Thursday, May 15, 2014

Chores for Kids

Things have gotten a little (err a LOT) overwhelming lately. My husband's back is really bad so all of the physical labor involved with keeping a three-story house clean fell onto my shoulders. I am usually the last one to go to bed, I'm the one who gets up in the middle of the night with the baby (and anyone else who gets woken up by thunder or a bloody nose or nightmare) and then my feet hit the ground running the moment I get up for the day. Housework, homeschooling (while trying to keep the littles occupied and happy?!), trying to answer messages and complete custom jewelry orders, cooking food, squeezing in a shower or grocery trip, etc. Not to mention lack of one-on-one time with the kids or special playtime and just feeling so, so tired. It's enough to make you want to collapse on the ground and cry!

While I have had the kids help around the house a lot it's been a battle and frustrating and very sporadic without a clear definition of what I needed and expected. They'd fight about not wanting to do a chore or they'd fight over doing a chore that they all wanted to do. They'd take all day to complete one task or just not do the chore at all (which I'd find out later!).

I decided we needed a little organizing to set us on the right path. I kept hearing this statement echo in my mind as I drew up a plan for a chore chart: kids need structure. We are creatures of habit. While none of this is set in stone it has been so valuable to our family this first week of implementation! I'm not good at the whole "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" thing. It's not working out.

So my chart isn't that glamorous but it works. I had the kids sit at the table with me and come up with ideas rather than just tyrannically dish out orders. They picked out their own Sharpie color, too! I think Elaina was really overwhelmed until she saw the end result was that each child had 1-3 daily chores. On scrap paper our list looked long and super intimidating to an 8-year-old but once it was written out over a week it wasn't so bad at all. I also explained that just because they had a chore, maybe a hard one like doing dishes, doesn't mean they had to do it alone. That is something I want to make clear! I don't just send them off to do things on their own. That will come in time. Right now I'm actually standing there with them and showing them and teaching them how to do each job well.

WOW what a difference this week has been. Having a clear directive has helped them to understand their role and importance in the family. They are eager to get their chores done. They are already starting to initiate their own chores to get them completed. There's no squabbling because they know who has what job each day. You can't fight with the chart when it clearly says who is to do what job. There's no whining because they know these things have to get done.

Another part of making the house cleaner was decluttering. I've been decluttering and have taken so much to the thrift stores... I do not even know where it all came from or where it all fit! Simplifying has made huge improvements. If we don't use it, haven't used it, won't use it... it's gone! That includes clothing from the youngest girl and youngest boy. I'm not holding on to any of it. Okay so maybe one or two little outfits, lol! Definitely not keeping bins and bins of clothes anymore.

The house IS cleaner, I'm less stressed, everyone is working together instead of against one another and it's just making for a wonderful environment. I have found that I have more free time to break out the blocks and play or snuggle up and read books to them.

This has inspired me to make a more clearly defined schedule for our homeschool next year, too! More on that to come as I work through how I want it to look next year. We haven't even ended this year yet and I'm already ready to tackle our schedule next year?! That definitely lets you know how much better I feel having the family on board with chores!

*Daddy isn't anywhere on the board. He has physical limitations due to his back so he does things for the family that he can't really share so I didn't add them to the chart. For the sake of creating a very family-oriented chart I may add his jobs to the blank spaces at the end so we can all remember to put value on his contributions and be grateful for the work he is able to do. He takes the girls to ballet and stays there for their entire class time, he sometimes runs to the store for me so I don't have to take all the kids, he takes trash out to the curb for trash day, he does odd jobs, etc.


Tom Sproull said...

Hello this is Tom @ Raise Your Garden. I have a four year old and a two year old. My four year does a decent job putting her toys and things away. The problem is the two year get's everything back out which causes conflict. My two year old sometimes helps but makes more of a mess then is helpful. How do I get my two year old to be more productive with the chore idea?

JoyBelle said...

Hey Tom! That happens here, too. Two year olds still need guidance in this area. Start with a super simple chore. My two-year-old helps me get clothes out of the dryer and then pretends the basket of warm, clean clothes is a train and he choo-choos and pushes it out of the laundry room and into the dining room. He also likes to get a damp washcloth and wipe the table, coffee table and even walls (ha!).

Picking up and dumping things is FUN to a two-year-old. Be consistent and keep showing the little one what pickup looks like. They'll get it soon!

Susan Sene said...

This is so great! We are usually fly by our pants kind of family too. Schedules intimidate me because a lot of times I can't get to what I was on my list and then I feel like a failure. :) But simple tasks each day would help us too! I think I will write down some for my girls too. I was just telling them recently I'm done keeping up with their sippy cups. If they forget them, then they get thirsty and hopefully remember next time! :)