Life Skills, Motherhood

Chores- training little helpers

For the last few years I have hired wonderful teenagers to help me clean house because I was too overwhelmed with my small children to keep on top of it all. Since we have been in Germany I have not found anyone who lives close enough to help me and have been forced to go it alone.

I found that keeping everything picked up took so much time and these little boys could make messes faster than I could clean up, I knew I had to either teach them to help or hire outside help. After reading several helpful blog postings like Operation Chore TrainingThe Unlikely Homeschool and Confessions of a Homeschooler, as well as some great advice from my facebook friends I finally got my little guys trained and my house has been clean every day for more than a month now! Really!

I took these pictures to show you what my house looked like when I woke up in the morning even though we have four house guests. It might not be spotless, but it doesn’t make me cringe when I walk into the room either!

So, here’s how I applied the information from the above sites to my three littles (6, 5 and 3)… We have four bathrooms, but we rarely use the basement one, so each boy has been assigned a bathroom as their responsibility to keep clean. Every day. (Thank you Megan for this idea!) They deep clean them on Monday’s and Saturdays, and the other days just make sure there isn’t anything on the floor.

Each boy also has daily kitchen duty. One helps with breakfast, one with lunch and one with dinner. This includes setting the table as well as helping me load the dishwasher, washing counters and sweeping. It is amazing how much faster it goes with a little help, even from a 5 year old. The 3 year old might not be trained up as well yet, but we’re working on it.

In addition to bathrooms and kitchen, they are responsible for making their bed every morning before breakfast and cleaning their room every day before dinner. They each have one additional responsibility- one boy is in charge of straightening the living room and emptying the bio can (mandatory composing here in Germany), one is responsible for the entry way and another for straightening the shoes. On laundry day, they help fold and put away their own clothes.

It took a few days to train them and I do have to inspect, but it has made a world of difference in my stress level! Now, when I say “chore time!” they know what to do. In fact, my six year old does his chores without me even asking. If you would have asked me a month ago if that was possible I would have laughed out loud.

Here’s a break down of what we do EACH DAY.

In the morning before coming to breakfast they make their bed.

My 5 year old helps me clean up breakfast and then everyone does chores, which means each boy goes to their bathroom and makes sure there is nothing on the floor and the towels are hung up. If there is anything dirty, they need to clean it otherwise they can wait until our deep cleaning days. My six year old straightens the living room which means nothing on the floor or coffee table (other than school books) and pillows straightened. My 5 year old picks up the office and 3 year old cleans the entryway/straightens shoes.

My 3 year old helps with lunch cleanup. Before dinner all boys go make sure their room is clean and check their bathrooms and other areas to make sure they still look nice. My 6 year old helps with dinner cleanup and recycling.

They each have a reward chart (the older two have Melissa and Doug charts, the youngest has Confessions of a Homeschooler charts). They must completely EVERYTHING on their chart in order to earn a ticket for the day. If they have extra good behavior during the day they can earn Best Bee-havior rewards which earn them extra tickets.

Tickets are used to buy activities (bubbles, playdough, computer time, movies, art projects, special time with mom/dad, etc…many ideas came from the book Teaching Your Children Joy) or can be used to buy real things- each ticket is worth 25 cents. So far this system is working really well for us and I’m so grateful for all the wonderful resources out there because I could never come up with these ideas on my own!

Activity cards make it easy to “spend” tickets…download Word doc

If you have kids who are a bit older I would recommend an allowance system similar to this one over at The Unlikely Homeschool.