Parent’s guide to transitioning from doing the packed lunch

Step by step guide for parents who are teaching their children how manage the transition from them doing all the lunches to the kids doing all their lunch. How to do the lunch transition in manageable stagesReady to make the transition from you doing all the school lunches and handing over it to your children? Read on for a step by step plan and some printables to help you.

Like all good systems for our family this one isn’t a quick fix or set it and forget it. There’s a huge amount of detail here that I spread over a several posts. The system isn’t that hard but I want to share the details so you see how to adapt for your family.

One of the milestones in our house is making your own lunch once you transfer to the big school. As part of being independent and learning to manage time, wants, needs and constraints, learning how to put your lunch together is a great opportunity for failure, mistakes and success.

We’re not one for throwing them into the deep end of, ‘ Today I’m making your packed lunch and tomorrow, good luck. Have at it.’

Instead we’ve tried to show a step by step approach that responds to their stage and ability. Also we have tried to make it as much of a rhythm as possible. If it is too rigid things fall apart. The boys have to learn to go with the flow, adjust, make do and move on.

Here’s the intermediate step of moving from parent only packed lunches to our children being able to start and do most of the lunch process. They’ll see all parts but the focus is on getting this new intermediate rhythm down.

1 Make it known

We talked a lot about responsibility and making your own lunch soon and eventually decided we wanted to do it at the secondary/middle school transfer stage. No surprises. They know it is coming. Set your time.

2 Have a lunch system

Monday we always have a fish based lunch. I stock a range of fish tins that alternates each week. We talk a lot about variety which discourages having the same meals the next day or days. ( However good and yummy it is!) We also talk about colourful meals and not the yellow ( or same color ) diet. Tuesday and Thursday is usually the same meal.


Click here to get the cheatsheet of lunch theme days


One of the meals is usually a free choice. Children have their favourite meals so this free choice slot gives them some autonomy to have that special meal. It also helps them start thinking about their own food needs without being told or guided all the time.

It’s easy to make lunch when it comes from the list on the fridge. But for many children in years to come they will need to make a variety of foods themselves. They develop the confidence in times like these. Here is just a taster of that and this free choice slot also accounts for leftovers from dinnertime that are just great for lunch.

Wednesday is the only one I really have to think about. Somedays Wednesday and Friday are the same, just like Tuesday and Thursday. That is our system. It makes days easier and predictable. If you want some ideas for your own lunch theme days, go here.

The next part of this system is a crucial step we often forget when we’re transferring knowledge in a family. It’s also what will give the most independence and confidence to your children.


Step by step guide for parents who are teaching their children how manage the transition from them doing all the lunches to the kids doing all their lunch. How to do the lunch transition in manageable stages

Alternatives to the sit down lecture

The sit down lecture.

Nobody likes it.

Alternatives to the sit down lecture that encourage connection and reduce the shutting down that happens in family discussion

Whether you’re called into a room, have a table between you or sitting side by side, it’s with a head hung low we all approach the sit down lecture. Well that’s how it was in our house.

I don’t know how we got into the rut of lecturing but I guess we have so much to say as parents it just flows right out of us! Ha! With some reading and distance from the situation I could see that what I was saying was just not working. In fact, less is more. Simple is better.

When we invoked the sit down lecture we wanted discussion and answers. The sit down lecture was the most ineffective way of getting discussion and answers as it encouraged lecturing from the parents and silence and zoning out from our children.  It took a long time to see this because I guess we were in the moment.

If we want discussion then there has to be time to think, reason, gather thoughts and come out with a response. With parents staring, facing or sitting next to their children the pressure is paralyzing. They become more worried about saying the right thing and what is the right thing, will I get into trouble? What do they really mean? and before long they are spinning out disconnected, glazed and shutting down. You often can see it happening right in front of you if you favor the sit down lecture method.

Of course we mean well. We just are tackling it the wrong way.

When you have information to share, want information and conversation from your child there is a better way than the sit down lecture. Their first thought when we call them is, what have I done now? We confirm how serious it is by how many adults are present? If we bring paper or objects, it’s like we’re lining up against them and we’re actually all on the same side.

