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How to Train Your Kids to Work. Yes, Really!

“Your kids are like a well-oiled machine!” Michelle Wilber.

Our sitter told me this after Frank and I came back from a multi-day trip. Apparently, after dinner, our kids got up, did the dishes and put the food away. They cleaned the bathrooms and their rooms on Saturday, as was our routine. This impressed her so much, but honestly I hadn’t thought much of it before then. Doesn’t every family pitch in work together? They should, at least this is what I believe. And it works.

So, I’d like to give some tips for how we’ve gotten to this point in our home.

What I do

  1. Make helping an expectation but keep it FUN!

Pitching in is expected in our home. My mother delegated work to me when I was young on our small farm in Maine, and I do the same with my kids. Some of my jobs included weeding the garden, mopping the wood floors, and cleaning bathrooms.

Her philosophy went something like this: I am not a slave. All joking aside, why shouldn’t kids work to make their home a more inviting place? The Mom and Dad cannot do it all.

I have a friend who was an example of trying to do all the work. She never sat down. I remember visiting her once, and I think she was able to sit down all of 5 minutes in a 2 –hour period. That’s just crazy!

I read some great ideas for making housework fun when the kids were smaller. One idea that works great for competitive families; Have a housework Olympics, and see how fast (and how well) you can complete the Saturday jobs!! The fastest, most complete cleaners win. (Mom inspects each job site.)

  1. Train children from the time they are young

This includes SHOWING them how to do it first. Some easy jobs for younger children include emptying the dishwasher and cleaning toilets (we use a non-toxic cleaner, NOT bleach).

“If you are willing to spend the time with children to train them, to show them how to clean or stack wood, they will come to enjoy it. When the kids are young, they want to be like Mommy and Daddy. They see us doing dishes or using the vacuum, and they want to try it. Let them! Show them how to do simple jobs when their interest is piqued.” From the blog 10 Tips for better Family Time.

Patience is required for training. They are not going to get it perfect, and it will not be up to your standards. Just remember their coordination and level of detail is not the same as yours!

Teach them to take pride in a sparkling-clean sink and spicket. Point out how good it looks when it’s clean.

I firmly believe that teaching children to work bolsters their confidence and self-esteem. They see they can do a job, do it well, and make a difference in the way their home looks and functions. This method is more effective than constant compliments.

  1. Lower the bar

As my organizing mentor Porter Knight used to say in one of her speeches: lower the bar. Set your expectations lower than you would for an older teen or adult.

Porter had her sons clean the bathrooms. Were they perfect? No. But they were the best her 11-yr old son could do, so it was good enough. Don’t be too picky of they will be discouraged and not want to help next time.

Instead, praise each child’s effort and bite your tongue!

  1. Encourage them

Note: I didn’t say PRAISE; I said encourage. First off, don’t be patronizing if they are older, be sincere and find something you liked about their work. If something needs to be re-done, use the sandwich technique.

I liked how you ——, could you scrub the orange ring by the sink drain a bit more? I am sure you can do it  if you put a little more time in.

But if you sense they are not giving it their full effort or doing their best, definitely ask them to try again. If they still aren’t’getting it, see if they understand what you asked them to do, and provide some more patient training.

Don’t bribe them, but definitely give them a reward or incentive. I have some special chocolate truffles I give the teens when they complete jobs they dislike. They also get paid each month for the work they do, but an immediate reward is quite effective. Everybody in my house likes chocolate. One time we motivated the kids for a big job of spreading mulch on all the flower beds by telling them we’d go to DQ afterward. My kids will do almost anything for ice cream!

  1. My kids are teens, is it too late?

When our kids were young, we lived in Vermont and heard about an amazing parenting program. It is called Parenting On Track by Vicki Hoefle. She insists you can still train teens to work.

“They might whine and complain for the first few minutes, but sit them down and explain:

“Your father and I have done you a disservice. We have been doing everything for you up until now. But if we continue like this, you won’t know what to do when you get on your own in __ years. It’s time to learn how to ______  and ______ so you aren’t helpless when you get your first apartment/ go to college/ get married.

