Cheerful Chore Challenge, week 3: Afternoon EHAP Routine – Simply Convivial

cheerful chore routines - afternoon ehap

The summer is the perfect time to address non-academic problem areas. For us this summer, that means solidifying our chore routines so that when we start up school again, we can keep the house humming and in better shape. Making these chore times habitual patterns in our day cuts down on the emotional, psychological, and relational wear-and-tear that boom-and-bust cycles, disarray, and conflict over what’s required create. If you’re like me, you’ve probably been surprised at how worn down you can be not only from a messy, chaotic house, but also from trying to get the kids’ cooperation in restoring some small semblance of order. It doesn’t seem like it should produce so much conflict or so much fatigue, but it does.

Habits are the answer. They are hard work to create and continued work to maintain, but they greatly reduce the friction of pulling the children in to help. Remember to check out my recent series on Hiring Household Help for more on getting the kids on board with chores.

The chore set we’re working on this week is one that’s already nearly ingrained in our day. The kids know it comes 80% of the time, and so while there is often grumbling, there isn’t stubborn resistance anymore. We call it EHAP, which stands for Everything Has a Place. The implication is that everything should be returned to its own place. I saw this acronym somewhere online that I haven’t been able to track down in order to source. It wasn’t my original idea, and I do thank whoever it was who blogged about her clever name. It seems to appeal to the kids much more than “clean up time” or “afternoon tidy.” EHAP (we say EE-hap) sounds like a tactical military maneuver or something; it does, at least, sound cooler than tidying or cleaning. It helps with the espirit de corps, which is a great thing to build in a family.

afternoon tidying ehap

We’ve had many iterations of EHAP before, primarily influenced by Leila’s Reasonably Clean House series on the Afternoon Blitz. After holding conference with my team (or minions), we changed things up a little for this summer and upcoming school year. Here’s the way EHAP happens now.

EHAP Chores

There are four zones to be tidied every afternoon and four small cleaning jobs, as well. These are listed on the board and the person assigned to each one rotates daily. My kids seem to prefer to rotate than to have the same job or area designated to them for a longer time (though that would be my preference because it cuts down on the administrative end). The exception is the 4-year-old. He has the same zone and job every day.

The four zones
  1. tile floor (this is the kitchen & eating nook & mudroom)
  2. wood floor (this is the living & dining rooms)
  3. carpet (this is the stairs, hallway, and basement room – bedrooms are excluded from EHAP)
  4. main toy out (this is the four-year-old’s job. I rotate toys and only one large bin should be out at a time – train tracks, matchbox cars with the road carpet, Lincoln Logs, etc. His job is to pick up the toys that belong in the bin, wherever they might be)
The four jobs
  1. take the kitchen garbage out to the dumpster
  2. clean upstairs bathroom (the one only the children use)
  3. dust mop the wood & tile floors
  4. dust (the four-year-old’s job)

It is simply amazing what a difference consistent daily EHAP makes in the state of the house! A lot of havoc can be wrought by 5 children home all day, but a lot can also be set to right in 10-15 minutes if they set their minds to it. In fact, I consider an afternoon EHAP to be absolutely the magic key to fending off chaos in a homeschooling household. There is simply so much stuff! It gets out of hand in about a nanosecond. Everything has to be picked up every day. There’s just no other way around it. Teaching everyone to put something away before they get another thing out has, so far, been impossible. An afternoon pick-up time is a second-best and an essential to our survival together.

Making EHAP Cheerful

afternoon pick up time ehap

Performing EHAP is fairly regular in our routine, but what I need to work on is making it a cheerful chore time instead of the time at the end of the day where I’m fed up with it all, interrupt their playing, and start barking orders. When it’s an expected time that arrives when promised (sometime between 4:30 & 5, generally), I don’t have to interrupt or take a hard line. When I know it’s coming, all the stuff out all over the place doesn’t bother me as much because I know it will be dealt with in its time. So, having that time reserved helps both my attitude and the children’s.