Over time we suggest three alternatives to the sit down lecture that remove the hostility, get conversation and reduce the amount of shutting down.

Go for a walk

The movement changes the whole dynamic. We were meant to move. We often don’t move enough. Most children appreciate the movement so they fidget less and we stop being distracted by their movement and get derailed with discipline because of both our actions.

There’s a lack of eye contact which reduces the pressure to respond immediately and gives time to compose and speak. Some of us have an angry resting face or look like we’re always asking a question or seem annoyed by the tone in our voice. These are confusing signs we often don’t even realise we do and if our children just listened to the words we said the misunderstandings would be better.

The very same with our children. I have a son who smirks. It’s like a tick. It happens quickly and involuntary. I get derailed by this smirk. If we’re side by side walking I don’t see it. I react to his words. He’s working on the smirk and what it represents as I’m working on things too.

In nature/ on the beach

There’s something soothing and calming about the sounds of being outside in nature. If you’re by a reservoir, country park, beach, village lane, hedgerow save the opportunity for those valuable discussions for when you can hear those ambient sounds. It’s harder to be angry and frustrated. There’s something about being outside that cools us off and opens us up to conversation.

The walk can take you in your neighbourhood but the nature walk helps with the listening. There are less distractions of sound. More of the senses are involved with touch and smell. There are more things to fidget with as children try to figure out their ideas it’s easy to toss a stone, grab a twig, scrunch some leaves, cradle a shell, build a sandcastle or a stone tower.

Play a game together

By the time we get to the sit down lecture, either we are frustrated or both of us are frustrated. We have something to share and we should be listening to hear what our children have to say. Unfortunately in the heat of the moment this isn’t always the case. You too?

If we’re not by a lake to skim stones and don’t have a wood pile to move, the next things are some heavy work get rid of this pent up energy and get to the conversation. Games like basketball, any of the catching games, football, freezbe allow both parties to get the frustration out safely and turn the energy into good.

As the mood and tone changes there’s opportunity as the parent to encourage their accomplishments and see some improvements. There are so many unspoken rules in families it is no wonder children fall foul of them often. These games though have clear rules and they are less likely to feel they are doing everything wrong.

There are alternatives to the sit down lecture. Any of these three things need not take a lot of time. I’m reminded of the quote.  You don't get a second chance to make a first impressionShow the children how to share by reducing the stress, slowing down and giving them and you time to carefully navigate this tense field. We’re all learning. The ways we get our point across matters in our families, in our relationships, in our schools and in our work.

We’re discussing a TED talk about slowing down in our Facebook Group so we have opportunities to connect with our children. Look for the posts on TEDx Talks Uncovered. When you’re not so hurried theirs always time.

TEDx Talks Uncovered- video bookclub for parents creating their family way |within our Facebook group

**Pin and Share**Alternatives to the sit down lecture for families looking for connection and resolution without the battle

Two places + two resources for Positive Connection, calm and conversation in the morning

No matter how the morning starts here are some places for positive connection, calm and conversation in the morning There’s a lot of hustle in the mornings to get the kids up and out. We have our morning routines. We try not to nag and fuss. It’s great when each child can get up and move through the morning without us but it’s not every day, not all the time and maybe we’re not there yet. So morning runs become tense because we’re all up against a time limit. We’re all seeking positive connection. It’s just complicated.

It’s not a calm time but it can be a connecting time.

Our voices are sharp and loud or maybe silent and absent. The tension is rising.

There are two points in the morning run that we try to hit as parents, whatever their ages and bring positive connection, calm and conversation.

  • Breakfast
  • Leaving out the door

Both these points allow for a time to slow down, catch breath and do something different. If we rush rush all the time there’s no built in pause. We need a pause in the morning to catch breath, think of next, imagine the day, prepare and be right. If we rush head long without having times to stop and pause we often find out too late that we missed something.

