Stroke of genius: A recipe for chores and cooperation

Recipe for Chores

I am neither a parenting expert nor a housekeeping expert, but occasionally I have a really good idea, and it works. Here’s the latest.

The most annoying question my kids ask me every day when I pick them up from school is: “What’s for after-school snack?” I don’t know what’s for after school snack! It’s frustrating that they expect me to have some kind of smorgasbord planned for their arrival when, honestly, they should be satisfied that I’m fully dressed when I pick them up. I got them breakfast before school. I make them dinner almost every night. Anyway, I try. I really do, but I usually don’t have anything spectacular for them to eat when they get home from school.

Today, after the kids were off to school, I walked from room to room in the house. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of work required to get everything tidy again. How can three smallish people make such big messes and so quickly? How?! I dreaded cleaning it all up, and felt like I shouldn’t have to. I didn’t make the messes. So I decided that instead of spending my energy cleaning up after them, I’d rather channel my energy into a plan to get them to clean up after themselves.

My idea: A treat. They love a home-baked snack. They also love to cook with me, but I don’t do it with them as often as I should, or even as often as I’d like to. So I decided to wrap all those “rewards” into one. I realize that this is not a good daily chore plan, but when you’re feeling overwhelmed about all that has to be done and you need to rally the troops to really chip in and help, this worked like a charm.

The plan:

I found a yummy recipe that had approximately as many ingredients as chores I wanted them to do. I cut and pasted the ingredients list into a Word document, enlarged the font and line spacing, then printed it out.

Recipe

Then I turned the paper over and wrote down the tasks I wanted done around the house.

chores list

Then I cut the papers into strips, with the ingredient on one side and the chore on the other,

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And rolled them up and put them into a bowl.

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(This is how helpful my cat was during this process.)

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I put the chore bowl on the table with some fruit for after-school snack and then waited for the kids to come home.

CAM00484I showed them the recipe and explained that they needed to do the chores to earn the ingredients. When everyone had earned all the ingredients, we would make the cake together.

It worked. They jumped right in and divided the papers among them.

CAM00489See? Magic. At one point, Clark said, “When there’s a really good reward, it almost makes the chores fun.” It’s like he knew I needed a slogan for my blog post or something. ;)

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They finished their work quickly and without complaining. They each had ownership for their own ingredients and, once earned, could measure them out and add them to the recipe when called for.

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We made the cake, ate it, and they were happy and pleasant. There was still a little bit of clean-up to be done, but it was way more manageable than my house was earlier, and now I can walk from room to room in my house and smile at the improvement.

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How about you? In a moment of “crisis,” have you ever had a stroke of parental genius that actually worked? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Sometimes we all just need a few new tricks to try.

The Manner of Happiness: A Lesson from the Book of Mormon

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Yesterday in Sunday School, we were studying 2 Nephi chapter 5, which describes what happened to Nephi, his family, and all those who followed him after they separated themselves from Laman, Lemuel, and their families.  This was a short time after the death of their father, Lehi, right after he had exhorted his children to listen to and follow the counsel of Nephi.  However, a few days after his death, Laman and Lemuel were again complaining against Nephi and threatening his life.  And so their family broke in half, and they started over.  This was probably not an easy time for them.  They had lost Lehi, who had guided them on this amazing journey across the wilderness, across the sea, and into a new land.  Their future probably seemed uncertain, and they must have worried for their lives and safety, especially under the threat of the angry half of the family.  I’m sure there was mourning and anxiety.  But here’s the fascinating part– in verse 27:

And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.

I attended a CES workshop once where the teacher broke down this chapter into ingredients for that happiness.  Here are some of the notes I have in the margins:

(from 2 Nephi 5)

1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my God, because of the anger of my brethren.

PRAYER +

5 And it came to pass that the Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me.

PERSONAL REVELATION and FLEE FROM EVIL +

6 Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words.

FOLLOW THE PROPHET +

10 And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses.

OBEDIENCE +

11 And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind. (see also verse 17)

WORK +

12 And I, Nephi, had also brought the records which were engraven upon the aplates of brass; and also the bball, or ccompass, which was prepared for my father by the hand of the Lord, according to that which is written.

SCRIPTURES +

13 And it came to pass that we began to prosper exceedingly, and to multiply in the land.

MARRY AND RAISE FAMILIES +

16 And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.

TEMPLE =

27 And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.

THE MANNER OF HAPPINESS.

The world is a complicated place, but I really think the answers are this simple.  I’m not naive enough to think that their lives were free of pain or suffering or difficult times, but these ingredients can bring us peace of mind and a steadiness of character, and the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  Just one more reason I love the Book of Mormon and know that it’s true.