WFMW – Life Skills

wfmwSeveral weeks ago I was talking with a friend about my struggles to Do It All as a homeschooling mother of five. This godly woman is an amazing problem solver, and within minutes she had several ideas specifically addressing my scheduling and organizational needs.

I cannot reveal her name.

There are times when it is best to protect a person’s anonymity. This is especially true when there are five children (at least one of whom is a rather hulking teenager) that cherish their free time.

hulking teenager at rest

Joshua works on his menacing look.

At the onset, my beloved offspring were not exactly enamored with my friend’s involvement in our daily lives. What she suggested has made a dramatic change to our schedule. After our conversation, I immediately brainstormed how to put it into practice. Although the children have grown accustomed to this new system, and even appreciate its simplicity and structure, I feel it is best not to divulge the true origins.

Plus, I like to keep the rascals guessing. It’s important to have some aura of mystery and lofty wisdom as a mother.

Life Skills

There are many people in this diverse and beautiful world who are naturally organized. God love them.

I am NOT one of those people.

Despite my many housekeeping shortcomings, however, I do like things somewhat clean and tidy. When my home is cluttered and messy, I feel suffocated and overwhelmed. I need some order in my life. Homeschooling five children is not the ideal situation for cultivating a well-kept home. We live, really live, in our home all day.

These children never go away!
[Deep breaths]
But I digress.

My friend’s idea was this: build an hour of Life Skills into our daily homeschooling schedule. Life Skills could relate to everything from chores to cooking, budget lessons, lawn work, or even babysitting instruction. I absolutely loved the idea! It was perfect and could be applied to so many different areas of life.

I decided my most crucial need was regular, structured help in keeping up the house. The kids are wonderful and regularly assist in picking up the house, but when I look around at our messy home and shout,

“We need to clean the Entire House – Right Now!”

they are often overwhelmed and paralyzed…or hiding in the hall closet.

Not to throw stones; at that point I’m usually overwhelmed and panicked as well.

rachel and sarah

Look Sarah, let’s take a picture of Mommy having a meltdown.

Life Skills has changed everything. I hate to sound dramatic, but this simple addition to our schedule has truly transformed things in our home. I don’t have to worry as the house begins to look messy and cluttered during the day, I know at 4 pm the cry Life Skills will go forth, and by 5 pm the entire house will be picked up and fresh.

It’s heavenly!!

Here are the basic steps on how we developed the practice of Life Skills:

  1. Divide up the house
  2. Make a list all the rooms of the house (don’t forget the laundry room)
  3. Write down the basic chores needed in each area
  4. Group areas together according to size and complexity of work
  5. Assign a weekly rotation
  6. Find a time in your daily schedule that would accommodate an hour of Life Skills
  7. Go For It!

My older three children each handle one meal (dishes, clearing table, loading and unloading the dishwasher etc) a day. They are assigned that meal for the week, at which point they rotate. We have practiced this for several years now and it (typically) works smoothly.

I decided to combine the Life Skills job with the meal rotations. Rachel helped me to break down our home into specific work areas and then coordinate the jobs with existing positions. We delegated the smaller areas of the house to the younger children and included them on the meal appointments.

For example, the child with the breakfast assignment is also responsible for tidying the living room and downstairs bathroom. Lunch has the upstairs bathroom and the laundry room (neaten room, gather dirty clothes and run a load of laundry). Dinner (which is a big responsibility, taking the longest amount of time to complete) is in charge of the family room and hallway (smaller areas).

David and Sarah (my almost 7 and 5 year olds) assist their siblings with meal and laundry chores and handle the dining room, stairs, and upstairs hallway. They rotate jobs as Little Buddy 1 and Little Buddy 2.

little buddy what's his name

This Little Buddy is taking a Little Break.

Once a week the children are responsible for giving their section a thorough cleaning (wash floors, vacuum, dust, etc). Because the children are so efficient and the house is now being picked up on regular basis, I was able to add in a 10 minute bedroom clean up to the Life Skills roster.

Another friend has suggested I include a Clean the Minivan job. You can see the options are limitless.

life skills did him in

Mother, I beg you, please don’t any anything more to Life Skills.

There you have it. A rather lengthy and detailed description of how we apply Life Skills to our day. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to confuse you further help clarify things.

Drop by Don’t Try This At Home and see other Works for Me Wednesday links.


