Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chores

Whoops! I don't know what I did, but that last post published without my permission. must have been a slip of the fingers...but I don't know which ones.

Last October or so, I was feeling frustrated by the lack of help I was receiving from certain children around supper time. I would ask, "who wants to set the table," and they would groan in response. You would have thought I was asking them to clean their rooms or something. So I set up a supper-time chore rotation. One child is responsible for setting the table, one clears the table, including putting away any leftovers, and the third takes the garbage and recycling from the kitchen to the bins in the garage. I was expecting resistance from these children of mine, just based on their past reactions to being asked to help with any of these activities, but it's worked extremely well. No complaints--they just do their jobs. I think the difference is that the expectations are clear, consistent, and applied equally. Now the only one groaning is me (internally, of course), because it's a little difficult to keep Bubby on task sometimes, and it's frustrating to try to get him to do something that I can do so much faster by myself.

Buoyed by the success of the supper-time chore rotation, I recently implemented Saturday morning jobs, as well. It took me a long time to actually put this into practice, because I was concerned that they wouldn't do a very good job. But then I realized that even if they don't do a very good job, something is better than nothing, and these particular chores are ones that I haven't been able to get a handle on consistently since Bubby started taking one nap a day instead of two. I also had a hard time coming up with an acceptable division of labor.

So now each of them needs to clean their room, which consists of picking everything up off the floor and putting it where it belongs, and clearing off their desk and dresser (Bubby doesn't have a desk or dresser, so his job is easier). Then one kid is responsible for cleaning the downstairs bathroom, one cleans the upstairs hallway bathroom, and the other cleans up the family room and vacuums the basement and the stairs.

The kids are doing really well with these jobs. Yes, there's some grumbling, and they need lots of guidance (which means more work for me at the front end), but I'm sure they'll get better at each of their tasks as they gain more experience. But beyond that, my boys are experiencing what it means to be a family--we share in the fun and good times, and we also share in the hard work of keeping everything running. They now have the opportunity to experience the pride of a job well done, with the accompanying self-esteem boost. And they're learning that if they make just a little bit of effort to keep things neat during the week, the Saturday jobs are much easier--all great life lessons for my little ones to learn.

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