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Controlling The Chaos At Home

If you have several children and are feeling stressed, listen up; Kate Kelly, Managing Editor of American Baby Magazine, has some tips for getting your world under control.

The key to managing several children at once is organization. Once you find a system that works, stick to it. To start, Kelly suggests organzing by color. Assign each child a specific color bin. Put one of each color by the front door so that no one forgets anything before they leave the house, and change what is in each bin depending on the season. This way, no one ends up with one mitten or a lone shoe. Also, put more colored bins in the children's play area. When it's clean-up time, each child is responsible for putting their toys in their bin.

Also, plan ahead. On Sunday night, instead of just choosing an outfit for Monday morning, help your child choose outfits for the whole week. This cuts down on morning chaos and helps the child know what's coming each day.

Second, avoid common parenting traps. Never ask "Who started it?" "That's a waste of time. You're never going to get to the bottom of it," says Kelly. "If you weren't there to see it happen, it's just pointless." Also, stop trying to make everything fair and even. Unless you only have two children, this is never going to happen. Even then, you'll eventually find a situation where you don't have two of something, causing an argument. Teach your children early on that life isn't fair.

Another life lesson to teach your kids is that being part of a family means chipping in - for free. Kelly doesn't recommend paying children to do their everyday chores. Doing so will teach your child a sense of responsibility and what it means to be part of a whole. Instead, pay your kids when they do extra chores, such as raking fall leaves. Or, make sure your kids know their allowance isn't connected to their chores. Keep the two separate.

Finally, avoid tasks that will trigger problems. If there is a certain household task that will drive you crazy if it's not done correctly, don't assign it to one of your kids. "Let go of perfection," says Kelly. "Why ask an 8-year-old to do something perfectly?" On the flip side, though, don't do everything yourself. Make sure to divide the chores among the adults and the children in your household.

Keep in mind, too, that the only way your child will learn to do things well is to practice them. Remember, you couldn't make your bed in three minutes when you were young either.

For more information on controlling the chaos in your house, as well as additional parenting advice, click here to visit www.AmericanBaby.com.

By Erin Petrun

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