"Being part of the family means you help out with the chores. They are just a part of life. I'm not a king that I should be served." -A quote from my very own Mr. Incredible.
When I was pregnant with my second child I came to the realization that with a toddler and a baby I would not have the time to keep up with the household chores to my satisfaction. It frightened me because when my house is out of control, I feel out of control! My husband encouraged me to make a list of the chores that I absolutely needed to have done on a daily basis in order to keep my sanity. From then on he has helped me get all of these chores done each night after dinner. (And that's only one reason I call him Mr. Incredible.)
Four years later, our boys are more independent so technically I should have the time to get more done during the day. However, the bulk of our day is now consumed with homeschooling and other activities, so we still don't get these basic chores finished. In an attempt to instill more responsibilities into our boys, I instituted our family "Daily After Diner Chores."
|Our "Daily After Dinner Chores" Chart. When we complete a task we move the magnet to the "done" box.|
The chore chart is posted on our fridge and after dinner we immediately work on getting the list done. The very last thing on the list is "family time" which can be as simple as a small dessert or as involved as a fun outing, depending on what we have time and money for. This gives us all an incentive to get the chores finished fast.
It has been so much fun watching my boys take joy in working together as a family. As they clear the table they sing the "Dishes to the Sink" song and they even assign names to our tasks like "family fold out." Sometimes they have too much fun and get distracted, but after some redirection from their not so giddy parents, they are back on track as our chore-busting allies.
Q: What happens if we eat out or get home late?
A: I try to plan ahead and get more done during the day or catch up the next day. Eating somewhere else also means we don't have the mess from dinner in the kitchen so there is less to do.
Q: Why don't I assign chores to specific people?
A: My husband had 5 kids in his family growing up and each one took a turn cleaning up after dinner. Can you imagine been stuck in the kitchen doing dishes by hand and cleaning up after seven people all by yourself while your siblings and parents were watching TV or playing? That sounds miserable to me. No wonder he doesn't like to do chores!
I don't want my kids to think of chores as a punishment or something that has to be depressing. I want them to think of them as something that can be made enjoyable and done with a good attitude. It's more fun to do get the chores done when you're not doing them all by yourself. I want my kids to learn that when they are part of a team they are not finished with their job until everyone is finished!
Q: Why does my husband help with chores after he's been working all day?
A: My husband works very hard at his job. His work is physically demanding and he often comes home exhausted. My job as a homeschool teacher and mom may not be as physically demanding, but it is often mentally demanding and time consuming and I am also often exhausted at the end of the day. He acknowledges that we both work hard during the day.
As a perk of being my own boss, I can sometimes assign myself an easy day or even take the day off from school. When I've had an easy day and I'm not exhausted, I'll complete the chores myself while the boys have some time with dad.
My husband also knows from experience that I can get quite grumpy if I feel like my house is a disaster. It's not pretty and I'm not proud of it, but he would rather have us both be able to rest and spend time together at night than for me to be cleaning furiously until midnight. (And that is another reason I call him Mr. Incredible.)
Q: What about all of the other household chores like cleaning the bathroom, dusting, vacuuming, etc...?
A: "Daily After Dinner Chores" are just the bare bones basic chores that I would like to have done everyday. Everything else I do as I go or as needed. I'll clean the shower while I take a shower. I'll disinfect the bathroom counters while I'm brushing my teeth. I keep disinfectant wipes handy and clean the toilet often. I mop the floors when my kids are at their grandparents. I dust or fold an extra load of laundry while my kids are outside playing or watching a movie. I'm constantly picking things up and putting them away as I walk through my house. Because I work at home, I can fit in other chores here and there throughout the day.
Q: How did I implement Daily After Dinner Chores?
A: First, I ran the chore chart by my husband and got the green light from him. Then, one night after dinner I asked my kids what kinds of chores needed to be done around the house. I asked who should do these chores. I showed them the chore chart and asked whose pictures were on the chart. They saw that everyone was on the chart which meant that everyone helped with the chores. I explained that there would be a fun family time activity if we all worked together to get the chores done quickly. I talked the boys through each chore, gave them small tasks to complete, and let them take turns moving the magnets over. (This was fun for them.) I kept a positive, light attitude and celebrated each time we finished a task. If the boys got distracted I would say something like, "Uh oh, we won't be able to have a fun family time if we don't finish our chores."
Let's face it, it's not the boys' most favorite activity, but because I've presented the chores in a fun - let's get this done as a team and reward ourselves when we're done- attitude, the whining and complaining is minimal.