Thursday, January 17, 2013

Let's Talk Chores

Over the years I have tried everything. I started when my children were very young. If they could get something out to play with it, then they could help put it away also. Sounds like the right start! I had willing kids! We made it a game. And yet I struggle. My children have always struggled with chores.

A quick note, I struggle the most with my daughters, ages 14 and 12. My 14 year old has the philosophy that she needs to just do her chores better than her sister does. My 12 year old believes that she shouldn't be required to do chores because she is a child and her job is to play and have fun! I tell them that as a Mom, my job is to raise children who grow to be respectful and responsible adults (in addition to raising them to have a relationship with God!). The only way to teach responsibility is to give them responsibility and have it become a habit! They do not like this response!

I have done the cute little magnet chore charts. I have done the chore pads with tear off papers that you check off and throw away. I have done chore charts on the kitchen cupboard, the laundry room door, the computer (yes, even going so far as to have a website that they sign in and check off chores and Mom can grade them and they get points and they earn points toward a goal and get rewards!).

I have done generic chore lists, detailed chore lists, individualized chore lists. I have tried having TWO child has list A on Monday and list B on Tuesday. The other child has list B on Monday and list A on Tuesday. Somehow in their minds that was STILL not "fair". I have tried having them work together, work apart, work with me, work with Daddy, etc.

I have tried allowances, I have tried having a list of regular chores plus added bonus chores.....once regular chores are done you can CHOOSE to do the bonus chores and there is a value associated with them. I have had my nieces come over and work with the girls because that is far more fun the doing it alone! I have bribed, cajoled, disciplined, grounded, etc.

Anyone else feeling that same worn out, why bother feeling? Anyone else ever been there?

I hate to say it but I don't have all the answers! I am still alternating chore strategies! Currently I have two that I am doing.

The first one is that all week I have an area of our living space assigned to each child. Due to our exchange student and also including my 7 year old, there are 4 children rotating areas. Each week in our home management binder, I note the area and the child responsible. If you look to the left you will see last weeks. Each child is SUPPOSED to write their name on the day when they feel they have completed their area so that I know to check it. You will also note that each child as an assigned laundry day (yeah, experiment that FAILED! But I will revisit that another time!)

On the right is this week. I rotated the children to different rooms and Mom has had a busy week so no one has noted when they are done with their area. Obviously we need to revisit the instructions again!

On weekends, I will go through each room of the house, note the things that need to still be accomplished in each room and post them all up on the pantry.

I then give the children the opportunity to pick what room they want to be responsible for that day. I did have to revise some rules. You can't move on to the next week's room if you have not been successful in tidying the room for this week. So since Bethany struggles with that, we had to say that she could not move from the dining room to the kitchen until she had the dining room clean enough to turn over to Jessica. This meant that on Sunday Bethany was working on tidying the dining room and Jessica got to skip chores. This REALLY upset Bethany and hopefully motivated her to get her room clean enough to pass on so that she was not doing two rooms one day while another child is doing nothing! I also tried to space out the kids so that the ones who do a better job cleaning are not doing the same room back to back. This keeps the rooms from getting really trashed two weeks in a row!

Living room assignment includes basic pickup of the floor which is usually their brother's toys. He is 3 and is just learning to pick up after himself. Then they sweep it once a day. We have hardwood floors and it is just needed! I have asked them to challenge themselves....make some sort of improvement in the room every clean to how it was the day before PLUS add one thing. Just one! I am TRYING to teach the older girls to recognize what needs done so I purposely do not have  a detailed list. That is where the weekend lists come in. It kind of shows them the areas that got missed over the course of the week.

Foyer/Laundry Room is the easy space! They have to make sure coats are hung, shoes are not in walkways and toys in the foyer area are not spilling into the walkway! Then they need to sweep.

Dining room is a little more complicated! They have to make sure the floor is swept, the table is cleaned off and wiped down and set for dinner and usually need to take care of any missed dirty dishes after dinner. They are also responsible for helping Mommy generate the menu for the next week and the grocery list that goes along with it and when possible for going grocery shopping (just us!) with Mommy to make sure we have everything on hand and put away right. This is prep work for next week when they are in the kitchen!

Kitchen chores are by far the most complicated...and yet it is the room they all want to do! They have to help keep the dishwasher going! If they see it is done, they can empty it. If it is empty and there are dishes in the sink, fill it! If Mommy is cooking, they are my helper! They are helping with prep work, cooking and the clean up that comes after. They all need to learn how to cook and working side by side with me is the best way I know to teach them. Of course, since last week when they were in the dining room they chose the menu for this week, I know they are happy with the food that we are eating and they are more likely to be willing to help cook it! They also get to shake the kitchen rug and sweep the floors.

As I read over the list, it sounds like I have little slaves! Of course, I am working constantly on these areas too and I try to do the bulk of the cleanup from James. I am also working on laundry and other areas of the house, including bathrooms! I am trying to teach the kids to recognize problem areas and take some personal responsibility for their things! This is definitely a challenge they are fighting!

So far I am only on week 2 of this particular chore option. Of course, it may not work....but it is easier for me to remember a weekly schedule than a daily one! I am really enjoying having help with the menu planning and the help cooking is nice. I feel like I am getting a bit more one on one time with each child.

Anyone have any thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like one of the best ideas you've tried. I really hope it works for you.