Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

“I don’t want to put my shoes in the cubby!” my three-year-old shouted. “I don’t want to be helpful!”  At first, I doubted if The Helpful Experiment was actually going to work.

It all started six months ago when I was gritting my teeth and clenching my fists about putting little shoes in the cubby for the one hundredth time, picking dirty clothes up off the floor for the one thousandth time, and putting books in the toy bin for the one millionth time. 

Something needed to change. There had to be a better way of getting my kids to do what I asked them to do without getting angry, yelling, or punishing – without time-outs, chore charts, rewards, or even bribery.

Was it possible to teach my kids to be helpful – just to be helpful?

The science teacher in me and the mom who wants to raise helpful kids in me was on a mission to train my kids to choose to be helpful around the house not because they got something in return, but because it was the right thing to do – the kind and loving thing to do. But how the heck was I going to do that? Ah ha! I got it! The Golden Rule.“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” If I wanted my kids to be more helpful, I had to be more helpful.

But would it work? If I started being more helpful towards my kids, would they follow my lead and finally put their shoes in their cubby once and for all for cryin’ out loud? Seriously though, it wasn’t all about getting them to put their shoes in their cubby. It was about a change in their attitude – a long-term vision of teaching them to see the value of helping others – just to be helpful!

And The Helpful Experiment began.

Every day, I used the word “helpful” over and over. I let them know when I was being helpful and I would applaud them anytime they chose to be helpful. Instead of getting angry at how slowly my oldest was getting ready for school, I would ask him, “How can I be helpful so we can be on time?”

All throughout the day, I would say:

  • “Mommy put your shoes in your cubby…just to be helpful.”
  • “Mommy put your dirty clothes in your laundry basket…just to be helpful.”
  • “Mommy decided to be helpful and pick up your books for you.”
  • “Mommy chose to be helpful and clean up your room for you.”

At first, I’m sure they were thinking: “Alright, who kidnapped mommy?” But soon, I noticed a change, a shift in attitude and a new sense of teamwork and helpfulness. Plates were being taken to the sink – just to be helpful. Tables were getting set – just to be helpful. Family rooms were being cleaned up – just to be helpful.

My two older kids were really stepping up their helpfulness game. My three-year-old, however, was still not fully on board, but he was noticing. Just yesterday, he left his shoes on the floor and said “Mommy, will you put my shoes in the cubby for me just to be helpful?”  And I did. 

Just as I predicted, a spirit of helpfulness started to fill my home. But what surprised me the most was how much a spirit of helpfulness started to fill my heart! I discovered a new joy and purpose in serving my family. I was going out of my way to be helpful – no gritted teeth – no clenched fists. 

Now, I put shoes in the cubby for the one hundredth time with a smile. I pick dirty clothes up off the floor for the one thousandth time with pleasure. And I put books in the toy bin for the one millionth time with glee. Well, maybe not all the time, but I am certainly having more fun finding ways to bless my kids – just to be helpful. 

Don’t worry. I still expect them to be responsible and learn to do things for themselves, but it’s different now. My kids feel more empowered when I give them the chance to be helpful, and they are more encouraged when they see me being helpful too!

Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  You got it, Gandhi.

If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”  Right on, Michael. 

The Helpful Experiment worked. If I wanted to make a change in my home, I had to be the first to change. The Helpful Experiment isn’t just an experiment anymore – it’s our new way of life.

Can you imagine a world where The Helpful Experiment was everyone’s way of life?

Because, by the way, guess what three-year-old just put his shoes in the cubby for the very first time… “just to be helpful.”

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Christine Leeb

Christine Leeb--Speaker and Christian Family Coach specializing in Parenting and Child Discipline.  Founder of Real Life Families--a non-profit organization building better families through free classes and resources.  Mother to three awesome (and exhausting) children from whom she shamefully hides brownies.  Wife to one patient (and polar-opposite) husband with whom she constantly quotes "Friends".  www.RealLifeFamilies.org 

Being a Hands-on Dad Matters

In: Kids, Living
Dad playing with little girl on floor

I am a hands-on dad. I take pride in spending time with my kids. Last week I took my toddler to the park. He’s two and has recently outgrown peek-a-boo, but nothing gets him laughing like him seeing me pop into the slide to scare him as he goes down. He grew to like this so much that he actually would not go down the slide unless he saw me in his range of vision going down. When it’s time to walk in the parking lot he knows to hold my hand, and he grabs my hand instinctively when he needs help...

