Monday, June 10, 2013

be responsible. {#SurvivingSummer}

As I mentioned in my last post, once upon a time I was surrounded by helpless babies and semi-helpless toddlers. And then one day I realized I was surrounded by fully capable children! But, alas, they were still fairly helpless because we had yet to show them ways to be helpful or teach them how to be responsible or explain to them what it meant to pull their weight.

First up on my summer reading list is Cleaning House: A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement. Because I'm too lazy to write my own summary right now, here's a snippet from the back cover:
"Dismayed at the attitude of entitlement that had crept into her home, Kay Wyma got some attitude of her own. Cleaning House is her account of a year-long campaign to introduce her five kids to basic life skills and the ways meaningful work can increase earned self-confident and concern for others."
Now the author has older kids than we do, so she's playing some catch-up while we're just getting started. I like to think we have some basic sense of order around here, but truthfully I still make the kids' beds each morning, Dylan has no real incentive to get the toothpaste down the drain, Ella has never been taught how to properly set a table, and I feel like I'm constantly fighting a never-ending battle to restore order to the ol' homestead.

We tried using chore punch cards and those worked pretty well for the "extras" the kids would sometimes do to earn a little extra cash, but we had no real way to keep up with their every day responsibilities. I figure summer is a good time to establish a new system. We have more time to learn, and really, it's vital in order for us to not just survive, but to thrive, this summer for everyone to pitch in a bit more around the house.

Enter the laminated chore charts. Pinterest is teaming with free chore chart printables, and I picked these ones from sew.craft.create. because they were cute and simple. I hit print three times, drove to Staples, and paid $1.79 a piece to have them laminated. They are stuck to the side of our kitchen pantry, and I filled in age-appropriate (and for the most part, daily) chores for each kiddo.

The big kids need to make their beds, put away their laundry, and keep their rooms picked up. Dylan is also on living room patrol and in charge of wiping down the kids' bathroom when he needs it. (I'm crossing my fingers that he'll make the connection between bad aim and more work.) Ella's extra tasks are setting the table and keeping the basement picked up (otherwise known as the place where the Barbies, Calico Critters, and everything else with Many, Many, Very Small Pieces live).

Mady's list is smaller - she's learning to put her dirty clothes in the hamper, keep her room picked up, and put pillows back on the couch when she sees them on the floor. (Pillows on the floor drive me batty, and I am not above meeting my own personal needs under the guise of teaching responsibility).

Reading is also listed on each kiddo's chart -- it's not really a "chore" but this seems like an easy place to make sure we're staying on top of it during the summer months (more ideas on this coming later). We can easily switch out tasks each week as the kids master certain ones and/or rotate some of the bigger jobs between the kids. And I'm going to make sure that I take the time to actually teach them how to complete the tasks successfully. Their future roommates and spouses will thank me later.

We presented the new system and honestly, they were excited. In the Cleaning House book, the author talks a lot about the connection between responsibility and self-confidence, and I think they're excited to feel like they're a real part of "grown-up" things. Also, I think they are really, really smitten with anything dry erase right now.

And now you might be wondering what they pay-out is here, the incentive, the reward (this is still America, right?!). Here's the kicker: there isn't one. Well, not a tangible, monetary one anyway.

Matt and I talked about it, and we think it's good for the kids to learn basic responsibilities around the house because work is a part of life and working together is a part of being a family. We hope to occasionally, every few weeks or so, casually say something like, "Oh my! Because we've all been doing such a great job taking care of the house, we have some extra time and energy... Hey, I know! Let's go out for ice cream!" Or something like that. But mostly, we want them to realize that when they act responsible and work hard, they feel good about themselves. End of story.

Experiment #2: BE RESPONSIBLE. Currently in progress. But off to a rockin' and a rollin' sort of start.


  1. We have a similar chart, but it has behavioral and "chore" responsibilities. I'm with you that these are just part of living under our roof, but I do let them pick a small prize out of the box at the end of the week if they don't miss too many (no money tho - there's a separate list for paid 'extras'). Since you're not giving tangible rewards, do you plan on giving any consequences for not following the chart? Just curious. I just wish we could be consistent :P Ours are almost 6, almost 4 and of course the baby. I'm not a super consistent/routine person so being consistent with this is def a challenge. But I have seen the benefits when we are. Love this series!

    1. No solid word on consequences yet...for now I'm trying to frame these chores as non-negotiable's. In the same way we get dressed every morning and brush our teeth...we also make our beds, put away our laundry, etc. But if it comes to consequences, I'll try to come up with some natural ones... Stay tuned ;)

  2. Not going to lie, I can't wait until I have a house full of little helpers :) You go girl! Pretty sure I could start some of this with my four year old though...thanks for some motivation!

  3. bad aim = more work. Do they EVER get that? :)

  4. Bathroom Cleaning 101 today, and it was quite hilarious when Gibson found out he was wiping up pee.

  5. I started this book in the fall. I love it. My kids (6,8,10) have mastered the making the bed. We did jars with quarters as incentive. after 2 months the $$ was not longer a motivator but they developed the habit and still going strong. Looking forward to adding to the "program" this summer.


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