The holidays are finally over, we’ve had what I hope will be our only stomach bug for this year (yes, even the baby), and it’s time to get back into the swing of school and chores.
I did a little thinking over our Christmas break. S was off for ten days or so which meant I could have a little uninterrupted time to ponder priorities and routines. We were also able to get away overnight with just Jack for our anniversary and have some time to talk and relax together which was a rare and valuable privilege!
Anyway I decided that I needed to identify the things that made the biggest difference to a peaceful space/home and assign those as chores, then spend several weeks making sure that those things were accomplished every day. Consistency is not my strong point, and while the children are quite handy at a lot of things I haven’t been doing well with inspecting finished work, making sure work was done well and with a good attitude and basically following through and making sure to teach them to follow through.
The boys are generally good workers and I tend to just excuse them when they have poor attitudes rather than work through the issue, which can take a lot of time and a lot of energy. Mouse can work well, but is easily bored and will drag a job out for hours (literally) if she doesn’t feel like doing it. I have often given up and done the job myself rather than deal with the pouting, crying and repeated poor performance.
Of course none of those responses are good for any of us so I get frustrated and discouraged and then feel less like making them do their jobs properly and on down we go. Plus I have felt too that having them do chores or doing chores myself when S is home in the evening took time away from spending time with him. The truth is though that he and I can talk and clean up the kitchen together and that it doesn’t really take the boys that long to clear and wipe the table after dinner. In fact, knowing that bed-time is at 8 can be a great motivator to them to hustle and get the job done!
I’ve started using this planner which I had purchased as part of an e-book omnibus deal this past fall. Since it’s a pdf I have just printed out the pages I think I’ll use and included them in my household binder. One of the provided pages is a chore chart and I have filled out three of them (one each for Buggle, Mouse and Bull), laminated them and stuck them in the front of my binder.
Each chart has space for three morning jobs, three afternoon jobs, and three extra jobs per day. The morning and afternoon jobs are the same every day and the optional jobs are things that I would like to have done but which won’t throw things completely awry if they don’t get done. Here’s the best part though: we bought an electric piano at Christmas time (which I was not at all certain was a good addition but am coming around slowly) and the extra jobs are worth five minutes of piano time each, provided that the six regular jobs have been completed and inspected! The children have until 5:30 pm to complete their work and have me inspect. They have been very motivated. I expect that the piano may not be such a good motivator in a few months when the novelty has worn off but by then I am hoping that we will all have formed some useful habits and a motivator will be less important.
So far we’ve been using this new system for about a week. I’ll be sure to let you know how it’s going at the end of the month.
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