Keep Reading

5 Kids in the Bible Who Will Inspire Yours

In: Faith, Kids
Little girl reading from Bible

Gathering my kids for morning Bible study has become our family’s cornerstone, a time not just for spiritual growth but for real, hearty conversations about life, courage, and making a difference. It’s not perfect, but it’s ours. My oldest, who’s 11, is at that age where he’s just beginning to understand the weight of his actions and decisions. He’s eager, yet unsure, about his ability to influence his world. It’s a big deal for him, and frankly, for me too. I want him to know, deeply know, that his choices matter, that he can be a force for good, just...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love is the Best Medicine

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child lying on couch under blankets, color photo

When my kids are sick, I watch them sleep and see every age they have ever been at once. The sleepless nights with a fussy toddler, the too-hot cheeks of a baby against my own skin, the clean-up duty with my husband at 3 a.m., every restless moment floods my thoughts. I can almost feel the rocking—so much rocking—and hear myself singing the same lullaby until my voice became nothing but a whisper. I can still smell the pink antibiotics in a tiny syringe. Although my babies are now six and nine years old, the minute that fever spikes, they...

Keep Reading

Right Now I’m a Mom Who’s Not Ready to Let Go

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hugging, color photo

We’re doing it. We’re applying, touring, and submitting pre-school applications. It feels a lot like my college application days, and there’s this image in my mind of how fast that day will come with my sweet girl once she enters the school doors. It’s a bizarre place to be because if I’m honest, I know it’s time to let her go, but my heart is screaming, “I’m not ready yet!” She’s four now though. Four years have flown by, and I don’t know how it happened. She can put her own clothes on and take herself to the bathroom. She...

Keep Reading

Each Child You Raise is Unique

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three little boys under a blanket, black-and-white photo

The hardest part about raising children? Well, there’s a lot, but to me, one major thing is that they are all completely different than one another. Nothing is the same. Like anything. Ever. Your first comes and you basically grow up with them, you learn through your mistakes as well as your triumphs. They go to all the parties with you, restaurants, sporting events, traveling—they just fit into your life. You learn the dos and don’ts, but your life doesn’t change as much as you thought. You start to think Wow! This was easy, let’s have another. RELATED: Isn’t Parenting...

Keep Reading

Our Kids Need Us as Much as We Need Them

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sitting on bench with dog nearby, color photo

During a moment of sadness last week, my lively and joyful toddler voluntarily sat with me on the couch, holding hands and snuggling for a good hour. This brought comfort and happiness to the situation. At that moment, I realized sometimes our kids need us, sometimes we need them, and sometimes we need each other at the same time. Kids need us. From the moment they enter the world, infants express their needs through tiny (or loud) cries. Toddlers need lots of cuddling as their brains try to comprehend black, white, and all the colors of the expanding world around...

Keep Reading

Your Kids Don’t Need More Things, They Need More You

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young girl smiling together at home

He reached for my hand and then looked up. His sweet smile and lingering gaze flooded my weary heart with much-needed peace. “Thank you for taking me to the library, Mommy! It’s like we’re on a date! I like it when it’s just the two of us.” We entered the library, hand in hand, and headed toward the LEGO table. As I began gathering books nearby, I was surprised to feel my son’s arms around me. He gave me a quick squeeze and a kiss with an “I love you, Mommy” before returning to his LEGO—three separate times. My typically...

Keep Reading

This Time In the Passenger Seat is Precious

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen
Teen driver with parent in passenger seat

When you’re parenting preteens and teens, it sometimes feels like you are an unpaid Uber driver. It can be a thankless job. During busy seasons, I spend 80 percent of my evenings driving, parking, dropping off, picking up, sitting in traffic, running errands, waiting in drive-thru lines. I say things like buckle your seat belt, turn that music down a little bit, take your trash inside, stop yelling—we are in the car, keep your hands to yourself, don’t make me turn this car around, get your feet off the back of the seat, this car is not a trash can,...

Keep Reading

So God Made My Daughter a Wrestler

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young female wrestler wearing mouth guard and wrestling singlet

God made my girl a wrestler. Gosh, those are words I would never have thought I would say or be so insanely proud to share with you. But I am. I know with 100 percent certainty and overwhelming pride that God made my girl a wrestler. But it’s been a journey. Probably one that started in the spring of 2010 when I was pregnant with my first baby and having the 20-week anatomy ultrasound. I remember hearing the word “girl” and squealing. I was over the moon excited—all I could think about were hair bows and cute outfits. And so...

Keep Reading

A Big Family Can Mean Big Feelings

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Family with many kids holding hands on beach

I’m a mother of six. Some are biological, and some are adopted. I homeschool most of them. I’m a “trauma momma” with my own mental health struggles. My husband and I together are raising children who have their own mental illnesses and special needs. Not all of them, but many of them. I battle thoughts of anxiety and OCD daily. I exercise, eat decently, take meds and supplements, yet I still have to go to battle. The new year has started slow and steady. Our younger kids who are going to public school are doing great in their classes and...

Keep Reading