I recently got to spend a most enjoyable week with my mother-in-law and other family. I LOVE spending time with family. We live far away from each other and time spent together is a treat. We catch-up, laugh, play games, relax, watch the kids enjoy the company of family, and often help each other.
We also take the opportunity to learn from each other. Whether it's through discussing politics, kids, or spiritual development, I always come away enlightened and hopefully a little better person.
Our trip included some time at my older sister's house. While there, I saw the Helper Job system they are using right now and was excited to hear how it is working for them. "I love it!" my sister told me, "And here's why." As she explained why she loves the system they are using, I thought, "That is exactly why I love the system we are using!"
So here are a few principles that my sister and I have found (with our combined nine children) make for a successful Helper Job System (aka "Chore Chart")...
Principles for a Successful Chore Chart1. Flexibility
- Not everyday in the life of parenthood is the same. Ha! That's possibly the most obvious thing I've written in a long time!
- Some days are busier than others with homework, projects, play dates, clubs, or sports.
- A successful chart allows for some daily flexibility.
- Sometimes kids are motivated and willing to serve. Other times, we find grumpy children for whom a two-minute clean-up is a major success. Having some choice in which job they will complete at different times leads to greater success.
- Kids also feel more motivated and invested when they have some say it what they do.
- If a helper system is too flexible with too much choice, kids may not ever feel the need to do the jobs! Flexibility and choice are off-set by accountability.
- Accountability tells children they are responsible for the consequences of their actions.
- Some kids are busier than others in the family. Without accountability, you may find it is the same siblings who do not complete their jobs over and over.
- Accountability is rewarding for those who complete their helper jobs.
Choose Jobs that Make the Chart Work for YouWith these general principles in mind, you are ready to work out the details.
Brainstorm which jobs take up a significant part of your life. Also think about which jobs are most important for you to feel like your house is clean. I am a matching sock person, but I know many people who are not. For me the vital jobs include overall tidiness, bathrooms, floors, and kitchen cleanliness. Confession, I am very laid back when it comes to dusting!
Seriously consider including the wildcard, "Mom's Choice." This is my absolute favorite and a great way to get those miscellaneous places cleaned or infrequent jobs accomplished. Or dusting, I guess.
Your list of essential jobs will be different than mine, but make that list and decide how those duties can be shared. Countless households don't require enough of their children.
Kids thrive and help more readily when they realize their efforts are important for the household and truly helpful to you. Giving kids significant jobs also prepares them for independence.
Many people agonize over which jobs are age appropriate for their children. However, I have found that kids can do anything, and eventually, they have to learn to do everything to help around the house.
So, my toddlers are responsible for the same jobs as my older kids...we just do the jobs together. ;) After working side by side, you will know when your child is ready to work with a reminder checklist or completely independently. It will be different for each job and every child.
Expect More than What's WrittenIt's important to teach kids to be helpful and tidy, not just to check-off lists. The goal is competent, helpful members of society in the future, not just a clean house today. For example, although meal preparation is not on our list, we are teaching the kids to ask, "How can I help?" (Admittedly, this comes more naturally to some than others!)
We are each expected to clean as we go when it comes to toys, backpacks, and spills. We clear our dishes after meals, and I often enlist individual kids to help wash dishes or take out the trash.
There should never be a feeling that "I'm not doing it because it's not on my list." A chore chart is a helpful way to organize household efforts; it is not intended to limit helpfulness or inhibit discernment of needs.
Create Your SystemThere are countless ways to apply these principles to a system or chart. Small changes in routine or perspective can often make your current system more successful.
Next post, I will share the chore chart that is working for us, as well as the system my sister uses to teach her children good habits and keep their house of Littles clean!
Happy Helping to you and your Littles!
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Do you have a Helper Job system you like? What makes it work? Leave a comment to let me know. I love hearing from you!
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