Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hippie Method: Chores Galore

Alternately...Raising Your Own Slave Labor. I'm totally kidding.

How do modern women do it all? They don't. And neither do I. I get my kids involved.

I was raised by parents who tried to convince their 8 kids that Labor Day was all about laboring. It was not a holiday to have a barbecue. It was a day to WORK!

Of course, I've picked up the best of my parent's parenting techniques, including making my kids work. As with the early morning habit,  the hard work habit kind of stuck too. I wasn't born to it, but it was cultivated in me. Now I am passing on the my own kids the joys of working and responsibilities.

Having a job to do makes each member of the family feel like they belong. Like they are contributing to the whole. From youngest to oldest, our kids have jobs to do every day.

I think we as parents make the mistake of thinking our kids are too little/young. But, if they can walk, they can do a job. It is ironic that we think our kids are brilliant when it comes to counting or coloring at 18 months, but yet we don't think they can pick up their toys. Boy have they got us hoodwinked!

We also think, (rightly this time) that it would be easier to do it ourselves. Its true. It is easier. In the training moment. It takes time to show your child the right way to do a chore-from loading the dishwasher to making their bed to vacuuming the stairs. Then you let them do it. And you check up on them. And you re-show them how to do it right, and make them do it again. And you really wonder if it is worth it.

But, if you are faithful in the training and followup, it won't be too long until they will be doing their job right. Because they know they aren't going to get away with sloughing off and doing a poor job.

So, be persistent. It does pay off!
LC loves to get in on setting a beautiful table. This is for special-not everyday.

Age Appropriate
What are age appropriate chores? Please be mindful that this is a very rough guide.

-From walking on...they can pick up their toys, throw clothes in the dirty laundry hamper, and throw away diapers. Simplify picking up by simplifying their toy selection. Or by simplifying your sorting system. If it is so complicated only you can figure it out, only you will be figuring it out. Oh, and if they are big enough to dump toys out, they are big enough to put them back.

-From 4 or 5 on...they can empty the dishwasher (sorting and stacking dishes in piles of plates, bowls, etc. if they can't reach cupboards), put away clean silverware, make bed, dump little trash cans into a bigger one (like bathroom and laundry room into the kitchen trash), clear own place setting, set table

-From 5 or 6 on... vacuum hard floors and stairs, dust base board trim, wash and dry dishes, or load dishwasher, sweep

-From 8 on...switch laundry, start washer and dryer, put own laundry away, vacuum carpets, dust

-From 10 on...sort laundry, fold laundry, clean bathrooms.

I am not saying that your kids should do all this stuff, I am saying they probably could. Meaning-they have the ability to. It is ironic, but BMV has been my right hand man for as long as I can remember. I have hesitated more and more with the successive kids, thinking maybe I was expecting too much from them for their ages. Backwards, right?!

But, really, they can do all these things. They may not want to. But they can. And they can do a good job-when they put their mind to it.

The thing is, when kids are really little, they want to help. They want to be elbow deep in the suds. They want to dust. They want to vacuum.

We get into the habit of telling them no because it makes too big a mess. Or it is inconvenient. It is better to teach them while they are willing, than to try to teach them when they aren't willing anymore.
LC emptying the dishwasher

How does this all shake down in the Barefoot Hippie household? The 3 oldest are expected to make their own beds, pick up the toys they play with, and put their dirty clothes in the laundry every night. In addition to this

BMV (10) vacuums the main level of our house 2-3 times a week, dusts their bedroom, sweeps the dining room floor, and washes the table every night, puts away his clean laundry, and switches the laundry as needed for me, puts garbage outside.

Freckles (9) puts away his clean laundry, rinses the dishes, loads and runs the dishwasher, scrubs pans, vacuums their bedroom once a week, puts the garbage outside. Sets the table.

LC (5) empties the dishwasher and puts most of the clean dishes away, puts her clean laundry in her drawers, empties small garbages into kitchen trash daily. Clears the table after dinner. Sets the table.

Meres (20 months) puts clothes in hamper, diapers in the trash, picks up her toys.

This spring/summer I am going to be working with the boys on scrubbing the sinks and toilets. And dusting the house. Maybe I will get LC on the dusting rotation too. It doesn't take much effort.

This doesn't mean I spend my days plopped in my rocking chair, eating crumpets while watching my built in workforce work. I work alongside them. Both Tuesdays and Wednesdays are bigger chore days.

Laundry is still pretty much my chore. I sort, wash, dry and fold the laundry. I haven't worked with them much on it yet. I dust, and vacuum the entire house-besides the boys' bedroom-every week. I also scrub both bathrooms and the kitchen and dining room floors.

Meres getting in on the dishwasher action
Growing up, we didn't get an allowance. Work and the sense of accomplishment was to be its own reward. We have chosen to give our kids an allowance. It is for the dual purpose of teaching them wise money practices, and as a reward for their labors.

We have also used chore charts, stickers, and craft sticks to keep track of chores done, and to earn rewards. I do believe that a laborer is worthy of his hire is a Biblical concept. And so some sort of incentive is always a plus. It can even be as simple as earning screen time for completing chores.

I am not an expert, but this is what has worked for us. Which is why it is part of the Hippie Method series. Maybe some of my ideas will work for you. I hope it was helpful...

Today I shared my Hippie Method: Rome wasn't Built in a Day, on potty training, over at Home Grown and Healthy (here) They're a community of writers who share information regarding healthy, natural, simple living. From March 1-15 they are doing a series of family friendly posts, in addition to an awesome giveaway. Look at all this loot! Perfect for a mom of a new baby or an expecting mother. If you don't fit into either of those categories, I bet you know someone who does.

Enter away, and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway