Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chore Chart (R)Evolution

Did you have a nice Easter? We did! It was fun to spend some time with family and just relax after all of the choir obligations for Holy Week.

My sister, who was our hostess for Easter Sunday, has just moved with her family into a new home. I complimented her on the nice, uncluttered look the house has--it's wonderful when you move and can be ruthless about getting rid of unnecessary stuff! I've been wanting to start a massive clean-out for several weeks now, but fortunately had the sense to put it off until after Easter, so the focus could be where it was supposed to be.

And while it's still the Easter season and there are still many opportunities to celebrate between now and Pentecost, it's starting to feel like spring-cleaning time around here. I have lots of ideas for things to do this year, but the first thing on my list of things to do was a much-needed overhaul of the chore chart.

Chore charts need this, I've found. The simple lists of tasks that early helpers love to "check off" grow to something more complex, for a while--and then, all of a sudden, your children are beginning to be old enough for a new kind of simplicity, a simplicity that doesn't need to divide tasks by person or to get down to specific details about every job. And schedules change, too, which makes it necessary to see if the reason a certain chore doesn't get done is because that chore always falls on a day of really hard math or grammar, or on a day when an outside activity is planned.

Our current chore chart has gotten kind of--well, cluttered. There are the daily meal tasks--whose job it is at breakfast, lunch, and dinner to clear dishes, rinse them and put them in the dishwasher, wipe the table or sweep the floor. There are the weekly tasks, too, as well as the assigned laundry days and the daily hints for tidying the school room after school and the bedrooms. It's all gotten kind of disjointed, and aside from the daily meal tasks not much of it gets done when it's supposed to.

So I've been pondering the matter, and have come up with some new ideas for the chart:

1. The meal tasks will remain the same. This is the part of our chore chart that works the best; and if someone, say, gets too busy to sweep the floor after breakfast I can rest assured that it will be done after lunch--and that the girls "police" each other so that no one ends up being the only floor-sweeper or table-wiper of the day.

2. The laundry days are changing, and being more strictly enforced. This has been one of the weakest areas of the chore chart, mainly because I still need the most time for weekly laundry but the girls need to do a couple of loads each (this is what happens when your daughters are taller than you are, or at least the older two; their clothes are adult sizes and fill a washer load much faster than they used to!). Kitten is getting Wednesday, as I can trust her to get her laundry in and out before we have to go to choir practice; Bookgirl will move to Tuesday, and Hatchick, who hates laundry and becomes rather dramatic and/or evasive when told to do hers, will get Thursday.

3. The suggested daily tidying is being revised to this: at the end of the school day, a fifteen-minute timed clean-up and decluttering. This is the only idea I've implemented so far from the Flylady website; though I like lots of the suggestions I don't find all of them a good "fit" for my way of doing things. But a fifteen-minute timed cleaning session "flies" by and gets more accomplished than lots of specific nagging; I like to join in, as it's a great time to concentrate on kitchen clutter and/or piles of junk mail or other clutter hot spots. My kids did groan a little when I informed them today that this was going to be a new part of our daily routine, but by the end of the fifteen minutes we were looking for things to work on--and that was without Kitten's help, as she was busy finishing some schoolwork!

4. The weekly tasks are going to look like this: Monday, gather and take out trash and recycling; Tuesday, vacuum, Wednesday, help Mom tidy the kitchen, Thursday, tidy bedrooms, and Friday, help Mom clean bathrooms. "Little" chores like dusting, damp-mopping the kitchen or tiny tiled entryway, and the like will either be done on days when the girls don't need to do the regular chore for some reason (if I vacuum the house on Monday, for instance) or during our fifteen-minute tidy if we run out of things to do.

Once our new system is up and running, I plan to spend more time on the clutter trouble spots. Like anyone who has lived in a house for more than a few years, we've accumulated too many things, from extra dishes we rarely use to outgrown coats (I always remember to clean out the girls' clothing, but for some reason in Texas I forget about the coat closet!) to linens/blankets to toys to books to...but you get the idea. I'm looking forward to tackling these areas one at a time in the upcoming days and weeks.

It's wonderful to have such "big" helpers these days!


Jen said...

It is nice to have helpers. My oldest is 5 1/2 and loves to help out. With the 4 yr old, she still has a fairly short attention span and "forgets" what she is supposed to do. The 2 yr old, well, another year and maybe I'll get some help. LOL

I look forward to the day they can all put in some decent effort. :o)

andrea said...

What a blessing! I can't wait to have big helpers! For now, I only have 3 under 3 and usually just feel totally overwhelmed by what I have to do!
Anyway, what a great system!