Okay, so I am totally one of those moms who gets her kids involved in the household chores from a very early age. By the time they are 2 or 3, I feel they are more than capable of doing some easy jobs. Really, I think it’s a great idea to let kids grow up just always recognizing that participating in the Family Tasks is just what you do. Laziness is not a quality I hope to foster in my kids. Diligence, stewardship and teamwork on the other hand? You bet!
Of course, if you have older kids, it is never really too late. Get them involved! The might not like it at first, but eventually, it will become second nature for them and (gasp) they may even take a bit of pride in their responsibilities.
I know it’s a widely debated subject, but we decided from the get-go that the kids would not be paid money to do their part. They do get a small monthly allowance but it’s not tied to anything in particular (more on that another time). Mom and Dad aren’t paid for the usual stuff, it’s just part of being a family. We work together. We are a team!
Over the years, in the Land of Chores, we have tried it all. Stickers and schedules and, and, and… But I am happy to report that we finally have a chore system that really works for us. We’ve been using it for a few months now and it has been going remarkably well.
I must say first that as a homeschooling family, we have the advantage of not having to race out the door each morning, so it’s obvious that some serious adjustments would need to be made for families with kids not educated at home. But the tasks don’t need to take a long time. Some can be done in five minutes, so it shouldn’t really be a big deal for them to squeeze something in to their day.
Divvying It Up: As I mentioned earlier, our kids take turns having “their week” to choose certain things. It was a major sanity saver for us, so I’d suggest reading about it here. When it came time to assign the tasks for each day, we decided it would make sense to rotate them with the weeks. This way, it will be easier to track and the jobs they really dislike get done every day one week, and ZERO days the next, becuase that’s when their sibling takes over. The more kids you have involved in the Team Tasks, the less frequently the rotation will come back to them. If you have 4 kids, they are really only handling some of the tasks for one week of each month. Not a bad deal. We so far haven’t rotated the littlest into the ‘weekly mix’ (she has her own sticker chart) but I suspect we will when she is turns four.
The Chores Aside from the basic things they are expected to do (make bed, put laundry in the hamper, pick up toys, put laundry away), they each have 3 things to do each day. Two of the things are quick (empty the dishwasher, set or clear the table) and one is a bit more intensive (like dusting the main floor or cleaning a bathroom). The longer ones usually take about 10 minutes, but once or twice it has stretched into 60 minutes on the particularly dawdly days. Thankfully they have now figured out that it’s best to just get er done. If they do, all of their tasks together only take 15 to 20 minutes. As grown ups, we know that waiting doesn’t make the task disappear, it only makes it harder to do. Hellooooo… (ahem) …. Laundry? It never disappears with ignorance. That’s experience talking, my friends.
Since we were have never been keen on the idea of paying money for things that should be done anyway as part of a healthy, cooperative and well-functioning family, we knew that was out of the question for us. Stickers were okay when they were little (Sunshine is super-pleased with stickers for now), but frankly, they weren’t so hot either.
So instead, the boys earn minutes of computer time. They each have the ability to earn up to 2 1/2 hours of computer time each week. Friday and Sunday are the days to cash in. They used to get 15 minutes of computer time each day which worked very well for a number of years, but didn’t really work as they got older. This is really only a little bit more time each week, but it seems like a lot when it’s all piled up together like that.
For now, we are also using poker chips to make it fun and to visually demonstrate the time they are earning (and using). The chores are marked with 2, 5 or 10 points to correspond to the minutes for each task. No chores, no computer time. At all!
Now that they have a handle on the routine, I’ve also started using paper to track the points. I just circle the minutes earned each week and it makes it less cumbersome than the points. In a few weeks, I imagine they will drop the chips altogether.
The chores and point allocation does get tweaked every so often, but this is the one we’ve got on our fridge right now. It’s working extremely well.It’s My Week! Every Day: Reg. Bedroom Tidy (2) + Empty Dishwasher (5) + Set Table (2) Monday: Main Floor Bookshelves (10) Tuesday: Vacuum Boys’ Room (10) Wednesday: Ask Mom for a task and do it joyfully (10) Thursday: Small Bathroom (10) Friday: Main Level Dusting (10) Bonus: Kindness, Obedience and School Diligence (up to 15 minutes for each) It’s NOT My Week! Every Day: Reg. Bedroom Tidy (2) + Tidy Front/Back Foyers (5) + Set Table (2) Monday: Dust Boys’ Room (10) Tuesday: Upstairs Bookshelves (10) Wednesday: Ask Mom for a task and do it joyfully (10) Thursday: Large Bathroom (10) Friday: Main Level Floors & Stairs (10) Bonus: Kindness, Obedience and School Diligence (up to 15 minutes for each)
1) Mom is Happy What’s that expression? Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
Okay, maybe I wouldn’t go that far, but I don’t think I can adequately describe the joy I feel when I come into the kitchen for my second cup of morning coffee and see my 7 year old emptying the dishwasher without being asked. It seriously makes my heart smile.
2) Kids Are Happy It didn’t happen right away, but the kids now really take pride in their work. They earn a sense of accomplishment, the feeling of making me happy (which I know they love to do) and the HUGE advantage of computer time at the end of the week. Kids really do thrive on knowing the expectations. All we have to do is set them.
3) More Time for Better Things Many hands really do make light work. When we get all our ‘stuff’ done, we have more time to read, play a game, go for a walk, and just… BE. That is a real blessing.
4) Teaching Moments Abound All of this puts the kids into a routine that might last their lifetime. When they are older, they should be more likely to roll up their sleeves and work alongside someone who needs a hand. They should see a need, jump in and fill it because accomplishment in ordinary daily things has always been a part of their day. I have to believe that they will be more eager to get things done than the kid that didn’t have to lift a finger his whole life.
I was a kid who had responsibilities in her family. I was taught to cook and clean and care for things. I am confident that the routines my parents put in place have contributed immensely to the work ethic I have today.
I know what kind of adults I want to raise. I’m so pleased to have finally settled on a chore system that works for me. It works for all of us!
This post has been appreciatively linked to Works For Me Wednesday.