How Chores are Changing our Home
Something has been different around here! A good different. A productive different. I've heard of other moms having kids that help out with housekeeping, even cook! That seemed like a minority and I knew that it was probably also the mom's who have taken the time (and a lot of patience) to teach their kids HOW. Let me tell you what's happened since my kids started doing chores.
My kids are (as I write this) 5, 3 & 0. We've had a busy year, but managed to keep up or stay ahead in our school goals. We've had wonderful quality time moments with lots of playing on the floor, dancing in the kitchen ("Baby Shark" isn't even that annoying anymore. Lol) and tons of imaginative play. We've also done more painting together and crafts than ever. Things seem like they've been going surprisingly well, except one thing: housekeeping. It's not that we're slobs, but I'm in a stage of transition from "Mom of toddlers" to "Homeschool Mom" and extra available time is less. I also have only one child napping, when a year ago (when there were two) they both napped. I can no longer start nap time and "buzz" the house. Each time I clean a room, two more are a mess and a third is currently being used and becoming a mess. I rarely could keep up.
If you've been following my feed this March so far, you know I've been posting about screen time and promoting our ability and habit to put phones down when "real people" are around. This is something that I have been working hard at myself this month (I'm not perfect yet!) and I've been extremely concious of my kiddo's screentime too.
After the messy-house-cycle of 1 part clean, 3 parts disaster just wouldn't go away, I came across a BRILLIANT post about chore sticks by Mommy Talks. https://m.facebook.com/1748569428690296/posts/2519824351564796/#!/mommytalks/photos/a.1749281878619051/2519824194898145/?type=3&source=57&__tn__=EH-R There was no article, just a picture of chores on one stick end with a number of screentime minutes on the other. Talk about perfect timing!
Now, we've done kids chores before. We've made the checklists or picture charts, rewarded with candies or even nothing. Lol. The idea of doing a chore for screentime seemed appealing to me and, if I know my kids, appealing to them too. Either I would be on my own to get the house in order but the kids would be screen free, or they'd have screentime like most 21st century kids and I'd get some help. It seemed like a win-win.
I started off with these chores: • Water plants, 5 minutes • Clean up toys, 15 minutes • Set the table, 5 minutes • Help with laundry, 10 minutes • 10 minutes of music, 5 minutes
(Previously, I've made 2 chore systems, one for my oldest and one for my 3 year old, but this time I didn't. I figure, if he gets less screen time because he can't do what his brother can, that's okay. Less screentime is more appropriate if he's younger anyways. The only exception was giving him shorter music time.) I was also careful not to put non-optional tasks, like "brush your teeth". That has to be done. It's hygiene and no matter if you do or don't want your screen, it has to be done.
Immediately my children wanted to use the chore sticks. (It also helped that Daddy and Gramps both downloaded new games to their devices for the kids to play.) The last 3 days have been an extra level of lovely with less screentime overall and more help for Mama. My 5 year old has finally mastered his piano scale and the first song in his level 1 book!
We're tweaking this in our home right now. We're playing around with the idea of ScreenFree Sundays and perhaps a part of Saturday that will be open screentime for "free".
New change, as it is, it's been awesome. I can see this working. I'm surprised at how much my kids can do that I thought they couldn't. They're so much more capable than they let on previously without motivation!