Friday, August 01, 2014

Experiments in Parenting: Special Job of the Day!

Here is my second post on the habits I tried to implement this summer. Of course we aren't 100% awesome at either technique, but I'm talking about general trends in behavior!

In the late spring I read a message board discussion about appropriate chores for elementary aged children. I was really surprised at what some parents had their 5 to 10 year old children doing on a regular basis... washing dishes, doing the loads of laundry independently (sorting, washing, drying, folding), cleaning bathrooms, and more!

Since I had some extra time this summer I thought I could teach some of these chores with the end goal of assigning more routine responsibilities to each child as school starts up again. Another goal was to not make the experience into a situation where I was forcing them to do all the work because I'm horribly mean all of the time.

With that in mind, I created "SPECIAL JOB OF THE DAY!" Each weekday morning I write down a job for each of the older 3 children for them to do that day. I can not believe how excited they were the first weeks to see what their job would be.

I try to come up with a variety of jobs for the week that use different skills (wash or dry the dishes, empty the dishwasher, set the table, help cook lunch, mop the floor, fold the clean towels, wash windows, help me organize your dresser drawers, water plants, weed at the garden with Papa) and rotate the jobs that can be done by everyone. We have about one day a week where the job is something other than housework. For example, they've been asked to write a card or letter to someone, help bake cookies before we have company, read a book to a sibling, and pick out lunch ideas from a couple cookbooks. I try to keep in mind that this is supposed to be educational and fun, so often I'm right there with them helping. It doesn't always save me time, but the goal is mostly to add that responsibility to the day.

It has been going very well. If I am slow to write down the task they always ask to see what they will be doing. Even if they grumble a bit, the jobs always get done by bedtime. No threats or time outs, we just all do our job because that is what happens when you are given a special job of the day. During the first week when one child was refusing to do her job another piped up, "But it is your special job of the day, you have to do it!" That worked and the job got done. Some jobs are tied to a time of day and it is easy to say that TV has to wait until the job is done, but for the most part they want to get things finished.

Most of all, this project has kept me motivated to get my chores done each day. I need to have washed the dishes if M2 is going to dry them!

One of my favorite parts of this project is the times where the kids anticipate their job or ask if I can give them a specific chore that week. Thursday has become, "clean so we can vaccum, pick up your toys, and dust your room" day. This isn't a new chore for them, but it is something that actually needs to be done by them, so I like to include it. They thought it was pretty funny last week when they picked up everything the day before so that they didn't have to do any work on Thursday. Of course this week we seemed to have every toy in the house out and at 3 PM on Thursday I was having to keep them on task quite a bit. But, overall we still are having a positive experience.

I'm guessing they will not be as excited to have new chores they are responsible for and I'm not going to keep giving them daily jobs once school starts, so we'll see how we blend "special job of the day" into "work you are expected to do each week."

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