18 June 2010

Pitchin' In

I really like hanging out with my kids over the summer. It is just such a nice break from the usual routine. That said, we still need a bit of routine or we all get a little wacky. Friday is our knock-out chore day. While mama is always puttering along during the week and the kids have minor jobs (setting, clearing the table, make-bed, etc.), Friday is the day where we really pitch in together.

I like to do some clutter control and vacuuming and tackle any little chores I just haven't gotten around to during the week. As I type, I have a new batch of starch spray cooling on the counter. Sweet-orange and rosemary scented, this time. I feel so productive I may not do anything else today. Just kidding. Sort of. Well, we'll see.

As for the kids? Here's the typical run-down:

• Peter
- Take out all garbages, vacuum stairs, room purge (closets, under bed, knick-knacks), bed-sheets off.
• Lucette
- Bathroom drawer tidy-up, barrette collection and relocation (how can they get sprinkled everywhere?), stair basket (put away anything in it), room purge.
• Jane
- Household laundry collection (to be tossed over the banister and then shoved into the laundry room -- she loves this and it is a great help, but make sure you double check that a pair of underwear doesn't land on top of the foyer lamp without you noticing and then you have company come over ... I'm just sayin').

Now that summer is here, I figured it was the perfect time to train them up in some new chores. Heh, heh, heh ... (devious Mom smirk) ...

First off, Peter has now learned how to do his own laundry! Hurrah! I can't tell you how pleasing it is to hear the hum of the washer and know I had nothing to do with it. In addition, (influenced by the brilliance of my dear friend Heather!) the three tots now know how to clean their own bathroom (minus the tub and floors). Peter scrubs the toilet, Jane washes the mirror, and Lucette finishes it off with cleaning the sink and counter.

Yes, it has taken some effort on my part to train them how to do this, and yes, I could definitely do it quicker/better on my own. But, I'm so over that. It is completely worth it to spend a couple weeks instructing and inspecting their work and then be able to let it go ... knowing once they are done, it will be cleaner than when they started. Naturally, they don't necessarily glory in all the tasks set before them, but there is definitely and measure of pride they achieve from their efforts. I like that. And I like clean bathrooms!

So. What chores have you trained your kids up on? Any tried-and-true tips? I'm all ears, 'cause I loooove me a little slave labor!


  1. Anna, I must confess, the only reason we had children is for the free slave labor. I long for the day when I sit on my sofa, eating bon bons while the little ones tidy up the house...and the Saturdays the husband and I wake late in the morning to the whir of the edger. Bliss, I tell you. Just teasing.

    However, I am all about teaching mine to help out. They're a little younger than yours, so I'm thrilled to read of what you have yours doing. Mine make their beds daily, empty the "sanity basket" (the basket that sits at the bottom of the steps and collects their stuff all day), they pick up their rooms/play areas, do a little feather dusting, windex the windows they can reach (it's cleaner than it was - and I'm like you - so over it being perfect), clear their dinner dishes, wipe down the table, and sweep the floor. I usually have to go behind once they're tucked into bed to wipe down the table again and to tackle the floor, but we're working on getting there.

    I'm very encouraged to read that you have your children contributing to the household chores. Many of my friends snub their nose at the very idea and I often wonder if we're the only ones in our area who require such disciplines be learned. You've encouraged me and given me a good laugh, to boot! Thanks!

  2. Kudos to you for teaching your kids to pitch in and do their part (and teaching them that the world does not exist solely to serve them!). I'm dreaming of the day Calvin can take out the trash, do his laundry, wash the cars, mow the lawn, and shovel the snow. In the meantime, he'll put specific items away (or approximately away) or in the trash when we tell him to.

  3. No slaves- er- kids of my own.

    But I once was a kid with parents who thought like you and I'm very grateful for it.

    I started cooking simple things when I was about 9 or 10. By 7th grade I was in charge of dinner in full. I also mowed the lawn, cleaned bathrooms, did laundry and everything else I can think of.

    Didn't love it back then but I thank my parents now, especially as a young wife.

    Nobody wants to be college roomie to the kid whose parents didn't teach them how to cook or clean anything!

  4. I really enjoyed this post; it has been the source of much food for thought over the past few days as I've been contemplating how to include my children in more "pitching in." Oh, they have their little tasks... beds made, dishes cleared, table set, room tidy... but I know they are capable of more and if I train them I can expect more...

  5. I am all about delegation these days. They need the training, I need the help. My girls do really similar work and chores as the ones your kids do. One other thing they do is unload the dishwasher - the oldest three: one does the silverware (youngest), one does the top rack, the other does the bottom rack. Helps so much to sort of keep the dishwasher empty, ready for use!

    One thing I've NOT been good about is having a particular time/day these things are done...we need that, with a baby joining us very soon!

  6. Great post Anna and love the pics! My middle daughter loves to help out around the house. The other two not so much! Delaney always seems to be "too tired" when I ask her to do something. I like the idea of Fridays being a family pick up/cleaning day!! (=