Kelly asked about our chore chart, so here’s the nitty-gritty on that topic.
I have always kept morning chores simple, constant, and consistent, partly in hopes of not needing any tracking or communication set-ups. Every child has one job they do right after breakfast, and they keep the same job for a year or more.
However, particularly now that I have two readers, plus simply more to keep tabs on myself, I have found it helpful to have things like chores written out and clearly visible. Turns out things like brushing teeth weren’t happening all the time. Having it all written down and in plain sight relieves me of the burden not only of remembering what everyone should do, but also of directing them.
So, I give you, the chore board:
It is a large, cheap, plastic frame from WalMart. I put in a couple sheets of poster board as a background, and I write on the clear plastic with wet-erase markers. The wet-erase markers come off with a spritz of glass cleaner, but won’t be smudged off by little fingers.
On the board are listed Morning Things (brush teeth, wash face, tidy bed & bedroom), Morning Jobs (clean hall bathroom, unload dishwasher, empty garbages), After-Meal Chores (clear & wash table, load dishwasher, wipe down counter), and EHAP Jobs (afternoon pick-up, then take out the garbage, straighten the various book bins, and replace bathroom hand towels).
On the board also will be written any consequence or reminder that needs to be remembered. A daily routine/schedule is posted. And also a list for “Before we leave the house.” There is plenty of room for whatever I want publicized.
Then, during the day, particularly during the morning bustle, my duties as traffic director are greatly diminished. I don’t receive reports about what they’ve done until they come tell me everything on the list is done. They must report themselves to the board first, then to me. This, of course, only applies to the readers and not to the preschooler.
Now, we do pay for some of their chores. We don’t want to turn the children into mercenaries, only willing to work for money or casting everything in a fine-or-fee light, but we do want them to connect money with work rather than with magic, simple appeals, or only as gift. Our basic rule of thumb is that general picking up and keeping their things tidy and helping out does not receive payment, but they have a daily “job” that is my work that I have assigned to them and that I pay them for. Hans cleans a bathroom, Jaeger unloads the dishwasher, Ilse dumps all the trash from around the house into the big kitchen garbage. Plus, if they want money, they come and ask for work, not for money. There are other jobs that are “for hire” around the home and yard. If they break something and have to replace it, then they’ll have to do extra work to earn the money to replace the destroyed item. The system has worked well for us so far, and no one has asked to be paid for general pitching in around the house, which happens throughout the day, every day. If they did, I would tell them that they get dinner.
But, this system requires some sort of payment routine, which we are not yet consistent with. Another reason that we want them to earn their own money is that we want them to give their own money at church on Sundays. It is much more powerful to earn something and give part of what is yours than to just put someone else’s money in the plate for them. But, many Sundays we end up just doling out the coins — they are the right percentage, it is coming from their earnings, but it isn’t the concrete divvying up of one’s own income into spending, saving, and giving that is our ideal.
So my new system for keeping track of that is a Google form. The link to the form is an icon on my iPad desktop, and in the mornings I click on it, inspect chores (a necessity around here), and mark them off as complete (full payment), had to be redone (partial payment), or not done (no payment). That information goes into a spreadsheet that can then be referred to for payments, which Matt and I will try to be more consistent about on Saturdays (so that the offering is ready for Sunday morning). So far, it’s working out well, but it hasn’t been even a full week yet.
So, there you have it. Nothing cute, nothing revolutionary. Just a message board with lists and a form to complete a spreadsheet. But it helps make life smoother in our house.