Positive connection at breakfast

Perfection would be our son or sons sitting down with us for breakfast together. This is our most unlikely situation but we encourage them to sit down as we continue the kitchen duties that keep us in the same room. This is a win. This time could be a time to gulp down or chow down quickly. Breakfast is what’s often skipped if we are running late so this might be a new choice to choose this time for connection. Having this particular time on our radar helps us all start the day off right with breakfast. It’s a good check in. We notice. We adjust. We support.

Leaving out the door is also a good check in time of positive connection as we get to say some fun things to set up the day even if it is just a hug, blown kiss ( if they are mad at us) or an I love you. Our aim as parents is to watch them leave with a wry smile on their face. Humor or jokes help that and it’s also a chance to redress the balance after the morning getting ready.

Keeping that positive connection as they leave

  • Do you have your smile in your pocket? ( incase you need to find it later)
  • Have you switched your ears on ( click as we imitate it) ?
  • Today is a clean slate where mistakes and learning all happen.
  • However mad, late or okay everyone says goodbye. How you say goodbye is up to you.  We’ve been through many. A good attitude starts the day off well.

Conversation might not be easy but just being in the same area helps with connection. Mini Post it notes labels support connection when you can’t be there. We’re trying out some new breakfasts from around the world instead of the traditional cereal and milk breakfast we’ve been used to. He needed something more filling and lasting. So in the microwave I had a bowl of soup ( leftovers) and a little sticky note, reminding him about the naan bread to go with it.  First day. First time. It needed to be effortless. Sometimes you get notes back. A note says a lot.

Mellow calm times in the mornings

Conversation isn’t like at meal times later in the day when you can have Character conversations and ask about the day because a lot has happened and everyone wants to share. Mornings are mellow. Mellow times as everyone is waking, dragging and going at different speeds. Here are two positive connection and conversations that happen that give you a chance to talk about something together, in the moment or later. The common cry in many households is that you don’t have much in common to talk about. Here the journey in the car or conversation for later starts from these two things. The seed is planted and time gives us chance to have opinions.

Positive connection, calm and conversation starts with these resources

Classics for kids works for elementary and middle school children. They play a selection of classic music around a theme or a composer and recently they’ve had some interviews too. You don’t have to monitor what might be played ( Bonus in the morning; one less thing to do) The music is interesting and each one is different and it’s not long. It’s not just the music but we learn background and the story behind the music. I don’t know if they take it all in but the music certainly holds a calm and tense-free space in a household that is busy ramping up for departure.

A new discovery for us is, Listenwise with daily current news events with questions. Sometimes it can feel like Russian roulette when you turn on the news, will the news be okay to listen to or will I have to monitor it all? If you’re looking for news and conversation without the worry then I think you’ll like Listenwise.


We found a short news story ( 2minutes 6 secs) that we could listen to right there on the smartphone while eating breakfast. Afterwards there’s a chance to answer comprehension questions, if we like, but to be honest they launched straight into their own questions and conversation. They did look at the questions afterwards. As a platform we loved it. Short news items some current news and other stories. It’s great for upper elementary, middle and high schoolers. There are other great premium features. But for parents at home the basic free plan worked really well for us.

Find other calm and connection ideas as you listen to my parenting podcast on iTunes and Stitcher

Back to school: Shaping the Parent Mindset

Back to school-shaping the parents mindset 5 things to consider for our families in the back to school season and beyond that start with mindset and trickle down harmony, calm and unityWhat would happen if you started with a definite mindset about what you would do and will not do?

This year I set the challenge to my three sons to make a list of what they really needed for school by looking at their school resource list for their upcoming class.

Immediately they printed and wrote a long list of things and we went to the shops and for the first time, I got to stand on the side and almost say, “Are you done yet? ” As they whizzed up and down the aisles trying to find the right paper and folders. It’s a challenging time but only a part of the great back to school activities.

Getting ahead of the back to school activities gives us a peaceful start. Creating routines and systems take time and probably it’s not the best idea to change everything at the start of school. Instead talk about the flexibility of these first few weeks as we all settle into routines. Some of the routines are new and testing and many cozy and familiar- whatever the routine just letting the children know that we are working on finding something that fits for us as a family and for ourselves helps take the edge of perfect.

