Standard Deviants Accelerate: Parenting

Chores for Kids – A List By Age

Chores for Kids - A List By Age from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Chores for Kids – A List By Age

Ages 2-4

Yes, kids as young as 2 can help out with the chores! Assigning chores is all about encouraging participation in keeping the house where they eat, sleep and play in a clean and tidy fashion.

This is a great age to work on picking up after themselves. Have clear spots for their toys, such as specific bins and shelves where each things belongs. When your child is done playing have them return each things to its place. You will most likely need to do this alongside them and it might help to make it more of a game, but instilling this habit early is a good place to start.

Along these same lines they can do things like throw out trash and place dirty clothes in hamper.

Ages 5-7

  • feed pets
  • sort silverware
  • clear the table
  • load dishwasher
  • fold towels
  • match socks

Ages 8-11

We readily keep clean-up wipes under each of our bathroom sinks and the kitchen sink. This makes it easy for everyone to quickly wipe surfaces and spills.

  • vacuum
  • mop floors
  • wipe down counters
  • do laundry (I had my son at the age of 9/10 do laundry with me for months so he could successfully do it from start to finish. He was the one who did the laundry while I was away at a conference!)
  • put groceries away

Ages 12+

At these ages your kids can be trusted with harsher chemicals and more complex tasks.

  • ironing
  • painting
  • babysitting
  • lawn care such as mowing and trimming
  • meal planning
  • cooking dinner

Other Related Articles:

Why My Children Don’t Get Paid for Chores

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Is Busy Your New Normal?

Is Busy Your New Normal? from Standard Deviants Accelerate


Are you finding yourself running all over? Feeling like you get little to no downtime? I have been seeing this as a trend among my fellow moms and homeschool moms alike. It seems as though we almost compete to be the one who can say they are the busiest or have the most crazy schedule.

Is Busy Your New Normal?

While I can’t speak for everyone else, I can say with certainty that for myself and my family I have had enough. Over the past year I made the conscious decision to cut back on the things we were doing outside of our home to allow more down time for all of us.

We have a pretty busy sports schedule in the evenings as each of our children are in a competitive sport. For this reason I worked to get our days to be less busy.

Ways to Reduce Busy

Start by cutting out one or two things. Pick something that brings the least amount of benefit for the least amount of people in your house. In our case I try not to do something that is only for just one. I try to pick things that will be of value to a few of us or at least get a couple of things lumped together that are for one and then another.

Limit the number of day. You can try sticking to a certain number of days per week that you will be busier. For instance we try to stay home on Monday, Tuesday and Friday because Wednesday and Thursday are busier activity days.

Ask the kids. Ask the kids what they value most. If they are participating in multiple activities, ask them what they “must keep” and what they can let go. For instance my son loves playing chess, but the daytime class became too easy and the nighttime one really made that evening nuts with his sports practice. We let him decide what was most important. In the end he gave up chess class (and just plays online instead) because he loves playing his sport more.

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Helping Teens Make Smart Money Choices

Helping Teens Make Smart Money Choices from Standard Deviants Accelerate
Entering high school and looking to prepare our teens for a world outside our home can feel like a daunting and intimidating task. But with a little thought and preparation we are all equipped to handle the task. One of the really important things we are doing and plan to do in our house is helping our teens to make smart money choices.

Helping Teens Make Smart Money Choices

Money management and money sense can and should be started early with our kids. This can be as simple as helping them to save a certain amount of their allowance, money they have worked for or even money they are gifted.

While we don’t pay for chores in our house, our kids have had the opportunity to earn money through things like caring for a neighbor’s dog, mowing a neighbor’s lawn, babysitting, pet sitting, and now our teen has a job coaching at the gym where she herself does gymnastics.

Here are some of the ways you can help your teens make smart money choices:

Agree on a Set Divided Amount

Talk about money with your kids and the types of things they can do with their money. Talk about saving, investing, spending, etc. Agree on a certain amounts (maybe percentages) of money and what they will do with it. Our teen daughter has always had to set aside money for her cell phone bill. So when she was making $20 a week, 50% was set aside to pay that. Then 10% was but in savings, and the other 40% was hers to spend.

Open a Bank Account for Them

My teen and I went to the back together to open up accounts for her. We made the choice to make these accounts joint so that I could easily oversee and help her manage them. Having at least a savings account allows your teen to put away money, keep a ledger, and save for their future.

