teaching kids how to clean


Isn’t my little guy handsome? I asked him to look tough for that picture.

One of the most important things I can do for my children will be to teach them the value of hard work. I admit, though, it’s not my strongest area of parenting. It’s much easier to clean up a mess myself than to ask my child to do it, show them how to do it, and then watch and wait while they get it done. But I guess parenting isn’t easy, is it?

When ARM & HAMMER®* Baking Soda asked me how I used their Baking Soda around the house, besides just baking or sticking a box of it in the fridge, I thought immediately of how I love to sprinkle it on my carpets right before I vacuum. It helps lift up the dirt, and freshens even the most dingy carpets.

But I don’t have carpets where I live right now, so I couldn’t demonstrate that for you.

I have been wanting to do a post on encouraging kids to do chores around the house, though, and since ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda has such a multitude of cleaning uses, I thought I could teach my kids how to use it to do their chores.

The beauty of using ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda as a cleaning agent is that it is 100% safe for children to use. It won’t scratch or corrode, and, most importantly, is non-toxic. That’s something I can really feel good about.

My oldest son used it to scrub the kitchen table which had little bits of food stuck on it since breakfast.


My daughter used it for the bathroom—in the tub and in the sink. She discovered it was great for scrubbing all the grime in the sink and making it shine.


I would have had my youngest scrub the baseboards with it, but he said he was tired and just wanted to hold the box for the picture.


Never said I could teach them to love cleaning overnight. But this was a start.

What about you, what do you find are the tougher things to teach your kids?

And what do you use ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda for? What are your secrets? If you have one you’d like to share, be sure to share it in the ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda/Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Sweepstakes, which you can find out all about here.

*As a Martha’s Circle Blogger, I have been compensated for this post, but all views and opinions are my own.

a mother's day update


I’m still finding chocolate fingerprints around the house. My three lovelies (what I affectionately call my kids on the best of days) came into my room—not too early—on Mother’s Day morning with this for breakfast: a grapefruit, warm water with honey and lemon, and strawberries with chocolate ganache. We added the bananas later when the strawberries started to run out. How’s that for kids that know their mommy? They’ve learned that my favorite breakfasts are ones that are less like breakfast and more like dessert.


I was then flooded with a series of drawings, pop-up cards, and poems, along with these potted gerbera daisies, which were provided by my mother-in-law. I don’t like saying “ex-mother-in-law”—it sounds too harsh. For two years now, she had taken the kids for an evening, the week before Mother’s Day, to give me the night off, and lead my kids in creating some sort of extravaganza for me.


phone etiquette for kids


Today I thought I’d interview my kids on the best way to use the phone. Though they are pretty good with some phone manners, they need reminding every so often. And since the best to learn something is to teach it, I thought it would be fun to help them master their telephone skills by having them tell me what they should do. (I suppose this is a little more like just quizzing them, rather than their teaching me, but whatever. You get the idea)

When you call someone, and they say hello, what is the first thing you say?

“Hi, this is [name], may I please speak to [whoever the kid I want to play with is]?

When the person on the other line wants to talk to mommy, or someone else, what is a good thing to say before you pass the phone?

“One moment, please.”

What should you say if you need to put the phone down and ask me a question?

“One moment, please. (If you’re talking to someone fancy like the queen of England)”

By |September 23rd, 2010|manners, well-bred|7 Comments

every family has a picky eater. mine has three.


You all know I want my kids to eventually have some degree of sophistication when it comes to eating, and nothing shouts bad manners louder than someone who turns his or her nose up at something served for dinner (Tripe and sweet breads, of course, being the obvious exceptions to this. I believe those and other similar cuisine entitles the one served to get up and run as far away from the dinner table as possible).

My daughter is about as picky as they come. She won’t eat pasta. Ever. This includes noodles of all kinds and in all cuisines.

So here is a list of techniques, suggestions, philosophies, etc. that I try to use. I’m not uber consistent, so maybe by writing it down, I’ll start to be better about the whole thing, and one day my three little lovelies will be as unpicky as I am.

1. Be as consistent as you can. This is sometimes very hard, as life is insane for everyone.   But if at all possible, try to serve meals at the same time every day. My grandmother used to actually serve the same meals every week: spaghetti on Wednesday, franks and beans on Saturday (unless it was summer, then she served crab), some sort of roast on Sunday, etc.

2. Don’t force anything on them. I think this may actually be the reason my 6-year-old still won’t eat pasta. I may or may not have possibly made her eat some once. Maybe. Either way, I learned it isn’t such a good idea. The best thing to do is just put out the meal and say, “This is what I have made. You may choose to eat it, or you may choose not to eat it, but I am not making anything else. Out next meal will be tomorrow morning at 7:00.”


3. Parents decide when and what to serve, children decide if and how much they will eat. That line, or something close to it, came from a book I read in college with a title like How to Keep Your Kid from Getting Fat (I tried finding it on amazon, and couldn’t, but it was something like that). If you consistently follow this rule, the power struggle should eventually go away.

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