As your area starts the back to school season you’ll become deluged with offers and ideas. As parents we hold the spaces for our children to dwell in whether we decide or things just happen. We set the tone for the school year.

Here are 5 things to consider for our families in the back to school season and beyond that start with mindset and trickle down harmony, calm and unity.

1. Rotate new contributions

As they get older they need to experience different chores or contributions. It’s easy to set and forget contributions and children get stuck doing the same contribution for years.

Gender contributions happen in many families sometimes because we don’t notice that the girls are washing dishes and the boys taking out trash. They all need to do all these basic types of contributions and at least know how they are done. Is it time for a change?

What we think and do makes all the difference What if we started with the right mindset? 5 things to consider for our families in the back to school season and beyond that start with mindset and trickle down harmony, calm and unity2. Start with agreements

“If only they helped me more!”

Often children are oblivious to what needs doing. Proximity doesn’t indicated noticing and understanding. We do it so well. We need to teach and show, often.  When you have a family conversation about how they can help or even what is help ( this is your house too- maybe we need to talk more about the language) then… solutions happen. They aren’t helping you. They are helping the family and everyone benefits.

3. Graduate to new chores and contributions

What are some new life skills and contributions they might master this year?

Are they ready to wash a laundry load of clothes? they might start with the towels and sheets or jump straight to their laundry basket. Maybe they’ll bike to school?

Will they make their own lunch or set out their own clothes and bags?

Will they make their own plan for what they do in the morning or when they come back from school?

With age and stage comes responsibility. It’s things like coming home from the neighbour’s house on time that help you earn the gifts that come later. Often our children don’t understand the responsibility part and focus too much on their rights. It’s up to us to share this process better.

4. Family media plan

Technology can’t lead us by the nose. We have to have our family ideas. Granted these will shift and alter during the year and as things come up but we need to continue the many conversations around media use in our homes, at school and everywhere.

5. Values

Conversations and time help unite a family who are pulling in multiple directions. Whether it is one down day or night a week, meal times, car pool or group texting we pull together when there’s a common theme.

As you get ready for the new school term, here’s a handy list of seven things to consider that support our families just by our mindset.

Download your copy here

Acting on our Parenting mindset

Back to school reminders for Parents


More back to school conversations

Back to School: Family Values for the Month

Back to School: Figuring out the Family Media Plan

Our walk to school

Being ready to support through the new school term

Raising Playful Tots show 36: Waldorf Education with Janni Nicol

Raising Playful Tots show 37: Back to school

106: 7 Ways to Raise Responsible Tots

107 Back to school for 5 year olds and under

We need all the voices in the family meeting

Everyone has a voice at the family meeting.+ free printable frame. Hesitant when the kids have the floor at the family meeting? Download the family meeting frame that supports everyone having a voice at the family meeting ( so it keeps on point)Family meetings help children and families learn how to negotiate and resolve issues, this was the first post in the series. Last time we looked at how family roundtables or gatherings reduce tension by releasing that pressure valve that builds.Today we’re looking at the importance that everyone has a voice at a session.

Just because you’re the oldest or the adult doesn’t mean you talk the most. By following a framework we can all be heard and now we discuss why this is necessary in all families for family harmony.

Everyone has a voice

If you want to have quality and continued conversations with your children when they are teens you need to give their voice value. They need to be heard when they are little. They need to be heard as they enter the school years and as a tween; not just specific times but all the way through.

Their idea might not be good but let’s walk through with it to its logical conclusion.  Giving the words and supporting the situation helps each child to figure out empathy and seeing things from other points of view. This is usually what stops us from letting them have this voice. We are way ahead of them. We can see the problems and have vetoed it already. Children need to learn how to do this by talking through their ideas to logical ends.

Their idea might in fact be good. Let us hear that during the family meeting. Family is a good place to express opinions and support our children through to logical conclusions.

