Thursday, February 20, 2014

..the help..

When it comes to parenting, there are a couple of areas in which I consider myself less-than-stellar. The first is potty-training. I was horrible at potty-training. I'm so glad it's over because I don't think I could take it again. And to be clear, I know it was all me. I take full responsibility for the advanced age at which my children learned to use the porcelain throne.

The second area, is getting my kids to do chores. Growing up, I had chores, but there was little incentive to do them, as my mother always re-cleaned whatever I had attempted to clean for her. She had little patience, bless her soul, and liked having things done just so.

Now I am not as particular as my mother was. I am pretty easygoing, and somewhat of a slob, depending on who you ask. The thing is, I am only tolerant of my messes. Other peoples' messes in my home make me crazy.

Enter 3 kids.

These children are not clean and tidy. Left to their own devices, they will tear up a home in the course of a mere hour. My artistic girls will fill the room full of paper scraps, yarn bits, and markers without caps. My son? He'll destroy a room by reliving imaginary football plays and basketball shots. A recipe for destruction, indeed.

As I survey the house and all that needs to be cleaned, I thought, these kids are old enough to help me now.

We have done chores before. They never really *took*. Again, I blame myself. On preschool progress reports, each of my kids got the same grade in cleaning up -- developing. Not successful, not mastered, developing. Why? Because to sit with a 3-4 year old for what seems like an hour waiting for them to put toys into a bag/bin or onto a shelf was, in my estimation, a tremendous waste of time. Especially when those same kids would begin playing with the toys they were to be picking up within 3 minutes of clean-up time. It was just a battle I did not want to fight.

Fast forward 6 years.

We are now at a place where chores can be done with minimal supervision. This, I can do. I don't mind showing them where to find certain cleaning items, and I don't even mind showing them how something should be done. They are now at an age where showing them does not require me to sit over them and guide their hand to do it.

It's a much better place for this Mama. A place where I can see this chore chart through, and perhaps find some success. And in case you were wondering, money plays no part in these chores. We are all contributing members to this mess we live in, and we should all pitch in, no payment required.

So each child has their own chart. I change the chores weekly, except for those of: homework, putting toys/clothes away, properly putting away backpacks, coats, etc., making beds, and brushing teeth.

There are 2-3 chores that change on a weekly basis and are usually something that is done once a week (except for the help that I require with dinnertime). I am trying out different chores, in the hope that I find something that works for each age. Also, by rotating the chores between what I do and what they do, I have the opportunity to re-clean if necessary, a week later.

How is this going, you ask?

I am actually a bit surprised with how well my kids are doing. I am learning their limitations, and I am learning how to motivate them. Surprisingly, Isaac and Margot are diligent about finishing what's on their lists on any given day. It is a challenge that they want to finish as quickly as possible. And Margot is quite insistent on trying everything that I give to Isaac to do, which is encouraging.

Evy, however, is a different story. My middle child that is meticulous in all other endeavors, the one who wants a calendar to plan out every minute of every day, rarely finishes her chores without coercion. I think she likes to have control, and since this list does not come from her, it's easily forgotten.

I do feel fortunate that they all willingly help. For myself, I try to overlook the imperfection. The water that splashes all over the floor or the lumps that might remain on the bed. Now that we are over a month into this "experiment," it's safe to say that these tasks are becoming a part of their everyday, or every week, as the case may be.

Perhaps I'm not so bad at this chore thing after all.

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