Last week’s post about expectations got me thinking about how my expectations have changed in relation to the WAY things get done. I use to be hesitant to let the kids help with a lot of the real household chores because I wanted them ‘ Mommie clean ‘ rather than done by a well – meaning 4 year old. Perhaps out of necessity, maybe just out of exhaustion, I have changed my perspective on that. A lot. LOL! I am a firm believer in that fact that our children are all members of this family, and therefore need to do what they can to assist in the running of the household.
I think it is so important to teach your children to clean up after themselves and to be willing to help with others so that they don’t grow up to be self – centered adults who expect to be waited on all the time. This does not have to be boring! We have come up with many ways to make getting things done a lot of fun around here. One of my favorites (and the kid’s favorite) is Saturday morning ‘Team Cleaning’. Saturday morning is the time when everyone gets to sleep in really late and then send most of the remainder of the day watching their favorite tv programs, right? Not around here, it isn’t! I do not usually wake kids up on Saturday morning. If anyone wants to sleep in (which usually means not getting up until about 8), they are allowed to do that on Saturday. We spend most of our time during the week with school or just basic necessities around the house. Not a lot of extra cleaning or organizing gets done. At all. During breakfast on Saturday, I bring my notebook to the table and write a list of the jobs we need to get done for the day. (Unless by some miracle I had the energy to get it done on Friday night…)
I pair the kids up into 3 teams. Sometimes I put people together that I know have had a hard time getting along during the week, to try to encourage them to enjoy working together. Sometimes I put kids together that I have seen get along really well during the week just because I know they will like being together. I usually pair one of the oldest children with one of the youngest. Everyone participates except for Essie.
Each team has their own mini list of jobs suited to their ages and abilities. I make sure that only the oldest children use any cleaners or that I make my own cleaners that I know aren’t harmful to little people. (One of my favorite cleaning ideas that I learned from my mom is to let the little ones clean with baby wipes. These work great for cleaning bathrooms and surface cleaning almost anything. I do NOT recommend them for glass or mirrors, although it seems someone inevitably tries it anyway. It give your bathroom mirror the blizzard effect. LOL!)
As the teams finish their jobs, they are allowed to put a star by each one. Jobs may not be crossed out until Mom has checked them and made sure the job was done well (keeping in mind that these jobs were done by the children, but still making sure they did their best). The teams have so much fun getting their work done that quite often we finish by lunchtime or at least by early afternoon. I will either give out prizes to the team that did the best job of working together, or if everyone did a great job (which is usually what happens) we will have a group award ceremony. Nothing big, but something fun. I will make up hot cocoa and popcorn or some kind of fun snack we don’t usually eat. We might also make a fun supper together (pizza, quite often) and then end the evening with a movie.
I usually make myself a list, but I end up spending the whole time inspecting, supervising and planning food that I hardly ever get anything done. LOL! Zeke always asks me when I am going to get started on my list.
I’m sure not all of you have enough children to do team cleaning. 🙂 Even if you only have 2 children, though, I would encourage you to try it sometime! It really encourages leadership in the older child and a learning heart in the younger child. Kids love working off a list. They like checking things off as they get done and seeing that there is an end in sight to what needs to be done.
Lately we have quite a few Saturdays where we don’t finish what is on our list because Aunt Ruth picks them up to go ice fishing or some children get to ride home to Mama and Papa’s house with Papa after work to spend some time over there. The kids work hard all week, so I don’t require everyone to get everything done before they get to engage in any extracurricular activities. As long as the kids all pitch in and help when they can. Zeke knew early last Saturday morning that they would be going ice fishing after lunch. I was still in the process of writing the list when he and his buddy ran off and started doing their jobs. They made great progress, in spite of the fact that the rest of us didn’t get much past basic survival that day, as you can see. 🙂