Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kids and chores

This is a subject I'm always interested in.

I enjoy hearing how other families manage their weekly workload and involve their kids in the process.

I really believe in giving children household responsibilities.

And my kids hear me say on a regular basis that being part a family means helping out to make things run smoothly.  They know that Mommy and Daddy have lots of things they need to do--and are happy to do--for our family, but that they need to help out, too.

Right now we don't really use chore charts, or assign specific jobs to specific kids.  My kids know that they are in charge of picking up after themselves (toys, books, clothes, school stuff), taking their dishes to the counter at the end of a meal, loading their own laundry into the washing machine and moving it to the dryer, and putting it away.  They also help out with various other things that the two littlest kids can't do yet--ie, doing and putting away THEIR laundry etc.  They help bring the groceries in after a Costco/Target/Safeway run.

Lately I've been talking--a LOT--about doing things with a GLAD HEART.  I'd noticed that my children had developed some negative attitudes towards chores and I realized that it's simply not enough to just do the job, it should be done as unto the Lord.  Nobody really LIKES doing work, once the novelty wears off anyway.  But it has to get done, and we have seven people in our house, so it REALLY has to get done.  :)

Surprisingly, all of my annoying "Jesus wants us to do our work with a glad heart" talk has actually made a difference!  My kids have been surprisingly receptive to the idea.  If I ask them to do a job, and the whining starts, I remind them and they generally respond by cleaning up the attitude.

The most difficult aspect of chores these days, interestingly, is the picking up after themselves piece.  My kids will occasionally draaaagggggg it out, go soooooo slowly...it is maddening.  They know that they won't receive lunch or dinner until everything is tidied up, but sometimes even that isn't a huge motivator.

To help at least a little with this issue, I recently went through all.of.their.toys--and gave away a whole bunch to the ARC.  We just have way too many.  And the kids were HORRIBLE about keeping stuff organized.  So after donating a few big bag-fulls to the thrift store, I instituted a bit of a more formal organizational system.  And they're sticking to it!  Matchbox cars in one bin, a bin for Polly Pockets and My Little Pony, a place for Little People etc.  Up until this point I just wasn't overly vigilant about how they kept their things because it would have been a NIGHTMARE.  Trust me, I tried, but they just couldn't seem to keep stuff together.  It was a battle I opted no to fight, for my own personal sanity's sake.  Now though they're definitely capable and it makes this mama very, very happy.  

Another method I have used in the past when toy pick-up isn't going so well (and that I need to implement more often) is the divide-and-conquer technique.  Instead of telling all of the kids "go clean up the school room, playroom and your bedrooms before lunch", I'll assign Anna to one room, Biniam to another, and Yosef to another.  (Kaitlyn fills in wherever, and Mary is still exempt.  :) )  This seems to help...they seem to go faster when they're seperated this way. 

I'm also getting to a point where I am thinking about training the older three kids to do some more substantial chores--bathrooms, for example.  I clean our bathrooms once a week (generally either on Monday or Tuesday) and I actually don't really mind this job so much.  I have a system and it goes quickly.  And I'm reticent to pass the torch because I want the job DONE WELL, so we'll see.  But as far as capabilities go, my kids are more than capable of at least cleaning the toilets.  So maybe we'll start there.

Eventually I foresee having chore charts and specific things assigned to specific children, including bathrooms, sweeping/mopping, wiping down the table, emptying/loading the dishwasher, mowing the lawn...ahhhh, yes, that will be NICE.

I'm NOT, however, sure how we'll handle allowance down the road.  Nobody gets one right now, and I don't know how I feel about the whole thing.  Not to mention, with five kids, that could add up real quick.  I do want to teach my kids about financial stewardship and about the yuckiness of both hoarding and gleefully spending their money (both ultimately can have their root in greed).  I want them to learn about the pitfalls of consumerism and that a life simply lived is filled with joy and contentment, and offers a less obscure view of the important stuff.  But I don't know yet about how we'll do that, or the role allowance might play.

In the meantime though we'll continue working on keeping things picked up with a cheerful, glad heart.  More is at stake here than simply jobs being completed.  My children are learning about maintaining a home, caring for one another, and about doing everything--even the mundane, un-fun stuff--for Jesus.  I'm still learning how to do this and I have a feeling it'll be a long time before I feel proficient at it.  I probably never will.

There is a beautiful fulfillment found in completing tasks and keeping a home. 

It's not always fun but oh, how I love a clean, orderly house.

Merely one, of many, benefits of kids doing chores!


Brian & Rachel Davis said...

I'm one of those people who love hearing the practical tips about how other people manage their kids and chores! Thanks for sharing! My older daughter is 3 1/2 and old enough for some helping now. But like you said, once the novelty wears off, it's not as fun.

One thing about allowances. My parents read some book or other that had the idea of salary. That is, we were given money for things they already bought for us and we managed it instead of them. As little kids, maybe we were given the "fun" money that our parents already spent on us, or the eating out money that would have gone to our meals. Later, we saved up and bought our own clothes, etc. We all had a little spreadsheet that showed our personal budget.

Ginger said...

Yup, my kids drag out picking up after themselves too...at this point they would much rather try to "help" w/my chores than to pick up their own stuff! Drives me nuts really & I have to strongly resist the urge to just go do it myself so its done already!
I'm undecided on how/when to start the allowance thing too, but I like the idea of giving one & having them divide it out into three parts...the bulk for their personal savings, then some for charity projects, & some for family fun fund.

Rachel said...

I recently started a sticker chart for chores. Stickers can be redeemed for silly bandz (5 stickers for 1 band). It has been very motivating for my kids. We are still working on common areas, but beds are made, floors are clear, and their bathroom is tidy. I'm one happy Mama!


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