Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Making life easier (and keeping your house cleaner)

If you have been reading my blog for long, you have probably caught on to the fact that I am Pro-Chore.

Big time.

Why? Why do you need to give your children chores?

Well, because chores:
*teach them responsibility
*teach them life-skills
*teach them self-discipline
*teach them "team-work" (we all pitch in)
*reinforce the notion that Mom is-- gasp!-- NOT a domestic slave or servant!
*keep the house cleaner, less-cluttered and in working order. And a cleaner, less-cluttered and in working order home = a Happier Mama. And if Mama's happy, well, that's a good thing.

Are you overwhelmed with household work? I'm not talking your own personal motherly tasks. I'm talking about housework.

If you are overwhelmed, I'm gonna say it: You are probably not assigning enough chores.

Assigning chores, following through with them, making sure they are done (and done correctly), etc. is a LOT of work. Like almost a full-time job work. And if you, as the parent, has to do those steps again and again, day after day, chances are you will Crash and Burn, figuring that that having to do it all yourself is way easier than keeping track of everything.

But it doesn't HAVE to be.

ChorePacks are something that I simply must SHARE about. Because as a stay-at-home, home school mom of 5, my life is SOOOOOOOOO much simpler and better because of this.

work in coordination with the FABULOUS book, Managers of Their Chores.

Managers of Their Chores are brought to us by the lovely folks, Steve and Teri Maxwell, homeschool parents extraordinaires over at Titus 2 Ministries.

Common questions: Is this book a "Christian" book?

Yes. Much of their reasoning for Chores and inspiration is Biblical-based. However, most of the reasoning is also practical and applicable to every family (meaning that you personally do not have to be Biblically motivated. You can just as easily ignore all the Biblical stuff while still reaping the Chore Pack benefits.)

That being said, I find the entire Chore Pack system so invaluable that it could be run by blood-drinking, pentagram-hauling Satanists, and I would still be first in line to plunk my money down.

A quick summary: A chore pack is a series of cards, smaller than index cards, which are numbered, and show the children what chore they need to do. Kind like a mobile To-Do list. The cards are kept in a see-through (rather indestructible, as ours are still holding up well nearly 1.5 years later) plastic pouch that they clip to their clothing. As they go through their chores, they move their completed card to the back of the pack.

The book is full of exhaustive lists of chores, schedules, and worksheets/planning space for yourself. There is a corresponding website where we parents go in and "create" Chore Packs for each child (create, print, and clip to the kid!)

Here is Miles with his Chore Pack. Even when he first came home from Haiti and had no English skills, the Chore cards had photos, which let him know what to do next. And for a child with control issues who needs a 'quiet' environment, knowing what was coming next was a great relief for him.

Other Chore Pack details:

The good:

* You can accommodate changes in schedule, child by child, day by day.
* You can put in those once a week/month/quarter jobs.
* You can use photos on each card for non-reading children (a bed for "Make bed", etc.)
* You can use colors to differentiate chore packs for each child.
* The Chore Pack clips onto the child, making it easy for any reading adult/older child to help out a non-reader.

The bad:
* It does take time and effort to set assign your children chores for the entire work. However, with the Chore Packs, you assign it and then no longer have to always try and remember who is doing what and when.
* It does take time and effort to log those chores into the computer program to print out those nifty little Chore Pack cards. (but it is returned a trillion-fold when you see how easy your life becomes.)
* You will need to monitor your children until they are responsible enough to follow through on their own. (Hey, no one ever said that this whole Mom-needing-to-teach-kids-responsibility thing would be easy. Sometimes we just have to suck it up. But the Chore Pack monitoring is a short period of time, especially when compared with other methods. Or not method at all.)

We have daily Chore Packs, with chores divided into Morning, Afternoon and Evening Chores. Everyone also has a "Saturday Morning" Chore Pack, which is done every Saturday morning after our usual Morning Chore Pack chores.

Saturday morning is when we do the "big" weekly chores. I'm talking floor mopping, dusting, glass cleaning, appliance wiping, lightswitch/doorknob decontaminating, sheet changing, backyard clean-upping, walkway sweeping, etc.

With the Chore Packs, on every Saturday morning, all 7 of us can get the ENTIRE house clean, shiny and tidy in under 45 minutes. Without the Mister and I having to constantly tell the kids what to do next.

As a SAHM, Homeschool mom whose time is very valuable, that is huge. HUGE.

I keep our Chore Packs on a ribbon attached to the Bulletin Board (located directly underneath the Motherboard.) I also have pinned up the vinyl page with 6 pouches, each pouch assigned to hold a specific child's cards, plus a Saturday morning pouch to hold all of those cards.

I also keep a Chore Pack tally on the Motherboard. If a child finishes the week with enough tallies, they earn allowances.

If you have any questions on our Chore Packs or our Chore Pack system, please feel free to leave a question in the comments section, and I will get back to you.


Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

You are right. I need to give my kids more responsibility around the house. They have to pick up after themselves, clear their place after eating and Genea has to clean the cat poo and Teena has to empty the bathroom and pull up garbage cans. But they sure could be doing more little things daily. Because I am going nuts. Or maybe that's for other reasons.

Anonymous said...

Note- chore packs aren't designed for (or useful with) hubbies. Reasons include:
1. If it isn't connected directly, one day it will disappear.
2. Like car manuals or directions, it will never be looked at (and expose the illiteracy that afflicts many grown men).
3. If there are more than 3 chores in the pack, we will lose the ability to stay focused or remember.

I'd list other reasons but I've forgotten them.....


Leslie said...

I got this a long time ago but then got bogged down in trying to read the explanation. I like the idea and need to pull it out again (if I can find it!)