Chores “It’s a Hard Knock Life” – Part 2

Isn’t it just the way it goes?

I write a post on chores and training your children to be good workers and what happens? You guessed it…we had one of the worst weeks of chore conflict in years! Yes, complete with angry kids, an angry mom, screaming, accusations, defensiveness, crying and punishments. Not fun! (Calgon..take me away…far away)

I guess I should have anticipated that happening. Immediately after posting Chores – “It’s a Hard Knock Life” last Monday the “hits” on that blog entry sky rocketed, the comments came in one after another and the requests for my list of chores for each room were too numerous to count. It obviously is an area of struggle and desire for improvement for many of us Moms (and Dads too – Hi Tim!). I have learned during my 25 years of preaching, motivational speaking, sharing and writing that when you truly have something to say that adds value to others in any area of life you can count on being “attacked” in that very area. We had a full force war going on over here last week!

The end results were good as we identified several problem areas, realized that I needed to be a bit more “hands on” in my training during this particular season in our family and we dealt head on with some character flaws in a few of the children (the “L” word – L.A.Z.Y.). 

For all who asked for the list of chore details per room here is a PDF of this document  – Chore List (HT: my sister Caroline)

And for those inquiring minds that want more information…here is a list of FAQ’s

What if the kids do not do their chores?

Ummmmm…I am the boss, the dictator, the Mom! Obedience is not optional. 🙂

That said, with 8 children I have had my share of strong-willed, defiant children (and a couple “perfect” ones too!). Some take longer to get under control than others. (working on 15 years with one…love that “apple who didn’t fall far from the tree” girl!) Some take more supervision. Some need effective consequences. But everyone knows that they must comply. It is truly as simple as this – You do not get to do anything fun, go anywhere or have any thing that resembles a “good time” until the chores are completed to my satisfaction. (and yes, there have been times that they have missed a meal or stayed up past their bedtime and suffered the early morning wake up call….but you do not go to sleep until it is done!)

 What if they are not done like you would do them? 

 It depends!  I do not expect the younger ones to be able to do the same level of cleaning that I can do…so I “get over it”. (nope I do not “re-do” or complain)  However by the time they reach about 12 – 14 years old I expect them to clean as well as any competent adult. (and if they can’t then I need to do some re-education)

What age did you start different chores? 

When they are 2-4 they are expected to throw away trash, pick up toys, get dressed, brush their teeth and follow Mommy around watching and learning.  I let them help with lots of things. These are great ages because they usually want to help out!

At 4-6 they are “in training” – which means they get put on the chore chart as an “assistant” to one of the older children. I realize if you have only 2 or 3 children close together or when you are beginning with your eldest this will not work thus you will have to be the “trainer” with an assistant.  During these two to three years they learn how to do all the various chore jobs. (apparently all trainers are not equal since while I was writing this my 7-year-old did not sweep the crumbs from under the dining room table and then blamed her trainers – aka – the “big sisters” for not teaching her correctly…hmmmm….girls?)

At 7 they are put officially on the chore chart fully responsible for their list of chores for that week. Each year after that they should get more accurate and efficient with their given responsibilities. By 12 they should be able to clean for any cleaning service in town! 🙂

How did you keep the little ones on task the whole time without them running away to play? 

Since they have a “trainer” (you or your older children) they do not have the option of running away or getting distracted. 

Is it too late to start at 13?

It is never too late!  However you will need to have a little “pow wow” and share your reasoning for the changes that are ahead.  I would come up with a plan for chores and then sit down with the older child or children, tell them that you have been remiss in teaching them some basic responsibilities in life and that you need to make up for lost time.  The first month I would “roll up my sleeves” and teach them (by doing it with them) to do every chore in your home.  Then I would put up a chore chart and let them take on the household responsibilities. Since they are older I would also have a clear list of consequences for not completing the chores. (and they need to be “painful” if they are going to work – ie: no cell phone privileges, no Xbox, no Internet, no weekend social activities…whatever is their “button”.)

