We had a couple over for dinner last week, and after the meal, us ladies came into the kitchen to see how the meal clean-up was going. Just then, she noticed the “responsibilities list” on the wall next to the slate chalk board. She quickly took a picture of it and seemed equally amused and intrigued by our little list. It’s a humble note paper cut to a square and taped to the wall with washi tape (I love washi tape – I can finally display all the children’s drawings!). I’ve seen many a fancy bordered chart ,or better yet, chalk-art-decorated board for displaying the assignments. Ours is simple, folks!
I have a friend who makes a very valid case for calling the children’s job’s for the family home assignments, because chores has the connotation of burden or drudgery. Whatever the semantics, our family’s been trying to clean up messes for 15 years : ) The mess is not peaceful for me. I feel calmer, happier and can think much clearer when the spaces are orderly and tidy. I think it is this way even for children.
Our family’s chore list is for the year. At the beginning of the school year, we sit down and discuss all the old chores and how they are changing hands. Everyone is usaually happy to switch it up and understands, so the only purpose of the paper chore list is mostly for reference (in the case that Nathan or I forget or there’s a need to switch it up for a day). The children don’t really look at it, because they’re doing it all the time.
I read a quote years ago from an older mom who said, “Life is messy, so clean it up.” I couldn’t agree more. Have grace to allow the mess, and be adamant about cleaning it up. Even though tidying up is agreeably necessary, each household has a cleaning routine. If it is part of the family’s regular rhythm, it hardly is much effort to have visitors. This has proven true for us many, many times! When the children were younger and schooling was less rigorous, we cleaned before the weekend in efforts to enjoy all the time with Daddy when he was home. I always knew I’d have to forgo this little luxury when schooldays grew longer and our days got fuller. So here we are, a few years into the routine of cleaning a little everyday and a little more on Saturday morning : )
Cleaning the family home for us is divided into two categories: Daily and Weekly Responsibilities
- collect laundry and wash (first thing in the morning), flip, fold, and put away (by dinnertime)
- wipe bathrooms, change hand towel (morning)
- empty trash bins (morning)
- feed the animals (morning and evening)
- wash dishes, dry and put away, wipe counters (after each meal)
- wipe table/chairs, vacuum kitchen and dinning room (after each meal)
- vacuum stairs
- clean mirrors and spot clean windows
- vacuum all floors
- mop all floors
- scrub bathtub, sinks and toilets
A few things that we try to remember:
- Involving the children in cleaning and taking care of the family home takes time and patience both for the children and the parents.
- Always look for age-appropriate tasks.
- Try to find a home for everything. It is too overwhelming for a child to tidy up if there is no specific place for things.
- Remind little ones to clean up one activity before moving on to the next activity. Small habits make a big difference!
- Set a regular tidy-up time. Before lunch or naps, before supper and before bedtime may be a natural rhythm.
- Work along side them even if it isn’t on the same assignment.
- Take a break and then keep going.
- Encourage and praise them profusely during the task and when they’re done. Celebrate small victories together. A little reward like a high-five and reading aloud one picture book can feel special.
It is a joy to take responsibility in the care of the possessions God has entrusted us with. We all enjoy the sense of accomplishment and equally appreciate the reward for our efforts when we can use the tidied up spaces.