I’m a list maker and find almost nothing more satisfying than crossing things off a to-do list. So naturally when my kids were old enough to start doing jobs, I made them lists of their own. (Note the reason I call them jobs instead of chores is because I think the word job implies responsibility and a sense of importance where a chore just sounds like a drag!)
Unfortunately, the list idea didn’t go over too well with my kids and created a lot of whining. So one day, I decided to let them make the list. I asked what things they thought needed to be done around the house that they could help with. Surprisingly, they shouted out many tasks that I would have included, as well as some others that I hadn’t thought of. I happily wrote them all down. Then they started cautiously throwing out some fun things to see if I’d notice that ‘dance party’ and ‘watch a TV show’ weren’t actually jobs. I did notice, but I wrote them down anyway. When our list was complete, I explained my observation, “I see a list of fun things and jobs here! What if we split them up so we do a job and then a fun thing?” They LOVED that idea!
Instead of just making two lists, I got crazy and broke out the scissors. We cut up all the fun things and jobs and put them in two separate hats. I had the kids fold up each piece of paper so we couldn’t tell what it was. Then we’d take turns choosing jobs and fun things out of the hats until we were done. I did reserve the right to make them choose a different item if the job they pulled out of the bowl couldn’t or shouldn’t be done before a different job that hadn’t yet been selected or if the fun thing they chose involved the same sort of activity as the previous fun thing (like, say….screen time.)
We’ve been using this method for a couple of years now. We mix it up and sometimes we all do the job together and other times each person chooses their own job. We may do one job then one fun thing, or I might require two jobs to every one fun thing. And then sometimes I”ll just get wacky and make them do three fun things in a row! I did learn to put a time limit on fun activities (especially ones that involve video games!!) I lean toward 20 minutes, but do like to let the kids tell me how long they think they should have. We usually bargain a bit, and I often let the kids have the last say:
Me: “How long do you think you should play the WiiU?”
Kid: “An hour”
Me: “An hour is way too long, how about 15 minutes?”
Kid: “Half an hour”
Me: “20 minutes”
Kid: “25 minutes”
Me: “Sold - 25 minutes it is!”
When the kids pick the time limit, they are much more apt not to whine when it’s time to change activities. I set the timer and let them know if they do whine, we double the amount of jobs before the next fun activity.
In addition to Fun Things and Jobs that happens occasionally and for special events like parties (check out last week's post 10 Steps to an Organized Party), my kids also have Everyday Jobs that are based on their ages. They have to complete these before there is any screen time. Then there are Weekly and Every OTHER Week jobs that are done on the weekends. I'll talk about dividing household responsibilities in a later post.
So with all these jobs around our house, you will probably find it surprising that there are times I’ve asked my kids, “What do you want to do today?” and they’ve responded with “Fun things and jobs!” Parenting win!! Of course, this isn’t the usual response, but at least it makes jobs less of a chore!
Comment below with how you get your entire family to participate in the ‘jobs’ of your household?
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!