Plus, is it really OK for the Mom or even both parents to do the lion’s share of work in the home? Parents today have less time than ever. It’s important to get the kids involved in keeping the home clean, the family fed, and the yard maintained. It’s the way life works. I don’t know any employers who would react well to the statement: “I’ve never done that, can you do it for me?” (from an earlier blog 10 Tips for Better Family Time.)

Vicki also has a great list of things kids need to be able to do on their own by the time they are 18. One night, when we went through that list with our kids, we realized one of our daughters had never mowed the lawn!  We soon started training her to do that. She was on board.

Also, one great thing about having older children who know how to work is: they can train their younger sibs to do certain jobs (if they have the right temperament and the two kids get along well). Otherwise, you may need to train the younger kids to make it a positive experience.

  1. Pick your battles

This is true for many things in parenting. If a child really doesn’t want to do a job, compromise and assign them a different job whenever possible. If it is something they have to do, like cleaning their room, find out what the issue is. Sometimes they may have no idea where to start, like many of my organizing clients. Just helping them with some ideas or talking about it can stave off a grumpy attitude.

  1. Keep their strengths and interests in mind when assigning tasks.

For example, my daughter Kate loves to polish wood. So she washes the cabinets with soapy water, then dries and polishes the kitchen cabinets with orange oil. Kate takes great pride in doing this job well and seeing the wood gleam when she is done. Some well-earned recognition from me goes a long way, too!

I discovered my daughter Emily likes dusting. This is a job I hate, so when I realized she liked it, she became my main duster! I got her a feather duster, which is fun, and she happily dusts furniture, bookshelves, etc.

Kyle likes to vacuum the stairs, and Jacob loves to clean the pool and do yardwork as long as he has company. We all have our strengths. Of course, my favorite job is organizing drawers, cabinets, the pantry and clearing off counters. J

The best advice I can give: start where you are. If your kids are older and you need help, start training them to do work they are suited to. If they are young, see what they are interested in helping you with, and let them (with supervision). This is a great investment in their future. You will never regret teaching your kids to work. They will contribute to your home, family AND become productive, independent adults.

     And that is important because everyone likes to feel needed.

Resources for parents:

Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Kline and Jim Fay


The Climb

This spring, I wasn’t in tip-top shape. Even though I exercise 3x a week at the gym, I lacked stamina. So, when the trail dried out enough, Frank and I started hiking Dollar Mountain, a short walk from our home. I knew it would take conditioning to reach my ultimate goal: to reach the tower, about 3 miles round trip.

Now, a short walk sounds deceptively easy, but the walk TO the hill is one of the toughest parts. It resembles a ski slope in steepness.

So, I started small.

My first milestone: to walk uphill for 45 minutes.

That first day, I huffed and puffed along the way. I have trained my dog Bella to pull me up the hill, which helped. (No, that’s not cheating!) Frank’s encouragement made a difference, as well as my competitive spirit to keep up with him.

The next time we climbed, I wanted to make it farther, to the gravel pit. But time constraints (a morning appointment) kept me from getting there.

To me, the gravel pit represents the halfway point, even though it’s more than halfway. That’s where the grueling final steep climb starts, about half a mile of steep gravelly slope. It’s also where I see the best views of countryside.

The Second Milestone: Reach the gravel pit

Next time we climbed it, I managed to get to the gravel pit. A small celebration for reaching the second milestone.

Then I didn’t hike it again for over a week and lost my momentum.

Today started out different. I told myself I would make it to the top. I had a good night’s sleep, my legs were rested, and the temps were just right—in the 50’s-60’s.  (OBSTACLES REMOVED)

Frank, Bella and I started out well, though he had to wait for me a bit, the first steep climb up TO the trail seemed easier. I made sure to keep up Bella’s training to pull me up the steepest parts, which is just enough of a pull to give me that ‘extra push’.

I enjoyed the view as I caught my breath at our traditional resting point, which is the steepest bit of trail, near the beginning of the climb. From then on, the uphill isn’t as steep until the very end.

So, the trail goes up and down a bit in the next part, with some nice vistas of our green wooded hills and lots of birdsong. We enjoyed a companionable silence. As we came around a bend, the tower we’re aiming for came into view. With encouragement from Frank, and a quick conversation with my best friend, I made it to the gravel pit. By then Frank and I were deep in conversation, and I almost didn’t realize it as we started up the steep gravel slope.

