So yesterday I spilled my Slob Guts about my personal grief over not having been the perfect mother during my kids’ preschool years.

Today I’m going to share how Teamwork has been going so far this year. We’ve been at it for one week.

(Technically, we’re two weeks into the year, but did anyone actually begin working on New Year’s Resolutions before starting back to school?)

The Sunday night before school started, we had a Family Meeting (which was really just a purposeful talk during supper). Hubby and I began by reminding the kids how we’ve benefited as a family from my blog over the past year-or-so. We were able to take vacations with BOTH sides of our extended family. We went to Medieval Times, had fantastic seats at a Rangers game, and we all LOVE our new fancy fridge.

(It really wasn’t difficult to remind them, as they are already my biggest fans. Though I do sometimes worry who they’ve told about my blog . . . )

Then I shared with them my vision for 2013. We’d talked about all of it before, but now we were discussing a plan. They were excited.

I reminded them how much time I already spend working on my blog. I asked them to imagine how much more time I’ll need to work if I add these new projects.

They understood.

I told them, “I have a job. We need to start running our home like I have a job.”

And I told them that I needed their help.

We talked about how thankful we are that I’m able to make a little money from something that allows me to still be able to take them to the pool every single day of the summer. We discussed how great it is that I get to pick them up from school every day.

They’re old enough to see that not everyone gets to do this.

They’re old enough.

Then I told them what I needed from them. I didn’t create a chart or system. I just said, “We’re going to making cleaning up the kitchen part of dinner time. Every night.”

And we did.

After supper, my 11yo claimed the sink and filled the dishwasher. My 6yo gathered scraps for the dog and cleared the table while my 9yo wiped down the counters and the table.

And I realized that even though I hadn’t succeeded at making this an everyday part of their lives, I had taught them how to do these things.

In fits and spurts. On focused (though not necessarily consistent) summer days.

And as they worked on their jobs, I was able to sweep and straighten and do some of the things that get pushed to the side when I’m overwhelmed with just the basics.

It was such a relief to know I wasn’t starting from nothing. Such a reassurance to know that even a randomly taught lesson has lasting impact.

Throughout the week, it got easier. My ever-observant 9yo said, “It’s getting easier to clean up the kitchen since we’re doing it every day” and “We’ve had plenty of clean glasses this week!”

When there were more hands than jobs, I had my 6yo gather the recycling or my 9yo pick up the living room.

And as we worked, we sang. At the top of our lungs. And we were together.

And that . . . makes my Mommy Heart proud.

Do you have something you’re focusing on in 2013?  How is it going so far?


Did you get your copy of my new e-book yet?  It’s on sale through the end of January!





  1. 1

    See? You know, I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, this is the right age to begin the teamwork thing because they can finally grasp what it really means and how it really affects them and you. Whereas, if they had been doing this stuff since they were toddlers, it may well have been just because “mommy told me to” and not any other reason at all. At least, that’s the lesson I’m going to take out of it for my own household. I don’t think either of my kids really thought much about these things until I got really sick last year and I noticed they became far more helpful – on their own – because they were at the age that they could really appreciate the meaning and importance of everyone doing their part and of helping in general. I mean, it’s not a consistent thing with us either, especially now that I’m well, but it’s moved farther in that direction and it’s encouraging!

  2. 2

    that is just so fantastic!!! I’m VERY happy for you!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. 3
    Alana in Canada says:

    Nony, this is amazing. Whenever our family tries to do chores together, it usually results in someone yelling at someone else. (Adults included, unfortunately.) Always. It’s horrible.

  4. 4

    This is something that I really want to teach my children this year too. I have younger kids 4,3,2 and I really want to have more but I realize that I will never keep up with them if they do not help me out. My oldest is just at the age where she can start helping with the simple things around the house. I am hoping this year to start teaching them about teamwork and taking care of their own things.

  5. 5

    This was the teary post for me. Way to go!!!

  6. 6

    We have started the kids doing table chores just a few months ago. They are a little younger, so they have assigned jobs. They keep the same jobs in hopes that they will each learn one job well before we rotate.

    In case it will help anyone else with ideas:

    8 year old: returns all food to fridge. fills water pitchers and returns to fridge.
    7 year old: sweeps around table.
    5 year old: wipes table and highchair tray.
    3 year old: wipes chairs (maybe not very important, but I like him working with us)
    1 year old: just looks cute 🙂

    We do not have a dishwasher, so one of the adults begins washing while the other helps the kids. Everyone is expected to place their own plate in the sink.

  7. 7

    “Makes my Mommy Heart Proud” …. sums it all up doesn’t it? What a wonderful validation.
    This post serves well to mark the point for you to stop wearing that ‘not the perfect mother’ label, your children are charming proof that you must have been doing something right 🙂
    Thank you so much for these posts – I am taking a good look at how and why things run the way they do around here.

  8. 8

    Holy canoli…I can’t imagine why I haven’t done this myself. My girls are 8 and 10 and are perfectly able to do this. We eat at the table 5 or 6 nights out of the week, so just the thought of getting to where I am shoveling off the mountain of junk that has been dumped on this particular catch-all part of the counter every night…wow. Found your blog via your kindle book on Amazon. Great stuff!

  9. 10

    Yep, this made me teary eyed! What a perfect beginning to teamwork! I especially loved the singing! When my daughters and I cook together, as in Thanksgiving, we not only sing at the top of our lungs, but dance, too!

  10. 11

    Sorry, but having kids who act like that sounds way more important than having kids who always hang up their towels and wipe out the sink. You may not have created/trained kids who are hyperaware of the need to clean up after themselves, but you have created kids who support their mom and family and pitch in out of love. Yesterday’s (okay 4 years ago’s) post has my cheeks wet.

  11. 12

    One more thing, I wish so much that I had found your blog in real time. My kids are only a couple of years older than yours and I could have learned so much from your parenting. My kids are awesome but I spent a large part of their childhood letting my negative feelings about myself drive the need to criticize and yell a lot.

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