My teen has a checking account with a debit card where her paycheck is directly deposited. Then she has a savings account where she transfers the agreed upon savings amount from each paycheck.

The Wait On It Policy

When your teen wants to purchase something, have them wait on it. Maybe a few days, a week. It can be easy to want to run out and spend spend spend but we have found with our teen that if she sits on it a bit she realizes maybe she doesn’t want or need the item that badly or that maybe her money is better saved or spend elsewhere.

Keep Close Tabs

Keep open communication with your teen. Check on their accounts and talk about their choices. For instance our teen was spending money on fancy drinks or food while she was on the college campus. While each one didn’t add up to that much, when we pointed out that she had spent more than $80 in one month, she realized how large an impact that was making on that amount she had for both saving and spending on other things.

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Active Play as Part of Your Homeschool

Active Play as Part of Your Homeschool from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Up on the list of reasons why people might homeschool is the fact that in the early years of public school time for play has diminished. Not only is play not emphasized and encouraged as a way of learning, but even recess has been cut to almost non existent levels! Children need to play, and play is learning!

Active Play as Part of Your Homeschool

What is active play? Active play is physical activity with spontaneous and occasional bursts of high energy. It can occuer indoors or out, alone or with others.

Why is active play important?Active play is important for your child’s health, growth and development. Regular activity and play has many benefits for children. These include:
• building strong hearts, muscles and bones. • fostering social interaction skills.
• developing movement and co-ordination. • improving thinking skills.
• encouraging self-esteem. • developing emotional skills.

What does all this mean? It means less time for children to play and explore, and more time to sit at a desk and drone on. It means limiting their creativity in favor of pushing them into molds. It has been proven that active play increases brain activity. Physical movement and learning go hand and hand! Researches have found that adding in half an hour sessions of aerobic activity before school helped young children with symptoms of ADHD become more focused and less antsy.

When you homeschool you have the freedom to conduct your day as you see fit. To customize your time not only to your family, but to each child. I encourage you to let them play! Include hands on activities and movement not only in their playtime, but in their learning time too!

Allow kids to move while learning. Not all kids can just sit still, nor should they be made to. Check out this article for ideas on Learning With A Wiggly Child. Also be sure to add in time for free and active play!

Examples of active play:

  • jumping jacks
  • obstacle courses
  • playground time
  • galloping, skipping, etc.
  • ball throwing
  • walking, running
  • bicycle riding
  • trampoline jumping
  • jump rope
  • hop scotch

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Ways For Kids to Pay it Forward

4 Ways For Kids to Pay it Forward from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Tis the season of people giving thanks and looking to pay it forward! From the time I was little I looked for things that we could do as family, things that younger kids could participate in too. Having the kids be able to psychically participate has a much more lasting effect than you doing, or donating money yourself.

Ways For Kids to Pay it Forward

1. Ronald McDonald House

I have to thank a friend of mine for this one. She started doing this when her boys were very small. First let me tell you a little about the Ronald McDonald house. The Ronald McDonald house helps sick kids and their families by having a place to stay and food to eat, and so much more!

“Families are stronger when they are together, and their presence helps a sick child heal faster and cope better. While Ronald McDonald House Charities cannot make medicine taste better or take away painful treatments, we can help lessen the burden and ensure families have the stability and resources to keep their child healthy and happy.”

Now let me tell you what you can do! You know the little tabs on the top of your pop cans? You can pop those off and save them and the Ronald McDonald house turns them in to a local aluminium recycling place for money.

We collect all year in a big container, both ours and those of friends and family who help us collect. Then we take them to our local Ronald McDonald house. You can do this with school classes, sports teams, church groups, etc! All the proceed money goes to help sustain the houses.

2. Local Food Bank

Each year we host a food drive in our neighborhood to collect food for the local food bank. We go out with our children and place fliers at all the houses in the neighborhood about a week in advance. Then we head out on the given date to collect all the donations. We then sort them and take it to our local food bank. Our kids have participated in every step of this since our little one was 18 months old (she is 9 now).

3. Animal Shelter

Many animal shelters need donations of food, toys and treats for this animals. It can be fun for kids to get together and put care packages together, make toys, etc for the animals. We know many shelters here that have little stockings for the animals and are always looking for things to fill them!

