Monday, September 16, 2013


We had dinner with friends the other night and inevitably we started talking about the balance between spending time with our kids and keeping our houses looking somewhat civilized. For my friend, it seemed to be an either/or approach. Either you're playing with your kids, or you're cleaning your house. I take a slightly different approach.While I think it's very important to take the time to sit on the floor and play with your children, I also think it's important to involve them in the day-to-day tasks of keeping the home in order. I want my children to be contributing members of society, and that starts in the home. Also, I want them to know how to clean and keep things orderly. It's a learned skill. :)

As often as possible, I find something that my three-year-old can do to help and contribute. He puts his dishes in the sink, throws his trash away in the garbage can, and has to pick up his own toys. Those are the basics. But, when I'm doing daily household chores, I involve him. When I empty the dishwasher, he sorts and puts away the silverware. When I do dishes, I fill up one of the sinks with his plastic cups and plates to "wash". Admittedly, this is messy. But it's a good excuse for me to mop the floor when he's done! When I'm wiping down the counters, I give him a spray bottle with vinegar and water in it and he wipes the cabinets for me. Again, this can get messy, but it's not as if he's getting the cabinets any dirtier than they were when he started. At age three, my goal is not for him to be a tiny slave who does all my cleaning for me. My goal is for him to understand that cleaning is necessary and for him to experience the sense of satisfaction you get from doing a job well. This is also a great way for us to spend time together while being productive.

Sorting silverware. This has been his job since he was 2.
Here's a quick list of chores that kids can do. Keep in mind that you will probably have to do at least some of these over again, but the idea here isn't perfection. The idea is to help your little one be an involved, contributing member of the household and provide learning opportunities.

Dishes: Give them a sponge, a sink full of water and dish soap, and some dishes they can't break. Also, grab a huge stack of towels, because you will need them. Side note, I always make the Eskimo help me with cleanup at the end.

Dishwasher: Let them help you load and unload things that are not breakable. Sorting silverware is a great activity.

Dusting: Give them a duster and set them loose! The Eskimo loves this!

Laundry: Put the clothes in the washer, throw them into the drier, add the soap. The Eskimo also likes to "help" fold. I also let him put his own clothes in his drawers.

Wiping baseboards: Give them a damp rag and let them get to work. This can keep the Eskimo occupied while I'm trying to do something like cook dinner.

Wiping cabinets: Give them a spray bottle with a vinegar/water mixture and a rag. I provide some guidance with this; ie, there are spots on that cabinet, can you get them off? Look at all those spots on the dishwasher! Anytime there is a spray bottle involved, there's the potential that your child may end up having a little too much fun, so I recommend supervision.

Sweeping: Will he get all of the dirt off the floor? No. Will he get some of it? Maybe. But if he's learning, it's a win. We have a child sized broom that we picked up for about $10 at a toy store. You can also make your own by cutting down the handle on an adult size one.

General cleanup: We have a rule at our house: any toys left out overnight are going to Goodwill. So, whenever the Eskimo protests picking up his toys at the end of the day, I tell him, that's his choice, but anything left out will be gone the next day. Works like a charm.

Wiping the baseboards.
A final note: this should be FUN. At age three, the Eskimo wants to help. He loves it. I'm encouraging it as much as possible because I figure it will only get worse as he gets older. But, if he is busy playing a game and doesn't want to do the dishes, that's fine. At some point, I will likely introduce a proper chore chart and allowance, but we're not there yet. My goal is for him to gain life skills and to look back and remember having fun cleaning with Mama. :)

Do your kids help out around the house? At what age did you start paying them for their work? What are their jobs?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Shampoo free

I spent a couple months visiting family with my kids this summer while my husband held down the fort here in Texas. We spent a month staying with my parents near Chicago, and a month staying with my 87-year-old grandmother up in Wisconsin. It was a lot of fun, but it was also shockingly difficult. A full month alone with a 3-year-old, a 5-month-old and and 87-year-old was challenging. I was basically a single mom for that period of time in a house that had no child-proofing what so ever. Yeah. My husband did join us for about a week at the end, so we managed to sneak in a little family vacation, which was wonderful.
Meeting Mimi-Mama for the first time

The Eskimo, watching golf with Mimi-Mama

Anyway, the point of this prelude is that I didn't have a lot of time to do basic stuff like showering. The only time I could shower was when both kids were asleep. And the shower was in my grandma's room, so I had to shower in that tiny sliver of time after the kids are asleep and before she's asleep. So, I ended up showering every other day, at best. Vacation me doesn't mind not showering. Vacation me also stopped washing her hair. I've been wanting to go no-poo for a while now and this was the perfect opportunity. All the chemicals in shampoos and conditioners scare me and a lot of the "safe" stuff is super expensive. I should also note that since we shaved our heads for St. Baldrick's Day back in March, I still have pretty short hair. This has helped make the transition a bit easier.

Somewhere in mid-August (I neglected to note the date), I stopped using shampoo. I rinsed my hair thoroughly every time I showered, and was kind of surprised to discover that it was ok. My hair never looked gross. When we got back to Texas, I started using baking soda and apple cider vinegar a couple times a week to wash and condition my hair and the results are downright amazing. My hair is ridiculously soft and shiny. I'm kind of amazed.

Look, ma! No shampoo!

When I wash it, I mix about a tablespoon of baking soda with some water into a paste. I massage this into my scalp and then rinse. Then I pour a little bit of apple cider vinegar on my hair. I let it sit for a couple minutes and then rinse. One of these days I'm going to find a spray bottle for the ACV so I can spray it on my hair. I've found that pouring it onto my short hair inevitably gets it on my scalp and it can actually leave me feeling a bit greasy. The ACV serves as a conditioner and the results are shockingly good.

Shampoo free for a couple weeks here.

The best family shot we managed to get. :)

So, there you have it. No-poo is easy, super cheap, and I can't argue with the results. For some, the transition from daily washing can be a challenge. But keep in mind that the oil on your scalp is a supply-and-demand thing (like nursing!). If you strip the oil from your skin, your body will rush to replenish it. Some folks will likely experience a lot more oil than they're used to in the first couple of weeks, but your body should figure it out pretty quickly.

Give it a try and let me know if it works for you!