Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Hardest Part of Homeschooling: Feeding The Children!

Many of you are blessed that you love cooking, baking and all things kitchen. I'm not one of those people. Give me lawn work and toilet cleaning before making me do dishes!  The only way I'm able to manage homeschool life is to strictly follow a meal plan. I had one before, but here's my fall 2016 menu - now with breakfasts!

**EXTRA HS HACK: Make all lunches and snacks the night before and put them in a lunch container in the fridge. Just like you'd pack your child's lunch for school.**


Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Toast
Lunch: PBJ or Tuna Sandwiches (Library Day, so we take it to go)
Dinner: Asian Theme (veggie stir fry with tofu or Indian food with potato and dairy base)


Breakfast: Frozen waffles
Lunch: Bagels with cream cheese
Dinner: Taco Tuesday (or another Mexican recipe)


Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Super Smoothies
Dinner: Pizza Night


Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: leftover pizza
Dinner: Breakfast for Dinner (Breakfast Burritos/French Toast/pancakes)


Breakfast: Frozen waffles
Lunch: BFD leftovers
Dinner: Shabbat Menu! 


Breakfast: Muffins!
Lunch: Shabbat Menu!
Dinner: PBJs


Breakfast: Smoothies or Cereal
Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Dinner: Baked Potato or Soup and Salad

Monday, August 22, 2016

Limit TV for Homeschoolers

There are days I turn to Netflix or PBS Kids for my homeschool curriculum. At first it's just for a subject for the day...but then it devolves. Especially if you have younger guys at home who need your attention. Am I right?

Here's my solution.

The night before I cover the computer screen with chores and educational tasks and assign a person to each item. No TV or computer time until they're done! I've never seen my kids so motivated to do work before!!

This is especially good for my 'determined' 7 year old who really hates when I take him to task. (I'm the same way, I don't like to be told to do something, I like to do it on my own)

So there ya go. It takes them about four hours to get these tasks done, and they get to choose the order, so there's a lot of independence and direct reward!

If you're keeping track of your curriculum and homeschool days, just keep the post its on a single sheet of paper, date it and keep it for your records.

Homeschool day DONE. Drops mic.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Two weeks ago we decided to take a break from our 'ticket' system and begin some new rules in our household to try to get my kids to be more self-motivated.

Here's what worked:

No screen time except weekends (exceptions were made for major events/birthdays) has been amazing. The kids have been coming to me and telling me their bored and I'm so happy! It means a few minutes later, they problem solve and start using their creative sides!

Making goals and making plans to accomplish the goals. We did this with Mo (almost 7), but not with Shais (just turned 5) and Mo has been very motivated to accomplish his goals.

Here's what wasn't so great

We all missed the tickets. We had a birthday last week and Mo really wanted to buy his brother a present from the mommy store, but needed a few more tickets. How could I possibly say no to such a sweet gesture? We ended up assigning some extra chores so he could 

When we used tickets, the kids had a consistent way to track their behavior and accomplishments. I think we were just relying on them too much.

Monday, March 28, 2016

From Incentives to Self-Discipline

For the last several months, we've been implementing a 'ticket' system which has been tremendously changed the behavior in our boys. Go to bed on time? You get a ticket? Finished your homeschool work for the day? Ticket!! Good in the store? Tickets all around!  Then they can trade their tickets in for movie time or in the 'mommy store.'

It's all be hunky dory, until...

I realized my kids have absolutely no self-discipline. Is this how I want my sons to behave as they get older? To only do anything because there's a carrot at the end of the stick? How about just doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing? Because they simply want to feel more accomplished? What about feeling like they're part of something bigger than themselves and they want to continue helping humanity better itself? I know they're still young, but more than anything else in the world, I want my sons to grow up to be morally and emotionally sensitive men. I don't care a wit about them being 'accomplished' in an academic or professional sense, as long as whatever they do is their way of making the world a better place and being gentle and kind while doing it.

So, I'm no longer going to live in the moment of bad behavior. We're living for the future!

