I've been meaning to write a post about our new regime of family meetings, chores cards (for the kids), tidying up after ourselves etc. But I just keep not getting to it.
So I'm going to start small and just talk about chores cards.
A few weeks ago we had a family meeting in which we talked about chores. About how sometimes it feels like Chris and I do everything, and when we ask for a little help it's grumbled about. And how frustrated that makes us feel, because we're all part of the family and we all need to be involved in keeping the household running.
So, as a family we brainstormed a list of all the chores we have to do. It included everything we could think of, from feeding the animals, to cooking dinner, to folding washing, to going out to work and earning money. Then we went through the list and agreed on which chores it was feasible for the kids to do. Not that they would do them all, just which ones they were capable of. At this point Liam made a couple of statements like "I'm not emptying the dishwasher' - something he'd been doing quite often on request - wish I have to confess bothered me, but I let them pass.
Then, we brainstormed ways of sharing the chores more fairly. I had had in mind giving Liam some regular daily & weekly chores. His idea included rather less chores than mine! But we settled on a system which he came up with. We wrote out 'chore cards' of all the chores he could do without help, or with a little help. They included things like:
- Set table
- feed dog (morning & night)
- sweep floors (this requires help)
- pack dishwasher
- clean & tidy bathroom (only expect a fairly basic job - clean basin plus tidying - but he seems to quite like this)
- vacuum (needs help)
- feed chooks
- empty compost, and so on.
Then, each day we'd put the cards in a hat and he would draw out two of them, keeping the ones he pulled out until they were all gone (so that we would get through the lot in less than a week and start again).
Kaely only has four chore cards - feed dog dinner, feed dog breakfast, check mail, empty dishwasher - but actually, she empties the dishwasher (with a little help, but not much) almost every day anyway.
I wrote down and got agreement during this meeting that things like clearing our own dishes, putting away our own toys, and putting away our own clean washing would continue to be everyone's jobs. Which was just as well, because the very first time Liam got "Clear dinner table" he claimed he didn't have to put his breakfast dishes away!
Of course, we've never been very good at enforcing those things before - clearing away dishes or packing up toys - but we'd already started to improve, especially over this summer holiday.* And putting away their own washing was a whole new thing we'd never asked them to do before, simply because until we rearranged their room and redid the closet, their clothes weren't well enough sorted or didn't fit properly in the draws they had.
This all went really well for the remainder of the school holidays (which was maybe about two weeks). Since school's been back it's been a little trickier, because some days we don't get home between school pickup and dinner. So we revisited the issue at another family meeting and agreed on these changes:
- I would try to schedule less stuff into our days (a lot of this was trying out carseats in the first week or two of school)
- We would do duplicate cards for some of the easier, daily tasks, so there'd be enough to see Liam through the school week, and then we'd reserve the more time consuming tasks - bathroom, vacuum etc - for weekends.
It's still not going quite as smoothly now as it was before school started, but it's working pretty well.
And I love what Jane Nelson says about solutions that 'don't work', because they stop working after a month (or whatever) - so for a month were things going better? Then in what way did it not work? It just means now you put it back on the agenda and figure out some new solution, or how to modify the old one to make it work better.
*This really deserves a post of it's own - about systems, and practice and how, for instance, Mikaela is so much better at things like putting her PJs away in the morning instead of dropping them on the floor (Liam's preferred modus operandi), simple because we now have systems in place and have started her following them so much earlier.