I do want to point out that I expect my children to do a lot around the house largely because we are a homeschooling family. There is no 40 hour a week break from my children using our bathrooms, eating in our kitchen, getting out their toys in their bedrooms and in the back yard, or their art supplies in the dining room. Our home gets used harder than some of my friends' homes who lose some or all of their children to school 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. I simply cannot keep up with all of the maintenance on my own, so my kids get to step up and help. And like I said, they really don't seem to mind. They just need some help remembering how they can be helpers and some routine times of the day to do it in.
Disclaimer: Some of this has been in use for some time, and some was just conceived this morning in a massive brainstorm session via IM with my best friend in Houston. Thanks, Karla! I have no idea yet which of the new things I'm trying will work and which will need tweaking or be thrown out all together. There will certainly be some trial and error involved. Feel free to ask me for an update in a few weeks!
We need to get started on school work as soon as possible after breakfast. Losing momentum because of too many things to do after breakfast makes starting school more difficult than it needs to be. We have been lazing around for 30 minutes or so after getting up, then eating breakfast, then I have been sending kids off to brush their teeth, get dressed, and put away their pjs. After that they were supposed to come *back* to the kitchen for kitchen jobs. This was not working. I was losing them to playing in their rooms when they were supposed to be getting dressed, and everyone always whined about coming back to do kitchen jobs. Enter, the "before breakfast" jobs, a new part of our day.
Each kiddo now has magnet chart like this one in their bedroom. Before I feed them, they are supposed to do those three things--get dressed, make their bed (and I'm no stickler for this--I want their pillow and lovey(ies) off the floor and blanket reasonably straight), and take care of their pjs (either feed them to their pajama monster, or if they've been worn twice, take them to the hamper). When that is done, they can eat breakfast!
After Breakfast--Kitchen Jobs
We have had this wheel in use for some time now, and it works really well for us. We rotate kitchen jobs weekly.
After Rest Time (or, Before Snack)
The biggest change I am making is the addition of responsibilities after rest time. We have had a hard time figuring out when best to have kids clean their rooms and help with bigger household cleaning tasks. My kids spend 1-1.5 hours every afternoon in rest time, so the addition of afternoon chores tied to getting up from rest time seemed a logical way to incorporate that in our day. I figure it'll be easy to say "You can have snack after rest time when your jobs are done." Having a statement like that in my back pocket has proven magical in the past.
The after rest time jobs will be to tidy their rooms (in theory, the smart ones will do this DURING rest time), put away their laundry (if applicable--I don't always have laundry for them to put away), and to do a popsicle job. I wrote out 20-something jobs on popsicle sticks and hung them in the bucket on the refrigerator. On the popsicle sticks, I have jobs like "dust one room", "wipe down the dining room chairs", "windex the coffee table", "clean the trash out of the van", or "pick up toys in the back yard". They are small, yet meaningful, jobs that can easily be carried out by four and five year olds, with a little instruction and supervision.
Helper of the Day
This is something else we've had in place for a while (maybe 3 months?). I started this helper-of-the-day rotation when I realized that there were certain privileges that my kids fought like crazy to do. I wanted to cut out the fighting by having an easy answer for who got to do them.
Who gets to water the garden? The helper of the day! Who gets to push the elevator buttons when we go to the pediatrician? The helper of the day! Who gets to choose which show we're going to watch on Netflix? The helper. Who gets to select the board game? The helper. Should we get out paints or beads or play doh today? Let the helper decide. It really has helped knock down the competition and crazy in our house. If you have several kids close in age, I highly recommend this little management tool.
So that's it! Chores and routines--some new, some time-tested. Just a peek into my continual quest for order in this circus of a family. Thanks for reading!
editing: Kristin asked for a list of my popsicle jobs. Here's what I've got so far, and I'm sure I'll add and amend as we try them for a few weeks.
windex back door
windex front door
windex TV cabinet doors
windex coffee table (glass top)
empty bathroom trash
wipe front of bathroom cabinets
wipe fronts (outsides) of washer/dryer
sweep front porch
straighten game closet
wipe school table
wipe bar stools
wipe outside of fridge
wipe fronts of kitchen cabinets (lower only)
wipe outside of kitchen trash can
wipe dining room chairs
straighten shelves of kids' books
straighten coloring table
straighten shoes/hang jackets in mud room
pick up toys in back yard
clean trash out of car
sweep under/around pet rats' cage
vacuum one room (I have 3 of those in the bucket)
dust one room (3 of those)
wipe 5 light switches
wipe 5 outlets/plugs
wipe 5 doorknobs
clean 3 doors
dust 3 baseboards