1) The Laundry Steps
Laundry seems to be a never-ending process at our house, but it has settled into a manageable routine with lots of cooperation along the way. Sorting is now know as "laundry basketball" in our house. There have also been quite a few lessons in proper folding technique. Still, the part of the laundry process that is the most tedious for me is putting away. That's where the laundry steps come in. Basically, as the laundry is folded, I/we place it into piles according to who wears the clothes. One pile each for Dad, Mom, Andrew, Ethan, Abby, and Jadon. Then, when all the laundry is folded, I take responsibility for putting away the grown-up's clean clothes, but the other piles are simply placed on the bottom four steps. The children know that, whenever they see a stack on "their" step, it is their responsibility to pick up the pile whenever they go up to their rooms. Because we do laundry six days a week--usually just one or two loads a day--the piles are usually fairly small (carryable) and rarely prompt whining. The Laundry Steps have certainly helped to make the Tapper laundry process a more cooperative system!
2) The Words Glasses
Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 1 Peter 3:10
Reflection upon our words has been a major focus in the Tapper house recently. We emphasize kindness and respect, but it is not easy. Highlighting "kind words" and "respectfulness" and "gentleness" to children makes one realize one's own faults rather quickly! We are all working on this together!
It has helped us to have a visual reminder. We now have two glasses on the middle of our dining room table. One is the "good" glass, and one is the "bad" glass. We also have a container of fake coins. Each morning, the glasses are emptied. Throughout the day, I listen for the kinds of communication that is happening between the children. If I hear put-downs, discouraging words, or harsh tones, a coin goes into the "bad" glass. If I hear kind and encouraging words, a coin goes into the "good" glass. I do not say anything about the glasses, but the children check the glasses regularly to monitor their progress. Sometimes, the change is dramatic. There will have been a bad mood in the house (say, after school when everyone is a little tired and testy), but someone will notice that the glasses are a bit lopsided in the wrong direction, and, suddenly, a call will go forth for kinder words...and the whole mood of the family will change! It is terrific! At the end of the day, more coins in the "bad" glass means extra chores. More coins in the "good" glass means more family fun (for example, extra reading time, a family game, or another fun activity). This simple visual reminder has been very helpful in our home!