Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tweaking Again

One of my goals in raising our five (so far) little Gang members is that they be strong, confident, independent adults who can take responsibility for themselves and the environment in which God has planted them.  I have a pretty focused, intentional plan for how I train that into them.  Not that my plans are perfect, nor are they always as successful as I'd planned for them to be. (I hate it when THAT happens!)  I'm not a big fan of tweaking a schedule or routine, in my own fleshly (sometimes rigid!) nature, but having five kids of incredibly diverse temperaments and learning styles is curing me of THAT darned quick.

A super great tool I've found for teaching my kids to be responsible and independent is to give them chores.  That's right. My kids work. Our chore chart has morphed considerably since we added our Li'l Empress to our home. And given that she's going to be three this summer, I daresay that it will morph again soon. She's certainly going to be quite capable very soon of handling small, guided tasks. And truthfully, she's never happier than when she thinks she is "hepping" Shaggy with one of his jobs or doing a big girl task for me.  Whether she's actually being of true help is something Shaggy is struggling with - he's super focused and of the "just get it done and over with" mentality, so when she slows him down, he's learning a ton about patience and team work.  NOT that I'd tell him that . . . he'll learn it so much better if I just keep my yap zipped!

Our chores have taken on a myriad of methods over the years, and since we began schooling the older two boys at home the chores have been tweaked even further. I've read a couple of blogs lately that have requested suggestions and tips for further organization in their homes with routine and chores and structure, so this post has been swirling in my head for a couple weeks. I check in on several websites semi-regularly for additional tips on increasing my efficiency and our "team work" mentality.  I even belong to a forum in which streamlining our homes, "stocking up," and shopping habits has been a hot topic of late.  And given my bent toward administrative thinking and organizational planning, it's kinda always on my mind. 

I'm pretty happy with our current system, in which the chores are posted in each kid's column for a week. They have from Monday morning till Saturday morning to complete them. We recently had to tweak dish duty, and  somehow Baby Blue Eyes has gotten off scott-free in that area, again. I'm going to tweak that oversight as soon as school lets out for the summer. It was on an "as requested basis" but  now that the two older boys are home and contributing to a larger dirty dish pile for their "home-schooling gourmet lunches" (Shaggy's favorite part of home-schooling!) I just gave them a whole day to handle as assigned.

I try to take the long view when it comes to parenting my kids in this area.  I know that THEY don't see how sweeping and Sw!ffering the kitchen once a week will make them model citizens. But I do.  I get that they can't "get" how carrying their own loads of stinky dirty laundry down to the laundry room will form them into accountable, dependable employees. But I do.  I totally understand that they might NEVER (this side of their own household management in YEARS to come) connect that going to bed in a tidy, picked-up room will create in them a sense of stewarship and gratitude.  But I do.  I DO.  And at this point in the game, I'm  getting pretty immune to the disgruntled commentary that they sometimes try to indulge in under their breath.  I say, "getting" because . . . I'm working on it. I'm still too reactionary for my taste in this particular area.

Admittedly, this big-picture point of view is much easier for me to adopt than it has been for The Boss. He's much better at living in the moment, catching the present and camping in it.  It takes both sides to make a marriage work, I get that. But in order to keep US out of the middle of all the messy relational STUFF that comes of assigning jobs and holding the Gang accountable to those assignments, we've had to change up some things about the chore chart.

NOW? If a job isn't completed on time (barring extenuating circumstances like illness , etc), the job gets carried into the next week by the slacker.  PLUS, that slacker has to do the job by dinner-time on Saturday.  

NOW? If a job is done poorly, that slacker has to re-do it, subject to an inspection. And believe me, inspections are only fun for the inspector. Me.  Yup. I let myself have fun with that part of parenting.  Sick and twisted, I know. But hey, we gotta get our kicks where we can, right? 

NOW? If The Boss notices a job on the chore chart that has not been "flipped over" (our method of indicating completion) by Saturday morning, he feels free and I daresay even compelled to track down the slacker and get the run-down on the excuses reasons why.  It keeps US out of the mix of consistently assigning tasks and allows us to focus on the follow-through. It takes some of the burden off of me, especially if I'm not the only one playing the heavy because the fact that a job is incomplete is right out in the open for everyone to see.

And the best thing great side benefit about our system and our practices?  Is that by Saturday lunch time, we have clean toilets, crunch-free floors, and dusted shelves. For a whole two or three hours, at least.

So, let's chat. What kind of things do you do in your home to create independence? How do you train your kids toward responsibility for themselves and their surroundings?  I want to hear some ideas - as long as I'm going to be "tweaking" again, I might as well get the brainstorm going!


Aus said...

Nice post GM - we're suddenly having 'issues' with #4 - 7 going on 14 - and is the queen of the 'eye roll'....but #5 has 'got it' - she's a champ at chores.

And as for Shaggy - hey - attacking a job and getting it done in the most efficient manner possible - it's a guy thing and we really don't expect you gals to understand (he says running an ducking for cover!!)

have a great weekend - and hugs

aus and co.

Wife of the Pres. said...

Great minds think alike! I am totally about chores and it is all about the training as you say … not at all about the swiffer (though I must admit to loving seeing all the black stuff on that little duster!).

I just revamped our chore system. One of the biggest reasons … so Momma doesn't have to beg, plead, whine, gripe, yell, etc. They know what needs to be done. It is theirs alone to complete. What I am loving is the impromptu team efforts going on … "Hey, I'll help you do X if you help me do Y." Fair enough. At least they are working together!

Jim Martin said...

Loved reading about your systems...cause you know I love a good system. Now that summer is here I need to set up a new chore list as well. You've given me some good ideas.