Saturday, July 6, 2019

Cleaning With Children - Our Family Reward System

If done alone, cleaning a home can be an all day chore for a weary homemaker. It is also the responsibility of the homemaker to train her children to keep a tidy home. Some children love to help mom clean the house. Other children, as much as they love mom, don't have the motivation or desire to help clean. I'm a mother to both of these types of children. A couple of years ago, I came up with a system that got all of the children excited to help in the home.

How the system works...

The children are rewarded with "chore bucks" for doing additional chores around the house. (When I say additional, this means that they have other daily chores to complete that are not included in our daily household chores.)  Here is an example of our list of Friday chores:

The children can earn chore bucks for chores like...

-doing a load of laundry
-pulling weeds in the garden
-mopping the kitchen floor
-dusting the baseboards
-cleaning bathroom sinks

These (and many others) are chores that are my responsibility but that I could use their help with. The children also learn the skills needed to help keep their own future homes clean. My boys also help to clean the house, because every man should know how to help his wife and be willing to do so if needed.

They cannot earn chore bucks for...

-cleaning their rooms
-making their beds
-hanging up their coats
-putting away their clothes
-brushing their teeth

These are chores that are part of growing up and I consider them everyday life skills. It is their responsibility as a human being to clean up after themselves and to practice good hygiene (though it is my responsibility to make sure they do these things), and do not justify a reward. Just as I shouldn't be rewarded for making dinner for my family, as it is my responsibility. (Although, one could argue that the reward is when my family eats and enjoys the meal I've prepared.)

What are the chore bucks used for?

When I first started the system, I had chore bucks going toward the purchase of approved toys that my husband and I had bought ahead of time and kept in a toy chest for the children to choose from. However, the children have been so well loved over the years by friends and family that we were drowning in toys and I had to put a stop to it.

Now the chore bucks go toward a special activity with mom or dad. It may be a lunch date with mom, or bowling or miniature golf with dad, or something else fun and special that they get to do with one of us. They love these outings and activities more than they loved the toys, and it's been rewarding for us to have that special alone time with each child.

It's a simple system, but there are a few general guidelines to consider.

First of all, no child is allowed to do chores to earn chore bucks if their personal daily chores (like making their bed and brushing their teeth) have not been completed.

Second, as a general rule, when the children are eager to do chores I always allow the youngest to pick their chores first. This is because there are some chores my youngest cannot do, and sometimes the older children will do all of the easy chores and leave nothing for the little one.

Third, I inspect each chore upon completion. However, when inspecting, I do consider the child's age and skill level. An older child is capable of doing a thorough job, while a younger child may not have enough elbow grease to complete the chore to satisfaction. Either myself or a loving older sibling may chip in to assist.

The Rewards

After they complete each chore, I give them their chore buck. It is each child's responsibility to save them to go toward a reward of their choice. Some of the rewards may seem expensive, but I promise you that the children can earn a large amount of chore bucks over a short period of time.

The child is not the only one who receives a reward for their hard work. I love going on a lunch date or an outing with just one child. They really open up and the conversations are quite enjoyable. It's hard sometimes as a child to receive mom's undivided attention in a house full of siblings. In our time alone, I am able to listen to the things on my child's heart. I also know that they have good conversations with Daddy on their outings as well, which is very important to me. As our children grow, I value the bonds that they develop with each parent.

Training a child in keeping a home is an important task of the homemaker. We train our girls to one day become wonderful and diligent homemakers, but we also train our boys to become helpful and loving husbands. Whether you have a reward system in place for your children, or have been able to ensure they learn these skills in other ways, cleaning the home and helping the family builds their future character.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. --Proverbs 22:6

Friday, July 5, 2019

Homemaker in Training

I was not raised in what I would consider a traditional household. I was an only child, and my mother worked long hours as a nurse while my father worked from home as a carpenter. My mother was home long enough to eat, sleep, and prepare for her next shift at the hospital. Housekeeping chores were shared by all of us, though they were not done on a regular schedule and areas of our home were often neglected. A good cleaning was usually done when my mother had company coming over, which was once every few months. Meals were cooked primarily by my father, though when my mother was home she would sometimes cook. I also had many TV dinners growing up, and meals were seldom eaten at the table. We did not say grace nor did we eat together.

My father's upbringing was quite different. His mother, my grandmother, was a traditional homemaker. She did all of the cooking, cleaning, gardening, and child rearing, though my grandfather took care of the discipline for any severe offenses. 

My mother's upbringing was similar to mine, though she had two younger brothers to share it with. She spent her younger years on a farm, across the road from her grandmothers farm. Her father had serious health complications throughout his adult life, and he worked from home. He did carpentry and a bit of mechanical type work. My grandmother worked outside of the home. After my grandfather died, my grandmother moved her three children to town. She continued to work outside of the home, and she died shortly after her husband. 

When I married my husband, we decided that once we began having children that I would stay home with them. As for his upbringing, his mother stayed at home until my husband was school-aged, and she returned to teaching full-time. This was going to be our plan until we decided that providing our children with a home education would be best. For the first few years of our marriage, my husband and I both attended school and worked. Due to my husband abruptly quitting his job shortly after we had our first child, I went back to work full-time while he stayed at home with the baby and studied for the exam to be admitted into the master's program at our local university.

Everyone's situation is different and it is not always easy to decide what is best for each family. Our decision of adhering to traditional Christian roles (father works to provide for the family while mother stays home and cares for the children and the home) has not come without sacrifice. We've had our share of financial struggles over the years and moments where I've been completely overwhelmed with household duties. Homemaking is not something I was trained from childhood to do.

While I look at my grandmother's life for guidance in becoming a homemaker, I am also learning the ropes of homemaking on my own. It hasn't always been easy to create the perfect home life for my family, and it can be overwhelming, leaving me feeling that I am starting from scratch. It is a process of self-sacrifice, but I know that it is what I have been called to do. The blessings of being a wife, mother, and homemaker far surpass anything I could ever desire.

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." --Psalm 37:3