The Final Push to the top

As soon as I started to think how hard it is—right about the same time my glutes are burning, that’s when it starts to FEEL difficult. It’s amazing how the distraction of our conversation at the start of the gravel slope made the hill feel less difficult. I had Bella’s help on the final steep climb, though. Her little tug is just what I need to propel me to the top.

And YAY we are HERE! Touch the wire fence around the tower, because that makes it official (at least that’s what our kids tell us).

I bask in the morning, enjoy the view with my sweetheart, and gratitude fills me up. I did it!

Parallels in your climb to a goal:

  1. Tell me what ya want (goal)
  2. Get movin’
  3. Kick any obstacles in the hiney
  4. Party
  5. A little help from my friends
  6. Keep the tower in your sights
  7. Keep movin’ on up
  8. Reach the peak
  9. Celebrate!
  10. Give gratitude

Questions to think about:

What would have happened if Jenny made the goal to climb to the top the first day she hiked it?  Setting an unrealistic goal will be discouraging if not attained.

What knowledge about myself is pertinent to planning how to reach the goal? This will be different for everyone. Ex: Jenny knows she will not push herself to the point of pain just to reach the top on the first day. She doesn’t like being sore for days afterward.

What obstacles do I face along the way, or perhaps even before I start?

Are there natural milestones on the way to my goal that I can use to mark my progress?  A time, like a month, a distance, an accomplishment?

Who or what will motivate me along the way? Do I need encouragement, competition, a partner, etc.?

What assistance will I need to reach this goal? I had Frank encouraging me and Bella pulling me at times.

Do I have the knowledge or skill I need already? Or:  What do I need to develop or learn to reach this goal?

Who do I know that has done something similar to what I am planning? Will I ask them to mentor me/ answer questions to help me along the ‘climb’?








Productivity Secret: It’s not Sexy, but it’s Smart & Savvy!

Q: When an organizer procrastinates, what will she be doing?

A: Organizing her desk or her closet.

We are one month into the new year. You are still feeling the energy to make changes in your office, but maybe not quite sure how to start. I am here to help!

The Urge to Purge

A project I love to do at the beginning of the year: cleaning out my office files to start fresh for the new year. My friend Susan McKenzie, who is a feng-shui designer, tells me when you make room for new clients they will come. You have to allow some space in your life for new opportunities.

I know it’s not sexy, but we all need to do it: the file purge. I have been feeling the urge to purge these last few weeks. It’s true that when files move freely in the drawer, it is much more likely that I will file my own paper. I know it works with clients too; they always want to use their new and improved file system after we have set it up. It gives me great satisfaction to know I’ve helped yet another person to be organized and find what they need quickly.

Sit back and envision a filing system where your files move freely and easily, you can see each file tab with the topic or category, and easily slide papers into their proper place? Even better, when you need information FAST about that client you spoke with last week, instead of frantically searching through the papers or notebooks or Post-its cluttering your desk, you will know exactly where it is and be able to quickly review the conversation. Talk about reducing stress!

How to get from where you are today to that level of organization, though? There’s no secret formula. And I don’t have a magic wand to whisk away the clutter. Just elbow grease!

Like I said, not sexy, but purging does wonders for any surface, any drawer, any home or office.

From Piles to Files

Now, when I work with a client I think of myself as a clutter counselor. I am coaching each person to decide what to do with their clutter. Training him/her on what to do with each piece of paper. Sometimes it is slow going at first, but after a little bit they get to the point when they see, say, an insurance document similar to one we’ve come across before, they know if they should trash it or file it. Of course if there is any doubt, I am there to guide them. Along the way, we are constantly setting up new files.

A recent client Southern Oregon needed some help with her home office. Her life was so busy, she did not have the time to set up systems for the different businesses she and her husband own.  She did have some great files set up, but an unskilled assistant filed things in weird places. So ‘Abby’ could not find them. Once we set up systems to keep her desk free of clutter, and went through her files, she breathed a sigh of relief. Now she knows that everything is within reach, and that she will find what she needs quickly and easily.

So as a clutter counselor, here is some free advice: a large percentage of papers you file never get referenced again. Think hard about whether you will ever look at that information again.


Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I use this?
  2. Will I ever need this information again?
  3. If so, is there somewhere else I can get it?
  4. Will I remember where it is; does it fit in the category it is filed under?

This brings me to what I call file laziness. Instead of creating a new file for a new kind of information, you talk yourself into believing you will remember you filed your Notes on a new client inside the receipts file. You may think ‘I’ll just put it here for now; it’s only a couple pieces of paper. It’s not worth creating a new file. I’ll remember I put it here!’ If any rationalization is going on inside your head as you file it, stop right away, pull out a new hanging file, label it.

To prevent file laziness, I keep a hanging file in the very front of my most-used drawer, with plastic tabs and white file labels inside. New hanging files sit just behind it. This makes it easy. Then I am bound to use these when I need a new category or add a new client. You see, since I made it super easy for myself, I will create that new file when I need it instead of misfiling something or combining it with info it has no business being combined with.

So start the year off right with purging your files! You can pace yourself and just take 4 files a day or even 1 a day to go through. It will be worth it! You’ll be able to see labels clearly, file and retrieve your documents easily! Opening your file drawer will give you satisfaction instead of dread.

And if you need help, just call on me!

Please let me know if this post helped you! Click on this link to my FB page:

Link to designer Susan McKenzie’s website:

Workshop: Get Back in the Game

Create your Life Vision  & Fitness Plan for 2017

January is here, and it’s time to get back in the game!

Date:      Wednesday, January 18 from noon to 2 p.m.

Location: True Juice, 124 NW ‘D’ Street, Grants Pass. Bring lunch or order one here.

Cost:       $20 for this AMAZING  2-hour workshop! 2 for 1 offer: bring a friend and each get both workshops for $10! If you come solo and want just one workshop, it’s $10.

Speakers: (at 1 pm) Jenny Morin, Organizer & Coach; (at Noon) Doranne Long, Physical Therapist.

  • Get clear on your burning desire & VISION for 2017
  • Learn 5 steps to SUCCEED with your goals
  • Get INSPIRED for the year & start your vision board                                                      
  •  Get a copy of  Get Organized Quick! Price: $7.99


From Doranne:

  • Use it, don’t lose it
  • Less pain, more FUN!
  • Better physical, emotional, mental and spiritual HEALTH


Get a copy of  Your Body Book!    Price: $ 16.99

Why Plan?

Planning is a great tool for you to grow your business or your career.  Why is planning so important?  you may ask.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail – Ben Franklin

Let’s invert that statement:      Be sure to plan, and you will SUCCEED.

When you take time to plan, you ARE more in control of your life.  You know what you have coming, and you get noticed as a doer; someone who gets things done.

And planning doesn’t take long! 30 minutes is plenty of time.  So, plan for success!

For example:  When my husband Frank came back from a writing conference, he had so many ideas for marketing his next book that he was having trouble keeping it all straight, and he was stressed about it.  As I do with my time coaching clients, I suggested we sit down and brainstorm all the ideas he wanted to put into place and schedule them.

He said: “That helped me prioritize, categorize, define and lay out a game plan for the next 3 months, which is critical for a successful book launch.  Now I can focus on my work and not get distracted by unknowns.  I can work with more confidence.”  ~ Frank Morin, Author

  1. Planning gives you weekly time to think about your business. I take this time to think about at least one new thing I would like to do differently or more efficiently.
  2. By taking time to plan, your week is geared toward YOUR goals. This is a major difference between doers and followers. To gain traction in any position, you must set and achieve goals to improve your performance. You will rise to the top and get noticed as a person who gets things done.
  3. Planning gets you motivated for the week. What are you most excited about this week? What kudos are you looking forward to?  Do you have a time planned to get together with someone fascinating or talented?
  4. Good planning helps you anticipate complications, which means less time putting out fires.
  5. Planning causes focus on priorities and what’s important; less distracted by minor events or tasks. This is true at work AND at home. Want more free time? Plan. To finally make progress on your goal? Plan. Want to be truly able to focus on your family while home? Plan. Planning is the answer, my friends.
  6. Looking ahead to the week’s appointments helps avoid scheduling conflicts or double-booking. Have you allowed enough time for the meeting with your client Amy? How long did your last meeting last?  If you don’t plan properly, Amy’s meeting may spill over into another person’s appointment time, which may upset that next client.

