Around the time of our character crackdown escapade, we instituted some assigned chores to the kids. This has given them a sense of contribution to the household, some responsibility, and some useful skills that they will need for the rest of their lives. It has also helped us keep our house in order and has given us some set times of day when we're all working on something together. Some days our chore times are fun and productive. Other days we have a handful or more of complainers, but we always make it through and everyone is learning the value of hard work.
Our kids are 5 1/5 years old, 4 years old, 2 years old, and 7 months old. They're chore routines look like this:
All three of the older kids accomplish these tasks on their own. I usually walk Abigail (2 years old) through her routine, but she does all the work. I simply remind her what she needs to do next.
-Get dressed and put pajamas in the laundry basket.
Morning Kitchen Chores
-Joshua, 5 1/2 years old: Empty the dishwasher.
-Hannah, 4 years old: Set out cereal, bowls, and spoons for breakfast.
-Abigail, 2 years old: Help Hannah with breakfast set up.
After Meal Chores
Everyone clears their own dishes and puts them in the dishwasher. I rinse them off when necessary.
"Foursies" at 4pm
Each of the kids has two jurisdictions that they are responsible to clean up at the end of the day. Abigail is my "Foursies" buddy since she's still very much in training. "Foursies" is a time of day that the kids have latched onto as a major anchor in our routine. They get a bit stressed if the clock passes 4pm and we haven't cleaned up. But, it has to remain flexible. Some days we do "Foursies" at 1pm so that we can go play at the park and come home to a clean house. Other days we wait until 5pm, but usually we stick to 4pm. We try to have fun with this one. We turn on some upbeat music - the kids like Veggie Tales, Raffi, and Chris Tomlin and I like to throw in some Prokofiev and Shostakovich when I get a chance. We set a 15 minute timer (or less if we don't have much to pick up) and we race around trying to finish before the "quack". Then when we finish we have a little treat - a small snack, a game, or a read-aloud time. Here are the kids' jurisdictions...
-Joshua: Boys' Room and Living Room.
-Hannah: Girls' Room and Kitchen.
-Abigail (with Mommy): Girls' Room and School Room.
Evening Kitchen Chores/Dinner Time Clean Up
We all pitch in with this task. Claude and I usually clean up pots and pans from dinner preparation and wipe down the counters and stove top. The kids jobs look like this...
-Joshua: Sweep the floor. Help load and/or wash the dishes as needed.
-Hannah: Clean the table, chairs, and bench. Help load and/or wash dishes as needed.
-Abigail: Usually she is asleep by this time, but when she's awake she clears the table, loads the dishwasher, or helps clean the table and chairs.
Dinner clean up isn't always this exuberant, but we're all getting the hang of pitching in so that the work is both easier and more enjoyable.