Monday, October 15, 2012

Hi Ho! Hi Ho! Off to Work We Go!

We are always re-vamping the chore chart here; you know, for seasons of the school year, activity levels of the various Gang members, and so on... I tend to be pretty loosey goosey about it in the summer, giving lots of grace and margin in consideration of our irregular schedules... And this year, I'm frankly quite late with the fall edition. But with all that we've had going on, just managing the "status quo" has been (more than) enough for us to keep a grip on. I have been working on this edition since we got home from Colorado and I think (after I blew $5 laminating the faulty edition! Grrr....) that I've got it now.

Here's the basics of how we do it ‘round here:
  • Each kid has a column. Each time a job is completed in that column, it gets flipped over to the blank side. I laminate the job cards for wear and tear.
  • We don't allow jobs to be done on Sundays.
  • During the school year, the kids have from Monday morning through till lunch time on Saturday to complete their jobs.
  • In this fall's edition, they each have 5 jobs that should take no more than 20 minutes each to do. That gives them a chance for TWO days "off" during the week.
  • I think I finally have a system down that allows for the revamping to be done quickly and easily: with this edition, I gave each job a "group number" so that when the rotations move to the next kid, they move together in a group.
  • We rotate jobs (by the numbered group) on Sunday afternoons or Monday mornings. Each grouping will just move one kid to the right.
  • If a kid fails to complete all the jobs in their column for the week, they keep those jobs until they are done and then the job rejoins its grouping on the next rotation.
  • If that kid is a repeat offender, I give another consequence till the jobs are all completed. Usually, loss of technology/electronics for 24 hours does it. 
  • The "Dishes" jobs are daily, and remain static, based on the kids's school day schedule

The is part of the actual job chart that I print and cut.

The chores are all organized now into three groups (see those little numbers at the bottom?) for the older three kids who are still home. Li’l Empress’s column won't change (her jobs are marked by the "A"). But she's on the chart now and I will add tasks as I see her maturity grow. For example, she's afraid of the hand vac, so that is still a "big kid job." But when Baby BlueEyes was 5, he was easily able to handle vacuuming the stairs and landing.

The finished product goes onto a regular bulletin board that the hubby divided into four columns. It's been fancier than this but I stopped spending tons of money and time on the aesthetics when I realized how often we realistically had to re-vamp. The cards on the board are the rough draft of this fall’s edition. The chart here will be laminated and cut up to be placed on the board this weekend.

Okay. So, you might be asking how on earth you can modify this for your younger household of kiddoes? Well, it’s really easy if you are willing to take some time to think it through. First, make a list of the jobs that you know each of your kids are capable of learning or accomplishing with moderate guidance and repetition. Even the little ones can participate, if only to get the feeling that they are part of the process. Simplify it for everyone by focusing on what you NEED to have done or have help with.

Then, make a chart with paper cards (don't laminate yet, till you have your system down pat) and have a simple rotation between the kids of jobs that all of them can do or can help with. Maybe make some of them "team effort jobs" to enhance morale and confidence. If you have varying ages, know that some of the jobs might not rotate at all (as in Li’l Empress’s column). Be careful not to overload the columns with the number of tasks and make sure that each task can be accomplished in a reasonable (per individual child’s abilities) amount of time. Again, simplify your chart (especially if it’s brand new to your family routine!) to the most important jobs that you know the kids are capable of and can do fairly well with minimal (read: normal, age appropriate) prodding or re-teaching.

Also keep in mind that at the younger ages, it's not about the QUALITY of the job when it's done. It's about teaching them HOW to contribute, HOW to work together, and HOW to share the load of being in a family. You will likely have to re-do the jobs (out of their observation) and re-teach the jobs many times till they "get it." And that’s okay.  It’s a learning process for everyone. In fact, even at my kids' ages, we often make them check in to tell us they've completed a job, to avoid slap-dash quality work through the accountability. And sometimes, I’ve been known to do “surprise inspections!) Because NOW? It IS about quality. OH! And illness prevention :)

I often have to chant to myself throughout the week: "It's about the process." Even though we’ve been at this Chore Chart process since we moved to our current home. To me, the Chore Chart is a tiny real life word picture to describe all of parenting: "It’s a process. It’s a process. It’s a process.” But it's one that is totally worth it in view of equipping your kids to care for themselves AND for those that the Lord gives them to care for. For example, I LOVE how confident I feel knowing that my kids can take care of the house and of themselves and each other when The Boss and I head off to China in the spring. But it took a while to get us all there and I had to be willing to dig into the process!

Shoot me some questions and feedback – I love hearing what works for you guys. And your input helps me think through the contingencies and exceptions I need to anticipate.


Amy said...

I like this. We have daily chores, the oldest (12) does recycle and compost and cleans up after dinner. my middle boy (8) does garbage (kitchen and bathrooms) and sets and clears the table for dinner. my littlest (just 5) replaces the bag in the kitchen garbage and feeds the dogs. I like the idea of helping with the bigger weekly chores but I HATE the fight. Though I see the importance of it. You have inspired me.

Sennie said...

I think I'll save this on my Pinterest board, and use it when we get back from travels to establish chore systems again. We tend fall off the wagon, and by the time we get back it needs to be revised:)