Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chores: Our Family's Perspective.

(Another lovely guest contribution by Dandee)

As a mother of four children with one more little darling on the way, I have learned that I CANNOT keep up with everything on my own. The laundry alone that this family of mine creates in a week is a terrifying and daunting task. Each member is fully capable of contributing to our household. [Excluding my 17 month old daughter of course. She gets away with murder].

Chores are a tricky thing and I'm sure each of you has a different method that works for your family. Here is what my husband Ryan and I have learned with our children:

*Charts only work for a month or so. The children stop checking them, and frankly, so do I.

*You can't guilt a child into keeping a clean room.

*Bribery [and allowance] only works for so long.

So what do we do? At the beginning of this school year we held a special family night where we talked about how our home is a gift. We explained that we show our gratitude for that gift in the way we care for it. We then had the children list a few things they could do to show their personal gratitude for our home. This is what they came up with:

*making their beds

*cleaning up any mess they create

*putting away their laundry

*clearing their place from the table after a meal

Once they had finished with the list we asked each of them if they would be willing to do these tasks everyday to show their appreciation. They agreed. We also explained to them that there would be additional chores they could and would be asked to do. i.e. Taking out the garbage, retrieving a diaper, helping with the dishes. To get the ball rolling, Ryan and I promised them a meager reward at the end of every week we felt they worked especially hard.

For the first few months the children were very excited about that reward [$3.00 per week]. Over time, they got more in the habit of doing their daily chores and less concerned about the money [although, we still offer the cash when it is deserved]. When they see their laundry pile, they know what to do with it. After a meal, they clear their plates. They aren't perfect, and I don't expect them to be. We have our good days and our bad days with this system, but I hope they are learning more than the importance of keeping a clean room. My hope is that we're teaching them how to contribute. One goal that Ryan and I have in raising our children is schooling them in the relevance of hard work and service. Not only the kind of service you do for a community, but service within the walls of our own cozy brick house.

If you have a chore regimen that works especially well for your family, do share!


Jenn said...

I have four, too, and we do the same thing. They have the exact same chores, and you are right, they just do it without a reward. I agreed on everything!!

Angel said...

I have been trying to instill a sense of respect for things in my 4 year old for some time. This is a perfect way to reiterate it. Thanks for the suggestion

Through the Looking Glass said...

Excellent suggestions; I constantly grapple with the "work for pay versus work because you should" mentality in kids. I love that you've taught yours to be intrinsically motivated and they see it as respecting their home. Lovely ideas.

Christina said...

I've got our topic for Family Night come Monday. This is the one thing that my 4 year old daughter and I really go the rounds over. Hopefully this shift in perspective will help things!

katie t said...

alot to think about! i'm on "the good choice chart" and so far its lasted a week. of course i'm getting the "if i do it, do i get a sticker" or "i'll do that but then i get a sticker" :)
followed with me saying "no...we do it because we want to make good choices and to choose the right, not just for a silly sticker!" i wish i knew what the magic words and actions were!!! it would make life so much easier :) and i can only think of so many retarded things to do!!!

Christy said...

As our only bambino is but a wee six months old (this week! happy birthday to her!) I am mentally bookmarking these ideas for the years ahead. Fabulous ideas!

Lyndsay said...

Thanks for the post, Danyelle!! That was so sweet. I will store the info away for further use. Right now I am lucky if I can get my 2 year old to grab me a new roll of toiled paper when stranded. ;)

we chirp said...

Danyelle, I love this. I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to get my kids to do their chores with a minimal amount of angst. This is a plan I can go with. I'll let you know how it goes.