Do you have hired help?
I have never paid to have my house cleaned. I have occasionally had friends come over and lend a hand with putting my house to rights or folding laundry. Otherwise, it’s just our family taking care of our mess.
I do however possess one superpower.
(If I weren’t on a ladies retreat, you would see a photo of me dressed as Super Mom here. Go ahead and imagine that. My red cape and hair flying in the breeze. Got it? Good.)
I have the ability to assign chores and enforce the execution of those chores! (Hear the trumpets? Yep.)
It’s not the most amazing super power, but it must be something special because good golly there is a lot of discussion in parenting circles about chores. Which chores are age appropriate? How much should a child be paid for chores? How many chores should a child have per day? These are all points of heated discussion on parenting sites and in parenting magazines.
There is a veritable buffet of programs, systems, and charts sold online to help facilitate chores in the home. I borrowed our “system” from a slightly older, wiser, kinder mother of many. She borrowed it from the Navy. We use a Duty Roster.
There are five duty slots on our roster because there are five children old enough to take on assigned chores in this house. The slots are Chef, Trash/Laundry, Dishes, Dog/Baby Helper, and Mommy Helper. The responsibilities covered by each of those roles increase for each child as he or she grows more capable.
In the slot of Chef, the youngest children act as sous chefs. They wash veggies, measure ingredients, stir, and perhaps do some supervised slicing. The older children plan meals and prepare them with varying levels of supervision or assistance from me or Hubby.
In the slot of Trash/Laundry, the youngest children bring down the dirty laundry, sort clothes, unload the washer and dryer, gather trash from around the house, and make sure all trash cans have liners. The older children do all that as well as run the washer, sort clothes coming out of the dryer, and fold household laundry (sheets, blankets and towels.) Every child is responsible for folding their own laundry, except Ducky who just folds all the wash cloths, napkins, and hand towels.
In the slot of Dishes, the youngest children help clear the table and unload the dishwasher. The older children reload the dishwasher, wash all the hand-wash dishes, dry all the dishes, and put them away.
In the slot of Dog/Baby Helper, the youngest children feed and water the dogs, let the dogs out, and entertain the baby as they are able. The older children also change the baby’s diaper and hold her when I need an extra set of hands.
In the slot of Mommy Helper, the youngest children shadow me as I go about my day. They help me take care of my chores and projects. The older children will run errands for me or help the younger children accomplish their chores.
The children are assigned a slot on the duty roster for a week. A new roster is posted in the kitchen every Sunday. Sometimes a child refuses to accomplish their assigned duties that week. In that situation, that child keeps their duties for another week before rotating into a new duty slot. We don’t treat it as a punishment. We simply tell the child he needs a little more practice in the assigned duty.
That’s it. That’s how we keep our house somewhat clean. Of course there have been seasons when this system fell apart completely and the house was trashed. When that happens, we spend a couple days recovering and then get back into the roster. It’s not a perfect system, but it gets the job done.