How I empowered my kids to clean

Today I woke up and took a different approach to chores. It worked well. The chores got done, and I didn’t have to nag (very much).

Usually Saturday morning chores look like this: I empty the dishwasher, wash and load breakfast dishes, then clean the rest of the house. Meanwhile, I argue with the kids to get them to make their beds (which somehow takes forever, check out this video for a little taste). When they are (finally) done, I delegate more chores until I feel we are done. It’s a very top-down, command and control approach.

I’ve been reflecting lately about how to empower and engage my kids. I want to give them opportunities to make decisions, even if they are small. After all, most of my day job is focused on creating an empowering and positive culture. I teach others how to coach their employees instead of telling them what to do. I encourage creativity and involvement. I don’t always apply these skills at home. Today I tried it, and it felt good.

I started by telling my 7-year old daughter (my project team) that I wanted our home to be clean (our mission). Then I asked for her help creating a list of things we would need to do to create a clean and healthy home. We brainstormed together and made a list (action plan). She added more than I planned on doing today (like cleaning the floors. I was ready to vacuum but not particularly energized about scrubbing them today. Oh well, I wrote it down.)

I told her we would work together to complete the list. I empowered her choose 2-3 chores that she wanted to do first (limiting work in progress builds momentum and is less overwhelming). I asked her to put her initial by those items. I also chose a few tasks and wrote “Mom” by them. I was surprised she picked empty the dishwasher first. That’s usually where I start. I decided to start by making everyone’s beds. She makes her bed every day. I’m pretty sure she’s sick of it. I actually enjoyed making beds instead of doing the dishes. We were off to a good start.

Every time we finished a task we got the satisfaction of checking it off (celebrate every win). When we finished everything we were assigned, we picked 2-3 more items (kept up the momentum). We continued until everything was complete (mission accomplished!). She even cleaned the floor. I empowered her to use her own creative method of wiping up any visible dirt or spots with a baby wipe.

This approach worked today. Maybe it was brilliant. Maybe it was just effective because it was new. Either way, it was a fun experiment!

Note: the words up top on the white board are our words for the year. Mine is adventure and my daughter’s word is perseverance. Yep, my 7 year old chose a more mature word than me. My response when she told me her word was “do you even know what that means?” She said yes, it means to never give up. This kid is my inspiration in many ways.

Click here for more on how we manage morning and evening daily chores.


4 fun ways to inspire your new year (other than making a list of goals) 

Yep, I’m a nerd and I love goal setting! I especially love the hope and possibilities that come with each new year. My approach is a little different though. It’s also more fun than traditional resolutions. Oh, and “My approaches” aren’t mine. Most came from my amazing, incredible mom. 

So here they are. 

  1. Choose a word. Every year I choose a new word to represent my mindset or goals for the coming year. It’s fun to look back and see the story my words tell. The year I was pregnant with my second child my word was “Breathe”. Yes, my goal was to just breathe. Breathing not only got me through pregnancy but it was also my approach to childbirth. All I needed to do was breathe until the baby came. It wasn’t easy but it worked! The next year, I needed some excitement. After all, I spent the whole previous year doing nothing but breathing. My new word was celebrate. I wanted to have fun. I wanted to celebrate life, my marriage, and celebrate the milestones of my new baby boy. This year my word is adventure. I will have an adventurous outlook on life. I will go outside and play with my kids. I will seek adventures. I will also accept that as an introvert, having quiet alone is necessary. It will allow me to recharge so that I’m reenergized for the next adventure. 
  2. Choose a color. Every year I choose a new theme color, any color I feel drawn to. This year is a bold cobalt blue. I had a friend recently ask “what do you do with your color?” Umm…I buy a scarf or planner in that color. Use it as an excuse to buy cute things at Target that happen to be in “my color”. It’s just a fun tradition. Sometimes it happens to be tied to my word. The year of breathing I chose a soft, calming blue. The year of celebration I chose a fun and bright magenta. 
  3. Make a vision board. I actually call it a Treasure Map (because that’s what my mom calls it). It’s the same thing though. I save up magazines all year, and then around November I start begging friends and family for their leftover magazines. I make a big mess every New Years Eve. My home is covered in a sea of magazines and I flip through them like a mad woman. I cut out words and images that inspire me or represent my goals. I then glue them all to a poster board and hang it where I can see it every day. If you have a treadmill, put it where you can see it when you’re running or walking. Sometimes I do a full poster board. Sometimes I cut it I’m half. This year I cut mine to be a perfect square. I usually look for my “word” and put it at the top and center of my board. You’ll be amazed at how many things on there come true over the next year. Stay tuned for a photo of mine. Meanwhile here’s the one my daughter made. 
  4. Create wallpaper for your phone. This is a fun new one! Last year I made a wallpaper with a pretty background in my color and I used an app (Canva) to add my word to it. This year I made a little goal image. The background is in my color, my word is on there, and there’s a few of my goals listed. 

Don’t feel like you need to try all of these, but I encourage you to try just one. They are fun and different ways to set your intentions for the new year. 

Are you trying any of these ideas? Comment below, I’d love to hear about it!

You’re invited to join the Village on a whole new level…

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Easy Peasy Homemade Chili 

Some evenings are on the busy, chaotic side and others, like yesterday, are perfectly relaxing family evenings. There was homemade chili on the stove, cornbread in the oven, and an orange candle flickering on the table while my daughter made sketches of pumpkins (to be painted orange later) and my son played in his cornmeal sandbox. And yes, I made the cornbread out of a (new and unopened) box of leftover cornmeal from the indoor cornmeal sandbox for quiet play

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Beware: there’s not measures in my recipes. Why? Oh, just because 1) my measuring cups/spoons are usually in the bathtub/sandbox/toy box/anywhere but the kitchen. 2) when I do measure I often lose count (hey between my hangry brain and two little humans running around, it’s not easy to count) and 3) I don’t like math and measuring sometimes leads to math. I’d rather add stuff, taste, and adjust as I go. 

Easy Peasy Homemade Chili

  • Ground turkey (or beef or chicken)
  • Chopped onion
  • Chopped bell pepper
  • Black beans 
  • Canned, diced tomatoes 
  • Garlic
  • Pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Paprika 
  • Italian seasoning

Optional: corn, chopped carrots, more beans (kidney, etc), crushed red pepper flakes, cheese topping, cornbread to serve on the side. Everything but the kitchen sink. 


  1. Sauté turkey, onion, and bell peppers. 
  2. Meanwhile, dump all other ingredients in crock pot or a pot on the stove (add some water too), and heat to a simmer. 
  3. When meat is fully cooked, add meat mixture to soup. 
  4. Simmer while cornbread is cooking, or let it cook in crockpot all day. 
  5. Enjoy with the family. 

Bonus tip: I like to cook double the meat needed, then use the extra batch of pre-cooked meat for dinner tomorrow. Tonight I’ll be making easy enchiladas with the extra cooked meat from last night. 

“Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven.”

What’s your favorite family dinner or favorite fall soup? 

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