Well, our new Cromar Housekeeping plan has been in effect for a few weeks now. And I’d have to give it mostly positive reviews. Overall the house has been cleaner, and having a chore chart has helped motivate me, even on days when I’m feeling lazy or too busy to do chores, to at least complete one major chore. The kids have liked having some of their daily chores divided up. In fact, they do better with those chores (backyard/dining/kitchen and bath, hall/boys room/girls room) than with the living room, which they are supposed to do teamwork on. On the other hand, we have had some frustrating days when no one wants to do chores and I don’t handle it very well. I’ve divided the rest of this post into the good things, the bad things and the things to change about our chore system.
One positive thing they are learning is to appreciate the work they have done. It was music to my ears one day when Ellie said, “Andrew! I just swept that part of the patio and now you got more dirt on it.” Someday I hope that will translate into not putting dirt on the patio, because someone will have to clean it up and generally being considerate about work you are causing for others.
Another good thing is that they are experiencing real life teamwork…you know the part where one member of your team is being a slacker and everyone else is working hard. I keep getting two people whining about the third, but I keep telling them they just need to go talk to the slacker and work out a plan…they don’t like me when I do that, but I think it’s real life. Now that I think about it, maybe I should designate one person as the team leader for the week…I wonder how that would play out.
Finally, when we are on top of things, the cleanup time is minimal and everything stays pretty well picked up.
(In full disclosure, writing about the positives is therapeutic at the moment, because today has not been the most successful day of cleaning and I was feeling frustrated about it. Today, I have had to be meanie mom to get them to do any work, and I was only asking them to do the living room.)
Now, for some of the hard things. Our chore system was working better before school, soccer, and music all started. This is my first year having a kid in school full time and doing this many extra activities, and several days a week I am running from one place to another all day long and it’s been hard to squeeze chore time in. The result is that we are not on top of things, so the mess gets more out of hand. We’ve had more days lately when it takes a good 40 minutes just to get the toys (and trash and clothes and shoes) off the floor.
Secondly, I don’t like being the mean mommy. I mean, I don’t like feeling angry. I’m good at being strict with them, and I don’t mind when they don’t like my decisions, but with cleaning it makes me mad. How do you avoid getting mad at the kids when they don’t do the work or when they whine about everything? For some reason in this area I have trouble doing the parenting with love and logic thing and letting them make the choice between two things. I haven’t been very good about coming up with the second choice, “You can choose to clean the living room, or…” lose a privilege? which one? all the kids or just the slacker? And really, by the time I get to trying to come up with choices I’m frustrated and I just want the house clean, and I don’t want to give in and start cleaning up their jobs for them, but I want the house clean, because my sanity depends on it, and usually I’m trying to cook dinner and I’m hungry, which makes me snappy.
A couple of days when we’ve been too busy to even start chores, I decided to serve the kids and do their chores in the evening for them. This gives us a fresh start for the next day. The ironic thing is that the actual act of organizing the toys into their designated drawers really makes my brain happy. I love organizing things. It’s like a massage for my brain and really calms me. I just don’t think I could do it by myself all the time, or it would lose it’s appeal and become a burden after a while, and I would never get to do anything else.
Tweaking the system:
Finally, there a couple of things about the system that might need changing. I am wondering if I should let Andrew off the hook for chores. The girls would not think that was fair, and he makes just as much mess as them even though he’s at school. However, he is working at school all day, and he is going to be getting more homework soon. He has so little time to just play, that I feel bad forcing him to clean in the afternoons.
Also, I am 90% convinced that and Ikea Expedit toy storage shelf and bins thing would solve all my problems. We have a dresser that stores all the toys that we have out at the moment, so I don’t really know what good a different shelf system would do. Maybe the magic Expedit could have bins that have picture labels of what toys go in what bin, and I could assign each kid a bin to fill, and they would not say, “but I don’t know what to clean.” I’ve been really trying to avoid an impulse buy here, but it is on sale for $20 off for the next 3 days, and Ikea is only 10 minutes from my house. And everybody uses them to make the cutest toy rooms for their kids…someone talk me out of buying one.
Okay that’s the end of this long post on chores.
P.S. I’ve been working on other posts…a pregnancy update and others, but those involve pictures which always seem to take me much longer (and more trips from one computer to the other) than these kind where I’m writing to clear my head and I don’t bother putting up a picture. Soon friends. Maybe tonight.