Alright, so I’m in for 6 weeks of a “cheerful chores challenge.” This summer I’m working on shoring up our housework routines while we aren’t doing school so that when we start school again in July (we school year-round), we will already have those patterns learned and won’t be adding everything at once. Festina lente.
Lunch chores are a new thing for us. Doing any regular clean up after lunch is not a part of our routine or our typical pattern. Everyone clears their own place at the table, but then the children scatter, usually to finish out the lunch hour with some free play, preferably outside. That’s good for them, but then I’m left with the lunch things out and a dirty table, but I’d kinda like to take a lunch break, too, so I leave it. Then suddenly it’s 1pm and we’re supposed to be doing lessons and I call in someone to quick wash the table while I put away the cheese. Then it feels a little hectic.
But I have three children who are pretty handy at these small tidy sorts of jobs, and if all four of us tackled the lunch clean-up, it’d be done lickety-split with plenty of time left over for free play (or free internet browsing) and no hectic hurry before our lesson times begin.
I persuaded the children (who also don’t like being called in from outside to wash the table and who also don’t like hectic preparations) that it’d be a great thing if they each did a small piece of the lunch clean up right afterward and then went out to play. Hans suggested that the jobs rotate so they don’t get tired of always doing the same thing. And, so, we have a plan.
Right after lunch is done, and each child clears his or her place (that part is routine already), then Knox wipes down Geneva’s booster chair & tray with a damp cloth and the other three rotate between the other jobs. I bustle and wipe hands and faces and do what would make the most difference. It might be sweeping the kitchen or the dining room, it might be clearing and wiping counters, it might be hand washing some dishes. My job is to do the cleaning up that would make me feel better about the space and the day. But only 5-10 minutes of it.
The jobs are listed on the chore board and when I update it in the morning, I switch initials on the list of lunch jobs.
So, our list:
- clear & wash island (where the lunch buffet is typically spread)
- clear & wash table (where we’ll be doing school again soon)
- load dishes into dishwasher
None of these take a long time, and we really haven’t yet had any problems with cheerfulness in doing them. They are each pleased that the piece they have to do is so small and quick.
The hard part is remembering.
Changing our patterns of behavior is a lot of work! No one minds doing a little to help out at this time, but it comes natural to clear the plate and head right out to that play they’ve been thinking about all lunch. I typically don’t remember until the children are gone and I come out of my own lunch-break-haze. Wait, I think, we were all going to clean up from lunch right away and together.
So, I have to call everyone back, and then we do it. “Oh yeah,” they say and head to the board to look at what they’re doing that day. Within five minutes, we’re all back to whatever it is we were doing, but that five minutes makes such a huge difference!
My challenge with these chores is to steer a new course and change our patterns after lunch, which means the hardest part is remembering.
What is yours? Do you do lunch chores?