Monday, December 23, 2013

Getting Kids Involved in Household Chores

I was asked once, after writing some posts about our schedule, where cleaning fits into the mix.  I was a little embarrassed to say that cleaning was not on the schedule because we didn't have a specific plan of keeping our house clean.

There are daily tasks that Claude and I perform to keep the household up.  Every evening we finish up the dishes and go over the floors after the kids finish their kitchen chores.  We wipe down the counter tops, take out the trash, make sure things are picked up around the house, and Claude faithfully cleans the toilets and any other bathroom surface that needs attention.

In this way we keep up with the basics.  But the truth was that since our third child, keeping up with vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and other chores just wasn't happening.  Life with three children ages 3, 2, and newborn was just too much to put weekly household chores into our schedule.  We did other cleaning on an as needed basis.  And let me tell you that it was certainly needed!

Fast forward a few years and we find ourselves in a new and different life stage.

One day, more out of desperation than anything, I put a vacuum into the hands of Joshua and Hannah.  I gave them a few basic instructions and then let them have some fun "cleaning" the front rooms.  To my surprise they not only enjoyed the work, but they also did a really good job cleaning the floors.

It was then that a new day dawned in our little family.  I knew that now I had some willing and able helpers to keep up with more than the basics.  So, we instituted a set of Friday morning chores.  When we finish our work, we head to the park with our local home school group - the perfect motivation to get all of us through our chores.

Now, I find that our carpets are vacuumed and our kitchen floor is mopped at least once a week.  Because Joshua and Hannah are able to help out with cleaning the floors, doing the laundry, cleaning the windows, taking out the trash, and changing bedding, we can keep up throughout the week even better.

I have purposely waited a few months before posting about this new cleaning system.  I wanted to be sure that it was actually working and that we were able to maintain our Friday chores over a period of time.  Now after about four months, it has become a regular part of our weekly schedule.  With a few exceptions (everyone being sick or pre/postnatal check ups with the midwife) we have been cleaning every Friday morning.

Can I just say that freshly vacuumed and mopped floors are amazing!  I wasn't able to keep up with it for a season.  That required a definite change in my expectations. But I'm glad to be back in a family stage where regular cleaning can actually happen.

Our usual jurisdictions are as follows:

Joshua, 6 years old:
-Boys' Room--change bedding, pick up toys, vacuum
-Front Bathroom--change trash, change towels
-Living Room--pick up toys, vacuum
-Laundry--wash, dry, and put away boys' room bedding

Hannah, 5 years old:
-Girls' Room--change bedding, pick up toys, vacuum
-Master Bathroom--change trash, change towels
-School Room--pick up toys and books, vacuum
-Laundry--wash, dry, and put away girls' room bedding

Abigail, 3 years old:
-Girls' Room--help Hannah change bedding, pick up toys
-Clean slider door
-Mommy's helper

Jeremiah, 1 year old:
-Help Abby clean slider door
-Mommy's helper

Mom, unidentified age :)
-Master Bedroom--pick up, change bedding
-Bathrooms--clean sinks, counters, mirrors, tubs, and toilets, mop
-Kitchen--clean sink, counter, and windowsill, sweep and mop
-Laundry--keep up with loads
-Oversee kids' chores

Sometimes we change it up a bit, like this week when Joshua and Hannah worked together to clean all of the bedrooms, the living room, and the school room.  I took care of the kitchen and bathrooms with some help from Abby and Jeremiah.  I was proud of the kids to see how they are starting to take responsibility for their assigned areas.

It may not be perfect or exactly how I would do things, but they are doing their best work, learning to work together, and are beginning to develop good attitudes about their chores.

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