Say your grievances

Grievances go both ways:

Many of the squabbles we have in our homes are petty things that don’t get a chance to be aired and everyone listened to. How you fill the trash can and what you do when the bag slips down really wasn’t a big deal to me. But it was to those in the family who had to empty the bin. There were a few people who didn’t check when they pitched into the trash.

As a result when you took out the bag you had to take out the complete bin and wash it down. Effectively doubling the contribution and making him unhappy.

Very unhappy.

Seems petty and annoying but from his point of view he’d told the culprits and it made him get all crazy about a trash bag and how we fill a bin.

Fill a bin! One day recently he placed it on our Family Roundtable worksheet as a point to raise in the gathering…

Source: Meet at the Family Roundtable

It is these petty things that don’t get aired because there’s no place and time for them that creep out in different ways at the wrong times. The trash can annoyance mentioned above isn’t such a big deal now because the frustration is shared. We all understood. It was an easy fix.

To encourage everyone to have a voice have a format or agenda. Something that you do each time and everyone has a turn doing it.

Tips for better family meetings

Keep it fun and short. As you go along you’ll find you’ll need to talk about interrupting, flaming, shouting each other down, pouting and what you’ll do about it. Each family is different and it’s usually excitement to get their point across so most of us are happy to change things so we are all heard and listened to.

During the family meeting or gathering don’t just limit these gatherings to just being around a table, like meetings we find at work. Find your family way. It might be before, during or after dinner or on the floor or the local ice cream shop. Experiment.

After all the conversation and everyone having their voice let their be a time for wrapping up. We need to reflect on what’s happened because a lot has been said. We need to have a direction to go. Is there any actions? and we need to look forward to better so ending the gathering well.

Download this frame to support your family meeting.

Hesitant when the kids have the floor at the family meeting? Download the family meeting frame that supports everyone having a voice at the family meeting ( so it keeps on point)

Series recap

Part 1  Introducing family meetings to young families

Part 2 Why family meetings are great for reducing tension in families

Part 3  We need all the voices in the family meeting

For more systems and family flows check out this Pinterest board

Why family meetings are great for reducing tension in families

There are lots of benefits to starting family meetings while a young family. In the first of this family meeting series we talked about the earlier they learn to negotiate and resolve issues the better it is for everyone. Today we’re talking about reducing tension by releasing that pressure value that builds.

Siblings want what they want. They don’t come preprogrammed with the how to do this. They get what they want however they feel at the time. For some children they fight with words and others physically.Not all of our children are naturally emotionally intelligent. The good news is they can learn.

Why family meetings are great for reducing tension in families |

Why family meetings are great for reducing tension in families

Family meetings are a good opportunity to work through [Read more…]

Introducing family meetings to young families

Get started with family meetings even when you have a young family. Here's how | Play-Activities.comMany young families love the idea of a family meeting or what we call a family roundtable. But just can’t see how it will work with young children. Often parents say that family meeting will be a good future event when the children are older. This certainly misses a fantastic opportunity to get started on the intercommunication skills.  The early we build these skills the easier our child will find things.

Teach negotiation and resolution skills

If you’ve spent a few hours with a group of children it is inevitable that conflict happens. Some of your children are naturally good at handling conflict ( Maybe it was ‘caught’ in your household or maybe it’s part of their personality.)

Many children naturally are self centered.

  • It is a big leap to feel empathy and consider the other person for many children.
  • It is  difficult to weigh up the fairness of the situation AND make the right choice.

When you’re triggered and away from home what happens next matters.  Often these little guys are also angry and knowing what to do and say next means the difference between going home, staying and playing or a long conversation intervention between parties.

During the family meeting there’s a point for teaching and sharing how to do things. Re-enact the scene with plushes or other siblings and the family join in with what they would do in this situation. It’s a really powerful exercise as they get the practice of moving through the motions, they use the words and they get to do it over and over until they feel it is right.

starting family meetings when you have a young family |

It doesn’t have to be always after the event either. As families introduce situations to get them plan and try before they are in that situation. We love the character conversation cards for this as it’s easier to have a third party having all the troubles than only relying on what our children have trouble with.

