Monday, November 12, 2012

Nuts and Bolts {Part 2}

So, here’s part 2 of the “Nuts and Bolts” series, that sparked from this comment on our blog:

Julia wrote:

I really like hearing about the nuts-n-bolts of how you do it. Do you have a system for "semi-clean" clothes? In our house, the clothes that can be washed again are draped on a chair- where they stay for a long time. Do you just wash everything after even a "minor" wear, or do you have a place for these clothes (without putting them back in the drawer? Also, how do you motivate kids to actually do their part with household chores? It's not that our kids are refusing- they are just "head in the clouds" kids, and it takes SO MUCH effort on my part to nag, remind, cajole, etc. for them to get stuff done.

I'd also like to hear the nuts-n-bolts about how you have housed everyone- did you move, add-on, or what? How have you decided how to put what kids in what rooms, with whom?


Today, I’m addressing this question:

Also, how do you motivate kids to actually do their part with household chores? It's not that our kids are refusing- they are just "head in the clouds" kids, and it takes SO MUCH effort on my part to nag, remind, cajole, etc. for them to get stuff done.


A couple of years ago, I discovered a book called Managers of Their Chores by Steve and Teri Maxwell.  This was seriously a life-changing book for me…and my kids…and my husband…and our entire home.  (And, nope, I’m not getting paid anything to promote this book!!!  Julia (the author of the comment I’m addressing), since you’re a homeschooling publisher, you probably know the Maxwells.  They’re awesome!)


Anyway, before I discovered this book, my husband was paying a housecleaner to clean our home weekly.  While that was luxurious, I learned that I was actually doing my children a disservice.  I learned from a Biblical viewpoint why chores are so important, and this is what radically changed the way our entire home and family operated.  (At the time, I had no clue God was planning to rapidly grow our family through adoption.  It’s a good thing He changed our house cleaning/chore system before our expansion because the expense of a weekly house cleaner is not in our budget—-plus, a house cleaner would need to come daily to keep up with this crew!!!)


Each of our children (who are capable of doing chores) has a chore notebook.  This means everyone except Selah, Conner, and Cooper is expected to do chores, every day except Sunday.


Managers of Their Chores has fabulous ideas for organizing family chores, as well as offering ideas for younger children to get in on the action.  The book opened my eyes to chores that little ones can do, such as changing the hand towels, wiping the switch plates and door knobs, and wiping down our wooden stairs and railings.  The little ones look forward to the day they’re able to finally get a “real” chore!


Managers of Their Chores has something called “chore packs”, which is basically picture chore cards hung on a ring clip which is then clipped to little ones to remind them of their daily chores.  We don’t use these, but I did like the idea.


For some of our children, I have them do the exact same chore every single day.  For example, Kiefer (age 4) wipes down our wooden stairs every single day.  He loves this chore.  Sometimes it’s just easier to have one child do the exact same chore every single day.  Ella (age 7) dusts using the Swiffer every single day, but the rooms that she dusts changes by the day.  She’s assigned 2 rooms/areas per day.  Plus, Ella waters the indoor plants daily as well.


For the older kids, their chores change daily.  This is where their chore folders come in handy.  Inside the folder, there’s a page for each day.  The pages detail the chores for each day.  The page is slipped inside a clear 3-ring page protector, and the kids use dry-erase markers to check off their chores as they complete them.  (This was a novel, fun idea when we first implemented the chore system, but now the kids all know what their chores are for each day, so they no longer use their chore notebooks.)


Each of our children has “regular” chores, such as getting dressed, making bed, brushing teeth, cleaning up after themselves, etc., but then there are the extra chores like sweeping, mopping, cleaning toilets, cleaning mirrors, cleaning windows, cleaning sinks and showers, etc.  With everyone pitching it, no one has more than one hour of chores per day, and our house stays fairly clean and tidy.  “Fairly” is a relative term, of course, but for 12 people living in our home, I’d say things are in pretty good order.  It’s a bit challenging since we homeschool because that means most of us are here 24/7, which means more people and more time to make more messes, but I wouldn’t trade that for the joy of these many blessings running around here leaving fingerprints on the walls…and sometimes even footprints on the ceilings!!!


