Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!
Note: Usually I answer 3 questions in a Q&A post, but these two got sort of long, so I thought I should stop with just 2! Also, my apologies to those of you who aren’t parents, as today’s questions will probably not interest you. I promise a non-parenting post tomorrow!
I’m curious about what you do and what materials you use during your family worship time. Growing up as an missionary kid, we had family devotions and prayer every morning, but I just haven’t been able to form the habit with my own family. My husband and I have three girls (4, 2, and nearly 2 months – incidentally, the middle one’s name is Zoe Elise!), and I try to read a Bible story/devo to them every night before bed, but I’m not consistent with it.
So, anyway, what format do you follow and what books, etc do you use/did you use when your kids were younger and closer to my kids’ ages? Thanks!!!
Well, we try to keep things simple (you know how I love simple!). There are four main things we do during our family worship times.
Mr. FG or I read a short-ish section from the Bible (we work through a book at a time), and then we talk a little bit about what the passage means. When our kids were younger, we tried to pick books of the Bible that were easy to understand (like the Gospels or Genesis), but we’ve now worked through some of the minor prophets and the Epistles.
After we read our passage, one of us prays…we cycle through the family, and since there are six of us, it usually works out that we each pray once a week (we don’t usually do family worship on Sunday nights). Sonia and Zoe need a little help from me or Mr. FG, but they take turns too.
Depending on how much time we have and what’s going on with music at church that week, we sometimes have a singing time before we read the Bible. If Mr. FG and I need to play something together at church that week, he plays his guitar, I play the piano, and the kids and I sing the song. Sometimes we let them pick out some other songs to sing (we did this a lot with Christmas songs in December!).
Also, something we started recently is some fiction reading after our prayer time. We’ve been working our way through Christian books for kids, like Dangerous Journey (a Pilgrim’s Progress book), and our kids love, love, love this new tradition.
Since your kids are so young, though, I’d recommend keeping it short and sweet. I’d read a short passage from the Bible or a good children’s devotional book, talk about it, have a short prayer time, and be done. If you make it too complicated and long, you’ll lose their attention and you’ll be much more likely to do family worship inconsistently.
(I should add that family worship is not the only spiritual teaching we do with our kids…among other things, Joshua and Lisey read their Bibles before school, I read missionary stories to the kids at lunchtime, and I read Bible stories to Sonia and Zoe during our school time. And of course, we listen to Seeds CDs too!)
I had a rough morning today and I realize that the kids are taking advantage of me. I also have 4 kids and I have started a system of earning marbles for doing chores. It is a good incentive for them, however some days they are not motivated and I feel like I am constantly nagging at them to pick up after themselves or to do a chore that was forgotten. Do you have a system that motivates your kids? I know consistency will pay off when they are older.
Maybe I just need to make the stakes higher and give them a few marbles for a job instead of just one. Or if they tell me they did a job, instead of me finding it need to be done. I think I am just exhausted and worn out! I need my own break! or a day off.
First, virtual hugs to you! I understand the frustration of children that can’t seem to remember to get their chores done. And I too struggle to be consistent…I think it’ll be a battle for all of my parenting years.
That said, here are a few suggestions that have helped me.
Start small and build from there.
If you’ve been sort of lax about chores and responsibilities, start with a small number of chores for each kid. If you keep it simple, you’ll be much more likely to keep on top of it. And wouldn’t you rather have a small number of chores done consistently than a huge number done randomly, or not done at all?
Find a consequence/reminder for forgetful children.
Joshua and Lisey are supposed to alternate sweeping the floor and wiping the table after dinner and lunch. If one of them forgets to do their chore, they then have to do both chores at the next meal. Since we instituted this policy, they are much less prone to running off after dinner to do other things!
Children do forget things, and a lot of times, it’s not a malicious, disobedient sort of forgetfulness. The problem is simply that the chore in question wasn’t important enough to them (would they forget to have ice cream after dinner? Nope, because it’s important to them!).
So, getting extra chores for forgetting is a way for us to help their brains to file chores under “important!”.
On the reminder end of things, Joshua tends to forget to take the trash out, so he’s got automatic reminders that pop up in his email inbox. That way I don’t have to remind him myself.
(could I say “remind” a little more?? Remind, remind, remind. There.)
Work first, play later.
At our house, my children need to get their schoolwork done, piano practiced, and their rooms cleaned up before they can spend time playing.
Also, before they eat breakfast, they’re supposed to make their beds, get themselves dressed, and hang up their pjs. If they try to shuffle out in their pjs and sit down at the table, I send them right back. 😉 Unless, of course, it’s a day where a shower is happening after breakfast!
Of course, there are days where things go all wonky and this work first/play later things doesn’t happen, but on the days where we manage to follow this pattern, life is so much better.
Don’t get too hung up on a system.
There are a million and one chore charts and systems and graphs and checklists out there for children, but ultimately, they’re only as good as you are consistent. Keep your system and plan simple so that you can have a prayer of staying on top of it.
Do rest and take a break!
I’ll say more about this later in the week, but I definitely think that moms need to get sufficient rest and refreshment in order to function optimally. In some phases of life, this just isn’t possible, of course, but if you can manage it, I think you should rest. Get yourself to bed at an hour that works for you, and consider taking a day off once a week. I personally don’t do any unnecessary work on Sundays… for example, I do dishes and help children brush their teeth, but I don’t do laundry or wash the floor. This leaves me with time to do fun things by myself and with my family, and that’s refreshing to me.
Readers, do you have any family worship or chore tips to share with these two readers?
Today’s 365 post: Could lunch get any better?