Getting back on the wagon... or revisiting children and chores

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 6

For the past year and a half, we had fallen off the children helping with household jobs wagon. There were a variety of reasons for this. I had come to accept families go through different seasons with different needs and the need for a detailed job chart and the corresponding expectations was not the season our family had been in. That's not to say children didn't help keep the house neat and tidy, but that we were definitely working on a more ad hoc basis and didn't have anything formal in place.

As will happen, we have moved into another season and are now at a place where we can spend the time assigning household jobs, helping children learn to do them, and take the time to make sure they are done. Do not kid yourselves. We don't do this because it is easier, it's not. Frankly, it's a lot more work to teach a child to clean a bathroom or to sweep under things or do lift things up to dust than it is to just do it yourself. It takes a lot more effort and conscious parenting to encourage your child to do the assigned jobs and to make sure they are done sufficiently. Anyone who thinks having their children help around the house is going to make things easier is going to be disappointed. Yes, eventually things will be easier, but there is a very steep learning curve that has to happen to reach that point.

Here are some things to remember if you are new to having your children do household jobs.

  1. You will have to remind them. Every child, every day, for every job. It's just how it is. You are not a failure if you have to remind them and they are not a failure if they need to be reminded. 
  2. The job will not be done as well as you would have done it. This is particularly true if the child is doing  a job for the first time or if that child is very young. 
  3. Following on the heels of #2, you will need to show them how to do the job more than once. 
  4. You will need to check every single time to be sure the job got done. (See #1)
I've made so many different plans over the years as far as what child is doing what, when. What is currently working for us is a rotating daily job list and an assigned weekly job list. Here are the daily jobs that people will be rotating through once a week. (I find it so satisfying that I came up with seven jobs and I have seven children who will be rotating through them, and that there are seven days in a week. It's all so neat and tidy.)
  • Pour milk for dinner
  • Set the table for dinner
  • Put the lunch things away
  • Empty dishwasher(s)
  • Sweep kitchen
  • Help make dinner
  • Feed and water Gretel
This takes care of P. through G. and L. A., because of her schedule with classes and all, is not home consistently enough to be part of this. Instead, she will have the job of wiping off the stove (which really can use it) every day. 

These jobs were the easy ones. Then I had to assign the weekly jobs, which are usually the ones no one is really excited about. This time, I decided to allow each person to express which jobs they did or didn't care for, so they were each handed this printed on a sheet of paper.


Weekly jobs – Please write the order you would be interested in doing. 1 – most preferred 12 – least preferred

**Just because you put something down as your first choice does NOT mean that you will get that job. Just because you put something as your last choice does NOT mean you will not get that job.**

___ Clean H. and P.’s bathroom
___ Clean children’s bathroom
___ Dust living rooms, front hall, and dining room
___ Dust mop living rooms and dining room
___ Vacuum front hall
___ Vacuum kitchen rug
___ Sweep stairs (back stairs and basement stairs)
___ Vacuum front stairs
___ Vacuum 3rd floor stairs
___ Vacuum upstairs hallway
___ Sweep butler’s pantry and back hallway
___ Straighten and clean mudroom
___ Empty garbage cans and waste baskets
___ Clean windows in doors

It actually made the whole process a bit easier and I'm now done. Jobs are assigned, descriptions and schedules are printed out, now we just need to make it all work.


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