For years, I’ve struggled with the whole chore thing with my big girls (who are seven and five now). They’ve always required too much support to complete a task or my requests are met with resistance (so it just seems easier to do it myself) or I make a “chore” schedule and fail to stick to it.
In recent times though, I’ve come to discover how capable my children are when it comes to helping out around the house. Over the summer, we have developed some good habits that I hope will stick as we enter into a much busier season here real soon. Each morning, the girls unload the dishwasher … they alternate mornings, and put away all of the items that they can reach (silverware, plasticware, cutting boards, utensils, travel mugs, and baby bottles). Once school begins, Mackenzie will continue this chore on kindergarten days, and Madilyn will do it on her home days (she wakes up a little later and probably won’t have time to complete the task before getting on the bus).
Other “cleaning” expectations that I have for my girls include … putting their dirty clothes in the hamper, putting their clean clothes away (and Cambri’s), tidying their room (Mackenzie is better at this than Madilyn), picking up toys, bringing their dirty dishes to the sink, organizing books, tidying the shoes, vacuuming, dusting, emptying the compost bucket, wiping the bathroom counters, making the basement beds, changing over the laundry, and bagging up the recycling.
I’m still not the best at sticking to a “chore” schedule, but I will TRY to work on this come September, requiring the girls to do at least one after school chore each day. I tend to be more of a “wholly crap, this is happening in a half an hour, let’s get this house cleaned up” kind of person … I seemingly NEED the PRESSURE, which makes things a little hairy at the time, but, in this case, PROCRASTINATION seems to work. And sometimes, we just got to do what works for us (regardless of how everyone else is doing it)!
I do, do the basics … like cleaning the kitchen and floors after each meal, but a lot of the other stuff “waits” until someone is coming over OR we’re heading out soon and don’t want to come home to a mess OR it’s nearing bedtime OR our housekeeper is coming OR we have guests coming to stay with us. I put the pressure on MYSELF and on the big kids, and the work gets done!
Sometimes, I’ll set up little challenges to make things more fun like “let’s see if we can get this area all cleaned up by the time these two songs are over” … I’m convinced that music helps ANYTHING, especially the mundane, become fMUCH more enjoyable, so we do resort to this A LOT!
I try to ignore complaints, and just keep encouraging everyone, adding lots of extra “thank yous,” “you did its,” and high fives.
I do not pay my girls for MOST of what they do, but I do have a few “paying” chores, in which they can earn a little bit of extra money. Or when I’m really desperate for some help, and they’ve already done a lot, I will offer them some money. For this, I just keep a dish of coins handy, and try to pay them right away so I don’t forget. Through this, my daughters (particularly my oldest) are also learning the value of money and having to work to earn money in order to pay for things they want (like slime kits, a new bag, or a Fingerling).
The system isn’t perfect, but we’re all learning, the girls are discovering what they are capable of, my load is being lightened, they’re building confidence, they’re learning about the value of working together to accomplish a task, AND they’re getting a sense of what it’s like to earn a little bit of money. So many wins with this “system” that isn’t even really a system!