Category: Getting Help at Home
I love my whiteboard. It’s hangs on the refrigerator in the kitchen, and is our family’s place for the running grocery list, the most critical to-dos, the place to find the daily schedule when things need to get done with a high degree of coordination. It’s where we can all Get On The Same Page.
I’ve recently added an additional smaller whiteboard that holds new lists: things for each of the kids to get done or remember. Of course I could have added these lists to the main whiteboard, but, well, there isn’t really room.
I am now loving this other whiteboard for different reasons. (Why did it take me so long to figure this out?) If there is a job in the house–or other things–for each kid to be responsible for (e.g. empty the dishwasher, return a permission slip, practice violin), there it is on their list! Every time they go to the fridge for a snack or a drink, there it is. A reminder! I feel disproportionately unburdened by this small white rectangle that allows me to not have to be the one who has to remember, remind, and yes, occasionally nag to get things done. –t
<<sigh>> I’ve found that one of the biggest deterrents to getting housework done is simply the bigness of the task. There’s just so much to be done. No surprise, kids, too, can feel overwhelmed–it would take, like, forever to get it all done!! It’s easy to feel defeated before the work even begins.
What we all know is that getting something done is an improvement, and even the smallest tidy up can greatly improve a mood, a homework session, or getting dressed the next day. In our book we talk about the importance of breaking a task down into manageable parts for children. Another tactic, to circumvent the feeling of being overwhelmed, is to settle on a certain period of time that everyone will be helping tidy up. It could be that each focuses on their own room or a particular room in the house. The session could be 15 minutes, 50 minutes, or “for these 3 songs.” Each does what they can during that time, and then stops. Stops! This small shift from “get it done” to “clean for 15 minutes” can work wonders. It’s amazing how efficient you can be when you know you’ve only got 15 minutes and the work isn’t stretching out endlessly before you. And the room you’re in? Voila! So much better!
I love better. –t
In our book, #3 from our Teaching and Learning list is “Break it down.” By this we mean that kids benefit from understanding the specifics of a task. For example: “put the blocks in the bin” is a lot easier for a toddler to grasp than “tidy up.”
Now that my kids are older, the tasks they are asked – and able – to perform at home have grown beyond blocks-in-the-bin. No surprise, understanding the specifics of a job is just as critical for success at age 10 as it was at age 2.
In an exercise to try and increase the kids’ ability to be independent around a job (and limit the need for me to hover and direct), I created detailed descriptions of each chore. In this case, it was how to clean each room in the house according to the way I’d like it to be done. Did the kids know not to use bleach-based cleaners on wood? Do they know what to use to clean a mirror? Did they realize it makes sense to vacuum and mop last? Now these sets of instructions live in a central place, and are pulled out when it’s All Hands On Deck for a weekend clean up! An example of how we clean our bathroom is here: bathroom example. -t
Clothes – can they easily practice dressing themselves? Can they reach their jacket to put it on or hang it up?
Cups and a drink – are there cups within reach and a stool for the sink?
Mirrors – are there mirrors in the bathroom or bedroom at their level so they can actually see how they’re doing with a brush, an outfit, or even a dance?Being able to help themselves is very powerful for young kids. When you sense your child is interested and able to take on certain responsibilities, be an enabler, and help your kid to find more places where they say “I can do it.” -t