4. Operation Christmas Child

For Operation Christmas Child you fill a shoe box with necessary toiletries and fun toys for kids around the world. Many don’t have the soap to wash or the toothbrush to brush and no fun toys like stuffed animals, drawing supplies etc. Each year during November shoe boxes are collected. Your child can even track where theirs is going through the website!

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Why My Children Don’t Get Paid for Chores

Why My Children Don't Get Paid for Chores from Standard Deviants Accelerate

There are usually two sides to the chore debate: those that pay for chores, and those that don’t. I am on the “don’t pay for chores” side and I would like to tell you why.

Why My Children Don’t Get Paid for Chores

They Live Here Too – We are family, we all live in the same house. We all contribute to the dust, dirt, grime, clutter, etc. Therefore we will all work to clean it up. So when I ask someone to vacuum and they protest, I say, “Did you spend time in this room this week? Then you contributed to the dirt and you can contribute to cleaning it.”

Teamwork and Community – Learning to pitch in and help is teaching good teamwork and community skills. Working for the greater good and not just because you made the mess is an important skill to cultivate.

Someday They Will Move Out – Someday our kids will move out of our house and have to manage a place of their own. That means they will need to know how to dust, what cleaning products to use for what job, how to sort and fold laundry, etc.

It Isn’t About The Money – If I am paying my children to do chores it becomes about the money, and that isn’t what I want the focus to be. I want them to learn to be diligent workers, even when no one is looking! I want them to learn the value of cleaning up after oneself so the mess doesn’t get out of hand.

In the end I want them to learn about hard work, teamwork, and the value of doing a good job. I will often hear moms talk about how they make their kids lunches and prepare their snacks at night, how they are always picking up after them and doing all the housework. For just a moment I will feel twinge of guilt that my children make their own lunches and prepare their snacks, and then I realize that I am creating capable human beings, ones that will grow up knowing how to care for themselves and help maintain a household. It is then that I don’t feel guilty anymore.

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5 Ways to Help Kids Express Thankfulness

5 Ways To Help Kids Express Thankfulness from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Ways to Help Kids Express Thankfulness

1. Make a thankful jar.

Throughout the year write things you are thankful for on little slips of paper and put them in. Then pick a day every 6 months or so to read through the slips of paper and celebrate all there is to be thankful for.

2. Make a thankful tree.

Cut some leaves from colored paper and write what you are thankful for on each leaf. Create a paper tree to hang on the wall. This makes a great wall decoration for the month of November and I great way to focus on all the wonderful things in your lives.

3. Help others.

Helping those in need can help bring perspective to our lives. It can help us to see all the things we really do have, and to appreciate them more.

4. Have a poem or saying.

Memorize a poem or saying that promotes gratitude and thankfulness. A little rhyme to recite when you don’t feel to happy or thankful. Below is one example.

I am Thankful

For puppies and horses and birds that have wings,

For penguins and polar bears and all living things.

For mountains and lakes, for water and air.

For Mom and Dad who always show me how much they care.

For the food in my tummy, and my favorite drink.

For red, purple, blue and pink,

For friends and family all around.

For these and so many more….

I am thankful.

 5. Make Homemade Gifts

Making things for others is a great way to show love and appreciation for those around you. Make a list of people in your kid’s lives and why they are so important. Then makes a special gift for each person.

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Please Excuse the Mess We Live Here

Please Excuse the Mess We Live Here from Starts At Eight

As a parent I have struggled throughout the years with the house getting messy, the laundry getting backed up and the dishes not being done. The one thing that bugs me most is clutter! I like to be able to see the floors and counter-tops.

I have also learned that a messy house does in fact define you, just not in the way you would think. Instead it says, “Kids live here, and we are living life.” It doesn’t make you a bad mother, or a messy housekeeper. It makes you human.

Please Excuse the Mess – We Live Here

While I don’t believe in living in filth, I do believe that some things can wait. Your kids will grow up faster than you think, and then they won’t be around to make things messy.

That pile of Legos on the floor? That is the hours spent creating a castle tower for Rapunzel. That paint smeared table? That is your little one creating a masterpiece of art that inspired them. But what about that mass pile of dishes in the sink and spilling out onto the counter? That is the sign of a mom spending time with her kids, experiences their joys and discoveries.