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14 thoughts on “WFMW – Life Skills”

  1. Oh Kathy – this is great! I had been wanting to teach my kids “Life Skills” like this. I would need to modify this a little bit to apply to our situation (mom who works outside at home 7.5 hours a day, for 5 days). On weekends most of the time I just like doing the chores by myself – get t done fast, right, quickly – but I ow realize that’s really not the best because that doesn’t teach my kids life skills…

    Anyway, this inspires me to do get them more involved….

  2. This is an amazing post! I am a FIRM believer in kids learning and doing life skills. These are the things that will serve them well long after the academics part is over.

  3. Kathy, it sounds like you’re doing great! Congratulations! Here’s a funny thing I’ve discovered: Naturally organized people (like me) STILL like to read organizational tips and ideas (like these). Weird, I know! I’m always changing how I do things, though, looking for a better way. Don’t laugh!

  4. Your Nana, Katherine, used to say it’s much easier to take the trash out ones self- but much more important to teach the child to do it and LET him do it.

    She would be very proud of you!! I am. I love you, Aunt Kate

  5. Kathy,
    You have no idea how timely this idea is! I have been trying to get a rotation schedule finished that includes my younger ones. My oldest two really do carry the bulk of the burden simply because that is the way it has always been. I like your weekly meal plan. It would greatly reduce arguments around here. I will begin working on this today. Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. This is fabulous. I have 3 kids who tend to fight, quite dramatically, once we start cleaning. One is not doing something to the others satisfaction and so on. I pretty much have a meltdown trying to get them to work together as a team, because, it will get done so much faster. My reasoning goes in one ear and out the other. Now being big and pregnant and oh so easily stressed, I have been looking for something to implement some better and more organized cleaning time, I like you, am not the natural organizer.

    So thank you for sharing and I will be saving this!


  7. Oh my goodness. You could be writing about me! :) I’m not good at housekeeping, either, and yet desire a tidy home and feel suffocated when it isn’t. Your line about “Not to throw stones..” was great, and SO TRUE.

    I’ve recently started involving the kids and teaching them to help more, but I haven’t included it as a part of homeschool, just a part of life. They aren’t really old enough to rotate, either (2,4,7) but I’ll definitely keep that in mind for once they are just a little bit older! :)

  8. This is genius Kathy! (Wish it would work on one-year-olds bent on destruction though *sigh*) Nevertheless, I’m bookmarking this one for future reference : )

    P.S. I moved to WordPress : )

  9. Wonderful suggestions!

    And their future spouses will LOVE you for this one of these days. That’s what I keep telling my eldest son, as I’m teaching him to cook and clean. LOL. “You’re wife will LOVE that you know how to do this!” I say. He’s 11… so you can imagine the eye-rolling that I get over that one!

    Thanks for sharing! :)

  10. I finally just got time to sit down and look at my comments. I followed yours to your blog, and I took a quick look at your site. I am AMAZED at all the things I saw that reminded me of our family…except the size. Hee-hee! I only have one. Anyway, we are also from Washington — near Spokane. I homeschool and say I am a child of the King on the front of my blog. I also have trouble keeping the house clean but can’t stand it messy. My hubby is also a programmer and likes to play video games. LOL! Here’s the really funny one. The pic of your daughters in your kitchen, in the background is a rotating wooden spice holder. I have that in my kitchen, the exact same one. Too funny! I’ll be back to look around more soon.

    Oh, and great tip! If I had a whole tribe of kids I’d do that, too! :-)

  11. Kathy thanks for stopping by! I went to Grandparents Day at my son’s school. I took my camera and didn’t take one picture. I had to use the picture of his preschool graduation for my blog! Isn’t that terrible?
    Great suggestions!

  12. Kathy, great post. All year, I’ve had on my kids’ schedule vague instructions like “complete chores” before school. Needless to say, nothing really gets done. I think I will mix things up a bit and move “life skills” to an afternoon slot. This way I can make sure everything’s done before tv, lol.

    I also suffer from the “my way” syndrome, and it’s hard for me to give things over and be THANKFUL for someone else doing the work. The flip side of that though is that I often feel like the kids’ maid.

    Thanks for being so timely!

  13. Great idea – I’ll have to remember this for when my daughters are a little older! Thanks, and thanks for visiting Makeshift Mama! I was actually just thinking that I needed to take pictures of the whole banana bread making process and post it. I love my banana bread recipe because, not only is it fabulous, but it’s very healthy – whole wheat flour, yogurt or applesauce, flaxseed meal… Every Tuesday, I post a recipe on my cooking blog, Come visit, and I’ll do my best to get the banana bread recipe up sometime in the next few weeks!

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