I'm not going to sugarcoat it: four kids are a lot of work. On any given day there are multiple loads of laundry, mounds of dishes, toys everywhere. Some weeks I'm really on top of it, others not so much. I start every week with the same goal: to have my house "drop-in" ready. Meaning that if someone stops by, I don't feel the urge to block them at the door. I end every week with my goal being just to keep pee off the floor and (ugh) the walls. Such has been my weekly existence for the past 8 years.
dun, dun, daaaaa
My husband, Will, is a professional problem-solver. No, really, that's his job. So we were having our bi-monthly "talk Joy down" conversation when we had a light-bulb moment: we have free labor at our fingertips. There are 3 very capable, older kids living in our house & one tiny tornado. Surely those 3 can do something to lighten the load. The boys are constantly asking to buy games & apps. We're Dave Ramsey parents & are trying to teach financial responsibility... can I get a win-win?
We're been down the chore road before. It's kind of like my house: when I'm on top of it, it works well. It usually lasts a few weeks & then life gets in the way. I get distracted by sick kids, school projects, baseball practice, etc. So it goes by the wayside until I get motivated to start it again. I needed something that was visual, that didn't need weekly updating & that was going to be habit forming. That's when I came up with this little gem:
By giving them something to do daily, I'm establishing habits instead of just chores. Before they go downstairs in the morning I say to them, "Check your chart, what's your job this morning?" Teacher language IS applicable in real life!
Breakin' it down
(insert splashy disco music)
Will & I decided they can handle 3-4 things fairly easily: laundry, bathrooms, sheets & towels. Below is a breakdown of what they're capable of & how to get them to actually do it!
Now, I do have some pretty great kids but they are definitely not doing their own laundry (yet!). Laundry simply means, carry your laundry basket down to the laundry room.
Why it works:
First, it saves steps. I'm not collecting & carrying laundry down myself. It's already there when I decide to tackle it. Second, when it does get finished, all I have to do is sort it into each child's basket. The basket goes back in their room for them to put their clothes away. The basket goes back in their closet to be refilled. The only laundry I'm putting away now is Will's, mine & the tiny tornado's. Big time saver!
The job is to wipe off the sink & toilet. I have them alternate among 3 out of 4 bathrooms, three times a week. I omit the master bathroom in hopes of gaining a little privacy during my morning shower- a girl can dream!
Why it works:
It's quick & easy. We use Clorox wipes for the sink & toilets. There's a container of wipes under each bathroom sink. I've trained them to use only two wipes (one for the sink, one for the toilet) so we're not going through wipes like mad. Also, if they have to clean it up they're more likely not to "miss". AND it makes me feel like a good mom that they have a clean toilet to throw up in if needed :)
On Tuesdays, we strip our beds. The goal here is to remove your sheets, not your mattress pad. Easier said than done! Ball them up & leave them in the hall so I can collect & wash them. Hopefully, I put them back on the beds by the end of the day!
Why it works:
It forces me to wash the sheets. One of my kiddos has a severe dust mite allergy & requires weekly sheet washing using a special dust mite detergent that smells like insecticide. Niiiiiccceee. How often do I usually change sheets? Not often enough. My twins have bunk beds that are a PAIN to change so I thought if I took half the steps out I may be more likely to do it.
This one is easy enough, just collect all the towels & bring them to the laundry room.
Why it works:
It's easy, plain & simple. And no, I don't wash towels just once a week... ok, well maybe I don't wash my towel just once a week...
There is it, our (duh!) plan. We're about 5 days in & so far, so good. We agreed to pay them $1 a week to do these daily chores. I have other plans in store for them to earn more money, but right now we're just focusing on establishing these habits before introducing something new- something I haven't taken the time to do in the past.