A couple of months ago, my good friend Ashlee, posted a special post all for me about how she and her boys approach housework. She has since posted an updated version of their chore system. The first post came at a time when I was feeling especially frustrated with the cleanliness of our house. You see, I had been trying and trying to follow the counsel from church leaders to relax about all the things we need to do each day, to be okay with a little mess in our lives and things like that. It’s really good advice for most things, and has helped me to focus on the kids and not the work. However, either I had taken things too far, or I failed to take into account my own personality.
I just really, really like things to be orderly and neat. Scott does too. Between the two of us we have systems for how to do everything. And trust me, I don’t take for granted that I have a neat husband who likes things clean and doesn’t need me to pick up after him. Makes life so much easier, because also I especially hate cleaning when there are other people around who are not cleaning. But then there are the kids…
Reading Ashlee’s post made me realize a couple of things. First, that I really, really can’t clean up after all these people by myself, and that they can and should be helping more. Second, that I was underestimating the amount of time it takes to clean my house. Somehow I thought if I had the kids clean with me for 20 or 30 minutes each day (or an hour twice a week was probably more the case), then I could finish up the rest on my own. The house was a disaster. And the clutter and dirt was really stressing me out (mostly the clutter – Does anyone else hate when you can’t walk through the house on flat ground not covered by toys?)
Anyway, we started immediately to clean together for longer each day. I try to make it fun, and the kids’ attitudes have been improving. I’ve noticed a big difference in the house, and my stress about it. I think Scott has noticed it subconsciously too, because he seems to be less stressed out about the clutter and mess than before.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been wondering whether a chore chart would be beneficial. I like all things with charts and systems of any kind, but is it really what we needed? Also, I’d been re-evaluating how I involve the kids in the work. Andrew and the girls are like having triplets, and I’ve been having trouble involving all of them simultaneously in the cleaning. They start to fight over who can do what, who’s not helping enough, etc. Yesterday a plan started to come to fruition, and I jumped on the chore chart bandwagon. Let me introduce you to: Chores and Mommy Chores.
Even though I’m jumping on a bandwagon here, I’m pretty proud of myself for looking at what my own family needs and thinking about what will work for us. (That said, I did just put this into action this morning, so it may need some tweaking and a follow up post about how well it’s working.) First, the kids are only in charge of cleaning up after their cluttery little selves. It was too stressful for me to have them all helping with the bathroom or the vacuuming or whatever. So they are in charge of picking up stuff off the floor. Also, occasionally one of them will ask to help me out anyway, while the others are playing. I’m planning on taking advantage of more one-on-one time when one kid is interested in mopping the kitchen with me. It’ll just be more spontaneous and less planned.
Second, at the moment they really need to learn when their actions result in a mess (and usually they are just making clutter everywhere), and the best way for them to learn that is for them to be cleaning up said mess. Third, I won’t have to explain every little part of what they need to be doing (“pick up that ball, put that paper in the trash”). I plan on saying, “you know what a clean living room looks like, does the floor look clean to you?” a lot.
I came up with the mommy chores for a couple of reasons. First, I could use a reminder of what hasn’t been done lately. Second, the kids complain a lot about me not helping them (“why aren’t you doing any work mommy?”). Sadly, this often comes when I am actively doing the exact same job as them (“um, I am helping”), but it also comes when I’m doing a different chore (“do you see that I just washed a hundred dishes?”). Since the new chore chart has them doing the de-cluttering and me doing the deep down cleaning, I anticipate a lot of complaints about me not helping. So, now I can point them to my chore chart and they can see that I have more chores than they do anyway…is that mean of me? Hehe, they can deal with it.
So, there you have it. The new Cromar Housekeeping Plan. If the kids can keep the floors clear of clutter, I will gladly vacuum or mop or clean the bathroom. Then, I also won’t have to rally the troops to de-clutter before tackling every other chore, and I can do the other chores when I have a spare moment. Wish us luck!
Oh, I also really like Ashlee’s house cleaning rules: have a good attitude, stay on task, work efficiently. I plan on saying that to the kids a lot too.