1. The boys. A few years ago, when we switched to room chores, the two youngest boys were an easy going toddler and a baby. But, as the boys have gotten older, and have gotten better at making messes, the rooms became more cluttered and messy on a daily basis.
2. There were a lot of other chores, that all ended up being in my care: All laundry (for 9 people), all cooking, 80% of the dishes, mopping, cleaning both bathrooms, on top of the homeschooling, gardening and animal care.
It was time to delegate some of the work to the girls, AND train the boys to clean up their own messes. I took a long time in thinking over how best to make this happen, and work it into our schedule. I am happy to say I think I have found the right approach (at this time!) that is working for our family.
The girls still have room chores. Isabella is in charge of the family room, Moira has the bathroom and hallway (though I may add in my bathroom as this only takes her 5 minutes a day to maintain), Flannery has the dining room, Saoirse has the living room and I have the kitchen. The boys are responsible for keeping their toys in their bedroom, and if they bring them out they have to be the ones to put them back, no matter which room they are in. This has given the boys responsibility for their belongings and at the same time reduces the work load for the girls (who were growing resentful of always cleaning up after them).
I wish I had enough courage to show you a picture of our laundry room, and where our laundry usually hung out after it got washed. I have to say that a living room was not meant to house heaping piles of clean laundry,waiting to be folded! I am glad to have my living room back :-) The dirty laundry had to be rounded up all the time. From the bathroom floor, the bedroom floors (never mind that we had 6 laundry baskets!), the family room floor, where ever! But now I delegated the laundry in this way:
I didn't like the idea of each person doing their own laundry. I want them to know that being a part of a family means helping each other and caring for one another. So I have each set of girls washing their combined laundry, plus towels, plus either boys' laundry or sheets. This promotes keeping their laundry in a basket, because THEY will be the ones hunting the laundry down if they don't. And I can assure you there has been no shortage of help needed to make that happen, you can see by the pictures below:
Now, personally, I thought this was pretty self explanatory. But, apparently not! So I had to add this sign, to the FLOOR:
It has since been taken down, as it isn't needed anymore! BUT, I was determined to make this work. So don't give up when you face opposition. This has kept all the dirty laundry in everyones respective bedrooms, leaving our bathroom floor clean and our laundry room floor clean. Since we have a chest freezer, refrigerator, one very large metal shelf, and two smaller metal shelves in the laundry room, there isn't room for laundry baskets (for 9 people) back there. They do 'fit' back there, but then you have to climb over them to get to the freezer, fridge or to get out the back door.
Since we are each doing the laundry two times each for the week this leaves us usually only three loads each day to do. One of towels, one for our own laundry, and one for the boys/sheets. Everything gets folded and hung up as it comes out of the dryer. When all the laundry is done for the day it gets put away where it belongs. No more laundry hanging out in the living room! Plus, no more molding towels or clothing. Here in the South, with our humidity, anything damp, if not washed right way, would get moldy. All towels, and wet things are put in the laundry room to be washed daily.
This has been such a blessing! I'm not trying to manage everyones clothing. And for those kiddos who saw nothing wrong with trying something on, changing their mind, and being too lazy to put it away, they would just throw the clean clothing in the laundry! Now, if they do that they end up having to be the one to wash, dry, fold and put it away! They are learning it is time saving to just put it back right away :-)
We had couple of girls who just could not remember where to set the dryer dial. That was their excuse as to why the clothing just sat in the dryer...wet. So, I came up with this:
I made sure that they *knew* that I was not giving up on this scheduling idea, and there would be no excuse for their work not being done. Problem solved!
The dishes used to be who ever had their rotation of the kitchen being their room chore. But this proved to be too much for just one child and myself. So I decided to take on the kitchen as my duty, which has greatly helped in a myriad of ways. I can let a bit go here and there in other rooms (lowering my expectations of how I think things should be done, especially if a younger girl was in charge of that room), but NOT in the kitchen. A little mess left here, or there, really, really adds up, making it unsafe to cook food there! So now it is just my job, and things are getting done the way they need to. Plus, the dishes are now all kept up on since ALL of us are responsible for washing them. Here is our 'schedule':
Even the boys are involved. They have to unload all the silverware, cups, plates and bowls. That leaves the glass jars and mugs for the girls to put away. The girls are responsible for filling the dishwasher back up. My name isn't on the list, but I am responsible for washing all the things that don't go into the dishwasher (serving wear, pots/pans, 1/2 and gallon size glass jars, etc.). I do those after each meal, which means the dishes are being kept up on, leaving our kitchen clean. Sooooo much better than having piles and piles of dishes to do!Bathrooms:
Here is Moira's list I put up on the inside of the closet door. I gave her the choice to do all the bathroom cleaning in one day (with the everyday maintenance being to take a wipe to the counter/sink, and picking up of items left out), or to spread it out over the week. She chose to have it spread out like this:
For the first time since living in this house, we finally have a clean bathroom on a daily basis! Since this takes her such little time, I may be giving her charge over my bathroom. Which would be very easy right now as we don't have a bathtub, shower, or a floor to mop, just swept or vacuumed. The 'kitchen faces' you see for Friday are a wipe down of the front of the fridge/stove/dishwasher, etc. With a lot of people in and out of there all day long, those fronts really can't wait for a spring cleaning day to be gotten to!
