So many of the important things we learn in life are learned through good old fashioned hard work. Why is this? I suppose there are many reasons. There is something about physical labor that helps us develop, grow and stretch ourselves in both mind and body. Great satisfaction can come as we put our hands to work and then watch a transformation take place right before our very eyes. It is rewarding when we see the results of effort and labor.
Work is an excellent way to help children learn responsibility. Chores around the house can give them a sense of accomplishment (especially with the correct amount of praise) because the results are visual. Working around the home also creates a sense of belonging and contribution which is something we all need–even the littlest of us.
My children were having a difficult time working together to clean the house without arguing. They would blame others for things left out and they did not want to work together to get a job done. They consistently complained about how unfair it was to be forced to pick up someone else’s mess. One child would say something like “I didn’t put that there.” Another would shout, “So and so did that, not me.” These became the automatic response so that they didn’t have to be the one to do it.
I felt like not being organized with chores was leading to the children becoming less responsible in general, including their school work. I saw other problems as well. There was a serious lack of motivation to do anything that required any physical or mental exertion. There was not a lot of unity within the family. We had to make a change in the way we were doing (or not doing) things.
I am not a huge fan of chore charts. I didn’t want to be tied down to a specific system. These kind of systems usually failed for us. And the chores I want done change from day to day depending on the messes the kids make on any given day. I also like entire rooms to be neat and orderly looking not just random jobs completed within a room. This just left me disappointed when a room still didn’t look clean but all the chores were done. And it didn’t allow the children to see much of an accomplishment because the room overall may still look messy. But, I knew that I had to have something. We talked as a family and together we decided on the following system. The best part is the children helped come up with the idea.
So here is what I did:
I split all the rooms in the house into areas. The kids are responsible to clean up every day for one week and then we rotate. I took a picture of each room exactly the way I want it to look. This has really helped all of us! When something isn’t done all the way or has been forgotten I don’t have to point it out. I just tell them to go look at the picture and make it look like what they see. This visual is really helpful for children!
I wrote underneath each area all the responsibilities that are expected to be completed. The deeper cleaning things like dusting, vacuuming and mopping are listed but do not have to be done daily. They just have to be done at least once before the area is turned over to someone else the next week. It has been useful to have the pictures along with the written responsibilities.
The kids are responsible to keep their area clean throughout the day. It’s not just do it once and call it good for the day. They do a quick pick up of the area in the morning and generally again in the late afternoon if it needs it and again just before bed. With so much frequency the rooms don’t ever get completely out of control and overwhelm the kids. I have noticed the kids try not to just drop things in their siblings areas because they began to see how much they are picking up messes they didn’t make. I like how they are recognizing how much other people leave things out! It has made them a little more conscientious and respectful.
Here is how I made the board:
I cut a piece of MDF board to the length and width I wanted and painted it.
I bought the letters that spell WORK from Hobby Lobby in the scrapbooking section. They were just stickers. I mod-podged them on for extra support.
I bought the cardboard plaques for their names at Hobby Lobby in the stamping section. I bought stickers in the scrapbooking section to spell their names. I also mod-podged them on to the cardboard plaques and then laminated them to make them as sturdy as possible.
I used velcro to place their name tags above their areas. These name cards are the only moveable pieces on the board. It is nice not to have a lot of moveable pieces that can get lost or just get disorganized and make a mess!
I bought the little chalk board clips from hobby lobby in the scrapbooking section and wrote the names of the rooms on them. I clipped the pictures to them and then glued the clips down with e-6000 glue. I have used this glue for all sorts of crafts and it is amazing.
I secured the pictures to the board with thumbtacks.
This project took one afternoon and has been worth every minute spent on it! You, of course, can be as creative as you want to make a board that will benefit your family. There are many ways you could simplify the look of this board. Make it look however you feel would be fun and inviting to get your children to do WORK! I think the most powerful part of this idea is the fact that the children helped come up with it. That helped them feel like the plan is partly theirs and they want to see it succeed as well.
If you decide to try something like this please send us a note letting us know how it went and what you did to modify it to fit your families needs. It would be awesome to have a picture of it too!
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