When I don’t plan, things go haywire.  A few weeks ago, I was getting ready for a last-minute trip.  I hadn’t planned on Monday.  Big mistake. I almost missed my call with my business coach, which I’ve NEVER forgotten before.  And I was so distracted that day I missed a reminder text from my Aesthetician, so I missed my facial, and probably annoyed her.  I felt frazzled and definitely NOT together.  Not a good feeling, because I like to have my ducks in a row! 

  1. Improve performance:  Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.  ~ Gary Ryan Blair Proper planning makes you better prepared for meetings and client interactions. Tracking how long different clients take and how long it takes you in between to prepare for the next person/meeting will save anxiety.  I know a financial planner who always allows herself 30 minutes between each client to prepare for the next one; a practice that has worked well for her.  Also, you will be more able to focus completely on the client you are with when you are not worried about timing or lack of preparation
  1. Be flexible. Remember, plans change. Your priorities may change as the week goes on, or you may have to deal with an emergency.  Make it work for you!


Don’t give up on your New Year’s Resolution!

How is your New Year’s resolution going? Did you know only 8 percent of Americans are successful in achieving their New Year’s resolution? Wow, that’s depressing.  And half of those who make resolutions abandon them after the first month.

Well, it’s been a month and a week. I’d like to show why resolutions fail and how to come up with a resolution or goal that you will stick to.

First, here are the top 3 New Year’s Resolutions in the U.S.:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend less, save more

What is the deal, are we weak-minded or without willpower?   Not exactly, says psychologist Mark Goulston. His reasons why resolutions fail:

  1. Many times resolutions are driven much more by emotion than logic.

So, say my  resolution is to stop eating chocolate for a month.  This resolution was made in the moment, rashly, when I saw the scale on January 2. I didn’t take into account how much I enjoy chocolate, nor did I determine that the one thing I needs to lose weight  is to ban chocolate. (Limiting calories and increasing  exercise play a role too.)

  1. So, one reason why many of us don’t keep our resolution is: Uncertainty. We don’t know how we are going to feel in the future.

Even though I was determined in that moment to ban the evil chocolate from my diet, I might feel differently a week later when I see my son eating a piece of his Christmas chocolate and I have a strong craving for it.  I can smell it. Ooh it smells good.  I see him enjoying it.  I can almost taste it.  That’s it—I will have just one piece.  And BOOM! My resolution is thrashed.  It’s over. I failed.  Right?

  1. That leads to the third reason people don’t keep New Year’s resolutions:

“They believe that they won’t keep them and in so doing they will then either disappoint others, causing embarrassment or disappoint themselves, causing shame.”    ~ Mark Goulston, M.D., FAPA


  1.  Spend more time thinking deeply about what you really want out of the year.

Many of the studies I read listed this as a reason for abandoning our New Year’s resolutions.  We hadn’t truly considered all the ramifications, so when an obstacle like that tempting chocolate comes up, we cave.  In other words, commit to it.

  1. Be realistic: Decide what you are willing to do.  Am I really going to resist having a dessert when I am out to dinner with friends? Does this mean I have to become a hermit in order to lose my flub?                                                                                                                                        No! In fact, a small reward for sticking to your goal is good for you, according to a study by University of Pittsburgh, Duke and Vanderbilt found that if you eat mostly healthy, but “carve out a portion of your meal for a calorie-laden treat,” it is motivating.

They call this a vice-virtue bundle.  Hmm, sounds intriguing . . .

So, this addresses self-control issues we face at the dinner table or other situations.

We determined that people are best served by making vice-virtue bundles, combinations that include primarily healthy choices but also toss in a small proportion of something indulgent, ”     ~ Cait Lamberton, University of Pittsburgh

Like CHOCOLATE, or bacon, or cheese . . . .

  1.  Find an accountability buddy or a friend who wants to accomplish

    the same goal, so you can cheer each other on when the going gets tough.

  2.  Remember that one mistake does not a failure make. Encourage yourself with positive self-talk.  Talk to yourself as if you were helping a friend with their goals.

So, to quote an author I know (my husband) Frank Morin, in order to set New Year’s resolutions that will last, you must  “look deep, see clear.”

Related posts:,


Set in Stone,  YA novel by Frank Morin,

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