Generation Cedar

Whether you have many children or not, teaching all them to be responsible for their own things and behavior is an important part of daily operation and more importantly, an important part of developing healthy, productive people.

My 4 yo and 2 yo share a room downstairs, and since I don’t pass by it continually it can get out of hand quickly.  Words cannot describe what it often looks like when I go down to tuck them in at night.  The typical comment before I snuggle them in is, “What happened in here?”

So I’ve developed two strategies for helping them in this area.  One, is showing them what to do.  They know what a messy room is, but little ones need an easy plan of attack.  For now, I have relinquished all tendencies to want their drawers to be even remotely neat.  I have instructed them that clothes go into the drawer.  Period.  Hard as it is, I don’t worry whether they are inside out, wadded up or even a closet item.  I’m just getting the “put it away concept” instilled.

As they put their things away I help them and I cheer them on.  A 4-year-old is pretty easily excited about anything that is celebrated in a high-pitched tone of voice.

I also try to get them to distinguish between clean and dirty and rehearse where their dirty clothes go.  This one is tricky.  They totally forget there is a difference.

For hanging clothes, just teaching them to put things on a hanger and hang it on the door knob of their closet is where I’m starting.

Secondly, is constant encouragement and reminding.  Just now as I was washing breakfast dishes, Mallie was still dragging around the suitcase she took to her Granna’s last night while I, the hubby and our oldest when out for Frappes 😉

Trying to avoid a nagging “go put away your stuff” tone, I just walked over and stopped in front of her with my hands on my hips.

“Mallie, do you know what?” (Big round, smiling face back at me.)

“I am so thankful  you are a big girl now and  you know how to put away your clothes!  Take your suitcase down and put your clothes away.  You can do that now, can’t you??!!”


And off she marched.


Well, maybe.  I haven’t actually inspected her work yet 😛

But, here’s to encouraging us to have a lighter spirit as we diligently train these little ones to learn the responsibility that gives them a sense of value and accomplishment.

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16 Responses

  1. I remember sitting on my littles’ bed and instructing them what to put away. “Girls, first put away all your shoes. Ok, now put away all the books. Great! Now, put away all the little toys. Now the big toys.” etc. etc. until it’s all cleaned up. It taught them how to break down the task so a messy room wasn’t so overwhelming to them.
    In a recent HSLDA magazine article, it said: Children do what you inspect, not what you expect.
    That helped me so much!! Now I don’t even expect them to have their chores all done correctly unless I’ve checked everything off the list. (There’s a typed up list in each “zone” telling them what is expected, i.e. the steps to getting a bathroom clean.)
    It really is hard not treating kids as little adults when it comes to expectations, but boy is life easier when you don’t!

  2. Kelly, you may need an intervention because I’m seeing quite a Frappe trend here :). How fun that you got to have a date with your dh and dd!

    I’ve found that the younger kiddos want so badly to please and be a part of what the bigger kids are doing so it’s been easier to engage them. Having lower expectations also helps so much! It’s not something that I’m always good at, but I’m learning to let go in order to teach them good clean-up habits.

  3. The accomplishment aspect is so overlooked (by me 😛 )…and in child training, I think it reflects an unfortunate undervaluing of our own role in the home as Mom/keeper. Instead of giving ourselves that encouragement – this IS a big part of the puzzle, being orderly and training orderliness* – its only acknowledged as menial drudgery. Who would want learn to do anything, if we grouse about it, or do it with a spirit of displeasure and futility? Imagine if a homeschooling parent approached reading or art that way? Imagine if God asked us 20 times a day “how many times do I have to remind you?” – instead of “I’ll remind you as often and for as long as it takes until you understand, we’ll do it together, you’re that important to me.”?

    “… here’s to encouraging us to have a lighter spirit as we diligently train these little ones [and ourselves] to learn the responsibility that gives them a sense of value and accomplishment…” Amen!

    My favorite Elisabeth Elliot quote is (paraphrasing) “A sloppy life speaks of a sloppy faith”….I so appreciate this, because I do see the accomplishment aspect in homekeeping – and it’s honoring of what we take for granted, the most basic human physical needs of shelter, and simple comfort. How our homes operate, and how we teach our children to participate in maintaining it (and like you said Kelly, it is a learning process like any other) is a window into our state of gratitude. So now I’m off to pick up pool towels, gladly, and teach the new class how to fold them, without looking too closely at the folds, rather focusing on the hearts involved.

