Friday, February 1, 2013

Cold outside, chores inside.

I know some areas are worse, but man, oh man, is it ever cold outside this week. This past weekend was GORGEOUS! Fifty-five degrees and sunny and today it was bitterly cold, overcast and windy. Okay, in all reality, our high for the day was 16 degrees and our highest windchill temp I do believe got up to around -5 degrees. But brrr!

All the super cold means that we have been spending a lot of time indoors. Doing a lot of planning and chore work. Which means that right now is a great time to show-and-tell our current chore system here.

I have four children. Each child has an age in years. Each child is expected to do the same number of chores in living areas of the home as they are old. If all of these chores are done each and every day without fail, said child receives a dollar amount equal to their age once a month. What this ends up working out to being is 3.5 cents per chore. I wanted something that would give the kids money but not be something that would break our budget either.

So here is how it works for Cephas (the child with the greatest age/number of chores/earning potential):

His room has to be clean in order for him to earn any stickers (the way we keep track of our chores) for chores. A clean room means that his bed is neat and tidy, under his bed is free of debris, his dresser, desk and bookshelf are all neat and tidy, the closet is neat and tidy with all items on hangers or in the canvas bins that we use for underclothes. This may sound like a normal thing to the rest of you, but to my twelve year old and his apparent lack of ability to see mess, it is something that has o be clearly defined.

Now for his chores. Currently, at his request, he has the living room. Once again, it may seem silly that we have such a specific list for him, but quite honestly, he needs to have completely clear expectations. His chores are: (1) clear the bookshelf of anything that doesn't belong on there, (2) clear the TV stand of anything that doesn't belong on there and make it look neat, (3) clear off the cedar chest, (4) clear off the couch, (5) clear under couch cushions, (6) make sure the area under the couch is clear,  (7) hang up all the coats and backpacks neatly, (8) make sure all shoes are put on racks or in the shoe baskets, (9) clear off entry table of all non-essential items, (10) pick up floor area in TV area, making sure to check the perimeter area of the floor, (11) pick up floor area in the entry/shoe area, (12) clear off mom's side table.

All are super quick things to do, especially if he does it daily. If he doesn't do it daily, then it builds up and he has to work harder and longer to get it all done. He only earns one sticker per item each day and only if he keeps the chore items up throughout the day. He does have he ability to ask a sibling or a parent to pick up their item if he sees them leaving an item in an area that he is responsible for keeping tidy. He has to do it with respect though. He will get twelve stickers for doing these very basic routine pick up jobs in this one room. The other kids have similarly specific chore items to do in other rooms. This is a system that works for us.

On the wall in our hallway, I have a row of their current school pictures. Under this row of pictures, I have a string that is threaded through 8 mini clothespins that I got from Walmart. Two clothespins for each child hold a sheet of 8x11 printer paper on which we put their stickers. At night, after they go to bed, we place sticker strips with their accumulated stickers from the day in one of their clothespins. Then, once a month, we pay out for their stickers. They can keep the sheet or toss it. The boys generally toss theirs, while Oralee keeps her sheets and hangs them on her wall in her bedroom. Once paid, they get new sheets for the month.

I do allow the kids to do extra work and award extra stickers. For instance, if Cephas or Koren decide to do a load of laundry, it usually nets them 3 stickers (unloading the dryer and bringing the load to my bed or to the couch, transferring the laundry from washer to dryer, reloading the washer). They know all the little parts that need to be done each time. Sorting the load to make sure they are washing like items, using the right amount and temperature of water, cleaning the lint trap of the dryer, etc. etc. Last weekend, they worked together and did six loads of laundry. They worked together on it and I had no issues (because of how well they were working together, cooperating and showing initiative - I didn't say anything to them at all about doing laundry) of giving them each the same number of stickers that I would have given them if they did the work solo. My reasoning? Their joint work ethic. I wanted to reward that as well. And to show them that if they work together nicely, they can get the job done quickly and easily and reap even more benefits than working solo. Their additional benefit was half the workload, same amount of stickers and more time to spend doing what they wanted to do.

Cephas and Koren have been incredibly helpful around the house this week. They have helped me clean Oralee and Jeriah's bedroom, did probably 9 loads of laundry, Cephas cleaned his and Koren's bedroom, and helped me with some laundry work in my room. To be honest, my bedroom most often resembles a clothing store explosion. They earned A LOT of extra stickers for going so far above and beyond this week. The only thing that I actually asked them to do was offering them the opportunity to earn stickers for Oralee and Jeriah's bedroom. Bedroom chores are NOT generally worth any stickers. But if your bedroom chores are not done, you can earn stickers, but you may not collect them, if that makes sense at all.

Okay, so this is what our hallway looks like right now. I will be paying out for their stickers later today as it is the first day of the month.

This is Koren's chart. He has currently earned nearly $5.00 for two weeks worth of work. We had the same concept before, but the stickers were on a different chart (10-strips).


This here is Cephas' chart. He also has been working for about two weeks, and he has currently earned nearly $6.00.

This is Oralee's chart. She prefers her stickers to be placed on there at random. She has earned a little over a dollar and a half.

Jeriah's chart has the least amount of stickers, as he is the youngest and currently the most resistant to doing chores. He has earned just cents shy of a dollar.

I love this system! I love the fact that the kids' chores are so specific that there isn't any doubt that they know exactly what is expected of them. They know what each area is supposed to look like when it is done. It is great! They know what to do and how to do it. Also, I had mentioned that they can earn extra stickers for doing extra chores, if they choose, but their prerequisite for that is that their chore rooms have to be done and their bedrooms have to be clean. It has been a beautiful little arrangement.

Oh, and we are also about to institute a dinner chore wheel, where everyone has a roll to play in the dinner prep or clean up. Those mini-chores are not for stickers, but as part of being a family and learning to be a responsible member of the family. The dinner chores include: unload the dishwasher, clear off the table for dinner, help prepare the actual meal, set the table with dishes, help bring the food to the table, help clear the table of the extra food (everyone is responsible for getting their own place setting scraped off and to the sink), rinsing dishes, load the dishwasher, wipe down the table and chairs, wipe down the counters and stove, sweep kitchen and dining room floors, take out the trash. If everyone chips in and does even two items, the work will fly right by and we will have more time to spend doing whatever we want in the evening.

I think it is a great and wonderful plan and cannot wait to implement it later today as well. I love our chore system and how well it works for us. Maybe something in it will help you, maybe it won't. But I thought I'd share it because it is a system that we have been using for quite awhile now and it just works so well for us.