Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Help With the Housework


Just when you think you have conquered one challenge another grows out of the supposed fix of the past one... at least that's how it seems things go for me. With that in mind, I'd like to share what we're currently doing to work together to keep the household functioning. In the past, my two oldest children have helped me fold laundry, set the table, clean their rooms, etc, but it was hit and miss. I didn't want them to grow up thinking that's Mom's job about anything pertaining to housework. Plus, I go insane trying to keep up with the messes that can multiply with 4 little children.

I have heard of some pretty extensive Programs (that's with a capital P) for teaching kids to work. They seemed like a lot of work for the parent. I prefer simple. Here's my version of simple. I made quick little "Job Chart," just a table with 3 columns and 10-15 rows. Column 1, type of chore; Column 2, Child 1; Column 3, Child 2. I filled in the rows of column one with various jobs that both children can perform with little assistance and left a few rows empty so that we can write in jobs as they happen. I didn't put cleaning their rooms, putting away their laundry, or cleaning their toys up at the end of the day on the job chart because those are mandatory for basic room and board in our home. I put things on the list that are what I consider above and beyond the basics: emptying dishwasher, vacuuming, folding laundry, sweeping floor, dusting, help cook, help clean bathroom... Get the idea.

My kids are 6 and 4, and they can do these things pretty well on their own. Now for the motivation. They needed some motivation. They will do these things with motivation. For my children, money is a great motivator. So, I'm paying them 5 cents for every job they do. They mark off the job with little tally marks in the column of their name and at the end of the month, we have a sit down one-on-one session where we look over the chart. It's a nice time to praise them and offer some encouragement if needed. So far, I haven't paid either of the kids more than a $1 a month. It's not breaking my bank and I've seen an increase in their willingness to help. Very nice. As they get older, I'm sure we'll tweak the system a bit, but for now, this is what works.

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