Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 6618 MSFocus Summer 2016 One day, I realized that the way I asked the children for help was part of the problem. Yes, I was saying my ‘please and thank yous’, but there was some- thing else. Apparently, requests like, “Come and help me start dinner,” (or fold the laundry, straighten up the family room, etc.,) seemed to be sending the wrong message. The words “help me” made it sound like these were my jobs. The kids had inadvertently gotten the impression that these activities were Mom’s and Dad’s responsibility. In reality, everyone’s help is needed to make a house a home. Making this discovery was life changing for our family! Because the heartbeat of the house is the kitchen, it provided a fertile ground for us to begin our “House Rules” campaign. The first rule: “At mealtime, nobody leaves the kitchen until everybody leaves.” It was amazing how helpful and efficient even young children can be. As the children’s confidence grew and they matured, their kitchen tasks became more involved. From carrying dishes and cups to the sink, to sweeping the floor, wiping off the stove and countertops, and scrubbing crusted baking dishes, they knew how to clean up a kitchen. When Jamie and Andrew were nine and seven, I was physically unable to help with meal preparation or clean up. So the first rule was amended to include: “Everyone eats meals, so everyone is involved with meal planning and preparation.” When their friends joined us for meals, they were expected to pitch-in as well. Our kids had a sense of pride when their friends saw Jamie cutting vegetables with a sharp knife or Andrew using the stove to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Time Brings Changes As time went on, there was less and less I could do in the kitchen,so we were always looking for new ways of accommodating my disabilities.After a while I began to see my limitations as a blessing. Because I couldn’t physically coordinate my hands to crack an egg, didn’t have the strength to return the blender the top shelf of the cabinet, nor wipe up a spill on the stove, I had to teach the kids how to safely do those tasks. The “old me” would have jumped in and taken over, giving the subtle message that they weren’t capable or that I didn’t trust them. Instead, I patiently guided the kids with words of encouragement on all these tasks and so many more. We tried to plan our menus weekly and each child chose an entrée for one of the dinners. It gave them some power and control over what was served and we all ate the same meal in peace. The ingredients we needed were put on the grocery list that hung on the refrigerator door. Grocery shopping was done once a week. If you used the last item in the pantry or wanted a special lunch treat or snack, it was your responsibility to put it on the list. If it wasn’t on the list, it didn’t get purchased. Perhaps the most difficult challenge I faced was discipline. I had to find ways to deal rationally with the kids, especially when I was too fatigued and frustrated to think clearly. When I was in danger of losing my temper, I’d give us all a “time- out,” explaining that I needed some time to think about the appropriate punishment for their wrongdoing.