before school. Sol at age 3 is very keen to help and I am going to write a jobs list for him too, partly because I empathise with River as the first born as I am first born too and he sometimes throws out the 'how come I have to do jobs and Sol doesn't' line. I think as a culture we do far too much for our children I am very conscious of not doing things that they can do for themselves. Good luck! xx

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  33. I like to think that little ones helping with cleaning is just a part of family life. While I feel as though I am constantly tidying up after my girls, we have a set 'tidy time' in the afternoon which we have only recently implemented and in that time, everything becomes spin and span and tidy again before the tea and bath night time routine. We don't have pocket money or anything like that yet but personally I like the idea of pocket money being for 'special' chores or responsibilities, a bit like what Kristi has described above. Great post and has been interesting reading everyone's views on this topic x

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  34. I expect my little ones to clean their own rooms and various messes they have made throughout the house - unpaid! However if they help with the things I normally do like washing up, folding washing etc I will give them a dollar or two, especially when I know they are saving hard for something. No set amount here and no set weekly pocket money, but I have been thinking about it lately. As for the Ipod, our 7 year old asked for a good two years and I told him when he saved the money he could get one. I assumed by the time he saved for one he would change his mind, but alas, not long after Xmas he became the proud new owner of an Ipod. He is not allowed to play it on school days and he is limited to one hour on the weekends. I was impressed to see him download Reading Eggs and other educational games he uses at school, so not all bad if you set limits :).

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  35. We're not yet up to pocket money around here, but we do still insist that all three boys help with packing up the entire play room before we move onto the next thing. It can be hard work sometimes, but in the long run, we do feel it's good for them and good for our family. Lovely vignettes!
    Ronnie xo

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  36. whistling works well too! my three year old is desperate to learn how to whistle and is a willing wee helper around the house, when it suits her, anyway. at other times bribery generally works, at this age just the reminder of good things to come, ie 'once we've tidied we can...' rather than pocket money. she just started kindy and apparently told her teachers in no uncertain terms that it was their job to tidy up toys; which is how it worked at the playcentre we used to attend!
    having had a rather OCD mother i have many rather sad memories of the oppressiveness of constant tidying and so keeping it minimal and fun has always been my aim with my kids x

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    1. I find your childhood memories so interesting Max. Often, when the house is in turmoil but the children are happy playing I remind of the importance of letting it go. I would prefer them to look back and remember a home full of "love and clutter," to quote Mirka Mora, than a home too-neat-to-enjoy x

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  37. Hello, my 3 year old has to help tidy his toys away (even if he only puts a few things away). It's important for them to learn that mum (and dad) aren't there to constantly pick up after them!

    I love the idea of singing whilst tidying. I can get into a bit of a grump when I do it so will try to be more mindful when I do it.

    Col x

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  38. I wanted to instill the concepts of giving to others and saving so when my now 18yr old was little we talked about pocket money and earning it for jobs, she decided that she would like hers to go to Greenpeace so that is what I have done for the last 13yrs. When I had the same discussion with her younger siblings they too decided they wanted theirs to go to a charity so we now have a unicef donation plus a NZ charity which provides school breakfasts and lunches for those in need. They still have jobs they do like dishwasher and recycling but they don't get any money in hand for these. However if they want something special they can earn money by doing extra jobs.A few years ago I also started putting $10 a fortnight each into a savings account for them which they know about, it doesn't seem like much but they all have over $1000 now and my 18yr old is appreciating the boost its giving her OE money when she travels next month...I imagine the younger ones will appreciate the lump sum more than weekly small amount too when they need something big. Tidying up legos and other toys is something that needs to happen if you play with them but we do negotiate round this...if the boys are in the middle of a big creation it doesn't have to be packed up by the end of the day, it can stay out until they have finished just like sometimes my sewing stays all over the table for a few days while I finish something up.

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    1. I love everything that you have discussed here Gabrielle. Thank you - much food for thought x

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  39. Just the perfect post for today as I was getting upset about all the cleaning and mess which lasts for 10 min with a 16 month old in the house!
    She has started wiping the table after meals but just to create little extra mess lol...we do go along packing our tots together sometimes.
    Just started following your blog and joined portrait a week project...loving it already!

