February 8, 2010

Keeping House

Are you preparing your child to be a responsible adult?
That question was proposed over 4 years ago at a parenting conference my husband and I attended. It has stuck with me because it is so simple, yet poignant. The very foundation of my job as a mother exists on that question. Are my parental expectations yielding the result of a growing, maturing child on the way to adulthood?

Oy. Sometimes my desire for them to "just be kids" gets in the way. When my girls were in a traditional school, I would often do their chores for them so that they would have time to play after school. Am I the only one who thinks like this? Thus, rendering me and my husband as the one(s) who were solely responsible for the upkeep of the house. Not only did this wear on me physically, it also did damage to my children.

What kind of responsibility do they learn when they only SEE me do the work? How will they know how to keep house one day, if only by observation? It is a gift to my children to teach them household responsibility. They won't realize that gift, much less appreciate it, until they are out on their own.

We are not off the hook with our sons. Your future daughters-in-law will greatly appreciate the effort you made to teach your son the value of being responsible, not only for his own things, but for the home in general. It does not take away their masculinity. Rather, it prepares them better for the professional scene. Wouldn't you rather have an employer that manages an orderly business and works as a team on projects?

Back to my concern of giving them time to play after school. Consider this. If you were willing to require only 10-15 minutes per day of "chores" from your children, it could potentially eliminate (depending on the number of and ages of your children) your need to:
1.) Dust
2.) Put away clean clothes
3.) Put away clean dishes
4.) Feed the pet
5.) Set the table
6.) Pick up toys

Is this for your benefit? Yes and no. Yes, you will benefit from it, but the ones that will truly grow from it will be your children.
Seriously, what's 10 minutes (15 if they are pokey) out of the entire day?
Don't fall into the trap of enabling them to be lazy. Boy, I sure fall into this easily.

Remember our Ask Away Day?
My friend KR said: Okay. So when do you do your chores? You have a flock of little ones whom you school at home. You have hungry mouths to feed and clothes to wash like the rest of us. Just honestly curious about your schedule...do you have set times that you do X Y and Z, do your kids have set jobs they do for you, how do you get it all done?
Elizabeth added: And to go along with that, which rooms are the easiest/hardest for you to keep picked up?

First I need to thank Kellie for this grand idea. I don't do it exactly the way she does, but she got the ball rolling at our house.

We use fake $$ as allowance. This frees me up from having to have cash on hand (which I never do). Each Monday, when I'm being a good, consistent mom, we begin with this chart:
Each child is given $4 in the first pouch (with their name on it). Throughout the week, it is their responsibility to keep the rights to the $$. When I ask them to do a chore (like the ones mentioned above) they must do it with a good attitude and completely. If either of those are not fulfilled, they lose a dollar. By the way, they never touch the $$. Only the banker/mom handles the money right now.

The following Monday we go to the bank and deposit the $ into the right "accounts" and we start it all over again with 4 more dollars. The accounts look like this:
$2 always go into the "God" account (tithe), then $1 into the "Save" account and whatever is left can go into the "Now" account. The kids can earn extra money through extra effort/chores.
This has been a huge help when we are in the dollar section of Target and they have to have something. When I agree that they can buy as much as they want to, but it's coming out of their "Now" account, they usually stop and consider how important it really is.

As far as my schedule goes, KR, I'm a pretty laid back person, so I don't have a specific cleaning schedule. I'm working on that, though. :) But check out my other Kellie-friend. She's got an awesome family schedule! I must say that the Lord blessed me with a husband who loves a clean house and does more than his share of the work. Over the years I have adopted his love of a tidy home and this makes us all a little more happy and peaceful.

I think I'll save my cleaning/tidying theories for another day since this turned into a marathon post. Sorry KR and Elizabeth. I'll answer your questions this week ... pinky promise ;)

QOTD: How do you encourage your kids to pitch in around the house?


Carpool Queen said...

I'm getting the boys to help me more and more with chores - sorting clothes, putting them away, sweeping the kitchen floor. It doesn't get done as nicely as I would do it, but it's GOOD ENOUGH, and though they may grumble a little at first, they do get it done.

This year I'm going to teach them how to run the washing machine and hopefully soon have them be completely responsible for their clothes.

One can dream, right?

Amy Kinser said...

Love the bank idea.

Just wanted to share with you that I also think it is so very important to teach our children to be able to be "keepers of the home" as well as the adults. I want my girls to be able to cook, clean, do laundry, iron shirts, bake bread, plan a meal, cook a meal, mow a yard, dig a ditch, take out the garbage...whatever it takes to manage a home. I want my son to be able to do the same. I want him to be able to sort the laundry into the correct baskets, vaccum the floor, tend to the chickens, start a burn pile, cook a meal, etc.

