Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kids, Chores and Proficiency: Does the Training Ever Pay Off?

Today's post will, I hope, be an encouragement for you younger mamas out there.  I was just sharing with Doug this morning how it seems like we've reached this new place with chores.

About three or four months ago, I bought a magnetized white board calendar with the intention of making a pinterest project I'd seen with a magnetized, changeable meal plan.  It was a great idea that I never got around to doing.  So instead, I used the large calendar white board (with 5 "weeks" on it) to make a slot for each kid with different house chores each day.

Each child (except for little Moses) has two chores to complete each day.  These chores are in addition to any normal daily routines (self-care, tidying their own messes, etc.), and in addition to any family-clean-up times as well (those moments when I call everyone in--whether out of a well-thought-out-plan or sheer frustration-- to all work together on a particular room/project).  

So anyway, they each have two jobs per day.  There are individual tasks like my big boys loading dishes or vacuuming alone... paired-off tasks like my 4 & 6 year olds unloading dishes together, or my 8 & 10 year olds cleaning bathrooms together... and entire-group tasks like everyone cleaning up the play room or tidying the living room together.  

But what I wanted to share with you today is that they're really getting proficient at these tasks.  After a couple months of training and consistency, yesterday it occurred to me: for the first time, I think, I didn't have to "coach" anyone.  No questions, no prodding, no reminding, no pointing out... I directed them to look at the board, and each did their task for the day, and each did their task well.  

(I did still have to settle/quell an argument between my 4 & 6 year olds... but that's normal parenting, not really related to the chore they were working on.)

So my word to you is this: let your two year old "help" you load laundry into the dryer, even though it takes longer... and take time to train your four, six, eight year old to be helpful... because it will pay off. They will learn life skills, and learn to take responsibility for things in their own home & environment.  They will appreciate you more, as they realize what all you do & have done for them all these years.  And they WILL, EVENTUALLY, gain proficiency and perhaps even occasionally do things exactly right, without constant, diligent near-exhausting oversight and training.

Just a word of encouragement to those of you in the middle of only the training... there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the "front" of our train is starting to pull into that light... even while I still have some "cars" back in that training stage too.  Just wanted to tell you it can be really GREAT.

Press on, mama!


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