Kids and Chores

I am the mother of a smart, headstrong, intelligent 5-year old girl.  She knows what she wants when she wants it and she also knows what she doesn’t want and when she doesn’t feel like doing something.  She is the only human being I have ever witnessed getting side-tracked 15 times on the way from the living room to the bathroom to brush her teeth.  We have a very tight morning schedule and there are certain things that she needs to do before we can get out of the house and on our way to school.  In the past I would help her along with picking out clothes or brushing her hair, but over time she wanted to do those things herself so I started letting her.  The only problem is that it took her ages and ages to get those tasks accomplished because she was getting side-tracked by playing with the dog, or just simply laying on the floor in her bedroom wrapped up in a blanket.  ANYTHING to avoid getting ready or contributing to us getting out of the house on time.  This would eventually turn in to me repeating myself over and over and then eventually having to raise my voice or take the brush and try to brush her hair while she was lying down. It was not a pretty picture by any standard.

Another thing my daughter loves is money.  If someone drops a penny or a quarter and she finds it, it automatically becomes her property.  She doesn’t care who it belongs to.  She found it, so it is now hers.  Every time we would step foot in a store, or if she would even catch wind of the fact that a trip to the store was being made, she was already planning her attack on the toy section because she was getting something.

I try to raise my daughter to put less emphasis on material things and more emphasis on family time and doing things together.  But, as she is only five, a trip to the store where they have “stuff” is like reliving Christmas every day of her life.  She usually wants to get something.  She is pretty good if I tell her we aren’t getting something on one trip or another, but you can still see the deep disappointment in her eyes as the trip to the store now becomes something she has to tolerate for 30 minutes.

So, on yet another crazy hectic morning of me trying to put underwear on a sleeping child I decided there had to be another way.  I decided to make a list of the things that she absolutely had to have done before getting out of the house, and I wrote them out on a homemade chart.  This is the first one I created.

We have since upgraded to a dry erase board that we found on It works much nicer because I don’t have to re-create the chart every week on a new piece of paper, and my daughter likes to be the one to clean it off. You can get it here:

Family Planner Responsibility Chore Chart Dry Erase Poster Board | Weekly Calendar | For Wall & Refrigerator | Bright Fun Colors | FREE Marker Pen & Eraser (LARGE 17 inch x 11 inch) by Crafty Charts

I told my daughter that if she could mark off each one of the “To-Do’s” we had on list, she would get a quarter for all the ones I didn’t have to ask her to do.  If I had to ask her to do it and it was time to leave, she would not get an “x” for the task that day.  If she did all her tasks, she would get $1.25/day which would be around $6.25/week.  I also told her that with her earned money, she could buy what she wanted at the store when we go.  That way, she would understand the value of her money and ask herself if she really needed the $1 pack of plastic bugs or if she wanted to save her money to buy something bigger.  I told her she could create her own personalized allowance bank.  We didn’t have any extra piggy banks lying around, so we made one out of an old coffee canister.  This is the one she created.

It was her own design and she was proud of it.  She knew all the money that was put in it was the money she earned from working and doing her tasks.  We have since upgraded to a nicer allowance bank that came with special stickers and paint.  I bought this one on

Decorate Your Own Porcelain Piggy Bank

This new routine has worked like a charm for us.  The first morning she was up and out of bed so fast she almost knocked me over.  She was in her desk looking for a special marker to make her x’s with and she was on the move.  I didn’t have to ask her to do one thing!   The dog was in her kennel, she was dressed with immaculately brushed hair and she was standing by the door in her coat, hat and boots.  She was waiting for me!  I almost couldn’t believe my eyes.  We had time to spare, and I think we might have actually laughed together that morning.  Neither one of us was stressed and we had an amazing start to our day.  I can honestly say it has been a great decision for both of us to start doing this.  My daughter has responsibilities and she is learning the value of a dollar.  She has managed to save some of her hard earned money, and she is also the proud owner of 10 new shades of lip gloss:)

You can use this approach with any type of chore or task you want to implement.  We used it for our morning routine because that is where we were having the most issues.  I think this would work great for having kids help with any type of chore you want them to participate in that is age appropriate.  The important thing for us was to help my daughter realize that you can be rewarded for working hard towards something.  She is proud of herself and she understands the concept of saving and spending, and I am a happy, stress-free momma.