    *(and there are lots of forms of it, a working system for the family is what I mean, rather than a disruptive chaos)

    Sorry to be so wordy – this has been a very real experience for us around here as we prepare for a move. Instead of doing it all myself, packing has become a family project. (if you think your kids have too much stuff, ask them to pack it for a move and notice how quickly they begin to self-edit 🙂 ) I’m determined to stay focused on the excitement of the opportunity that awaits us, and train(them and myself) a little, while we’re at it. Thanks for a (re)energizing post, Kelly!

  4. Your family sounds like an awful lot of fun 🙂 Never feel guilty about putting cool chocolate in your full hands once in a while.

  5. I have an older one, but this is a great encouragement to new mommies who think they have to do it all until the kids are old. Great post!
    And I agree on the intervention… 😉

  6. You gals are great…

    Does husband saying, “You come over here and try to take it, big girl” when I try to steal the rest of his Frappe count as “intervention”?

  7. I totally needed to read this today! As I was tackling my husband’s closet yesterday, I was SO impressed that my littles (5yo, 3yo and 11mo) were playing quietly and letting me get my work done. You’ve been a mother far longer than I, so you probably know what I’m about to say, but…
    their “quiet playing” was actually them destroying (!) 5yo’s bedroom! every single stitch of clothing out of the closet and drawers, every book off the shelf, every toy out of the box. I cried.

  8. My 4 year old learned a valuable lesson about putting his toys away. He stepped on one while running across the living room and got quite a nasty wound on his foot. He will probably be unable to walk for a week as it heals.

    We live in a very small cottage that is quickly getting cramped as we add to our family, so for me, it is imperative that things get put away and remain neat. For the most part, my kiddos do pretty well if I stay on top of them about it.

  9. 🙂 Your hubby’s line may be necessary intervention, or just a guy defending his own chocolate. I think males have to do this more often than we may know. Still, can’t blame a girl for trying.

  10. I like that style of parenting as opposed to “I’m gonna whup yo’ hiney if ya don’t pick up that mess!” (in heavy southern drawl)…. which is what my family used for several generations.

    It’s hard to separate from your roots, so if I say that before I catch myself I try to add a sense of humor to it to make up for not catching it.

    I think with us just the consistency of doing the same chores every day in the same order has helped me (this coming from someone who majorly struggles with procrastination and not putting things away).

    It has taken us forever to get to this point… .but I pointed out to my husband yesterday how nice the boys’ room is FINALLY starting to look.

    Kate, I have 3 boys and we only have 2 bedroom. Those white wire shelves in their one closet has made an enormous difference. They had a whole play room to themselves before we moved, and somehow we have been able to get 90 something percent of them in that closet (although I do admit I did some purging…but not too much). I have heard of people also using under th bed risers to make more space…. I am considering that too….

  11. Thanks for the reminder to have a ‘lighter spirit’ when training our children. This is something I have a tendency to forget. I sometimes get caught up in the seriousness of raising children that I don’t always appreciate and enjoy my children.

  12. Thank you so much for showing a gentle attitude in correction and training! My mother was a ‘yeller’, and I really want to have a gentle spirit myself so that I won’t be a ‘yeller’ to my kids too. It can be very damaging!

  13. Not necessarily a training method I would recommend, but…

    My hubby tells of the time he was visiting a friend of his who has two kids, who were maybe six, eight years old at the time, I don’t remember. Hubby and friend were standing outside next to the driveway, where the friend’s kids had scads of outdoor toys cluttering the driveway. Friend’s wife, who was preparing to drive into town to run errands, called to the children “These toys better not be in this driveway when I come home.”

    Fast forward X number of minutes. Hubby and friend are still standing by the driveway talking, kids are no where to be seen, toys are still scattered all over the driveway, and, you guessed it: friend’s wife, a fiery woman who says what she means and means what she says, arrives home. Seeing the toys all over the driveway, she then proceeds to just drive in and PLOW right over the whole mess of them!!! 😀

    Not sure if her kids learned a lesson from that, but my hubby (and I think his friend, too) about split a gut watching that scene unfold!

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