If you know me, you know I am all about preparing myself, my family, and my home for all of the possibilities life can throw at us. One of those possibilities that I’m hyper-vigilant about being prepared for is an emergency exit from our home. Maybe, it comes with the territory when being married to a Fire Captain. That’s why, we not only have a clear emergency exit plan from each room of our home, but we also communicate it with our children and practice it regularly.
My husband and I are using our combined 44 years of medical and emergency services experience to help others prepare their families and homes for the unexpected, too. Today, we’re talking all about creating and practicing emergency exit plans. But first, we tackle why you even need one in the first place.
Why Does My Family Need an Emergency Exit Plan?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to be prepared for any and all emergencies. Luck favors the prepared.
One specific type of emergency you should be prepared for is the type of emergency that will require exit from your home. The most common type of emergency that requires exit from your home is a house fire. But don’t forget about other common emergencies like gas leaks or evacuations. In any of these situations, you will have a very limited time to exit your home. Your life could depend on how quickly you do so.
If it becomes necessary to exit your home and you haven’t taken any steps to prepare yourself or your family for this possibility, lots could go wrong. There could be chaos and panic, kids could hide in dangerous places, and your family may become separated in the commotion and uncertainty. However, if your family has a clear exit plan that they’ve reviewed and practiced, the likelihood of all members of the family exiting the home safely increases tremendously.
How-to Create an Emergency Exit Plan
Creating an emergency exit plan for your home is likely easier than you’re thinking. Have you ever noticed that every room in a hotel has an emergency exit route posted clearly on the wall? Well, that got me thinking. And now we use the same idea in our own home!
The first step is to stand in each room of the house. Close your eyes and picture the fastest route out of your house from that room. Also consider alternate routes that can be used if the primary route is in some way blocked or obstructed. This will give you both a primary and a secondary exit plan for each room in your house.
If you’d like handy printable grids where you can draw out your exit plan from each room, grab our FREE family home emergency plan, right here.
Finally, be sure to establish a meeting place, outside, for your family. Whether it be a tree, a light post, or a neighbor’s house, it must be clear and known by all members of the family.
Why and How You Can Practice Your Exit Plan
There’s no use in having an emergency exit plan if you simply create it and then put it in a folder to never be seen again. You’ll need to share it with your family members, review it regularly, and have fun practicing it. You know the old saying, practice makes perfect?
Now I’m not sure “perfect” and emergency exit plan are two phrases you’d ever think of together, but, practicing your emergency exit plan can significantly cut down on the panic and confusion when there is an emergency and quick exit from the home is necessary.
In our family, we love to make a game out of practicing our emergency exit plan. We have each member of the family stand in their room. Then we blindfold them or ask them to close their eyes (this simulates trying to exit a dark or smoky house.) Next, we time how long it takes them to get out and make it to the meeting place. The winner gets all the bragging rights.
We’ll also make certain adjustments to make it more fun, interesting, and test our ability to be adaptable. We may say that they have to exit the home without the use of a certain door or without using a particular hallway. You can adapt things based on your own home, too! You also may have different types of emergencies in your area. Feel free to add your own scenarios into your practice. Just be sure to practice! The more your family is aware and prepared, the safer they will be.
For more information on getting your family and home prepared for any emergency, check out our FREE Family Home Emergency Plan. You can download it right here. Inside, you’ll also find tips for assembling emergency boxes, printable lists and trackers for assembling emergency information, and other important planning tools.
Deciding whether or not to implement a chore system in your home can be tricky. There are many factors that may weigh on your decision as to if it is the right time for your family to get started with a chore system. Some things to consider are your kids ages, physical abilities, cognitive abilities, and ability to adjust to new routines.
In our home, for our kids, we are in favor of establishing chore systems early. This is because of the multitude of positive values having a chore system has taught our children. Four particular values stand out to us as the most important.
Here are the top 4 values your kids will learn when you begin to implement a chore system in your home:
Teaching kids about responsibility can be a little tricky because it’s multifaceted. There are multiple ways to approach responsibility – being responsible, acting responsibly, having responsibilities, and taking responsibility. The common thread is that they all relate to doing what is expected of us.
Responsibility is an important trait to instill in our children because it opens their eyes to expectations. When children take on new responsibilities, it establishes rules, habits, and routines that form the basis for all future interactions. Assigning your child chores gives them something they can be responsible for and take ownership of.
Establishing the value of responsibility leads to trust and freedom within your parent-child relationship. It also leads right into accountability, as this is what your child will need to acknowledge if they are not responsible, acting responsibly, or taking care of their responsibilities.
Once your kids understand responsibility, it becomes easier for them to grasp the concept of accountability, too. When your child takes responsibility for their actions, their items, or their mistakes – the idea of accountability grows clear. Accountability does not need to have a negative connotation. Accountability is owning up to something you’ve done wrong or failed to do and accepting the consequences.
For kids, accountability is all about taking ownership of and following through with their responsibilities. The follow through is the sweet spot where your kids will see the results of their hard work and begin to feel pride in what they are doing.