As the kids get older and their schedules & academic pursuits get more intense how do you handle household chores?

First let me say….there are many reasons and seasons that you will need to adjust your chore plan during the years your children are home. We went along with the same schedule for years with only occasional adjustments (like during each of my pregnancies where I was sick and sometimes bed ridden and my husband got to take over the Upper Management position) but when the eldest child started a rigorous academic high school program and also joined athletics and student council we realized we needed to change things up.  That was seven years ago and we have consistently made changes since then – having a unique school year plan, weekend plan and summer plan. 

That is not to say that anyone “gets off” easy just that we move things around to make the system work better.  High School with all its additional demands and responsibilities is a great time to learn effective time management, how to handle stress, priorities, occasional sleep deprivation and that sometimes there is more to accomplish than there are hours in a day. Sounds like a typical adult life to me…and don’t we want them to be prepared and ready to handle being an adult?

Is your house clean all the time? 

Ha! Not at all….but it is usually picked up and presentable. Occasionally it is pristine.  Occassionally it looks like a tornado hit it! (and we let people come over anytime regardless of the state of our home because people are our priority)

You mentioned cooking – is that on the chore chart?

We actually have a monthly dinner calendar posted on the fridge.  It lists everything we will be having for dinner that month. Above each meal is usually listed one of the older children’s names who will be in charge of making that meal.  We spent much of the early years of parenting doing “Once a Month Cooking” and having home-made ready cooked meals in the freezer. On the cooking days the kids helped out and learned many cooking skills.  

I do believe that our children need to know basic cooking skills and how to prepare a healthy meal before they leave our home.

And what about that allowance?

Ok…so lots of you are interested in the how’s, why’s or why not’s of allowance. I promise a post on that soon!

Also, be sure to check out the comments on the first chore post for lots of other good ideas from my readers.

Lastly….I thought I would share with you one of my many “Memo from Mom” an occasional email exchange I have with the family when I have decided not to become a screaming maniac but rather calmly (albeit sarcastically) share my grievances about the household. Although I will confess sometimes I am that screaming maniac…God forgive me!

My dear darling daughters…

Seriously…..
 
Do we really spill spaghetti sauce in the fridge & then leave it there to harden & be disgusting? (of course the other amazing thing is how many other people have opened the fridge & just ignored it)
 
Can no one tell the laundry garbage can needs to be emptied even when it is overflowing & spilling out on the floor?
 
Why is the tortilla bag NEVER….and I mean NEVER zip locked shut?
 
How many times do I have to tell you that cheese must be sealed completely with foil or a tightly secured zip lock?
 
Can someone please explain to me how one can not see a dark red shirt in the middle of the whites as you are putting them in the washer?? (try to blame it on Joy cuz that will show competence)
 
Why would someone put 9 month old clothing in Daniel’s drawer (he is 3 now!)…or how bout his PJ’s in the drawer with his bathing suits…or pants in the drawer with shirts or everything just thrown in the drawer not folded…or his nice church vest in the play closet…seriously??? seriously??? seriously??? Oh wait…his tie behind the toaster…come on ladies! <sigh of exasparation>
 
Ok….that’s it, just had to vent a bit.
 
I love you all!  Zoot! Zoot! Zoot!
 
Mommy
 

 

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1 Comment

Filed under Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, Motherhood, My "take", Parenting

One response to “Chores “It’s a Hard Knock Life” – Part 2

  1. Lynda Borden

    Good post Beth. I think chores are the ongoing struggle for all families. Last week our dishwasher was down (we were given a new dish washer, but it took Cliff a bit longer to install) for a few days. It just happened to be the month that daughter 3 has kitchen (we rotate rooms by the month, as I need a very simple routine).
    She actually thought we had the dishwasher down on purpose, because she had kitchen chore duty. She went on to ask me if I knew how hard it was to WASH DISHES BY HAND. She is too funny !
    This afternoon Allyson and I are making homemade chicken strips at her request !

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