It’s like a worn path in the grass. There’s an imprint and memory of being here before so when they come to a situation like this they have some choices about what they might choose to do than the usual choice, to think in the moment only.

Thinking in the moment doesn’t always work so well.

Negotiation and resolution skills take time to learn and they grow with you. Get in early and often. Start with regular conversations to practice your family way of handling things.

Part 1  Introducing family meetings to young families

Part 2 Why family meetings are great for reducing tension in families

 In the next in this series read how your family meetings will give a welcome release-the-pressure-valve in your home.

40+ Ways to Connect with Your Child Today

Lots of easy positive parenting ways to connect with your child today  I’m excited to share a special guest post by Rebecca Eanes celebrating her newly released book: Positive Parenting: an essential guide

Building and maintaining a strong connection with our children takes focus and work, but the benefits are worth the effort. When children are securely connected with us, they have higher self-esteem, behave better, are more cooperative, and are happier overall. I know we live in a busy world and sometimes it’s difficult to carve out an hour for playtime when dinner needs to be made, dishes are piled high, the inbox is full of messages that need responses, work calls are coming in, and the laundry is everywhere! Connecting doesn’t have to take a lot of time. There are many small things we can do throughout the day and night to strengthen the bonds we have with our children.

  • Give a cheerful morning greeting. Rather than start with a “Hey, hurry up!” try a special morning greeting for each child, like “rise and shine my sunshine” or “good morning doodle bear, I’m happy to see you this morning!” This slight change in greeting can shift the tone for the whole morning.
  • Make it a point to show affection before breakfast. A hug, a rub on the head, a kiss on the cheek – take just a couple of seconds to be affectionate with your child because little moments add up to lots of love.
  • Do something a little special at breakfast, like a note beside their cereal bowl or fruit shaped in a smiley face on top of their oatmeal.
  • Notice something good about them before breakfast and say it out loud. “Your outfit looks nice today” or “Thanks for making your bed this morning. That was helpful.”
  • Make up a secret handshake or hand symbol that’s just for the two of you.
  • Say a blessing over them before they head out the door.
  • Never let them leave without a hug.
  • Put a note in their lunchbox that says “I’m so glad you’re mine!”
  • If your child has a cell phone, send a text to say “I’m thinking of you and smiling!”
  • Do one of their chores for them.
  • Bring them a snack or drink without them asking.
  • Make a comment on what they’re working on when you pass by. “Oh, are you about to beat that level?” or “How’s the homework coming? You’re being so diligent!”
  • Always greet them with a smile, not a question first. “Hi sweetie, I’m happy you’re home!”
  • Make their bed for them and leave a note on it. “Made lovingly by mom.”
  • Block out 10 minutes of time and say “I’m stopping what I’m doing and giving you 10 minutes of my full attention because I love you! What do you want to do for 10 minutes?”
  • Blow up balloons and cover their floor with it “just because.”
  • Offer to rub their back, feet, or shoulders for a few minutes.
  • Choose a topic of conversation at dinner, such as new movies, vacation plans, or best books to avoid awkward silence and shrugs after “how was your day?”
  • Turn some music up loud and dance in the kitchen for 10 minutes while the food is cooking.
  • Begin an afternoon or after-school tea time. Get darling little teacups with saucers and sit down together for a few moments of civilized engagement. Don’t like tea? Put water in the teacup. They’ll probably still think it’s fun!
  • It’s affirmation time again! Notice something good about your child and speak it out before dinner is over.
  • Do a chore alongside your child. Remember how the dwarves did the dishes in The Hobbit? They were singing and laughing and just having a good time doing it. Try that, but don’t toss the dishes around like they did unless you’re very, very good!
  • Do a quick, fun science experiment together. Mentos and Coca Cola or vinegar with baking soda are cheap, easy, and fun.
  • Re-work the homework hour with soft classical music and fresh cookies from the oven. They’ll appreciate the effort and change in atmosphere.
  • Read a chapter aloud from a classic novel.
  • Invite them into your world to learn something new about you. Tell them about a book you’re reading or invite them to do yoga with you.
  • Take a walk together after dinner.
  • Play a round of Uno or a card game of your choice. One round doesn’t usually take too long, but it gives everyone time to gather and unwind.
  • Leave love notes everywhere. Bathroom mirror, bedroom dresser, pillow top, under their shoes.
  • If you have little kids, play on the floor with them for 10-15 minutes uninterrupted. If your kids are older, build a Lego creation or join them in their interest for few minutes.
  • Ask questions that are more specific than “how was your day?” Try “What’s one thing you learned today?” or “Tell me something nice that happened to you today.”
  • Grab a flashlight and go under covers together to tell stories.
  • Make bath time with little ones a special time by adding bath crayons, lots of bubbles, or new bath toys, and play with them for a short while instead of hurrying through the routine.
  • Spend 5 minutes daring each other not to laugh as you each make silly faces, tell jokes, and make silly noises.
  • Say yes to an invitation to play that you’d usually turn down.
  • Play the favorites game by asking “What’s your favorite ___” back and forth quickly until you run out of ideas. You’ll probably learn something new about each other.
  • Tell them stories from your childhood.
  • Talk to them about their family heritage. If you don’t know much about your ancestry, explore it together.
  • Hold them in your lap and rock them like their still babies, even if their limbs are sprawled out all over the place!
  • Arm wrestle each other.
  • Give a piggy back ride to bed or a horsey back ride to the tub.
  • Spend “special time” with each child at bedtime. Sit on the end of their bed or lie down beside them and just listen to what they have to say. If they say nothing, just hold them.
  • Tuck them in with a special prayer or blessing every night.
  • Always kiss them goodnight.