Our goal in establishing chore systems is to help our kids understand that being accountable for their actions and responsibilities means they are holding themselves to a high standard
Habits and Routines
Developing habits and routines are an integral part of running any happy household. Kids thrive on routines. When kids develop positive habits and routines, they know what to expect, feel secure and supported, and release anxiety.
There’s also positive benefits for the parents. For you, it will look like less nagging and reminding, you’ll be less stressed, and you’ll have more time together as a family.
Habits and routines in a home teach kids how to self-manage, work together as a family, and create a home environment that is full of positivity. Chore systems easily become a part of your family routine and habits. Kids know and expect they will be handling their assigned tasks and they welcome the comfort of this consistency.
Our ultimate goal as parents is to set our kids up to be successful adults. Of course, we want to keep them safe – but we also want them to grow into independent, healthy, and happy adults. As a parent, there is a delicate balance between guiding our kids and letting them care for themselves, when the time comes.
When you establish chore systems in your home, you will watch your children become more independent right in front of your eyes. As they take responsibility for their chores, accept accountability, and develop their routines – they will begin to need your support and guidance around these particular chores less and less.
When children develop independence, they become equipped with necessary life skills, self sufficient, empowered, and confident. As parents, isn’t that what we all want for our children?
Are you ready to implement a family chore system in your home but you just don’t know how to get started or get yourself organized? We’ve got you covered! Grab our totally FREE Family Chore and Money System Action Guide and we will walk you through the step-by-step process of designing, implementing, and sticking to a plan that works for your family.
Some of us parents were born with serious Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder that we have to put on hold when it comes to raising kids.
I have no idea how or exactly when I became so “anal” about having an organized home, but I am a firm believer that everything HAS to be in its given place. And I don’t mean that it just has to be in its given place. Everything that comes into the house HAS to have a designated “home.” If for some reason it doesn’t, it becomes an eyesore for me and it will bug me until it does find a proper place.
My Organization Begins when Anything Is Brought into the Home
I read a book about 4 to 5 years ago that gave me a great motto for living as someone who craves organization: “Like with like. One home for everything.” (You’re going to have to forgive me, but right now the title of the book totally escapes me, but I have never forgotten the concept.) Over the years, I’ve tried to implement this philosophy in pieces, but now I noted that I’m more “intense” about it (for lack of a better term).
Basically, instead of just leaving stuff randomly placed anywhere and everywhere, identify a home for it. It can be a corner of the house, a drawer, a closet, a cabinet or even an entire room. Just designate that as the “official area” for whatever you’re adding to your household.
Everything Has A Home Within the Home
When you do this, the most important thing for you to remember is that everyone in the house must know where the homes are and what goes there. This way, you don’t have to have those monotonous conversations about putting things back where they belong. You need total buy-in on this for it to work.
When my kids or my husband bring something home with them, I’m always on their case about where that item will live. They need to know exactly where to go to when they need that item and they need to know where to put it back when they’re finished.
My Office Supplies Provides a Great Example
So, let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. We now have dedicated office cabinets where nothing but office type supplies live.
When I say “like with like,” I mean that all the writing tools, paper, binders, rulers, and note pads go here. Items of similar categories that make sense go together. And there’s only one home for it. So now there are no more questions of “Where’s a pen” or “Where’s this” or Where’s that”. Instead, my family knows if they need an office supply item, look in the “office cabinet/drawer” and be sure to put it back when they’re done.
Another great grouping that I know would help lots of people is my home for all things electronic. This is where we put everything like wires, cables, batteries, spare chargers, or anything else that is gadget related. (Wires are one of my pet peeves. If they are everywhere, it drives me nuts!)
Part of being a good parent is teaching your kids to be self-sufficient and responsible. And part of that means doing your own laundry. Getting my kids to do their own laundry has been a huge time saver for us! The earlier you can get this routine implemented with your own kids, the easier it will be for you and your family.
Don’t Push Your Kids – But Don’t Wait Too Long Either!
Please remember, every child is different and develops at a different pace. But that being said, overall, kids are more capable of doing things on their own than we give them credit for. (Let’s face it—if they can operate a smart phone or video game system, they can do their own laundry!)
The problem is that we either subconsciously don’t want them to be independent or we think that it will just be quicker and easier if we do it ourselves instead of taking the time to teach them how to do it.
The Best Way to Teach Laundry Responsibility To Your Kids
The best way to do all of this is to introduce laundry to them in phases. When they’re younger, get them involved in the laundry process with you. Let them see you sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting the clothes away. Be sure to explain what you’re doing as you go so they can understand it.
Teach Kids in Phases All the Parts of Laundering
As your kids get older, you can let them join you in doing different parts of the laundry. This can include simple tasks like sorting their own clothes out into a pile to fold or have them fold something simple with you like shorts or small towels.
The idea is that eventually, over time, they will become used to all the different processes and (with a little supervision in the beginning) you can let them do each part of the laundry process on their own.
