When the children were little they would not be asked to do much at all to help around the home, the most they would be asked to do would be to make their bed or put their toys away. I wish I had done things a little differently and started to get them to help more when they were little. I should have taught them how to help me.
As a result, helping out around the home is not second nature to them. Saying that, Katie is a great little helper and will gladly do her chores and feels she is being very helpful.(which she is :))
When we became a single parent family I needed them to help out more than they did, which was not much at all.
All the time I struggled to keep on top of things. As in my marriage, housework was left to me to do by myself, all of it, with four children to look after, with no help.
Believe me, I struggled.
I struggled to get it all done to the point of exhaustion and tears and ultimately, resentment.
When their father moved out, in the days that followed, the children and I sat around the table and had our first "house meeting"(which we still have occasionally today). We talked about what to do now? how was this going to work? how do we want to live now? what were we worried about? how would we get through this?
The children were still young, Katie was 6, Sam 8, Jim 10 and Charlotte 12. However, we all had been affected one way or another by previous events, some of us more than others. We needed to pull together and stick together. I needed them to know this was going to be all right and we would all get through this period of time.
One of the ways of doing this was to have stability, a routine, a defined time and place for events to happen, so we could feel safe and secure in our home. Going to school everyday, tea time at 6pm, bed time at 8pm, getting up at 7am, breakfast at 8am, Clean body, clean clothes, clean teeth and hair, out the door and on our way to school by 8:30am, doing homework, playing outside after teatime, bath time, bedtime story then lights out at 8pm.
Having a messy, chaotic home did not help and only added to the stress and uncertainty of our situation.
I researched endlessly on what to do to help our situation and brought together all the things that would work for us. I know that my children are very visual learners, they learn by doing and seeing and not necessarily by reading or listening. So I needed something to help them SEE how much I NEEDED their help.
I took a piece of A4 paper and ripped it into about thirty pieces. I told the children I wanted their help with the jobs around the home and I wanted them to see how this feels for me to do it all by myself. The children stood in front of me and I gave Charlotte my watch to count the seconds. I asked them to watch me and see what I did.
I dropped the pieces of paper on the floor in front of me and Charlotte timed me as I got on the floor and picked up, as fast as I could, all the tiny pieces of paper. It took me about 30 seconds to collect them all in my hand and stand up again. They all though this was so funny. :)
Next, I dropped all the pieces of paper and asked that, while I timed them, they should all collect up the pieces of paper together and see just how fast they could do it.
In 10 seconds flat, they picked up (with much giggling) all the pieces of paper and I asked them what we could learn from this...
Jim came straight out with it, "if we all work together, we can get things done quicker"
What an amazing child !!! Well done Jim. :)
That was exactly my point...
From then on, to varying degrees, the children have all had chores or jobs to do to keep this ship afloat. There are times that this is easy and times that it is hard. There are days that no one, least of all me, wants to do chores, but the house cleaning fairies don't come here any more so we have to do it all ourselves now...
And, as with most things in this house, it starts with a list....
The summer holiday chore list is just a new version of the ordinary chore list, it is just changed around and so everyone gets to do something different over the holidays.
All the jobs that MUST be done are written down here.
The task in hand is often overseen by a cat, who must, according to the rules, sit on the notebook while you try to write on it...
For this chore list I found some labels and decided to write each job on these. Then they could be picked and put on the main list for each person.
I had divided them into sections.
And once a week...
Everyone has their own sheet and was able to pick from each pile which ones they would like to do.
I gave them this first weekend of the holidays off from doing their list, but they still have to help out if I asked for help. This week the new list begins and is going well. Charlotte is now doing her own laundry and in time, her own ironing.
I figure I'm not just raising children, I'm raising adults. I also hope Jim and Sam's future wives will be glad when they find that they have married strong and capable husbands and are not afraid to give their wives any help that they might need.