Wednesday, February 1


Chiming in again on the Wednesday 'big family' thread that was the brain child of The Big Yellow House Chris and Mom to the Screaming Masses Carmen. Today's topic is organization. I certainly do not have it all figured out, but I do have some things in place at our house that have helped a lot. This is maybe more along the lines of housework/chores-- but keeping up on the housework is at the heart of being more organized for me.

Tip #1-- I do not believe that housework is only mom's work.

I believe that a big part of my job as a mother is equipping my children for their future as adults. So, I have trained my kids to work. Lots of people do NOT do this because:
--- Kids resist work.
---It's way easier to do it yourself than to micro-manage an unwilling kid.
---It gets done better if you do it yourself.

All these things are certainly true, but only in the short-term. When you are training kids in the 5-10 year old age group, yes, the work gets done slower and the quality often is not what you want it to be. But if you persevere in training and giving them practice and INSPECTING, something wonderful happens after age 10 or 12. They get more competent! And all your hard work at training PAYS OFF! Really!

Some tips in kid training;
--break each job down into steps so that it is not so overwhelming
--ideally start at young age so they always know that part of being in a family is working.
--give them real jobs that really help. A 3 year old can fold pants or towels. A 7 year old can empty the dishwasher with a stepstool. Kids over 10 can load the dishwasher, wash laundry, and clean bathrooms.
--Set a timer and give rewards for beating the clock.
--Always inspect the work. Always. Even young teens need the accountability of knowing that mom is actually going to look over their work.

Tip #2-- Divide the Work Among the People and Set Times Each Day to Do It

At our house it looks like this. I've decided on four main jobs that keep our home functional:

1.)Laundry--a load is begun after every meal. We sort into individual baskets (one for each bedroom) or hung up straight out of the dryer. Then on Wed and Sat laundry is folded by the owners of each item.

2.) Loading dishwasher/ cleaning kitchen-- after every meal

3.) Pots and pans-- after every meal

These first 3 jobs are rotated among 3 of my big kids, ages 11, 14 and 15. They each do one thing for a week, then switch, so no one gets too horribly sick of any one job.

-----------Then there is:

4.) Living room cleaning
Living room cleaning at the moment is the job of our two 7 year olds with the 3 year old 'helping'. Every day after lunch they clean and vacuum the living and dining room.

We also have a list of weekly jobs for each kid, to be done each day after lunch. For example, on Tuesday the 11 year old brings trash cans out to the road, on Wednesday he cleans his guinea pig cage, and on Thursday he mops the kitchen..... We keep that list on the fridge for easy reference...

Of course I stil have to supervise remind bribe nag kids to complete their jobs. I also am chief cook, teacher, fight arbitrater, chauffeur, baby-rocker, kid-hugger, etc... But having this much help from my kids really frees me up to do the things I do NOT want to delegate to others-- and that is the training and nurturing of my children.

AND it is training all my kids to not be afraid of work. All my teenagers can whip through a kitchen and make it shine very quickly. I think that people who learn to work as children have happier adulthoods, because work has always been an expected part of life, not a nasty surprise after years of video games and free time. (My kids DO have video games and free time every day-- but they know the fun comes after the work is done.)

If I think of anything great about the physical organization of our home I'll add it later today...but Carmen has already done a great job covering some of the things we also do such as bins for hand-me-downs, towel hooks in the bathroom, etc.


At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm with you on the kids working part and getting inspected. What I havne't done yet is get as organized about who does what. I sort of have a 'you do this' and 'you do this' system whenever a kid walks by. Organizing might be well worth a shot!

At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All my kids have chores that they do daily. I just need to get better about the checking them consistently to make sure they get done. Great ideas!

At 8:36 PM, Blogger At A Hen's Pace said...

I love your post and have linked to it in my own late-entry post on organization! It's here:

I see you're pretty new to blogging too. Have you figured out what a trackback is? I'm wondering if that's something that tells you that someone linked to you. If I hadn't told you (that I linked to you), would you have known?

Feel free, anyone who reads this, to enlighten me! Thanks!


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