As promised, here is the third and final post in this series on time management. This time I’ll look at the part kids and chores play in the managing of a household.
During the baby and toddler stage, mom and dad get to do it all. Then gradually, as the kids get a little older, we enter the challenging stage of doing it all and letting them “help.” This help sometimes prolongs the task, and it’s easy just to “do it myself” so it gets done sooner! But with patience, all that training will (hopefully) pay back some day.
This “pay back” is beginning to happen here at our house, I think! My five helpers range in age from 3 years to 13 years, and when they each do their part, a lot of work gets done. The key is finding a systematic way to go about getting the work done. Finding a workable chore system has certainly been a moving target for me, but I believe I’ve finally found one that is a good fit.
We’ve used this particular system, tweaking it here and there as needed, for the past year and a half, and it still works for us.
I purchased (in e-book form) The Everyday Family Chore System by Vicky Bentley, which is a very helpful and very thorough program dealing with both the principles and the logistics of a chore system. I’d encourage you to read the book to get a foundation for why kids should help in the first place, and to learn what chores are appropriate for what ages.
Here is my simplified version of the system:
Each of the kids have their own section of a foam board with their name and space to pin their chores to each side. There are daily and weekly chores, and as they complete each task, they flip the clothes pin over.
- Upstairs jobs — get dressed, make bed, brush hair, brush teeth, tidy bedroom
- Downstairs sink — each of the kids have a part of the bathroom to wipe down everyday (with Windex and a dry rag).
- Empty wastebaskets — or other miscellaneous chores that need to be done daily, such as feed cat, clean out litter box, or feed birds
- Set the table — at lunch or supper, or be the lunch/supper “assistant cook”
- School room — they each have a room they are responsible for tidying up every evening before supper.
- At the beginning of each week, each set of pins moves up to the next person (the top pins move down to the very bottom). Spending a week at each job gives them time to learn it well, but not so much as to grow (completely) weary of it.
- The kids each have a certain area of the upstairs they are responsible for cleaning weekly. (I used to have them do the downstairs, but I found it works better for me to cover the more trafficked areas to ensure they are thoroughly cleaned. 🙂 )
- They do their own laundry — all the way from starting it in the washer to putting it away in their dresser drawers.
- Each day has a specific chore. I do let them catch up on Saturday if they’d rather do it that way, but even if just one of the chores is left undone at the end of the week, then “tickets” are taken away.
Instead of an allowance, the kids earn money by gathering eggs here on the farm. They also earn tickets (which are simply pieces of colored paper cut into small rectangles) by doing extra chores in addition to their daily and weekly responsibilities. These extra chores might include: sorting, organizing, baking, deep cleaning, cleaning out the car, mowing, weeding, or mulching.
Tickets can be turned in for privileges such as computer time, skipping out on supper dishes (we all help with the dishes at every meal, normally), reading longer before lights out, a sleepover with a friend, or plain old money. The number of tickets required depends on the size of the reward.
Tickets are taken away for such things as not finishing daily or weekly chores, being asked twice to do an assigned task, whining about that assigned task, or for more trivial, but nonetheless irksome habits as leaving coats or shoes lying on the floor instead of putting them on the rack where they belong, or leaving dirty clothes lying on the bathroom floor after bath time.
All this sounds very neat, tidy, and organized when written down in this fashion, I know. But in real life, it’s not always that way — imagine that! A particular challenge for me is making sure they stay on task, or if they don’t, then remembering to take tickets away. All too often I find myself repeating, reminding, and nagging. I also struggle to find the balance between teaching them to help out just because we are a family and there’s work to be done , and rewarding them for the work they do. Both are important aspects of childhood, I believe. For now, this is the way we’re seeking to find that balance.
How do you manage chores in your household? I’d love to hear from you, so please share your ideas with the rest of us in the comments. And if you’ve posted about this topic on your blog, feel free to share a link along with your comment, so we can see it!
In case you missed them, here are the other posts in the Time Management Series.