Saturday, February 16, 2019

Getting the kids involved in housework

Hey friends!

In my last post about our homeschool schedule this term, I mentioned we're working on getting the kids to do more chores around the house.

To date, they've been vaguely helpful when it comes to chores. They'll give it a go tidying up the Lego, or packing away board games or cleaning their rooms when asked, but no one is volunteering to do any cleaning around here.

Last year I started the kids on the regular job of putting their own washing away each day. That's been going really well and is a huge help to me. I usually bring a load of washing off the line in the late afternoon and dump it on my bed. Then I call all the kids up to find their own washing in the mix and put it away. It doesn't take long and it means the washing gets cleared every day.

However, I realised the kids could be doing a whole lot more when, over the holidays, I stayed at my sister-in-law Kim's house in Te Puke and saw what her kids are capable of. Admittedly, her children are older than mine, but the reason they're able to do what they do is because she and her husband have trained their kids up, and put a system in place to enable success.

I was so impressed with their chore system, I decided to steal it.

In a nutshell, this is how their system works: Each kid is completely in charge of one chore for one week. The following week, all the kids rotate to a new task.

I like the system because there's a fairness to it. If you don't like the job you're on this week, don't worry, someone else will be hating it just as passionately next week.

The list of jobs my sister-in-law was using didn't work for our context, because my kids are younger/shorter and I have less of them. So I came up with my own list that I thought would be super helpful for us here. We started it this week and it's been going fairly well.

Job One - Toilets
We have two toilets, so the kid on this job cleans the downstairs toilet the first day, and then the upstairs toilet the next day. They then continue to alternate between the two toilets for the rest of the week except for Sunday, which they get to have off. It means both toilets get cleaned three times a week, and always stay nice and fresh. It also means the job never gets too difficult, because the toilet is always in a pretty good state for them.

To clean the toilet, they scrub the bowl first, and then spray down all the seats and lids and things and wipe them down with toilet paper. They also spray and wipe the lid of the rubbish bin next to the toilet. Once a week, they do a really thorough job, which includes cleaning the base of the toilet and around the back where the pipe is.

Job Two - Dishes
We don't have a dishwasher so this job involves helping an adult, either by washing or drying the dishes and putting them away. It happens a couple of times a day, every day, but the kid on this chore gets to do it with an adult, which helps offset the pain somewhat.

Job Three - Bathroom
We only have one bathroom, so I've split that job into three parts. On one day, the kid in charge will clean the bath. On another day, he/she will clean the shower. On the third day, he/she will clean the vanity. I'm tossing up whether or not they should also mop the floor on a fourth day. The jury is still out on that one. If the kid so chooses, they can clean all three items in the same day and then have the rest of the week off. Some kids might be motivated to do that to get it out of the way.

Here's another look at our super simple chore chart. I typed it up, printed it off and stuck the initial of each kid onto their chore for that week with a small post-it note. Every Monday I'll switch the post-it notes around so each kid gets a new chore for that week.

We won't pay them for doing these jobs, as such, but for a while now we've been giving the kids $2 a week pocket money, which we keep track of through the Rooster Money app. The kids know they don't get their pocket money if they haven't met their responsibilities for the week, ie. put their clothes away, so that system will just continue with the new chores.

So far the chores have been going really well. The kids have been doing them willingly and doing a good job. The main thing now is for me to keep ensuring that happens. It's easy to be motivated about a routine when it first starts, but then drop it when it gets old. But I know that if I keep training the kids and insisting they do their jobs, they will. They'll get better at them too.

And then they'll have real life skills they can take with them everywhere they go. Of course, there are teething problems along the way...

  • The kid on toilets this week snapped the handle off the upstairs toilet brush in her vigorous cleaning efforts.
  • The same kid also used most of a bottle of toilet cleaner.
  • The same kid also forgot to wipe down the toilet seat after cleaning this morning, so the next person to use the toilet had a surprising sticky welcome for their bum.
And that's how it goes with kids.

What's your tried-and-true chore system for kids? Does such a thing even exist?

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