A few thoughts on the daunting task known as running a home that contains real live human children.
- It’s HARD!
- What works one week/month/year may not work the next. So it requires continual evaluation and evolution.
- Mine and Micah’s hope is to foster a family that interacts as a community of mutual generosity. We all serve each other in whatever capacity we are able, and we appreciate each other’s efforts.
- Trustworthiness is top priority in this endeavor; saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
- Timing is how we do that. As in, “I’ll come see what you made in 5 minutes” means I set a timer* for 5 minutes and, when it dings, I come see what you made. Or, “We’re going to clean the garage for 15 minutes” means I set a timer for 15 minutes and make sure the task ends at minute 15. We don’t want our kids to feel trapped in a time vortex, which eventually gets interpreted as “I can’t trust my parents to mean what they say.”
*We’ve mostly used our iPhone timers to accomplish this, but recently received this timer and plan to start using it instead.
So here’s our latest and greatest in how we are accomplishing these goals. But before I dive in, I really want to preface this post with 3 things:
- I’ve often peaked at how others run their family’s schedules and chores and felt completely overwhelmed or inadequate. That certainly isn’t the goal here.
- Much of our strategy has been gleaned by wise mentors who have successfully survived ‘the little years’ without traumatizing their kids or their marriage or themselves.
- My husband is great at Excel.
So here’s a glimpse at our daily chores as a homeschooling family of 7.
JOBS: Pretty basic, age-appropriate jobs. Took a little time (and a lot of praise) to teach them what each job entails. Sam’s aren’t included here since they’re almost identical to Silas’s, but I can tell you he takes great pride in cleaning the downstairs toilet.
TIME: We give them time limits so they will neither dilly dally or fear that they’re entering that time vortex.
PERIOD OF THE DAY: You can see their jobs are divided into 6 blocks of time: after breakfast, before lunch, after lunch, before dinner, after dinner, and before bed. This gives the kids bite-sized concepts of time and helps them see their accomplishments. It also allows some wiggle room in our schedule and breaks up the tasks.
REWARDS: You can also see that there are 3 daily rewards throughout the day: 1 hour of media, dessert after dinner, and the privilege of listening to an audio book in bed (our kids love Story of the World.) We’re trying to foster appreciation for and satisfaction in their efforts, and media and dessert do the trick!
COMPLETION TRACKER: Lastly, we offer them an allowance of $1 at the end of each week if they’ve completed all their chores. Still haven’t finalized how we will guide their spending and savings, so stay tuned!
A word about SPEED CLEAN since many have asked: This is something I came up with years ago when the kids were all very little with very short attention spans and very limited cleaning capabilities. I’d let them pick a song with the challenge being that their particular chore had to be done before the song ended. It usually ended in kids running around laughing and sweaty and- lo and behold- cleaning. Now that they are getting older, speed clean has turned into 20 minutes of “all hands on deck” to accomplish whatever I decide the need is. Wiping down doors, cleaning windows, dusting, an extra load of laundry, vacuuming the stairs, yard work, organizing a cabinet, cleaning out the fridge…you name it, we’ve done it.
Bottom line, we’ve probably all witnessed the two extremes of running a home that contains real live human children. Either the parent turns into the full-time maid, or the children become the medieval serfs. Our hope is to find a more moderate approach; something that looks more like a family functioning as a community where we all serve each other and our efforts are appreciated…even when the toddler brings the clean dish towels down to the kitchen and proudly plops them into a soapy, marinara-sauce-coated pot that I had soaking in the sink.
If you are interested in our spreadsheets, here they are! And if you have something that is working for your family, do share!