Tackle it Tuesday – Teeny tiny

We're pretty busy around here so today's tackle is a tiny one that should bring big rewards, especially for me. The trouble with having so many bodies around is that any semblance of organization and tidying is pretty much destroyed with the passage of the next 24 hours. Here is a slightly longer term solution.

Choose the drawer in your kitchen with the highest traffic, the one that everyone needs to use frequently.

First weed the drawer of all non essentials. Try and put like with like.

Have a trial run to see what you can fit in one drawer easily and discard the rest for another time. Take a large sheet of coloured paper and draw around each item with a black marker pen. Alternatively photograph each item but this can be problematical due to scale. [and expensive!] Laminate the paper cut-outs so that it will last longer and be easier to clean.

Line the drawer with 'grip liner' to reduce clanking.

Clean all items and replace in the correct position in the drawer.

Finally label the drawer with something relevant.

Some families may benefit from a few additional steps.

Sometimes numbering the empty spaces also helps, as can the name of the item written on the relevant cut out. Many children can read either words or numbers. For example, they may not know what a tin opener is, but if it is matched to a number and shaped cut-out, it is far easier to identify.

On completion photograph the contents of the drawer and enlarge to A4 size if possible. Laminate and mount on card and place on the wall of the counter behind the corresponding drawer. If this offends your 'perfect kitchen' image, you can always stick it on the inside of the door below, which can also be useful for smaller children who are better matched in height to this visual aid.

Alternatively, place the 'cheat sheet' in the drawer itself over the contents where it can be removed and held as a ready reference guide. Often physically holding the card, something tangible, in one hand aids eye tracking and referencing back.

This is also handy if you have additional spare bodies floating around your house such as therapists, baby sitters and miscellaneous experts.

There are any number of adaptations to suit the individual needs of your little helpers. For instance, part of the reason for covering the paper icons with sticky back plastic is not only to keep it clean but also because the texture of paper is abhorrent to some people.

Other children may find the reflective nature of the laminate equally as offensive. Some children respond positively to certain colour preferences e.g. pink becomes a magical co-operative hue but black means that no-one will dare go within shooting distance.

There are many fringe benefits to this approach other than tidiness and cleanliness.

Additionally, children learn competency, which boosts their self esteem. They learn that they are contributing to the household in a useful and helpful manner which also adds to their feelings of belonging to a unit.

Many of these kitchen items are words that they have no interest in learning. Even though they are still unlikely to 'want' to learn them, quite often they learn them incidentally by doing, if not accidentally, or what is often termed 'kinesthetic' learning.

They can tell that they have completed a task without help [or not very much help] perfectly and gain the satisfaction of a job well done, and task completion can often be a huge hurdle.

What I like about this task is that it is cheap, easy and relatively quick but with many long term benefits for everyone.

So now that we're finished! Could you open the fridge, pass me a beer and number 17 please!

Cheers dears

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Tackle it Tuesday – Organize

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PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR RUBY TUESDAY / CATS ON TUESDAY

One of the chores that I hate most in the world, is one that I have been doing for approximately 20 years. It’s making packed lunches for the children. There is such an air of hopelessness associated with the whole exercise. Nutritious, home-made organic food is either thrown in the bin at school or returned back home untouched and inedible after a day in the heat. Not eating between 7:30 in the morning and 3:00 in the afternoon, is not considered a hardship. Eating what I had provided, fell into the category of torture. Better and easier to starve.

I often thought it would be simpler to admit defeat and allow them to indulge in whatever the school provided. However the cost for three children as well as the choices available, have prevented me from taking this tempting step.

Instead I decided to alter my expectations.

I decided to compromise.

The first step was to come to terms with my children’s limitations. At the current state of play I could pour chocolate sauce on everything and they still would refuse to eat. Better to choose food where there is at least the possibility of consumption.

Since we are also trying to teach independence and kick start their executive function, a PEC board of choices provided the visual stimulation to enable choice. The PECs corresponded to the three baskets of foodstuffs at their eye sight level.

The long term goal is to reduce stress, smooth over the bumpy bits and achieve task completion. Since it is only the beginning of the year, we have quite a bit of practicing to do. Every time they complete the exercise, it becomes easier. I fully anticipate that by the end of this school year, this is one less chore than I will have successfully delegated to my offspring, if not sooner.

If we continue to follow our current trajectory, I expect that I shall be choreless before I am very much older.

Then I shall spend my time in the ‘help wanted’ classified ads looking for gainful employment.

Cheers dears

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