The kids love it when I play music during EHAP time. I’ve been known to utilize a timer to help them hustle, bestowing either a treat or extra “practice” as needed when the timer goes off, and this does not always boost morale, actually, probably because of the way I administer the treatment. So, I’ve set up an EHAP playlist with ragtime tunes (like Easy Winners from the movie Sting) that lasts about 15 minutes. For the most part, simply having the upbeat, funny music is enough to keep them going; they know it won’t last long, and if they hustle, they can be done before the music is up. Sometimes if morale needs a little extra boosting, I offer raisins to everyone who finishes their assignment before the music ends. It’s amazing how much cheerful music helps in promoting cheerful work. Part of me hates adding the extra noise to my life, but EHAP goes so much better with an upbeat soundtrack.

How do you keep morale up during chore times?

Six Weeks of Improving Our Chore Routines

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  1. Hi Mystie,

    My boys are going to be 13 in July and we’ve grown out of the need for an EHAP, I hope that’s encouraging to you:) They really do learn to put things away on a regular basis so the need for an afternoon pick-up isn’t necessary. Now, when my grandchildren (6,5,3 and 14 mths) are here there is a definite need!! It makes me a little crazy to see all the stuff laying around but knowing that it WILL all get picked up and put away at some point during the day make it easier for me to let it go and not be a nagging Mimi;) Just wondering, does your evening clean include dinner time chores? That’s where we could use some work. Presently, I do the majority with dh stepping into help with clean up. I know I need to get these boys involved, if not for my sake then for their future wives!! Really appreciate this series, it’s a blessing:)

    1. EHAP not necessary? Wow, I don’t think I ever even imagined such a stage existed. :) I am the oldest of 7 and got married when my youngest sister was 4, so I’ve lived with toddlers in the house for all but 3 years of my life. Plus, my oldest isn’t even 11 yet, so that even one child might actually learn what I’ve been trying to work on for the last 10 years currently seems improbable.

      You give me hope. :)

      Yes, evening clean is cleaning up after dinner. Right now it’s mostly my husband and I, but I want to work in a kid-helper rotation.

  2. This series is helpful. Now I just need to figure out the zones in my own house, and then implement your plan.

    And I can’t wait for you to tell us all how to tame those beastly bedrooms!

    Thanks again for your kingdom work!


  3. I’m enjoying this series, Mystie. And I love the idea of EHAP! We do this periodically, and I can so relate to the rising anxiety a less than neat house creates in mama. Reading this post I am encouraged to do it EVERY DAY CONSISTENTLY as you stated until it becomes a regular part of our routine. Hopefully this will prevent my own sensory overload, as you mentioned, by knowing that in due time it will all be put away. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I am definitely starting this out in our house this week. It seems like such an easy way to make a huge difference!

    First, though, I think I need to get toys sorted and back in a rotation, just so there are less to sort out and keep neat each day.

    1. Yes, I’m so glad you brought that up! I did sort our toys and put a bunch out of rotation. Minimizing the amount of toys to pick up each day is key. To bring a toy bin out of the storage room, they have to trade by putting another bin into storage.

      1. Just read this. Having the kids choose when they want to rotate a toy bin is such an obvious-now-I’ve-thought-about-it solution. Everything I’ve seen before does it on a schedule, but this is so much better. I enjoy my hobbies one at a time for a while each and then there’s a natural point where I lose interest for a bit and I do something else. Makes sense that kids do it the same way.

  5. I love the term EHAP. I find myself using it in my mind as I pick up and it makes me happy. :-) I haven’t introduced it to the kids yet though.

    Your point about music is a good one. I tend to not play anything either because it seems noisy enough around here already, but we do enjoy it once it is on.

    Another motivator for my kids are audiobooks. When I had horrible morning sickness last year and couldn’t read aloud, I bought them inexpensive mp3 players and they often listen and pick up. I do have to keep an eye on them a bit though… sometimes they will finish with one thing then just stand there listening, rather moving onto the next task! Granted, they do that when they aren’t listening, but then they are much more likely to be playing or bugging a sibling.

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