I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Full of magic and family and love. That's the ideal, right? No chaos, changed plans or tragedy. No, we want Hallmark and Norman Rockwell and "Twas the Night Before Christmas". It's Christmas after all.
But life, even at Christmas, is still messy and chaotic and crazy. And with all 5 kids home for two weeks straight, it has become apparent that things here need to change.
I have tried many, many, many chore charts. Lists, sticks, charts, jars, fuzzies- sometimes they worked for a while, sometimes they were a bust from the beginning. The closest we have come to a working system is the one we use right now. I create a list for the kids on Monday, it has a list of jobs they must complete before the end of the week. If all jobs are done on time and according to my expectations, they earn tickets that can then be used for video games, computer time, outings with friends and other privileges. They like the flexibility of doing the jobs on their own timeline. I like that I don't have to harass them all the time.
However, just like anything else, the system is only as good as the effort you put into maintaining it. And I have to admit to putting less than the necessary amount of energy into it.
So, here we are, back to square one, again. Time to roll up our sleeves, dig deep and get ready to make some things happen. One against 5 are terrible odds, especially when it comes to maintaining a home. So, we're going to stem the tide, turn the tables and any other powerful metaphor you can think of. We're going to get things moving up in here.
How am I doing to accomplish this Incredible feat? I honestly have no idea. And really, my expectations are fairly low- I know it's not in a kids' nature to willingly clean and be mindful of their home. And that's okay. My goal is to help them on the road- to make sure they know the rules and have the tools to maintain a home one day. The willingness part probably won't come until they are forking over the money for the mortgage, but if they know how to do it- well, my job is done.
Some goals to focus on:
1. Ownership of your own stuff. The kids are always complaining, "But it's not MY stuff!" Well, actually, often it is. Backpacks, shoes, coats etc. We are going to go with a zero tolerance policy for a while. Leave your stuff out and mom finds it? Lose 1 ticket- immediately.
2. Do it right the first time. One child in particular likes to see if he can get away with minimal effort, and sometimes he does, because I'm too busy or lazy to check. But those days are gone. Checking will be done and major tickets will be lost if things aren't done correctly the first time. If they don't understand my expectations, they can come ask me, but at this point I've gone over the requirements multiple times, I even have laminated checklists for all the jobs I am asking them to do. Time to dust them off and get serious. Lose 2 tickets the first time I ask a job to be redone, 4 tickets if you still didn't do it right. Laziness step aside- mama's on a roll!
3. Dinner jobs. Each of the older kids has a job they are expected to do after dinner. Picking up the main floor, vacuuming a room as well as helping put dinner away and clean it up are all covered. But, often execution is lacking- Mom and Dad have to nag and hound and harass. Well, I'm over it and so is Dad. After dinner is going to become a no- nag zone. If you get your jobs done immediately after dinner- bonus tickets! If you head off somewhere and put if off until later- Lose a ticket. If you go to bed and jobs aren't done?? Lose 5 tickets!! There might not be much video game playing going on at our house after a week of this rule.
I think that's a good place to start. I'm already exhausted thinking about it. ;) But this is important work going on right here- it's about much more than a clean house- it's about responsibility, being part of a team, knowing how to manage a home and care for all the parts of it and it's about mom's sanity- which we all know is the biggest reason of all.
So happy Monday! I have a week to pull it together before all this goes live and I'd love any tips or suggestions you might have about jobs, teaching kids responsibility or staying sane.
see you soon!