Here's the new plan, and I'll update you as our little experiment takes place!

Step One: New, Unbendable Rules

  1. Upon waking up, brush your teeth, tidy your bedroom and get dressed BEFORE breakfast
  2. No TV (Netflix/Amazon) except on weekends - this does not include Family Movie night we have twice a month on Tuesdays Hopefully this will change when I feel the kids choose for themselves not to try and binge watch Ninjago episodes.
  3. Everyone brushes their teeth at 8pm and must be in their rooms (except on Shabbos or holidays)

Step Two: Make Goals
We're going to make Yearly, Monthly, Weekly and Daily Goals

Step Two: Make Step to Achieve those goals
My husband and I will help the kids take steps to figure out how they're going to accomplish their own goals.

Step Three: Don't give up!
My job as their mom will be to guide them towards their goals and help them stay on track

So what the heck are we going to do with all of those tickets I laminated? We're going to try an optional Chore Chart with payment in tickets. These are for going above and beyond what we normally expect of the kids. I must not allow myself to fall back to bribing the kids what should be normal, acceptable behavior with tickets!

Wish us luck!!

Friday, March 4, 2016

And The Award Goes To...

One of my sons has no interest in helping me laundry, but help me he must. Not just for me, but for his own sake. These skills and habits are so important!! So in order to get him to moving (when he 'helps' he usually just pretends by slowly carrying one piece of clothing to a basket for five minutes), I lied (just a little).

I told him that when I was his age, I had gotten an award for being the fastest folder in my family.  I challenged him to a folding duel. The person who folded and put away the most laundry in five minutes won and the loser had to put away the rest of the laundry. I may have 'lost', but I got him to fold and put away 16 pieces of clothing in five minutes. That's a win for me!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

6 Minutes to Clean Home

Delegate. It's easier said than done. It involves communication...the last thing you may want to do when you're home feel like it's imploding with dirty (and clean) clothes, toys, crumbs and various craft material. Here's how to get a room clean in a matter of minutes. Six minutes to be exact.

  1. Get your kids together and grab a broom and three buckets/bags. I have three cleaners (aged 3, almost-5 and almost-7) and I wear the 1 year-old (otherwise he would be underfoot or undoing everyone's work). 
  2. Assign each kid with a job. For example, garbage and recycling man, laundry girl and toy and books boy.  
  3. Motivate them by telling them the plan and the reward at the end. We do four six-minute cleans, changing rooms every six minutes, and at the end, I let them invite a friend over for a play date or watch a video (usually they have to pay me 1 ticket for every 20 minutes of video time).
  4. Set the timer for six minutes. Six minutes seems to be the right amount of time my kids can focus on a job for now. As they get older, I may extend it to 10 minutes. 
  5. I'm the sweeper for now. I sweep everything into the middle of the room and everyone else picks up their assigned items from the pile.
  6. Clean with your kids, but be sure to watch what the kids are doing too. DO NOT check you your phone or get distracted yourself, do not put on music, do not yell at your children at this time. You are setting an example for your children - showing them how to clean, so it's important to give instructions that bring awareness to detail. 
  7. Be positive and be sure to praise everyone for their efforts!
When the first six minutes is up, move on to the next room. In 24 minutes, we can get four rooms reasonably clean! I'll also do a six minute clean in the dining room just before and after dinner, as well as one in the car if we're waiting for something. It's been remarkably effective! 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Put Yourself Out There

Parents never get it right, especially in the eyes of strangers. I used to feel that getting out and doing activities with my kids was just putting my family in the danger zone of judgement. I'm trying to get over that. On the one hand, I want to be impervious (to judgement, to random people touching or chastising my children, to doctors or administrators who think they know best), but I also want be porous. I want to learn from my parenting (and non parenting) peers. So how do I achieve both? My revelation wasn't new to the world, but it's new to me. 

Judgement from others is not a reflection of me. It's a reflection of them.  

What!!??? This is so absolutely crazy to internalize this, but it makes me feel brave. Fearless. Which is a quality that I very much admire and try to embody.