Updated: Feb 23
8 ways to save your sanity (and teach your children important life skills!)
3 (or is it 4) weeks into the 'rentrée' . Afterschool activities have changed, the middle child has gone from primary school to 'collège', and so the child who was supposed to set the table on Monday isn't home early enough to do his job. So I do it. But guess what, on Wednesday's, when he's home and I ask him to help, I hear "But it's not my day, it's not fair!" Sound familiar? Yes, I'm stuck in a chores rut. As you may know, we've been using Positive Discipline tools in our family for the last 6 or 7 years now, and I know how important it is to have children involved in family jobs, both for their benefit and my sanity.
Using Family Meetings
So it was time to re-evaluate, and put family chores back on to the agenda of our weekly family meeting. That's the thing. Just because something works for a while, doesn't mean it's doing to work forever. We've found, especially for chores, we need to change what we're doing every 6 months or so.
Here, to help you, are some of the things we've done over the years
First, we started off with a really simple jobs wheel (as you can see in the picture, arts and crafts are not my strong point!) Hope you get the idea. 6 jobs, each child spun the wheel with our home made spinner and that was their job for the week.
Then they got bored of that, so we had a 'lucky dip' bag, with more jobs in, and they pulled one out of the bag
We soon realised that there were some jobs that needed doing daily, and others were weekly. So then we had two 'lucky dip' bags, and you had to take one from each
Sometimes we simply had lists, and they chose one from each list. Only rule, you couldn't do the same job twice running.
Youngest child got upset because she couldn't do half of the jobs on the wheel (glasses and plates too high to reach, taking the bins down is too scary, etc.). So she refused to spin the wheel, wanted to just decide on her own job, and that was that.
Somehow, we shifted to a system where everyone had two 'days' a week where they were responsible for setting/clearing the table. In theory, this was in addition to a weekly 'loving the house' time. Where all of us spent 30 mins cleaning the house. But that was on Sundays, and there are nicer things to be done on Sundays (playing with friends, hanging out with our lovely neighbours, drinking Rosé (adults only).
So, except in holidays, we (I) found ourselves with the kids only doing setting/clearing the table, and any other jobs were done by parents, or else a child would reluctantly do them if I asked. Along with a husband who would prefer to just do the job himself rather than have an argument with a child to get them involved!
And here we found ourselves, end of September, with everyone's new activities in place, so nobody could do 'their' day anymore - sports, Scouts, art - they all got in the way, and so Dad cooked and Mum set the table. A cleaner has been hired to save my sanity!
I still believe it is really important that my children learn different household skills. I don't want them to get to 18 unable to cook, or load a dishwasher.
So, on Sunday, I brought this problem to our family meeting, and we brainstormed for solutions.
For the moment, we've chosen 4 roles - chef, waiter, laundry, and rubbish disposal. You have that role for a week, and then change. If you're available (i.e. not out at an activity) then you get involved in that chore when it needs doing.
This week, it's going well. Each child has chosen their favourite role, so that definitely helps. I realised, early on in the week it needs tweaking - each role needs a job description. Because my expectations of 'laundry' and what my child is currently doing are different. But instead of complaining/correcting, I'm waiting for Sunday's family meeting, where we'll all review how well it's gone, and adjust our expectations together.
If you want to work with me to switch up how you're doing chores, or want support in implementing family meetings, then get in touch - it'd be good to talk.
Got any other ways you manage chores in your family - add them to the comments, or send me an email, and I'll update the post.