It is so important to me that they have diligent hands. I want them to have fun, but I want them to know how to work and to know that when work is done, then we can play. I also think if they stay busy, they don't have time to get into too much trouble. This can be play and work. Idle hands are the devil's playground kind of thing.

I do think my daughter-in-law will appreciate that my son can do laundry and my son-in-laws happy that their wives can mow a yard or change the oil.

Can you see that I am passionate about not being lazy or having lazy children? I really am not a drill seargent, but it is easy to teach home and life skills while homeschooling.

Thanks for giving me a chance to share my thoughts. Sorry I was sooo long winded. I will keep it shorter next time, I promise.

Kellie said...

I am feeling loved! I am in your post. Of course, it just means people are seeing my OCD tendencies. lol The money system sounds REALLY interesting... may have to try that when I can sit and think on it. :)

Kellie said...

Great post. There is no better gift than teaching our kids the value of hard work and to build up the home and family by working together!

I also have tweaked my MOnopoly Money ways....it seems to evolve on a monthly basis as I get everything all worked out!

Gretchen said...

I'm not always good about keeping things orderly, but you are so right--there is much more peace and happiness in our home when I do. And you're also right about the chores. Inspired to think in a new attitude about giving my kids the gift of responsibility. Very nice. Doesn't scream "nag" at all. :)

dawn said...

Even worse for our kids than seeing us do all the cleaning, is when we do it all when they are gone and the never see anyone doing it. They don't learn the work that it takes to run a home.

I like your fake money idea, as our allowance thing get's lost in the shuffle when I don't have cash on hand.

Jenn A said...

We have a chore chart for basic chores that I want the boys to know how to do well and some really consistent routines for morning and evening. For example, they should eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, and have Bible time before any play in the mornings. Right now I am trying to come up with a way for my boys to remember their whole routine without having to be reminded and checked up on. Any suggestions? It seems that they have started to rely on the reminders instead of growing in taking responsibility to remember. Parenting is an ongoing process....

Suz said...

Love your envelopes and fake money method!

We typically do a 5-10 minute crash cleanup a few times a week. The kids have fun to see how fast they can clean up.
I have learned even a 2 year old can set a table!

Rachel said...

I love the idea of the fake money. I never have cash on hand either. Just might have to try that!

Recently, our kids have been getting "paid" in Jelly Bellys. We got the ginormous jar at Costco. But they never get more than like 10 a day. (Surely that few can't hurt, right? :) It works well with Emma because she's so young, and understands the NOW so much better than LATER you can spend the money you earn. "Go make your bed and you earn 3 jelly bellys!" Motivates her every time!

Bugs and Sunshine said...

You're right NEM, I needed to be thinking about this today. It's time for me to be giving these boys some consistent chores. My husband's Mama raised him right and he is amazing. Helps with everything around the house. We need to start instilling this in our boys now. Thanks for the ideas today.

Shawn said...

Great post. We have started an allowance with Andrew in the past month. He has one chore each night of the week except the weekend. I'm off on the weekends and so is he :-) I went and opened a free checking account at Wachovia and got an ATM card (not a check card). It's in my name, but it's his account. He gets $4 a week. $2 is to spend how he wants, $1 is to save and $1 is to give. Each Saturday we give him the $4 and we put the save and give in a folder at home. The $2 we give him in cash and we take it to the bank and he deposits it using his card and his "secret" code. He was jumping up and down the last few times we did his deposit. He made his first purchase the other day at Best Buy and was SO excited to use his secret code. If we are not able to make it to the bank we do an online transfer and show him how that works. He now understands that there is not an indefinite amount of money in the machine where we get our cash out which is really nice. We're still thinking about ideas for giving and would welcome comments/suggestions. Melanie keeps his card in her wallet in case we are out and see something he wants. We are teaching him to think about the decision, make it and enjoy it.

Mich said...

Love this idea...

Tonight we cooked and cleaned the kitchen as a family...they learn how and mommy learns a little more patience.

Amber said...

Love the idea of the money chart. I may have to add that to our system. We have a chore chart, with morning chores (that must be completed before we start school) and daily chores (that they can do anytime during the day, but must be done before bedtime). We have popsicles sticks with the assigned chores and they are moved to different library pockets on a chart.

My kids don't get paid for these chores, they are just expected because they are part of the family. BUT...I do pay them a little bit if they do extra chores or for extra effort. I like your idea though....A great way to keep up with it!

Kay @ Off the Beaten Path said...

Great post. You go Mom!