Thursday, June 7, 2012

Children's Chores - Gayner style

I have had several conversations with other moms at various times and places regarding the role of chores in their families lives - conversations that have involved how old, what chores, and how much (me doing at least as much asking as answering!). One thing I've realized is that there are as many ways to tackle family chores as there are families. Here's how we do it:
  • I have a list of several daily chores for each child posted in the kitchen. Each child is responsible to make sure each thing is done after breakfast, before they run off to play or do other things for the day. If I find them at other things, I ask, "Are you finished your chores?" and am greeted with a "Yes, Mom" or "Oh, I forgot about...!" Honestly, they are not excellent about remembering all their chores, but for me, it's been more about creating an expectation of what they are meant to do. I'm trusting that, in time, the self-discipline will come.
  • Some of the daily chores we include are emptying the dishwasher (7 year old with 2 year old), feeding the dog and picking up his deposits in the yard (5 year old), running the sweeper (9 year old) and putting away any books that had been left out (4 year old). That's in addition to making beds, putting away any folded laundry, and brushing teeth.
  • When I make the lists, I go over them with each child so they fully understand the expectation. That way, it saves on the fight in the morning of how to do it and how they thought it was someone else's job. It's all there in black and white for them to consult, not down to my whim of what needs doing, which can change each day. Though I will ask a child to occasionally help me out with something that's not on the list if they finish their chores early, that's not a standard thing and I am diligent to express my thanks for going above and beyond. They need to know they are appreciated.
  • While they do their chores, I do mine. I take care of the stuff like the big vacuuming, a full cleaning of the bathrooms, a full cleaning of the kitchen, dusting and paperwork - one each weekday. That way, the stuff that I really want done a certain way gets done and they see that Mom has her work to do, just like them.
  • On Saturday, we do what has come to be known as "Cup Chores". Basically, I've written a bunch of chores on slips of paper, things like brush the dog, organize a dresser drawer, or wipe the baseboards in one room. Each kid pulls a different chore from the cup and does it. When the cup is empty, the kids are done. The older girls don't need much instruction on most of them, but I'll occasionally work with Noah on a job if he doesn't have much experience with it. Ellie tends to assist one of her sisters or plays with Dan and keeps him out of the way. This has been great for us - the kids love it and we don't have the "I always do this chore!" problem. It also gives them experience doing/learning different responsibilities.
  • We've made the decision not to pay our kids for their chores. There are several reasons behind this: we want them to learn to serve as an act of love and not for remuneration, they are totally irresponsible with money - we'd likely find it stuffed down heating vents, and I'm not sure we can afford it. My hope is that by the time the kids are able to work for pay (babysitting or yard work, etc), the training they've received at home as far as work ethic will make them in high demand for paying jobs.
So, that's what it looks like for us. It's not perfect, and there were some hiccups when we first started, but overall, it works really well for our family and the stage we're in. No doubt, as they get older and our family grows and changes, we will be looking for new methods to keep things in order.
I'd love to hear what other families do for chores - please share!


Danielle said...

So you, personally, do one "big" chore a day during the week? Including during school? Up until this point I dusted, cleaned floors, and cleaned bathrooms each one day during the week so weekends are "free." I was wondering if it would work during the week when school starts in earnest this fall. I'm glad to hear it's working for you. I find doing just one thing like that a day helps keep the house in pretty good order.

I did do a chore chart for a while, but that's gone by the wayside. Thus far the kids just do chores when I ask them, usually feeding the cat and emptying the dishwasher, sometimes light vacuuming. Straightening up beds and brushing teeth are part of getting ready for the day. I help with the bed because the bunk bed is even hard for me to "make." It's more like just folding up the quilts and they arrange the pillows and massive amount of stuffed animals! :)

Love hearing what other's do!

Briana Almengor said...

This is ever evolving at our house. Upon the boys' 6th bday, we did begin giving them an allowance..a dollar for every year they are old. We may need to stop this practice, and we've told them that, but we also communicated that it is not in direct relationship to their chores. Like you, we want them to serve bc that's why Christ came, and practically we all have to in order to have an orderly home. But, we also wanted them to provide a context to teach them about money. It's been an interesting journey so far w/ it, but I'm glad we did it and hope we can continue. They and we are learning a lot through it, I think.

As far as chores..I'm a bit more random w/ the "big" chores, though I will say that we are a Saturday morning-get the big household chores-kind of family. LA has a spreadsheet for it (I know, shocking!) I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants and do what seems to need to be done.

I used to be so type A w/ these things, but I think btw being married to LA who far exceeds me in being type A and having kids, I've mellowed out by necessity.

I do the "five fingers" thing w/ the kids and that works well for us...not because everyone does it perfectly without needing reminding, but like you said, Kelly, it provides expectations for everyone.

All the kids have assigned chores as well (laminated list on the fridge). As they age, more chores are assigned. For example, the boys have begun to take the trash and recycling out now that they can open the lids and shut them properly.

FOr now, my boys have morning chores: unload dishwasher and icecube trays is for one of the boys. Upstairs trash cans and taking laundry down to utility room is for another boy.
Bella unloads her silverware and helps mommy w/ breakfast.

They do other chores that aren't on their list, putting their clean, folded laundry away. That's probably not on the list b/c it's not always folded in order to put away. Often (esp. during the school year or when we have a lot going on otherwise, it's in a pile on my bedroom floor, and they just come pick out their outfits from that..sad, but true!)

I'm slowly adding in more chores like set table for dinner, clear table after dinner, take laundry upstairs for mommy.

You can "systems" can only loosely be called such. ;)

But, like you said Kelly, it works for us...or doesn't actually and that's why it's always evolving. ;)

Kelly said...

I don't have a chore day as such, but my kitchen gets done on Monday, the bathrooms on Wednesday, and so on. Works well.
I think these things need to evolve, especially with kids at various ages. A five year old might not be able to vacuum well, (at least, not here), so the seven year old does it. But the five year old will eventually reach the point when they are ready, and everyone bumps up some responsibility levels. I think I used to get frustrated that I'd set up a system that worked for a while, but then suddenly it no longer did. It then occured to me that this is normal and to be expected - it shouldn't stay the same for years if I want the kids to actually learn how to do these chores! Sometimes it takes a while, but the light usually flips on at some point. :)