Rebecca Eanes is the creator of and author of The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting. In her new book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, Rebecca shares her hard-won insights on giving up the conventional parenting paradigm to reconnect heart to heart with her children. Because parenting is about so much more than discipline, Rebecca hits on important topics less spoken about, making this more than a parenting book.

It’s a book about building lasting family bonds and reclaiming joy in parenting. Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide is out now. This post contains an affiliate link.

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40+ Ways to Connect with Your Child Today.. Guest post: Rebecca Eanes of

4 words that will change your contributions and chores forever

Take out the trash may only be four little words but when you unpack what you’re asking your child to do it involves many steps. It is a process like the morning routine or cleaning your teeth, emptying your backpack or getting ready for a trip.

Here’s the tip that’s often missed with contributions and chores and that’s teaching and showing them more than once. We know it but do we do it.

Teaching and showing is a major part of learning the skill. We don’t hope that they pick up how to clean their teeth we take the time to show them. The dentist shows them and each night we show up with them for a long time to make sure it is done.

Contributions and chores need to be shown not once in a hurry but possibly in parts and regularly as the skill is learned. It’s then that children learn how to do it and can do it for themselves.

Why is showing a big deal?

  • We learn a lot from seeing others do. They see how you hold the full bin or the trick to lifting and pulling the drawstrings in one motion.
  • They see where you get the cleaning supplies and don’t grab the wrong ones.
  • We get to share life together and learn to care for a community item to be part of the family.
  • Opportunity to answer the battery of questions about why all the steps and what’s the big deal about cleaning. We get to talk about safety, sanitation, germs, cleanliness in context.
  • It’s a time for connection, gentle words and maybe some fun when things fall apart.
  • Whether they are 4 or 14 share how to and let them be part of the family team, in the know and not saying, “I can’t do it because I don’t do it right.”
  • It shows them that there are important systems and procedures to life. Life mostly doesn’t happened by magic we need to happen to it how we would like.
  • For us to discover that there are many ways to do something we feel we have down.

Ever listen to a seven year old tell you how you are emptying the bin all wrong and then watch them marvel at the hooks on the side of the bin that help keep the bin line inside? You can’t help but smile. Don’t miss this step.

Big List

This is why we can’t just say, take out the trash. When you look at the list to teach there’s a lot to, taking out the trash, properly. Imagine if your child followed these steps, taking out the trash would run a lot smoother in your home for everyone.

