My family and I were traveling within 20 minutes of home last night, when my 3yo began feeling sick. We couldn’t pull over in time to help him out of his seat and out of the van before he lost his dinner. I felt so bad for him, and yet I was so grateful that the Spirit told me to put this box back into the back of the van after I had taken it out earlier in the day. I’m so grateful for this simple, basic box I keep in my van for certain occasions like
the one that happened yesterday.

This handy box has a few simple supplies that are essential:

  • Bath Towels – Towels are great for spills in the car, drying a child who is wet from playing in water or getting soaked from a rain storm, or using as an extra layer if you don’t have a blanket. In my case yesterday, one towel covered the child seat after cleaning it up so my child didn’t have to sit in it, and the other towel ended up catching more puke before we got home.
  • Extra Clothes – I usually only keep clothes for the children that I know will need the extra changes the most. I keep a shirt, pants, socks, and underwear for my two youngest. For my daughter I keep a play dress.
  • Gallon-size plastic bag – I like the bag to have a zip closure on it. It can hold all sorts of things and could be used to hold the extra items from the bin if the bin is needed to hold a large amount of wet/soiled things.

  • Baby Wipes – Wipes are not only for changing diapers but for lending to a friend who needs one. They are also for moms without children in diapers (*gasp* I’m included in that category–weird!) to wash hands, faces, spilled drinks, and icky pukey messes.
  • Extra Diaper(s) – You never know when you’ll need one, even for a potty-trained toddler. Sometimes I haven’t been able to find a bathroom for my toddler while I’m on the road. I usually just pull over and put it on my toddler before we make it to the bathroom. I often end up giving my extra diapers away to a friend who is in a pickle and needs the spare diaper.
  • Plastic Grocery Bags – The bags can be used for garbage or holding wet clothes (those towels for instance), “accident” clothing, and pukey messes if necessary.
  • Plastic Bin – This one is obviously to hold all of the above in it to keep it organized. Yesterday I dumped it out and used it to hold soiled clothing, baby wipes, paper towels, and a bath towel. I put the lid on it and to keep the van from smelling horribly before we arrived back at home.

We keep a first-aid kit and flashlight under the front seat, a roadside emergency kit under another seat, and a picnic blanket in the back with the bin. Of course, a box like this one could be useful for anyone, not just parents of young children. Tools could be added, blankets during winter, etc… Find items that would work for you and be prepared!

{Update: 03/20/2012: I have been getting a lot of hits for “chore chart” and so on. I find my simple chore chart pretty plain, so I thought I’d give you some other visual ideas of how to make it more fun for the kids and look better for your home:

Thanks for stopping by my little part of the world.}

I’ve been avoiding the chore thing for a long time. I’d assign a job to my children, but often I would do them myself or let it go. I never had a system down or used consistency in making my children do work. I’ve been feeling the push to change that. It’s part of our family’s CORE learning that I’ve been neglecting–to my detriment and ultimately theirs.

For the past few weeks my children have known what jobs to expect and when. I finally assigned rooms or areas of the house in addition to laundry and dishes. The older two children would have the same jobs for two days and then trade (I created a two-week schedule to help with this, week A and week B). My two middle children would have the same jobs because they’re only six and four. I wrote the chores on my large white board. It’s been a very “large” reminder for me and the kids. Well, now I can’t use the board otherwise, so I finally sat down today and made a chart. Since I’ve tested the chores and assignments before creating the chart, I believe it will continue to work for my family and allow me to have my board back.

I plan to put the charts in a clear sheet protector so we can write with a dry-erase marker and erase it easily. This way my children can mark off what they accomplished for accountability purposes as well as for seeing what needs to be done. There are 2 boxes for each chore–one for morning and one for evening. Using the sheet protector saves paper and ink so I won’t need to print a new chart every few weeks.

This is my version for my family. Explanations for each assignment follow the documents.

Here are blank documents if you want to use them. Please, only for personal use. Each one has room of 4 children and 17 jobs/assignments.

This blank one is in color. It’s available in .doc or .pdf format:

Here’s the blank one in grey. If you have boys and they refuse to be labeled with pink, this one is for you. It’s also available in .doc or .pdf format.

Sunday: Sunday chores aren’t like the other days. I don’t believe that Heavenly Father expects me to just let my house get messy just because it’s Sunday…so my children still have assignments, but they are much less involved than on other days.  For instance, I don’t expect my girls to scrub the bathrooms on Sunday but make sure the towels are hung up or clothing is in the dirty laundry instead of on the floor.  I only expect the children to keep things straightened up in their respective areas, not do deep cleaning.  We do daily pickups and make sure that the house is clean for Sunday to avoid the deep cleaning that day.

Clean Dishes: This just means that one of my children is in charge of emptying the dishwasher and putting the dishes away, as well as any clean dishes in the dish drainer on the counter top.

Dirty Dishes: The child with this assignment gets to put dirt dishes in the dishwasher and make sure anything else that doesn’t fit in gets washed too.

