One of the unexpected challenges of parenting is running the home. There are a lot of different demands to manage. Last week we got some great tips and tricks for meal planning. We hope this series encourages you in what you are already doing and sparks some ideas to make your job as Home CEO a little bit easier. This week we asked some some of our very own NCC parents, “What rhythms and strategies do you have to get the laundry done and have your kids help with chores?” Here is what they had to share!
Alexandra Carver, NCC KingstowneMom to Nick (9), Nate (6) and Sofia (2)
I would say the BIGGEST life saver is keeping my own laundry separated from my kid’s laundry. This helps save time with the sifting through “what belongs to who” mess and putting it all away. It also helps with locating lost socks or specific clothing. This has become even more important for me nowadays with locating soccer uniforms and soccer socks in the mass abyss of laundry! I do however, wash the boys' laundry together since they share a room and put clothes away in same place.
Sharon Simon, NCC BallstonMom to Colin (17), Connor (15), Sybella (8), and Cooper (6)
Laundry is a never ending beast. I am often heard saying, “I didn’t wear this stuff, any help you receive is a gift, so no complaining.” All of our kids do their own laundry. I would rather spend my time reading with them, having intentional conversations, or playing outside. What that means for each of them is different. Our 17 year old and 15 year old sons just need reminders of the obvious, “Your basket appears to be overflowing, you might want to do some laundry.” Our eight year old daughter needs encouragement; she is capable of doing most of the job but needs supervision with sort and prep (turning things right side out). Once she has it sorted, I wash and dry it. Then I dump it on the bed and she hangs, folds, and puts it all away. Our six year old son sorts and turns right side out, then I wash and dry it, and he helps me sort out shirts and pants for hanging, He can’t attach shorts or pants to the hangers very well yet and can’t reach to actually hang the items in the closet, so this is a “together job” — I do most of the work but he must be present and be my assistant.
Amanda Lahr, NCC Potomac YardMom to Joey (4) and Eliza (2)
Call me strange, but I actually kind of enjoy laundry! There is something very satisfying about being able to actually finish a task (a rare joy for a part-time working/stay-at-home mom)! For me, the key is a little at a time, so it never gets overwhelming. As soon as a load is done, I look for the first chance of downtime to fold and put the clothes away. Chatting with the kids or watching them play an activity is a great time to get the folding done. (My kids frequently want me to be present for their playing, so there are plenty of opportunities here). Other times, the kids will volunteer to "help" me, which of course makes the process longer, but I figure train them early, right? If I don't have a chance to fold and put clean clothes away with the kids, then my husband or I do it in the evening while we share about our days.
Brooke Bennett, NCC KingstowneMom to Jude (7), Brell (5), and Hope (3)
We have tried many ideas to keep our children on track with their chores and finally found an app that seems to work for our seven, five and three year old. The app is called the Allowance and Chore Bot. This app allows us to input the chores each child needs to accomplish for the day as well as an option for an allowance. The children are able to mark a box once the chore is completed which provides instant gratification and keeps them on task! They are also able to see how much they have earned on a day to day basis. I have found that it is best to keep the chore list to only four or five daily tasks, rotating certain paid chores when I feel the children have mastered them. Any more than four or five tasks and the job doesn't get done. At the end of the week we give the children their allowance and they then put aside 10% for tithe and 10% for savings.
Kellie Ortiz, NCC BallstonMom to Elianna (9), Keaton (8), and Brianna (5)
I have scoured Pinterest and the internet over the years to come up with systems and ideas to help with creative chore ideas. We have tried EVERYTHING and I realized it typically comes down to my ability to be consistent. We have tried paying our kids a flat fee for chores (but that didn't work because I never had cash on hand), we have tried the ticket system where they can turn their tickets in at the end of the week for electronics or money (but that didn't work because on the weekends we weren't super strict with electronics anyway so they were able to use their electronics regardless to watch a movie and play a game). We have tried it all. After a lot of trial and error, we have finally come up with a system that works for our family. I truly believe it is important for children to have chores. I want my children to know that they need to contribute to our household because they are part of our family and not because they are going to get paid for cleaning up after themselves. We have designed our new system so that each child is assigned two chores. We originally gave each child five chores but it was too much for me to manage and keep consistent, therefore making our system ineffective. The children are assigned their chores on Sunday and they have the same two chores for a two week period. That way I am able to fully train each child how to properly perform their chores and then they have two weeks to daily practice and perfect their task. At the end of the two weeks they are assigned new chores. Only giving them two chores each is still a huge help for me because that is six chores I do not have to complete myself each night and it is easier for me to make sure each child completes their task each day. Chores include: setting/clearing the kitchen table, sweeping/mopping the kitchen floor, loading/unloading the dishwasher, tidying up the entryway, cleaning the kids' bathroom, taking out recycling, sorting the laundry, etc.
We use a basic pocket chore chart. I printed chore cutouts from the following website: http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2012/11/5-ways-to-get-your-children-excited-about-chores.html
Ericka Symonette, NCC KingstowneMom to Jaylah (11), Joslyn (8), and Isaiah (1 month)
Because I refuse to spend any part of my precious weekend cleaning up, I have designated Thursday as our family cleaning day. Of course we do daily maintenance but Thursdays are the days we do the heavy cleaning. I also created chore charts and a reward system for the kids. They can earn points for specific tasks and "cash in" those points for special treats and privileges.
I found (not too girly for the boys) free chore charts online, printed two for each boy and then laminated it so it can be reused each week. One is blank and one is filled in. I put them on the fridge and have them keep track of their own chores with a dry erase marker. If they complete each chore weekly, they receive a small allowance. We are still working through resetting our new routine with our new school schedule and both boys in soccer practice three days a week and two or three games on weekends. So, it can be challenging with homework as priority so, don't get discouraged if it doesn't work out...it's trial and error and you may have to come up with exceptions along the way.
Other chores done by our children include dishes (clean and dirty), cleaning the tables/counters, trash/recycling, cleaning their rooms, folding sheets, cleaning bathrooms, walking the dog, etc. I supervise, remind, and make attitude adjustments. At our house, particularly when we are trying to get out the door to church, work, or school, it’s never ok to just take care of yourself and then sit around and relax, we are a team. Once you’re done getting yourself ready, it’s expected to ask if anyone else needs help to get out the door. Even our little guy will ask if he should put the dog in the crate or find the keys.
Tara Lewis, NCC BallstonMom to Olaiya (11), Naomi (9), Matilda (5), and Lidia (3)
When the girls get home from school, they have to empty their lunches before they have their after school snack. This means *totally* emptying their lunch - trash into the trash, thermoses and dirty utensils into the sink, sippies into the fridge, leftover snacks where they belong and hang their lunch bag on the hook, ready for tomorrow! This way, you can also get a check on whether or not they ate their lunch, and in some cases, *that* becomes their after school snack! Similarly, when they eat something at home, they have to take care of their dishes (put them in the dishwasher) before they move on to something else.
My kids are still young and their ability to help with chores is somewhat limited, but we have identified a few small responsibilities they can follow through on even as preschoolers: 1) take your plate to the sink after you eat; 2) put your shoes away; 3) clean up your mess. We don't have rewards or charts set up for chores since there are just a few; we simply follow the rule that we can't move on to the next thing (such as being excused from the table, playing a new activity, or going somewhere until the chore is completed). This works well for us now, though I'm sure as responsibilities increase, we may have to re-think our systems.
What are some tips you have for laundry and chores?
Look for our next post with ideas for family devotions!