I’ve made reference to flylady before. (www.flylady.net) But there are a few things that really stood out to me, that I think anyone can take away without following some sort of “system”.
First of which is that when you clean and upkeep your house, you’re actually blessing your home and all that live there. You’re doing the same things: cleaning toilets, vacuuming floors, etc, the only thing that’s changed is your attitude. I can’t stand cleaning my house, but blessing my home… that’s a different story. It makes it seem more… important maybe. Not something that I have to do, but something I want to do. I want to bless my family and if that means making sure they have clean underwear every day, so be it.
The second thing I’ve really taken away is that housework done incorrectly, still blesses the house. This one was another one that impacted me, but was sometimes hard to apply. When Tim does dishes and puts something away in the wrong spot, I had to remind myself that at least he did the dishes. (Especially since it’s something I hate doing!) When Hannah and Caleb help me clean I do try and show them how to do it, but I praise them for any effort they make. Yes, the kitchen floor may still have crumbs in a few places but Hannah can sweep it. And yes, I may have to encourage Caleb, but he can put all his clothes away… even if it’s not how I would put them away. But they’re only 3 & 5,
Speaking of kids chores, I personally think that kids should have chores or things they can be responsible for.
The only assigned chores we have, so far is to make their bed (pull the covers up), put their toys away, put their folded clothes away (which becomes unfolded in the process), Hannah can put her shirts & dresses on hangers, so she does that, and once a week they are in charge of taking everything they can off their bed (blankets, sheets, etc…).
I’ve tried chore charts and assigning them chores and having them put stickers on it when they finish and so on, but that sort of thing doesn’t work for me because I don’t keep up with them. (This is also the reason they have an allowance and expected to do chores, rather than do chores to earn allowance.) There are just a few things that have stuck: the kids can’t have breakfast in the morning until their bed is made (or stripped when applicable) and they’re dressed and they can’t come out of their room until they’ve picked up what they played with during “rest time”.
Now, life happens. Clothes end up in a pile for a week. We need to be someplace early and the beds don’t get made. We have sick days and nothing gets done.
Something that has worked is to have written chores down on cards and have them pick a card randomly. Then it almost seems like a game. They’ll run and do their chore and race back to pick another. I make sure to tell Tim that “Caleb cleaned the toilet and sink in the bathroom today” and he’ll Ooo and Ahh and tell Caleb what a great job he did. Or I’ll say that “Hannah vacuumed the living room today!” and he’ll say something like, “Wow! All by yourself?”. I love to watch the kids beam with pride and excitedly tell him what else they did that day.
Caleb (who’s 3) can:
Make his bed (pull covers up)
Strip his bed (take everything but the fitted sheet off)
Get dressed by himself (including picking out clothes that usually go together)
Put his clothes away
Put his toys away
Clean the outside of the toilet with a wetwipe
Use the toilet brush (for cleaning, not just as a sword)
Wipe the sink down
Set the table with the kid dishes
Sock mop (one of our favorite chores)
Dust with a feather duster
Wash the lower half of the windows
Put the kid dishes and bowls away
Refill the cat dish with food
Hannah (who’s 5) can:
Do everything Caleb can plus
Vacuum smaller rooms
Sweep (with some help)
Fold her own clothes
Hang up her own clothes
Wipe down the table
Carry food (not hot) items to the table
Entertain Ethan for a few minutes or help by giving him his bottle
Pack her own suitcase for a weekend trip (I still double check to make sure she didn’t forget anything)
Wash her own hair (with some help)
Put silverware away (not knives!)
We’re also working on separating laundry and I’ve had her get the clothes out of the dryer before, with Caleb’s help, but I don’t make a practice of it. Caleb has to still have help staying focused as so many things are so much more interesting. And some things I haven’t had them do for the simple fact that they aren’t tall enough or strong enough.
No, things aren’t perfect, but they’ve been cleaned and that’s one less thing I had to do. The kids are excited to do chores and I know, quite frankly, that they won’t always be. I won’t always get to hear the words, “Mommy, do I get to do More chores?!” (I’m thinking of recording those words to replay later when I hear grumbling.)
Now, none of these things happened over night. Mostly it happened just by letting them help. Neither one is excited to make their bed, but that’s something I started when they were 2 by having them pull the blanket up on one side while I would do the other. We have a clothes rack where they can reach it and stackable storage bins for dressers. Their plates and bowls are where they can reach them as is the cereal. There were several mornings when I was pregnant with Ethan that Hannah went down and got bowls, spoons, and cereal for she and Caleb and poured cereal for them both of them to eat. Then they would have a picnic on our bedroom floor while I dozed a little longer. I try to encourage them to be self-seficient and yet be able to ask for help when they need it. While Caleb’s impatience is frustrating at times, it helps him in this area. If he doesn’t want to wait for me to help him with something (which happens a lot), he tries to do it himself and lots of times he does figure it out. I realize this won’t always be a good thing, but some times it is.
Do your kids have chores? What can they do?
May God bless your socks off as He has mine.