Two years I decided it was about time we had a kids chore chart in the house! My word for 2014 was Organise, and as hubby and I were both working, and the kids had lots of activities on, I really needed to come up with a plan so that the weekly chaos wouldn't take over our lives.
I also wanted the kids to know that we all, as a family, are responsible for the running of the household, and despite their childish thoughts on the matter, I was indeed no ones maid!
A couple of things finally pushed me over the edge, enough to see me running down to KMart to buy a huge whiteboard for the wall, and various coloured markers.
Scenarios like this for instance:-
We would have a relaxing dinner, I'd leave hubby and the kids chatting at the table while I quickly turned the washing machine on. Moments later I'd return and the place would be deserted think scenes from a movie where the chairs are knocked over in the haste of getting away. Although MY chairs were not in disarray, the kids had hotfooted it in the hope of getting out of clearing the table and doing the dishes!
The Husband would be gone as well.
Many times they would ninja away, and protest when I found them, as if they had not even sat at the table spilling sauce on my tablecloth only moments before!
I'd give each child one job to do, just one. I'd get down to their level, speak slowly and clearly and happily inform them that they are on broom duty, or they are doing the dishes, or folding the washing. I'd always be calm at that stage because I wasn't asking them to wash the car or work out in the hot sun, so they were quite capable of doing these jobs.
Well, if one kid thought the other was getting a better deal, it was on! They would argue for the time it took to actually do the chores, and I'd be frazzled and not calm because the shit wasn't getting done and someone was crying and someone else said they didn't know how to use a broom the same kid who swore she didn't like corn, after eating it nearly every day for five years.....
Yep, fun times.
So something had to be done. Obviously verbal communication wasn't working so I started to write things down. If I was working on the weekend, I'd leave them a cute little note with instructions on what they had to do, by 5pm that day. Happy notes, always with hearts that I'm sure made a difference when they were running around getting everything done at 4.45pm. This worked for a while but I think they thought I wasn't serious...too many hearts.
My notes became firmer, with no hearts but clear instructions on what was expected. I really like this note, obviously written with clenched teeth not calm.
But again, there would be arguments about who was doing what, or who had the best job, and so on. The whiteboard idea came to me in a flash of brilliance one night, while I was wide awake at 2am wondering how to bring peace and order to our house without letting them win!
And it worked! I hung the whiteboard in the mudroom with the kids names and the days written down, and EXACTLY what each child was responsible for that day. I rotated the jobs so it was very fair so those who were scared of the broom had to toughen up and learn how to use it, because it was their turn next week! They did the same chores for the entire week, then they would change and do something else, so it was fair and organised.
I think the key was that they needed to see what they were responsible for, and also how much I appreciated their help. I started three little jars for pocket money but that didn't really work so I made sure they had occasional monetary rewards for school tuckshop or itunes cards.
I also make sure I praise them, and tell them how grateful I am when I come home and their school bags are unpacked and their shoes are put away. It doesn't take much for everyone to help and to be responsible for their own belongings.
I haven't been using the chore chart this term, and the cracks are starting to show. The whiteboard now has graffiti and I'm tripping over a pile of shoes right in the doorway. It's time to get tough again!
Do your kids do jobs? Do they get pocket money? Can they use a broom?
Farmers Wifey xo