The phases my kids went through when they were learning to do laundry:
Phase 1 — Put their folded clothes away
Phase 2 — Fold their own clothes + Phase 1
Phase 3 — Take their clothes out of the dryer + Phase 2 + Phase 1
Phase 4 — Take their clothes out of the washer and put them in the dryer + Phase 3 + Phase 2 + Phase 1
Phase 5 — Put their dirty clothes into the washer + Phased 4 + Phase 3 + Phase 2 + Phase 1
Phase 6 — Put detergent and fabric softener in and start the washing machine + Phase 5 + Phase 4 + Phase 3 + Phase 2 + Phase 1
A Little Investment of Time, Pays Off Eventually
I think I started my kids on this process when they were 5 and 7, although I definitely could have involved them in it a lot earlier. Now they are 8 and 10 and they’re doing their entire laundry on their own. (Up until last week, my oldest was taking care of measuring out the detergent. But now, the 8-year-old wants to learn how to pour out the detergent, so he’s getting there!)
It is SOOOOO worth it to take that extra time and effort to train the kids on these processes. I know sometimes it’s much quicker to just do it yourself. But in the long run, your kids will learn how to be more self-sufficient and you won’t regret the decision to teach them when they are young.
As a mom, there’s never just one job that you have to cover. It’s an endless barrage of task after task after task that can be overwhelming.
So, it makes sense if you can create a system that helps you feed two birds with one seed. Right?
What if you could help your kids with the following habits: doing chores, managing their money, and becoming more civic-minded by donating to charity? And it’s possible to do all of this with one system.
One System Can Teach Kids Three Healthy Habits?
Like a lot of parents, I’ve created a chore chart as a way of tracking if my kids do the things they’re supposed to for their weekly payment. This can be a combination of chores they’re expected to do as being part of the family such as brushing their teeth and cleaning up the sink after themselves to those that go above those expectations.
Each time they do a chore, they place a chore stick into their bin so I can track if they’ve done what they are supposed to. This means it makes them responsible for their own actions. I simply ask how their chores are coming and they have a tendency to self-regulate without me nagging them about getting their work done.
What makes this system great on multiple levels is that it accomplishes several things.
First, it builds healthy habits. No one is going to be standing over them when they get out on their own checking to see if they’ve done the dishes or swept the kitchen. They need to learn how to self-regulate and monitor their own behaviors. So, it’s important to teach these healthy habits at an earlier age before they get released into the real world.
Build Healthy Habits
It teaches them the importance of working for money. If they don’t do the chores, they don’t get paid. This instills in them that they have to earn what they get and not just have it handed to them. The amount of personal responsibility this gives them is amazing.
Earn Screen Time
Another thing it provides my kids is the ability to earn screen time. No one wants their child turning into a mindless zombie, but we also don’t want them completely shut out from the amazing technology that this generation is in love with.
My kids don’t get screen time during the school week. But they complete their chores in order to earn weekend screen time. This makes them appreciate earning their time and it also means they value the time that they do get.
Teaching the Healthy Money Habit
Now, every family is different, but in my house, we give our kids $10 a week for completing their chores. We have a bank system they use to keep track of their money. Each week, I give them the $10 and they have to decide how much they’re going to put into each of three “accounts”—spend, save, and give away.
The spend section is obvious—the amount of money they want to use right now to buy something like snacks or a small toy. The save account is where I teach them to delay gratification. Sure, they might want a really expensive item; but they have to learn to wait weeks or even months to earn enough money to buy it themselves. But the real difference is the “give” account—this is money they set aside to donate to charity. This instills in them a desire to help others. But it also gets them to see beyond themselves and donate to charities that they want to give to.
Best Part of the System is The Communication
I love being able to sit down with them and have them explain their thought process on how much to spend, save, and give. It allows me to check in and see how they are learning healthy money habits.
Today, there’s not much we can all agree on it seems if you look at social media or the news.
Well, there’s something that 100% of the moms we asked said they ALL want for their Mother’s Day. Can you guess what it is?
First, we reached out to moms with little ones at home. They were kind enough to take time out of their busy day to give us their responses.
We asked: What do you most want for your Mother’s Day?
Below we share their actual responses, but it is unanimous that each mom wants one thing: TIME.
That precious commodity that we never get enough of as moms (and really anyone these days, but especially moms). Our time is not our own. We do for others and make sure the lives of our loved ones are easier and consistent by the daily actions we take to keep things going.
There were variations of each moms answer as to what they would do with the time given but each one asked for time not on the mom clock so they can spend it how they like for just one day.
So, for the husbands and kids out there, here are a few tips from our mom poll on how you can make your mom feel special and appreciated on Mother’s Day:
Offer to cook breakfast for your wife/mom (be sure to let her sleep in first!)
Do the dishes, take out the trash and any other chores she typically does
Does she like massages or getting her nails done? Schedule a pamper session for her!
Make a homemade card with your heartfelt thoughts about how wonderful your mom/wife is.
Know something special your mom really appreciates? Whatever it is – do it!
It’s not hard and it isn’t costly to show the mom in your life just how amazing she really is. Want to know exactly what our moms said they want for their Mother’s Day? Watch the video below: