Thursday, December 11, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs #17 {Chores}

Oh how often we either say it or hear it … “Too much to do, not enough time!”? I hear it and say it quite often. How do you manage all the tasks you have to complete in just 24hours? There are a lot of different methods on how to get chores and organizing done. Some have a strict schedule others just kinda wing it.


This week I would you to share how chores are done in your home. How you order your day with school and getting housework done. How do you decide which chores should be done by which child, of which age? I’m looking forward to hearing them!


Being organized and getting housework done isn't something our family is particularly skilled at, but we continue to work at it.  I am not a typical "Suzy Homemaker" type, and in general it doesn't bother me a great deal if things aren't put away immediately or if the dinner dishes are left till morning because we have plans in the evening.  But of course, there's a limit to what I (and my DH!) can tolerate!  And we do want our kids to learn to do their share, and to have experience in doing all household tasks by the time they leave home.  So while we are not really strict and don't keep this place ship-shape, we do insist that everyone pitch in.


We used to have daily chores (feeding pets, setting table, dishes, etc) assigned sort of "indefinitely" but I heard lots of complaints about always having to do XYZ, why can't Kid B do that one and I get a different one, etc.  And I had to admit that it was kind of limiting.  I finally came up with a chore plan that was a combination of several things I'd read in books and on blogs and heard from friends.  We've modified it a couple times as our needs have changed a little but this is how our system works at present:

  • I have an index card file, stocked with dividers by date and with color-coded cards.  On each card is written a chore, including some instructions as to what exactly is entailed in doing that chore.  For instance, the chore "Bathroom Laundry" states that you need to collect all the towels from the hamper, what cycle to use on the washer, that they need to be hung up or put in the dryer, then folded and put away.  I didn't want anyone to have the excuse that they "didn't know" that they were supposed to do that!  The cards are color-coded for daily, weekly, and "as needed" or seasonal chores. 

  • Each morning we have a "chore draw" before school starts.  I pick out of the box the daily items that need to be done and any others that are essential for that day, and the kids draw from my hand. "Pick a card, any card!"  Most days they get two cards to begin with.  I do allow them to trade sometimes after everyone has drawn.  And those are their responsibilities for that day.  Oh, and if a chore is something that I know one of the younger kids cannot do on their own, I make sure that card isn't in the mix when that kid draws.  I still have the authority to just plain GIVE this or that chore card to a kid or to disallow a proposed trade.  And if the kids aren't up on time for school, they get whatever chores I give them.  If they want a fair draw and an opportunity to negotiate a trade, they need to be here on time. 

  • Two chores that we rotate weekly are dishes and pet care.  The kids are in two teams - Harrison and Kennady are one team, and Spencer and Landon are the other.  Team 1 gets dishes for a whole week while Team 2 looks after all the pet care needs for a week, then they switch.  This is a new modification, which is on a trial basis for this month and then we'll re-evaluate.  But so far it is working fairly well.  The team assignments are written on the calendar so that there's no question about who is responsible for it.

  • Chores must be done before kids are allowed screen time.  This, I must admit, would work better if I forced myself to be totally consistent in checking on the chores.

  • If I or someone else has to do a chore that a kid neglected, they owe the person that did the work a chore favor of equal value.  IOUs have to be settled within two days.  If a chore is left undone today, the same person gets that chore tomorrow, in addition to whatever they draw. 

  • Most days I try to have a "chore hour" scheduled in the afternoon, where everyone spends about an hour doing some kind of housework, either the chores that they were assigned or something above and beyond.  I award points for doing extras and every now and again they can cash in their points for a small reward.

That sounds so organized but in everyday reality, it doesn't quite go like clockwork!  But its a plan that works for the most part, and adds a little randomness and flexibility to the daily routine.  And now nobody can legitimately say to me "he/she always gets the easy chores and I always have to do the hard ones"  It's simply the luck of the draw. 


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MOMflippedisWOW said...

Wow, a system that works! I'm jealous! I remember a time when my house was clean.... I dream of it occurring again... But then I realize, that for me to have a REALLY clean house, I'll have to give up my spouse, kids and pets. I've also realized that I'll need less furniture and possessions as I've found as I age, I'm less able to move things like I use to.

On the rare chance that my house will actually be clean for Christmas, I promise I'll snap a few pictures to preserve the memory. ;-)

Just being silly me,


Happy Holidays!

tammy said...

You have a great system there!! I had components of your system in use when my boys were younger. Things are different now with just Kristin here. :)


Anonymous said...

I love your "Chore Draw" system! I am going out today to get a Chore box and some colored index cards! Sounds like it may help our family get back on track.

Anonymous said...

Would you be able to list your chores for us? I liked the Bathroom Laundry idea (although I'd have to leave my son out of that one since he would refuse to pick up after his sisters' messes) you have other great ideas for chores to do? I am someone who tends to take on too much myself (wink).

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