Note: Over the next week, I’m going to take you with me on a meander through my day. No two days look alike around here, but this will give you a glimpse on my daily rituals of cherishing life. I do this very imperfectly. I would love to hear about your own rituals in the comments. And don’t forget to check out my favorite resources on the bottom of these posts.
Teaching my children to do chores has been a long and arduous process. It is very much ongoing. I have called a temporary retreat on the battle ground of their room in order to bolster my troops and create a new plan of attack.
However, morning chores are going fairly smoothly. Most days. They are pretty simple. When I made long checklists before, they could never remember what they were supposed to do. So, they each have a few things to remember before breakfast or right after, before school starts.
This is where it’s going to get very basic and practical. If you have older children or many young ones, you have probably figured out better systems than mine. However, this is how I am cherishing life: sharing the load more and more so they learn to work and I’m not as grumpy. 🙂
It should go without explanation that the first chore for everyone is to get dressed. However, if you refer to my own issue of staying in my bathrobe too long and remember that most days we don’t go anywhere, you will see how it becomes important.
Since we don’t have much closet space and all the children share a bedroom, only the older two keep their clothes in the closet. The younger two have shelves in the laundry room, where even their hang-up clothes are folded. This has saved me having to choose outfits for them. They could never reach the clothes hung in the closet without shattering the hanger or upsetting the stool. It is also easier when I’m doing laundry.
When the kids were younger, I never could tell if they little boys were brushing their teeth, so I would prepare their toothbrushes and set them on the counter when I brushed my teeth. If they sat there untouched after breakfast, I would know they didn’t attempt it.
Now, they each have separate toothpaste tubes, and they store them in the cabinet with their toothbrushes. These are virtually the only germophobic rules I have: 1) Don’t share toothbrushes OR toothpaste tubes that touch those toothbrushes and 2) Don’t store toothbrushes on counter where they can be sprayed with toilet water. I actually went the extra mile on that one when potty training, and taught them to close both lids before flushing.
For some inexplicable reason, loading the dishwasher is a horrifying task for my children and unloading the whole dishwasher by oneself is the equivalent of child labor. Yes, I told you this training was an ongoing process.
I got tired of remembering whose day it was to do the dishwasher, so I told them they would all do some of it every day. I load and start the dishwasher before I go to bed. They unload it before breakfast so we can load dirty dishes after we eat breakfast.
This became a point of contention with no one willing to do more than anyone else. Conveniently, I have four containers in the silverware section, so I assigned them each one. Then, instead of trying to split up the two remaining shelves of dishes, I gave them each a type of dishes to unload. Sometimes they’ll have more, sometimes less: such is life. One child does all cups and lids, one does glass items, one does plates and bowls and the other pots, pans and any other metal items.
I always assign trash to boys. First of all, I have three of them and only one girl. Secondly, I’m just stereotypical enough to think that boys who like to brag about bigger muscles can do more heavy lifting. My oldest son takes the trash out each morning and the younger two work together to empty the small trashcans from around the house into the bigger one in the kitchen. I compensate by having my daughter do her own laundry. 🙂
Straightening the Living Areas
No one ever sees all the things left out in the living areas. When I clean, I put any stray items I find on the shelf beside the stairs that lead up to their rooms instead of running all over putting their things away for them. We call this the “As You” shelf. I got the idea out of a book I read as a child. It is the shelf that holds items to take with you “as you” go up. If anyone were visiting, they would think me crazy, but I just tell the kids, “Whatever is left on the As You goes in the trash.” That’s a simple way to sort what is important enough to put away.
It makes me feel better to start school knowing these basics are done.
Resources on Chores:
Managers of Their Chores – For you more scheduled types.
Simple Chore Chart and Household Management – For the more flexible ones.
Cleaning House by Kay Willis Wyma – Excellent experiment if your kids struggle with entitlement.