Letting Them Help – Part 2

House 1Well, 3 weeks ago, I glibly promised that I’d post the following week on how we do chores in our house.

Of course after promising that we had a couple messy days  (followed by a couple naughty days) which made me feel unsure of writing about something in which I’ve not yet arrived.

However, it’s been a helpful couple weeks for me – nothing like promising all my digital friends that I’d share about our chore systems, to help me reevaluate!

So I’m going to share what works for us, areas we are working on, and areas we need work – and then I’d love for my readers to share suggestions and thoughts!

What is Working for Us:

1. Having a Cleaning SYSTEM

My Mom is the best housekeeper ever. She is a natural, and she always made cleaning look SO EASY.

I am not a natural – and even though I KNEW how to do everything (since she had taught me), I NEVER knew where to start. I wasted so much time the first couple years of marriage just standing in the middle of clutter-filled rooms staring blankly around and feeling defeated.

I finally realized that I needed a system – (I think it barely even matters what the system is – just to have one. It is a starting point, a map, and the oil that helps you move faster down the track to your day and sweet productivity.)

Here are our systems. If you ask my 3 or 5 year olds. They will (hopefully) be able to recite it to you.

It is my heartfelt goal that they not get overwhelmed but always know where to start. (On anything – but we’re talking about cleaning today.  

Our system when cleaning is always in this order:

(Left to Right)

(Top to Bottom)

1. Clear Big Items

2. Clear Garbage

3. Put Away In-Room Clutter

4. Put Away Out-of-Room Clutter

Example of Dining Room Table after Breakfast Using This System:

image

I clear the big items (Crockpot or Gallon of Milk)image

Kids clear the garbage (Napkins)

I grab the in-room clutter (My husband’s iPad)

(I wasn’t fast enough – they cleared other stuff too for this pic)

image

Kids Carry out-of-room clutter to the kitchen table to be put away. (Small food items and dirty dishes.)

image

Wipe off High Chair on Left then Table then Bumbo Seat and Tray on Right (Left to Right)

Sweep Floor (Top to Bottom)

imageThis System works really well for us in any room. We use it daily in the living room and their bedroom as well. (So at least three times a day you’ll hear me say “what do we look for first?” and hear my son say “garbage!”)

 2. Having a Cleaning Routine

Again, it doesn’t matter the order, but it helps to do the same tasks in the same order.

Less decisions – more productivity!

As soon as my husband leaves in the morning we clear the table, straighten up the living room, get dressed, straighten the bedroom, clean the bathroom (If we have time), get the laundry and feed the dog.

A routine helps us start each day strong. (Of course things may be messy 10 minutes into the day… but oh well! LOL!

3. Each child has their own chores first thing in the morning – before we start our day.

If we are doing well, we are dressed and have everything cleaned up half an hour after my husband leaves for work. (About 8:30) But that can range. (9:00 is our average.) 9:30 is a bad day. 10:00 is a really bad day. :-/

I wrote about their chores here.

4. Each Child responsible for their own basket of toys

A year ago, I got rid of the big toy box and each child has their own basket of toys to take responsibility for.

(We also have a play room downstairs in the basement that I will eventually write an article about. )

I wrote about their separate upstairs toys here.

5. Children Allowed to Earn Money

imageSince my oldest was 3, I’ve allowed the kids to do extra jobs for money. They each save up for items.

This has helped them understand the value of a dollar, and they know that while I rarely buy them new toys, they always have the option of working for something themselves.

(The pic is ash. It’s messy, but I let him clear it because he LOVES to help clean the fireplace. It’s not smoke.)

Areas I’ve tweaked that last couple weeks:

1. We Clean Each Room TOGETHERimage

As mentioned in my previous chore article, the kids have picture chore lists.  This way they could refer to their lists and complete their chores themselves. Lately we’d had problems with them not staying on task so I’ve we now do our chores together.

- We ALL clear the table

- We ALL clean up the clutter in the living room

- We ALL sweep (they move chairs) and I do most of the sweeping while they help with their little brooms

- They ALL change at the same time. (Jedidiah sometimes takes to the bathroom. He has days when he’s suddenly obsessed with modesty and days when he’s …not.)

-  We ALL wipe down the bathroom,

- Jedidiah usually finishes getting the laundry and feeding the dog while I get school books.

This way I help stay on task

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

2. Toy Baskets that actually FIT on the Shelves in their room!!!

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

(Out of mind and out of sight!!)