So don’t ever apologize for a messy house. Live in the moment with your children, as those moments are fleeting. The dishes will always be there, the laundry will always pile up, and the toys will be brought out again tomorrow to play with.

Help for Cleaning Up

All that being said, we all still need a little clean in our lives, We need dishes to eat on and clean clothes to wear. So finding a few minutes each day to do the essentials can go a long way.

While little littles can not be of a ton of help, you should consider getting kids involved as soon as possible. Pick a time that works for you. Maybe you do a little clean up once a day before bedtime where the kids put toys back in the bins or help you carry and sort laundry. Give them a sponges and a sink of soapy water and let them help you wash.

I often wait until I am in the kitchen preparing dinner to clean all the dishes and clutter from the day. Since I need to be there to prepare dinner it is a good time to clean up. I have the younger kids help me dry dishes or put away silverware. Now that they are older I have them do the dishes and unload the dishwasher.

Little ones love to play in piles of clothing. I would let me kids play in the piles of clothing as I sorted and filled the washer. I used it as a chance to teach colors, sorting, and counting.

While cleaning and chores with kids can take longer than usual, if you make it part of the routine, and include them as much as possible. It will become a task that is much more manageable than you thought.

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20 Positive Things to Say to Your Kids

20 Positive Things to Say to Your Kids from Standard Deviants Accelerate

I am a pessimist and a perfectionist and while I can usually keep this to myself, sometimes I struggle with projecting this onto my kids. My problem? Kids need their buckets filled up and not emptied. They need positive, encouraging words. Now I am not saying that they should be praised at every turn, but instead that we should look for the good, point it out, and encourage our children in this way.

20 Positive Things to Say to Your Kids

In case you are like me and sometimes focus too much on the “no” or the negative, I would like to give you some ideas of things to say that are positive and encouraging, without overly praising. Using positive and encouraging words in a natural and organic manner helps build your children up and creates a loving and supportive relationship between you and your kids.

  1. I’m grateful for you.
  2. You make me proud.
  3. You have great ideas.
  4. I love being your parent.
  5. You don’t have to be perfect to be great.
  6. You are important.
  7. I believe in you.
  8. You were right.
  9. We can try it your way.
  10. You are helpful.
  11. Don’t be afraid to be you.
  12. Being around you is fun.
  13. That’s a great question.
  14. I’m so glad you’re here.
  15. We all make mistakes.
  16. Not everyone will like you, and that is o.k.
  17. I love you.
  18. You are very good at that!
  19. Yes, me too!
  20. That was a really great choice.

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Ways to Improve Communication With Your Teen

Ways to Improve Communication With Your Teen from Standard Deviants Accelerate

I think it is a good thing I wasn’t just handed a teenager to parent! Learning to navigate the emotional teen waters and keep lines of communication open can be difficult. I had a friend that assured me when I had my first and I worried about these things, that I would learn and grow with my child and in turn be more equipped to handle each stage as it came. She was right.

Ways to Improve Communication With Your Teen

While I certainly don’t even come close to knowing everything, or am fabulous and handling all situations, I do feel as though I have grown and changed as she has, and just that has helped me feel less anxious and more equipped.

  1. Don’t Be Emotional – I find that the “A” number one thing I can do oh so badly is keep my emotions in check. If you are running off raging about something they did or didn’t do, or get all weepy and sad, or even if you are too enthusiastic, you can send your teen running for their rooms!
  2. Listen – This a tough one for me as I like to talk and I tend to be the alpha in everything. I work hard to stop what I am doing when my teen is talking, even if it doesn’t seem all that important. YOUR ATTENTION MATTERS! They still want to be heard and counted and loved.
  3. Pick Your Battles – Sometimes it just isn’t worth it. You can nit pick at every little thing. They won’t do everything the way you do, nor should they have to. For instance, I can’t see my daughter’s bedroom floor. She actually calls her floor “the closet”. UGH! But in the grand scheme of things I have learn to let this go as a daily battle and instead save my stance for something more important, like the treatment of her siblings.
  4. Try To See It Through Their Eyes – While you don’t have to condone or agree with the things your teen may say or do, try to see it from their perspective. Giving them even a little element and understanding, a recognition of their feelings, can go a long way.

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