Living Room: I like my living room to me picked up and nice because it’s the first thing someone sees when they come to my front door or looks through my front window.  Also, it has tons of books in it which means that they tend to get strewn across the floor when the little ones look at books.  I don’t mind that, I just like it to be cleaned up without me having to do it all the time.  I also have couch pillows that we have been putting on the rocks in front of my fireplace as seat cushions.  These also tend to be out of place a lot.  Vacuuming and dusting is part of the living room assignment, if it’s needed.

Kitchen: My kitchen is small, and if it’s messy, I go absolutely crazy!  This assignment is more to help me with the kitchen since a lot of my time is spent in it preparing food.  Some of the jobs for the kitchen are: wiping off counters and the stove top, sweeping the floor, mopping the floor, washing off cupboards, washing the window, and picking up toys and papers off the floor.

Family Room: This is our big room downstairs.  I don’t go downstairs as often as the children play down there.  It houses lots of books (we’re getting another bookshelf to replace the one the kids broke months ago), and the entertainment center (tv, dvd/vcr player, movies).  We have a few large chairs and an old love sac.  Nothing spectacular, but it gets the messiest because the kids take their toys in there and leave them.  It is adjacent to a wide hallway which also tends to get toys dumped in it.  Some of the jobs for the family room is: vacuuming when needed, straightening up the entertainment center, picking up toys and other things on the floor; straightening up the books, etc…

Hallway (down): This is pretty similar to the family room or living room chore, only it involves one table and some floor space.  The person who vacuums the family room, does the hallway, but the child who has the hallway assignment does everything else.  The only thing that should be left in the hall is the table.

Bedroom: My oldest two girls share a bedroom.  They’re working on taking care of their own stuff, but my eight year-old tends to be the messiest because she just leaves her stuff all over the place.  This exasperates my ten year-old, but it’s a process, and she’s slowly understanding that.  The requirements for their bedroom is: put all toys away in toy boxes and appropriate places, dirty clothes in the hamper, clean clothes hung up or in drawers, beds made (they do their own), vacuum if needed, straighten up surfaces like their desk and dresser, and straighten up shoes on closet floor.

Recycle Bin & Garbage: We have a recycle box in our kitchen for recyclable paper and plastic.  When it gets full, my oldest son, who is six, takes it out to the bin in the driveway.  Garbage for him is just to take the kitchen garbage out to the can in the driveway.  He’ll work up to emptying all the garbage cans in the house.

Bathrooms: We have 1 3/4 baths.  My oldest daughter has pretty much been the only one to clean the bathroom besides myself or my husband.  It’s overdue for my eight year-old to learn this chore.  Jobs included in these assignments: sweep floor; clean mirror; empty garbage; scrub and wipe down sink, toilet, and tub; mop the floor, and wipe down walls (if needed).

Laundry: My oldest knows how to sort, wash, dry, and put away all the laundry, but it’s a monumental task in our household because there is so much (7 people will make it that way!).  My eight year-old can sort dirty laundry and put away clean laundry, but the wash/dry is something she’s just learning.  I’ve been too focused on other things to teach it to her.  That’s changing!  Each child’s assignment for laundry is based upon their age.  My oldest two will be doing it all except putting it all away.  My two middle children can help sort clean laundry and put it away, as well as put their dirty laundry in the laundry room.  We have a family clean laundry sort if we have more than one batch to sort.  The kids do it fast now, and seem to enjoy the family time even if it’s doing work.  I love that!

Blanks: I may come up with something else to add or make a seasonal assignment like snow shoveling or lawn mowing.  I haven’t decided exactly yet.  We’ll have to see.

I can’t believe my baby is 6 months old today. How did that happen so fast? I see him getting big and learning new things everyday, but it doesn’t seem like 6 months ago that he was born…and yet it does. Dh and I were talking yesterday about how our kids just aren’t going to be kids for very long. We introduced our 20 year family vision to our kids earlier this week, and my girls kept talking about who they’re going to marry and how they’ll be best friends. Then when Ella heard “Butterfly Kisses” on the radio she asked if her daddy would dance with her to that song at her wedding (I told I had danced with my dad to that song). That’s still at least 9 years away, but the past 9 years have zipped on by. I’m amazed at what she’s learning and accomplishing already. Now my baby is half a year old and almost ready for solids. I feel like I’ve missed so many moments, and yet I’ve been treasuring them more with him than any other baby.

I guess I’m just being sentimental today. :*) Hug your kids today and look at them through different eyes. They have so much potential and a love of good things. Remember that they’re only little for a short time. Then they’ll grow and be moms and dads like us…hopefully better than us.

My friend, Ronell, e-mailed me the link to this video this morning. What a beautiful way to be reminded of Sister Beck’s talk in the last General Conference as well as be inspired to do those things that I should be doing as the mother of my children and as a daughter of God. Enjoy!

I’ve tried time-out for my kids since my first one. It never worked well for my oldest (there’s a reason and a story to it though). It’s worked for the rest of them though. This is Wendy in time-out today. She’s not happy (the whole point, but it’s better than a spanking). She throws the biggest fits about almost anything. She’s much like her older sister, but right now time-out is working for her. Thank goodness!