Before they each had their own baskets, but I let them leave them on the floor or in their beds because they did not fit on the shelves.

Since we are moving the baby, (CHILD NUMBER 4 into their 10X10 room) in a couple weeks, we needed to rethink their closet system.

(I wrote about having the 3 kids in a 10X10 room here.)

(Thank you, sweet husband for the $125 worth of [super-cute, Container Store,  hyacinth, I promise this was an important purchase, complete life-saver] baskets.)

Old baskets were traded in, and now (Exciting music), they each have their own toy basket (and will soon have their own basket to put away their play clothes.)

(Pictures of their new closet system coming soon!)

Areas We Need Work: (Suggestions Welcome!)

1. Breastfeeding Baby

We have a 10 month old, and (though neither Lyd nor I have written about it) breastfeeding is not a 10 minute thing for us. On growth-spurt days, everything else falls apart because Mama is attached to baby.

Such is life. :-I

2. Getting up Before Them

My husband is a night owl, and I choose to stay up with him. I used to rise before the house. Now I grudgingly roll out when I hear the first child’s steps in the hall.

image

I even set my alarm early a few times a week thinking I’ll get things pulled together before the house wakes, but I rarely do. (Except Sundays – no choice)

3. Just Being with Them

Digital friend Jeanne commented last week that “What helped me a lot to enjoy it is when I decided I would just not care about the mess WHILE doing activities together and just deal with it later on. Then, I could relax and enjoy.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot the last weeks.

This is probably the biggest area that needs work – MY ATTITUDE! I need to enjoy the time with them even when our ‘morning routine’ fell apart or when the clutter takes over. Pray for me here friends!

There is what is working, is a work in progress, and what needs work!

Any thoughts? What works in your routines?

-Verity

One thought on “Letting Them Help – Part 2

  1. Jeanne

    Thanks for the post! With children, it is always about readjusting rutines, isn’t it?
    I am always pending between having a cleaning routine and not having one. Right now, I don’t have one, I just clean when I get inspiration and it works well 80% of the time (but I do not have 4 small children!!! ;-) and it is chaos 20% of the time. So if I get a visit during this 20% it’s not fun!
    The advantage (for me) of not having a system is that I find I am more flexible and easy going for the rest of the family. My problem is that I can be very goal-oriented and sometimes I have tendencies towards perfectionnism if I set my mind into something. When I am in that mindset I usually drive everybody else crazy!!
    When I decide to have a system, I spend 20 min on a room after dinner (or before, depending if I am the one responsible for preparing the dinner or not). Mon-Wed. (we only have an appart with 3 rooms including the living room), Thurs. I clean the stairs and the mini hallway, Fri is free (or whatever room I did not have the time to clean earlier in the week). Sat, I try to clean and organize the fridge (well, that’s the theory, in practice, it happens only 1-2 a month because we often have activities on that day (or visiting family or we do small excursions) and the man cleans the bathroom (he likes it!). Sunday is free but I try to plan the weeks menus and we all take a walk to the recycling station with glas jars, bottles etc….if it is raining I often feel like doing some decluttering and organizing. I try to clean the kitchen a bit everyday because my 11-month old is often eating there and it gets dirty easily!
    The morning rutine is easy because I make oatmeal with apples or/and bananas (or whatever fruit is available in the summer) for everybody so there is nothing more to put away than plates, spoons and cups (I also have to wash the pan where I did the oatmeal).
    About trying to relax and care for the mess afterwards, I too struggle with that often! It depends on my mood!
    About letting children earn their own pocket money, we have decided against, but I am not sure we are doing the right thing (I guess future will tell)
    About breasfeeding, same here, it takes ages for me! But I typically stop for one reason or another around 5-6 months (with teeth, I find it hurts a lot!)
    About staying late with husband, same here. It is impossible for me to get up before the rest of the family as my little one often wakes up between 4.30-5.30. What I do is that at least one day a week (usually Thursdays), I am not responsible neither for dinner nor for doing the dishes, I go to bed on my own before 9 pm, I read a little in bed and go to sleep at 9.30. So I get a long night sleep at least once a week and that helps me a lot to avoid fatigue and keep my mood up!
    About postponing a blogpost, I don’t even understand how you both manage to run a blog with many children under the age of 6!!!! I cannot even follow one regularly ;-)

    Reply

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