I love summer. The lazy days, the lack of routine, the endless hours spent outdoors. I’m going to be sad to see it go. I will admit, however, as the school year approaches, I can’t help but find myself getting a little bit excited about new ways to organize and keep everyone on track! Like everything else this time of year, chores have become a little (ahem) loose around here. As I’ve thought about ways to help my children take ownership of keeping our home running, I also want to keep a bit of the feel of summer alive- and keep it simple!
The age at which our children are old enough to have enough responsibility to take on real chores, often coincides with their joy and enthusiasm in helping! Keeping things simple can help our kids continue to serve and care for our homes with a positive attitude.
Inspired by strips of card stock found in the craft isle at the Dollar Store and some leftover mason jars from my failed attempts at canning last, we decided to ditch complicated flow charts and color coded systems and settle on the concept of chore jars.
We fill a big jar with the strips of paper and write the chores that need to be done each day onto them. The night before I divy them up into four smaller jars, one for each child. I try to mix them up for some variety. Then during “chore time” the kids draw a chore from their jar to complete and are responsible for that job if it pops up repeatedly throughout the day.
Our children currently help with: sweeping, vacuuming, wiping sinks and counters, cleaning windows, setting and clearing the table, emptying the garbage, feeding pets, emptying and loading the dishwasher, dusting, watering plants and helping to prepare meals.
When the job is done they put the strip back in the big jar so we know its done. We usually blast music and dance in the morning after breakfast and before dinner to get our bodies moving and make chore time fun. I usually set the timer for about 20 minutes and challenge the kids to work in a flurry as fast as they can!
One aspect of this system, or any system that requires our children to work on tasks independently, is to train them well before setting them loose. That means working side by side, teaching them how to do a task with excellence, offering encouragement and smiles, and preparing them by demonstrating what what will be required of them when they do chores on their own.
This step can be hard work and take time (oh the time!) but the results have brought some major benefits. I’m thankful that we hung in there with this. It is a delight to see my children take on a task with confidence and know they can do it with excellence because we have gently layed a foundation for their success! Those little smiles of “helpers” are priceless and so is the freedom it brings as they share jobs around the house! Which of course, begins to lighten the load for all of us.
How do you handle chores as a family? Any tips for other families heading into a new school year? Share with us in the comments!