It’s not fair to expect children to guess your standard and ways. It’s better that we teach and show directly and not hope they pick it up or notice. They often don’t. Everyone needs to take out the trash well. It’s a simple thing once you can do it but go to any college flat share and there are some suspect bins.

How to get through that list

That’s a lot to take in so instead of teaching the whole system and all X steps, we’ve had much more success splitting contributions with multiple steps like this into three manageable parts. Why three parts? We have three boys. This gives us two options

a) Each boy learns a different part and together they can all complete the contribution.

b) Each part is mastered before progressing to the next part. It doesn’t have to be in order.

Each option has their pros and cons and by trial and error since this is a learning opportunity each family finds their level for each contribution.

So if you’re finding yourself constantly going behind your child ‘fixing their mess’ because they’ve missed a step or three maybe you should back up and have some show and tell time.

Those four words your children should not be afraid to ask before a task: Show me how-again.

Reconnect in a fun and meaningful way so that these contributions have the high expectation of success without the regular nagging and everyone has the chance to deliver because we all know what to do and are competent. Training.

For more systems and rhythms for the home

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4 words that will change your contributions and chores forever

Part one: Take out the Trash- step by step for new learners

Part two: 4 words that will change your contributions and chores forever

Take out the Trash- step by step for new learners

Take out the trash are 4 simple words on a contribution or chore chart but what they mean is a whole process. Teach and show this process for more effective chores and contributions with less frustration all around. + Free printable A common contribution in every home is taking out the trash or emptying the bin. Up and down the land there are contribution and chore charts that say: take out the trash.

Part one: Take out the Trash- step by step for new learners

Part two: 4 words that will change your contributions and chores forever

Although there are only four words it is amazing how open that phrase is to interpretation. What do we actually mean when we say, take out the trash? Each family will have a slightly different interpretation but for the most part we expect :-

  1. Take out the full bin carefully and put into the large trash can outside.  ( Maybe divide the trash if recycling into the right containers)
  2. Secure that lid so little animals can’t get in.
  3. Make sure there’s no gunk at the bottom of the original bin.  ( Gunk = smells)
  4. Clean if necessary with a paper towel and the household cleaner of choice.
  5. Put a new bin liner in correctly so it doesn’t disappear when the first new trash is put in. ( Report if this is the last liner or it’s getting low)
  6. Wipe the lid, inside and out.
  7. Check the floor around the bin for dropped trash.
  8. Wash your hands
  9. Close all doors + cabinets + put back anything you used like dustpans, cleaners, wipes etc ( maybe this is just for my family)

Even with this there are many of you adding parts I missed or taking parts out that don’t fit with your family.

We all have our system. It’s ours. We’ve got it down.

They haven’t, yet.

We have to stop presenting children with chore or contribution charts that say: take out the trash without explaining how to to do and have it written somewhere because most of these quick to say statements actually have specific process.

Teach and show

When learning anything new like, take out the trash I can’t just assume that the children will know how I would like it to be done just because of proximity. Yes they may have seen me or others do it but I mustn’t assume they know this process. The process. But we do assume.

This is where many of the big clashes come with contributions because we use those innocent four words, take out the trash and each of us has a very different take on what is about to happen next.

Their finished product and ours is often very different not just because they are children and their standards or abilities are different, that’s a given for some but it is that our expectations are different. It’s not until the end of the process that we realise how different! It’s like a test.

Once they complete we mark them on how well they have done but they don’t know what they are being tested on.

It is possible to let them discover the way to do things too and some children prefer this method. At the moment I’ve found that mine prefer we show and share then they try and as they get proficient they customize and change up the routine to suit themselves. We do ask and sometimes they want to try. Depending on what it is we’re happy to let them discover for themselves.

Know exactly what to do sheet- Download your step by step ~ taking out the trash

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Take out the trash are 4 simple words on a contribution or chore chart but what they mean is a whole process. Imagine what would happen if we taught the process and not threw them in at the deep end and hoped they would swim + free printable|

Part one: Take out the Trash- step by step for new learners

Part two: 4 words that will change your contributions and chores forever

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