Food prep

Food Prep For Beginners

If you are like me, then you feel like you are going non-stop from the minute you wake up in the morning until you go to bed at night.  As a full-time working mom, I have a pretty full plate.  I am up and “Thriving” by 5:15am, and that starts my day of rushing from dawn to dusk.  I get about 15 minutes to myself to peruse facebook or Pinterest before I get my daughter up to spend about 30 minutes with her before it’s off to work and school.  It seems that it is always a rush to get out the door because I never have anything prepared.  I do manage to get my daughter’s lunch made the night before, but I still have to pack all her things and try to throw some random fruits and canned food in a Walmart bag before running out the door to make sure we get to where we need to be on time.  I am usually completed flustered by the time we get going, and then I’m stressed out about having to rush on the roads.  None of these things add up to a pleasant morning for me or my daughter.  Then when I get to work I eat whatever food I’ve managed to pull together, and it’s never enough or it’s something that makes me feel like I’ve blown all my good choices for the day.  I munch all day long to try to satisfy cravings or because I’m bored, and then because I’ve spent the whole day eating at my desk, the last thing I want to do when I get home is take the time to cook, let alone eat a big meal.  It’s usually late by the time we get home, and then it’s homework, showers, and throwing some kind of meal together before it’s time for books and bed.  I always feel like I’m one step behind, and I never get to truly enjoy dinner time with my family.

After finding myself snacking once again at 3:00 in the afternoon, I decided it was time to make a change.  I felt like I was starving, and the only thing I had on hand was a bag of my daughter’s Elf Grahams and a spoonful of peanut butter.  It didn’t satisfy my cravings, but it added on about 200 calories to my day that I wasn’t happy about.  I decided then and there it was time to start taking a serious look at food prepping.  After I picked my daughter up from school we went straight to the grocery store.

I’ve done some reading on food prep, and although it takes time, it is worth the extra effort to make sure you are eating and feeding your family healthy meals.  You will feel so much better when you can grab a container of mixed veggies instead of a bag of cookies or a cereal bar you have thrown in the bottom of your purse.

Don’t Try To Do It All At Once

If you are like me and just starting your food prep journey, then I highly recommend starting slow.  I know that I have a very hard time making good food choices during the work day.  It’s too easy for me to grab a cookie or cupcake from the lounge or go spend too much money on a ready made meal from the store or fast food restaurant.  I wanted to food prep not just for the health benefit, but also to help save some money.  So I started out prepping my breakfast, lunch and snacks.  I bought vegetables, fruit and proteins that I could take with me and when I was hungry or bored I could grab those containers and munch on healthy options.  Once you get used to your own style of meal prepping, you might want to prep for a whole week on a Sunday afternoon, but when starting out I recommend prepping a few meals at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.  I prepped for about 3 days worth of breakfast, lunch and snacks, and I did it in one evening.  It took me about 30 minutes.

Invest In Food Prep Containers

I recommend purchasing some good, BPA free containers that you will use strictly for your food prep.  You can find food prep containers at almost any retail store like Target or Walmart or on Amazon.  I put all my food in these containers and then I can just grab them out of the fridge in the morning and throw them in my bag.  I really like these ones I found on
Meal Prep Containers 3 Compartment Lunch Boxes, Set of 5 Food Storage Containers with Lids, BPA Free Plastic Bento Box, Portion Control Divided Cover, Reusable, Microwave Dishwasher Freezer Safe

Plan Plan Plan

Before you head off to the grocery store, make a list of the types of meals you want to eat.  I count my calories daily, so I wrote out my breakfast, lunch and snack menus before I went to the store so I knew exactly what I needed.  That way you won’t be wandering through the grocery store trying to make a mental menu in your head.  Make the list and check the foods off as you go.

Be Creative

Finding ideas for food prep was the biggest challenge I faced.  For the first few weeks I felt like I was eating the same things every day.  After a while I was able to be more adventurous and try new ideas.  Start with basic foods that are easy for you to prep and as you get more comfortable you will be able to prep all kinds of different meals and snacks to keep you happy and on track!