    Ritz
    www.bebenus.com

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  40. Congrats on the nomination Jodi!
    Wow, amazing that Che has already picked up on technology in a short time, I wonder if some of the other 5yr olds have an ipod? :-O
    I would also try postpone the technology as long as possible, I see alot of mums in Noosa with kids on ipads in cafe's and restaurants, almost a necessity for these parents...'each to their own' however I think there are other ways to entertain if possible.
    Chores and cleaning : I have Jasper who is 3 in april and every morning when he wakes he makes his bed (with my help) and he tidys his toys before his afternoon nap and again at night. After meals he takes his plate and puts (tips it over) into the sink. My little one George is 19 months and he helps (usually hinders) clean up duplo etc...and if he picks up rubbish I direct him to the bin.
    I have yet to enter the lego phase...Im thinking of postponing buying lego till Jasper is 4 or 5:)
    xox

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  41. Oh Jodi, it is so true about the conundrum of trying to clean and tidy with little ones in the home...we try to instill the "tidy up before starting anything new" rule in my house. It works haphazardly and I will often find myself tidying up the lego and blocks and books at the end of the day. I must remember to lower my expectations...of course little ones can't be expected to tidy as I would...there efforts are ok....and their happiness about play is also good. Congrats on the nominations...you do have wonderful blog here to be proud of xx

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  42. First, I'm so interested in this Steiner playgroup. It sounds so nice. I echo the thoughts of many here - clean up this project or cluster of toys before moving on to the next. We have varying levels of success. But the most helpful has been having a organized system of bins (with pictures of what goes where on the outside of the bins). That way my (almost 4 year old) can put things up where they go and knows where to go to get what. Very helpful!

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  43. We introduced pocket money this year after our first visit from the tooth fairy.
    We have a star chart. The everyday clean up is required without 'reward'.
    Additional tasks which help the family are recognised with a star. These tasks include sorting washing, vacuuming, setting the table, feeding the chooks, taking out the rubbish bags.
    5 stars on the chart = .50c
    So 10c per chore.

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  44. When the kids were little we packed things away together, because family members help each other. Ongoing projects don't get packed away for days or weeks as the boys come back to them to continue the play.

    Now the boys are bigger, we don't give pocket money for everyday tasks, there are jobs that need to be done and we do them to help each other out - it's not a financial transaction within family. We don't allocate tasks, we ask the children for help as we go about the day. The reward is in accomplishment of the task. I ask for help to set the table. I ask for help to pack away the table. It creates connection, doing things together.

    As far as money goes, my boys don't seem to need it yet. They seem fairly content with their lot even though they don't have iPods, iPads, Nintendo, Xbox, Wii etc. People ask us how we have avoided these things and we say it is simple, you say 'no'.

    My boys have many books and many toys, but the thing that gets the biggest workout is the recycling bin. They take stuff from the recycling bin to make whatever they need to get on with what they are playing.

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  46. I hadn't thought of singing while cleaning, great idea! My 3 year old loves to vacum, sweep or wash the chars. My 15 month LOVES to wash stuff..with a vet cloth she is set for ages! Although i will admitt that lately i have just given up on their "help" and paid the babysitter to take them to the park while i power threw the house!!

    I would love to ask what steiner playgroup you went to? I am doing one with my younger one (older goes to steiner kindie twice a week) but she is getting to big soon as its a baby group..we need to find a toddler one! We are in sydney too..
    Thanks

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  47. I hadn't thought of singing while cleaning, great idea! My 3 year old loves to vacum, sweep or wash the chars. My 15 month LOVES to wash stuff..with a vet cloth she is set for ages! Although i will admitt that lately i have just given up on their "help" and paid the babysitter to take them to the park while i power threw the house!!

    I would love to ask what steiner playgroup you went to? I am doing one with my younger one (older goes to steiner kindie twice a week) but she is getting to big soon as its a baby group..we need to find a toddler one! We are in sydney too..
    Thanks

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