Without the help of each child, there’s no way *I* could do this on my own.  I’m so very grateful for the help each child (and my hubby) contributes to running our home, and I’m so grateful God gave us this system.  I never realized, until I read Managers of Their Chores, the importance of chores.  There’s so much to learn from this book that I can’t even begin to go into detail here, so I highly recommend this book if you’re interested in teaching your children to not be lazy, to work hard, to apply themselves Biblically, to serve their family…you know, all those important virtues and values that many times we don’t realize are learned simply through daily service.


As far as tips for getting our children to do their chores, when we first implemented this system, we educated our children on the Biblical reasoning behind chores.  We studied, as a family, the many scriptures cited throughout Managers of Their Chores so that everyone would be on the same page.  We wanted our children to understand, from a Biblical perspective, why their chores were so important.  This helped tremendously to get everyone on board.  Intrinsic motivation is important to me, so helping everyone to understand the Biblical importance, mandates, and opportunities for service found in chores was vital to the success of this system.


And praise, praise, praise, praise, praise the kids for helping, especially when chores are first implemented. For the kids who are motivated by praise, this works beautifully. Those who have a service love language are happy to serve because they’re showing love in their language.  In my opinion, positive motivation and encouragement is the best way for everyone to have success, but if that doesn’t work, there’s always consequences, just like in real life.


Our children are expected to do their chores first thing in the morning.  It’s fairly easy for me to scan and see if everyone is busy completing their chores, and if someone is off-task, usually a verbal reminder is my first response.  If that’s not effective, consequences are next.  Our consequences are tailored to each child because different things work best for different kids.  We have some children who have never had a consequence for chore laziness simply because these children want to help, they want to serve, and they want to please God through their obedience, and they truly do an amazing job.  This is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO awesome, but not everyone operates that way.


For the children who are forgetful, who sometimes blatantly disobey, and sometimes even pretend that they completed their chores when they did not, there’s always a consequence.  If the consequence isn’t effective, we change the consequence until we (hopefully!) find something that is effective.  For some of our kiddos, charging them a fine is effective.  For others, being assigned extra chores is effective.  Each child seems to have various consequences, from walking on the treadmill, to loss of privileges, to early bedtime, to no dessert.  It takes some trial and error to see what motivates and encourages the kids to get their chores done, but the expectation that they won’t be able to do anything fun until chores are completed is probably the biggest motivator.


I also have learned through trial and error which chores are performed best by which children.  That makes things easier on all of us (having specific chores assigned to the child(ren) who does those tasks best).  I am so, so, so grateful to have the help of each person in our family. Each contributes to the success of our family, home, and ranch. God is just so good to bless us with so many children, and then show us an awesome system to make it all work.


One thing I’ve learned, the hard way (and still struggle with), is that negative criticism, versus constructive instruction, really squelches things.  This is a constant battle for me because I’m a Type A personality.  I had to give up on perfectionism in order to have this chore system work (which was all part of God’s plan), so God’s been working on me in some mighty ways through this system.  I still struggle with wanting certain things done “my way”, so for certain chores, I prefer to do them myself.  But, for the most part, I’m truly blown away by how well our children do their chores and how much character training occurs in the process.  Such good traits to learn as children that will carry over into adulthood, future jobs, and serving their future families.


I’m truly grateful that God’s been in the process of transforming me from a Martha to a Mary, and this chore system is part of His plan in that.  I’ve been completely amazed to see what a truly awesome job most of our children do with their chores, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all of the help and teamwork that goes into large family living.  I praise God for His work in each of us, training us and teaching us not only how to do certain tasks, how to work hard and not be lazy (such an important virtue found numerous times throughout the Bible), but also teaching us how to find joy in serving our family and taking care of our home and ranch, even in tasks that aren’t normally considered enjoyable.  Praise Him!!!

No comments:

blog comments powered by Disqus