Tag Archives: chores

Toddler Routines with Photos

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Depending on our current “phase,” we have certain times of day that somehow make me crazy. Kids are kids, and it’s my own fault, but I let the little frustrations or little moments of resistance eat away at my patience instead of embracing the slow pace and “inconvenience” of motherhood to littles. It’s in those moments that God is trying to teach me and refine me. However, there are also times when we really need to get somewhere at a certain time. In those cases, we were inspired by ideas from Training A Treasure to establish a routine, and to implement that routine, take photos of our kids actually going through each step of the routine to make a chart.

First, I used this strategy for getting out the door. When Pen Elaine was younger and Snuggly Man was a tiny baby, getting out of the house in a reasonable amount of time and without losing my patience was a major challenge. This time of day was apt to chaos and far from peaceful, and the routine really helped cross that hurdle. Over time, the routine changed and the need for a specific routine waned, but at some point, we’ll probably make a new one for a refresher when Snuggly Man needs to have “jobs” for getting out the door.

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By the way, to make my little photo chart, I used my smart phone! I simply took the photos, used picstitch (app) to organize them into a collage/order, then added title and artwork with Overgram (app), and printed them straight to my wireless printer! Good luck!

More recently, we have established a morning routine for after my Honey leaves the house. This had become a time of frustration for getting Pen Elaine to help clean up after breakfast and get ready for the day. I especially wanted to change our morning ritual so that we had moments of connecting in a close, positive way before leaving the house for morning commitments that would start up this fall. I found myself losing patience and getting irritable because Pen Elaine was fighting me on her morning jobs of cleaning under the table and making her bed, but I knew I needed to make time for close connection with her in the midst of getting required chores done. I wanted to start the day well with her and Snuggly Man, with servings of grace, love, and responsibility. So, Pen Elaine and I worked together to decide what our morning routine would include. We made our kitchen cleanup time more fun by putting on music before we started, then we took time to read a book together before starting on our next set of responsibilities: getting dressed and making beds. Finally, we ended our routine with a game of hide-and-seek, one of our favorite activities 🙂 Now, we actually get through our morning chores faster than before and with a LOT less grumbling and arguing. Plus, we feel like a team on a mission together with lots of room for fun and love along the way.

Philippians 2:12-15

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky

A Year of Firsts

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So, toward the end of Snugly Man’s first Easter, I realized that we had taken about 50 photos that included Pen Elaine – from twirling in her Easter dress to helping open Resurrection eggs to hunting for plastic eggs in the backyard to looking over her stash of candy as she tried to eat as many pieces as possible…while we had absolutely zero pictures with Snugly Man. So, there was no first Easter egg picture for him, no first egg hunt, but we did take one sweet pic of him just barely waking up in his favorite spot: snuggled up in my arms. Our sweet {second child} baby did not get an iconic pic on his first Easter holiday, but he did get a pic that truly reflected what he loves at 3-and-a-half months: taking in the world around him from the snuggled safety of Mommy’s arms.

A baby’s first year is such an adventure – every day is a first…first May Day, first trip to the grocery store, first time to get a diaper change in a public restroom, first blowout, first ticklish spot, first night in his own room, first photos in the bluebonnets, first visit to grandparents, first time on Instagram…

Plus, all the new skills like first smile, first laugh, first time to grab my hair, first time to roll over…

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First time to melt my heart in a new way every day…

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Meanwhile, I’m discovering that the magic world of first steps never ends. Even though we make all this effort to record every first excitement during the first year, there are more cool “firsts” that I am getting surprised by during the “spirited” toddler years: first time to tell me a lie, first time to tell me she is sorry and really mean it, first crush on a little boy, first best friend, first time to wake in the night from an obvious bad dream, first time to tell me the Gospel, first secret phone call… and I love documenting the “firsts” that I have a chance to photograph!

Pen Elaine is now, miraculously, out of diapers, and she is proving to be a big helper every day. She loves to be independent and make her own decisions, and she loves to prove her abilities. So, I thought it was time to expand some of her responsibilities. First, I thought one day, that it would be so helpful if she could put her snack bowl into the kitchen sink for me – so I asked her to do so, and she loved being able to clear her own dishes! Now, we remember to do it some of the time, and one day, she will truly be responsible for clearing her table at meals and everything, but we are taking it one step at a time. Lately, I’ve been wishing she knew how to make her own bed, because I am a dedicated bed-maker and would love some help in that area. So, I took some time out last week to show her a strategy for making her own bed, and she just seemed ready for the challenge. She was so proud of herself, making that bed all by herself, and so was I!! We took photos to show Daddy, and she loved showing him her new skills on a weekend morning. Now, she loves asserting her skills and making her bed all by herself (when reminded)!

first time she made her bed

first time to clear her own dishes

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23