Growing up my brothers and I had standard jobs. Daily I had to set the table, Brad cleared, Phil did dishes. On Saturdays I was responsible for cleaning both bathrooms and mopping the kitchen. In there as well was the general keep your room cleaned (I was the worst) and make your bed (rarely did).
Mark, well, he grew up taking out the trash…sometimes. (My MIL will totally cop to not making her kids do many chores.)
I will cop to the fact that I did not start my kids doing chores early enough. Part of that is my total inability to delegate because I’m a perfectionist and would rather just do things my way. The other part was trying to figure out what kind of chores a 3 year old could do.
But several years ago I finally got into the groove of finding things to do. Partially helped by the fact that Natalie loved to clean when she was little. I would give her a sponge when she was 3 and let her go to town on the walls, cabinets, etc. Amazingly, kids are capable of a lot more than we give them credit for. And yes, I’ve had to let my standards go a little but I’ve learned that the trade-off (i.e. HELP) is worth it.
Over the years I’ve tried tons of different systems and techniques with the kids and chores. Making charts and using stickers, assigning things to different kids for a week.
And it’s always a total bust. Because, for as organized as I am, I am not a chart kind of person.
It was completely freeing to finally realize that flexibility was the key to our household chore system.
The following things are expected of our four kids (11, 10, 9 & 7) always:
- get your own breakfast in the morning, clear your dishes and put food away (the kids cups/plates are color coded so I can tell who hasn’t cleared their stuff 🙂
- make their lunch (I usually do their sandwiches, they just add the snacks that are all kept in one large basket in the cupboard)
- clear dinner dishes
- pick up anything that they got out that needs to be put away
- put dirty clothes in the laundry basket
- on laundry day (usually Saturday) fold/hang up their clothes and put them away
Throughout the day as other needs arise – unloading/loading the dishwasher, wiping off tables, sweeping, wiping counters, etc – I just say “Hey ________, please unload the dishes.” It might be that one kid is done with homework before all the others – perfect. Or whoever was first out of the shower at night has extra time.
I try to rotate it around as best I can but frankly I’m not that concerned that Noah did a certain chore twice this week and Natalie did it four times. Life’s not fair, better they get use to it now 🙂
And the kids have learned that if they complain they’re liable to pull another job.
Then on the weekends (and not even every weekend) we have cleaning time were I will assign each child a job. When they are done with that job they come to me and ask for the next job. This is how we accomplish cleaning bathrooms, dusting, vacuuming, emptying all the trash cans, cleaning the playroom, cleaning rooms, etc.
Some of them get done faster than others (i.e. Luke) because they work hard and accomplish 3 jobs while the other kids are on job #1. That child usually gets an early reprieve.
So what kind of a chore system do you have?