The bedrooms are to be tidied up each morning, and are the responsibility of those who sleep in it.
The vacuuming is done by each girl for their assigned room. The kitchen and dining room have to be done daily, but the other main living areas are done every other day. Bedrooms are done on an as needed basis.
This has really been working out very, very well. I may add in: taking out the garbage, taking out the compost bucket, and egg washing as assigned tasks. Right now it is whoever is available. BUT I have to be the one to *tell* that someone when it needs to be done. So sometimes we've had 60 eggs needing washing, or 5 bags of garbage to be taken out, or an overflowing compost bin before these things were done. They are really something that need to be done daily or every other day (in the case of the compost). I just haven't sat down to think through who will do it, and should we rotate that job each week, each month...? But for now, I am very pleased with how this approach is working for us.
One of the tips I've read for success of chores being done is *accountability*. I need to be checking to see if everything is being done as it should be. This has been made easier by having a certain person responsible for a chore/room, and that we have scheduled times where we are all doing these chores. I can very easily run through and see if it was done, or in the case of two girls in particular, that they are staying on track with their work. Before, accountability was overwhelming. For one, I was the one doing most of the work, leaving me no time to check up on the kids getting their work done. Spreading out the work REALLY helped in that regard. Since the boys are responsible for their messes, which were the majority of the messes in the main living areas, this has freed the girls to help in other areas (laundry and dishes).
These chores are listed on our actual daily schedule, which I shared in another post. Here is where that daily schedule lives, along with the other chore assignments:
The animal chores needed tweaking as well. Although we had divided the milking chores between Isabella, Moira, and myself, we had too much work to do outside, making it impossible for that person to jump into the next things that needed to be done. That left the rest of us waiting, which would end with kids trying to run outside to snatch some play time, or disappearing into their bedrooms to read or play. So I needed them all involved somehow. This is what is working for us now:
Isabella: Milks goats on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Feeds the chickens and baby goats in the morning on her milking day. She feeds the dog twice daily, gives fresh water daily.
Moira: Milks the goats on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Feeds the chickens and baby goats in the morning on her milking day. Will sometimes be called upon to tie up the adult female goats (we only have 2) in the evening if I can't get out there to help, and Jeremiah is left to do the nightly feeding alone. Those stubborn goats refuse to be caught by Jeremiah!
Flannery: She feeds the male goats each morning. She feeds the cats twice daily.
Saoirse: She refills all the goat water buckets (except the males, which Flannery does, as they are located in a different area), and chicken waterers. She gathers the eggs.
Jeremiah and myself: We feed the goats and chickens each evening and refill their waterers. I milk each Saturday.
Although the other two girls are doing most of the milking this year, I thought that was a good trade off as that gives them free time in the evenings when Jeremiah and I do the feedings. I gave them the option to milk less, but then have to take on some evening feeds, but they prefered to get the animal work done in the mornings.
I think a lot of our success also stems from the fact that I have given them more say in how or when things were done. They still had to be done, but having a say to how that all played out really helped them to see I was working with them, giving them options when I could. Some things like our wake up time have been a challenge still. For one, if I wake up at my allotted time I really need a nap in the afternnoon (pregnancy!). But I found if I got one more hour of sleep in, I could go without a nap. So this means we are starting an hour later, but it works out for all of us. I still have two sleepy heads who still can not understand why it is neccessary to wake early each day, as opposed to 10 or 11 AM!! We are working on that. I am too tired at night to sit outside their door to make sure they do lights out at the assigned time. Something to work on for sure. Because it takes them F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to wake up and actually function :-)
But I shall press on. My goal is to fine tune the things I mentioned above, and to have the girls take over my jobs once a week, or every other week, in preperation for when I have the baby. I do not want to have to dig out from that chaos that WILL ensue if we don't carry on with our assigned chores after I have the baby. I know this ALL TOO WELL. Do not want to ever have a repeat of that again. Seven times was enough!