Our Chore BoardI just thought I'd tell you about our new chore system, because it's actually WORKING and working very well, I might add! If you're a parent, you know that with growing kids, the "systems" we put into place become outgrown, almost as fast as they outgrow their clothing! We have to keep up! Let me explain ...
A month or so ago, I lost my long standing part-time cleaning lady to a full-time office job! We were all very sad to see her go as she was perfect in her role of keeping our house as clean as possible with eight spinning tornadoes, one fast-moving busy mama, and one hairy dog under its roof!
This is the first time, since my littles were small, that I've been without someone to clean my house thoroughly each week, so I have to say, I was kinda nervous ... okay, I was SUPER PANICKED at the thought of adding "main cleaning lady" to my already way too long list of roles here in our home!
For the duration, it had been my cleaning lady's job to make sure that every nook and cranny (sounds like I'm talking about English muffins, no?) within each room was addressed weekly -- and it was my responsibility to clean and organize all of the areas in between that screamed for my attention as I flew by in my standard whirlwind of movement that I embody as a mom of eight!
I called myself the "SOS cleaning lady" -- and that role I've handled nicely while also being the chef, the scheduler, the personal shopper, the accountant, the story reader, the hug and kiss giver, the medical personnel on duty, the bus driver, the psychologist, the secretary, the personal assistant to myself, the quality control operator, the farmer, the teacher, and Ms. Fix It.
To add to the above mind blowing list: "THE ONE and ONLY CLEANING LADY" felt like it could be THE role to send me to dust and dirt H - E - double toothpicks (or H - E - double hockey sticks, if you prefer)! Oh crap ...
Following her departure, I made a mental note to get busy looking for a replacement, as soon as time allowed. Please refer to the above list of roles and allow yourself to try and figure out when THAT could be squeezed in!
In the meantime, and only because of mere coincidence, a friend happened to be telling me about a "chore jar" she put together for her kids when they were "bored" or when they needed to be "redirected."
She filled it with slips of paper. On each was a written important household chore that could easily be overlooked in any busy household, such as "dust all windowsills in the house," for example.
In essence, it seemed, the entire house cleaning duties were broken down into single duties, each on one tiny slip of paper!
I began thinking about this and soon had developed my own version of this method and my own chore jars -- two of them for my two different age groups -- and filled them with age appropriate duties for my kids to do. Each slip included instructions on how to complete each duty.
I went a step further and covered the outside of each jar with "the rules and reasons" a chore would be assigned. For example, unkindness.
Beyond that, I wrote a cash value on each chore and decided to offer the chores as an extra money maker for kids who weren't "in trouble" but who opted to choose chores in order to fill their piggy banks with spending money! (Our occasional trips to the toy store when our piggy banks fill up are a HUGE highlight in our house!)
My Little Kids' Chore Jar
Next, I made a magnetic dry erase board and placed eight magnetic clips on it, labeled with each child's name, to hold their assigned chores. I clip the chore slips onto the clips and on the dry erase portion, I can write the cash earned near their clip, if the chore was chosen versus assigned.
I couldn't contain my excitement as I presented the new "chore jars" one night as we sat together and ate dinner. There were groans and disgruntlement, I'll admit, until I mentioned the part where money could be earned by selecting a chore to complete! "You can make as much money as you want!" I announced! This part of the plan seemed to go over very well!
We are a few weeks into our new chore jar method and the house is still ... well, standing and even clean for the most part! Piggy banks are filling up and unkind or unacceptable behavior is being addressed. The best parts for me are the resulting clean house, of course, but most of all what I love is the family unity and values and the teamwork this system has reinforced.
And, I just have to add, normal kid "naughty" behavior is not nearly as upsetting when I can hand them a broom and end it immediately!
Images via Kate Gosselin