this is a topic that i could potentially spend a lot of time on, so get comfy.
when our families collided in the same home, i knew that it was going to be really important to stay on top of the house, or else it would get really overwhelming, really fast. i had an image in my mind of the way i wanted our home to be. i wanted the older kids to have friends stop by unannounced, to feel pride in their spaces, and to try to keep clutter at an all time low.
*about an hour after i had jackie wipe off the fridge, i went to open it and he told me, “don’t touch the doors, you’ll get your finger prints all over them”
for the past several years, the kids have had zero household responsibility. there was a long period of time where it was important that they didn’t immediately hate my guts, and i really wanted the kids to focus on getting to know each other, learning to play together, and just enjoying our new blended situation. in my mind, there was no time to interrupt their current job (of acclimating), to make them do chores.
when we built our new home, i knew the kids were ready. i had much higher expectations of how i wanted our home to run, and i began enlisting their help. usually, when i get home from work i start cleaning before i even sit down. the only reason i do that is because if i sit down – i know i wont get up and do it later. so my day to day involves me walking in, setting my things down, unloading the dishwasher, putting all the pillows back on the sofa (who throws those things off, anyway?!), folding blankets, sweeping the kitchen, etc.
so i figured the kids were ready to help me out, and i had this big plan in my head all worked out and rehearsed because i was sure i had ruined them by letting them have a chore free ride for so long. i got home, i sat down at the dining room table, called the kids around me and told them that i know this is going to be different than their usual afternoon, but that i was feeling really anxious about having to “do it all”, and that i really needed their help. i made it clear that mama was about to lose her mind, and if there was whining, and if they made it harder for me, i’d have to be “admitted”. naturally they asked me what that meant, so i proceeded to scare the shit out of them and touch lightly on mental illness lol, and those kids got up and cleaned my damn house.
so, that was really the first time they had been given chores from me, and that was a few months ago. i think by not making them do chores, but while also simultaneously keeping their spaces free of clutter, and clean, they came to accept in their minds what, or how spaces should be in our home. they are so willing to help me now. i still do the majority of all chores, because a part of me really enjoys it. I clean the kids rooms (although trey has recently been taking over that chore in jackie and his room, and he does a really great job…making bunkbeds is hard, though). i guess my point is, i didn’t create spoiled useless monsters by doing everything for them for so long. instead, i created kids who understand the importance of keeping their rooms and oue home clean, and they see and understand the purpose and benefit of keeping things neat.
again – not perfect. things like baseboards and bathroom sinks and toilets and bathtubs….those are things i find myself not having the time or energy to do. i was recently planning on hiring someone to come twice monthly to do those deep cleaning things that escape me, but Jordyne said I could pay her half what i’d pay a maid, and every other week she would spend two hours deep cleaning things. we already started this arrangement and so far it’s going great. i dont pay allowance for the normal chores that the kids help me with now, like dishes, cleaning their rooms, etc. because those are just part of helping out the household.
fun idea for keeping floors clean: have each kid take a turn sweeping. One right after another. the last kid (so the 5th) to sweep, is bound to get whatever kids 1-4 missed! it also stops the fighting…like “why do i have to sweep but so and so never does?” you get to sweep! and you get to sweep! and you get to sweep! and you get to sweep! annnnd you get to sweep!
in an effort to motivate, however…i did recently write down jobs on random days on our family calendar, with the title of a job, and amount it is worth. things like dusting, picking up dog poop, cleaning the bar stools, sweeping the front entry way outside the front door, cleaning the back sliding door window that the dogs rub their noses on, etc. all of these things need to get done regularly, so the more motivation the better.
*full disclosure: adam works outside every day, and its hot AF where we live. it’s soon to be 120f outside, and his only job during the summer is to stay alive. even so, he grocery shops, cooks all meals, plays with the kids, maintains vehicles, handles trash, landscaping, garage, and a ton of other things. he always offers to help with the inside, but as an act of service to him, it’s my choice to let him relax when he gets home. i understand other people might not agree with that, but i will happily wash his clothes and scrub his plate.