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Friday, August 13, 2010


There's a second part to the question in my previous post, "How do you do it all with so many young kids running around?"  The assumption is either I'm some super version of June Cleaver (HA!!!), or my house is falling down around my ears (OK...we're working on that one...)  The truth is somewhere in the middle.  But, honestly, I don't do it all alone.  I couldn't.  I doubt anyone could, honestly. 

In our family, we take the concept of a "family team" quite seriously.  We fully expect the kids to put their family unit before any other relationship, save, of course their relationship with Jesus Christ.  Other than that, their brothers, sisters, and parents come first.  Our home comes first.  And to that end, we started training them early to work hard in the home, to help keep up the home, and to realize that our home is sort of an embassy for the heavenly kingdom, a small piece of heaven on earth.  (In the same way an embassy in a foreign land represents the home country, our home country is the Kingdom of God, and our home should represent the Heavenly Kingdom.) 

In light of all of that, we've trained our kids to be responsible.  Now, they're still QUITE young, so, of course, they are still being trained.  Here are a couple of the most important tools we use, to help train them in basic skills to keep up a home.  (Note:  Both our boys and girls receive training in basic homemaking.  Only the Lord knows if and when He will call them to marriage, and so we feel it's important for both genders to have a basic knowledge of how to cook, clean, fix, and mend.)

First, we'll look at Chorepacks.  Our chorepacks are based off of the Managers of Their Chores system by Steve and Terri Maxwell, of  The book is a wonderful one, and it comes with a kit to make Chorepacks enough for 4 children.  (If you watch the Duggar's on TV, it's the same system they use, with the little cards in pockets that clip to their shirts.)  You can also subscribe for $10 a year to Choreware which helps you in setting up and printing out the chorepack cards.

It's a great system, but it didn't work for our kids, as it was.  Chorepacks got lost (routinely...), cards got dumped, and lost, and it was just a general mess.  I'm still (months after we stopped using them) finding old chorepack cards in the weirdest places. 

I needed something that had the basic idea of chorepacks, but that the kids couldn't take apart.  Here's what I came up with:

This is Danny's.  One thing I knew, right away, is that God did NOT design me to be the brains for 7 people, while pregnant/nursing, and doing a million other things, also.  I've designed these not just for chores, but for general scheduling, too, so that the kids have a total of 3 schedules they can look at at any time, and know what they're supposed to be doing.  (Our master schedule is on our whiteboard, laminated, they each have a daily schedule in their binders, and then their chorepacks.) 

Everything is pretty much on their cards.  This is Danny's.  It's a fuzzy picture (sorry, I'm down to my phone, again...), but basically it says "Get up.  ***Take Pills*** 7:00 am"  Everything he has to do at 7 am is listed on that one card.  The next card says what I want him to do next, and at what time.  (In this case, Quiet Time with Jesus, 7:05 am.)  And on, and on throughout the day.

We do have a couple of special cards in there, and these are for our chore sessions, after each meal, and for our Morning and Afternoon school sessions.  Here's what Danny's Morning School Session looks like:

Again, I've posted the scheduled times for their school.  They're welcome to work ahead (for example, spelling rarely takes 1/2 an hour), if they choose, but they must be at least that far along, at that specific time.  If, for example, Danny isn't done with Worldview/Bible at 11:00, he must stop and start Literature, and come back to it on his own time.  This prevents dawdling, which is a problem for some of our kids.  ;) 

Here is an example of our Morning Chores session:

Chores here are done after ever meal.  It keeps the chaos to a (somewhat) manageable minimum.  On their chore cards, I list the chores to be done, but not every individual step.  That I save for our checklists (you should be able to see next to "Straighten up Kitchen" and "Straighten up Bedroom" the notes (use checklist)).  

One problem I ran into with our first edition of Chorepacks, was that I knew my kids needed complete, step by step instructions.  This, however, made absolute HUGE chorepacks, and they were completely overwhelming to the kids.  But, if they didn't have it, step by step, laid out, then things were forgotten.  What we came up with were checklists.

On the checklists, I spell out every. single. step in cleaning whatever room it is in.  (Each room has a checklist, with the exception of the master bedroom and bath, because I clean those and frankly don't need one! ;))  Above is our Kitchen Checklist.  You can see there are 3 different sections, one for after breakfast, one for after lunch, and the final (and largest) one is for after supper.  In that room, different things need done at different times, but most of the rooms only have one set of instructions. 

We were able to get these really nifty plastic pocket sticky holder thingies at Staples.  (I know, I'm a master of the English language...)  My wonderful husband tells me that they're designed to hold things like safety and first aid information at job sites, like construction sites.  They're quite heavy duty, and I love them.  (They weren't cheap, though.  Our pack of 50 costs us something like $70, he says.  But the investment was WELL worth it.)  Anyway, I slip the checklists into those, and post those on the wall or door of the specific rooms.  

The hardest thing about these checklists is training them to actually use them.  My kids happen to be uniquely stubborn, I think, and think they know better than Mommy.  They like to do it their way, not Mommy's way.  This is a heart training issue, not a chore issue, and we treat it as such.  Every time they come to report that their chores are done, the first thing they're asked is, "Did you follow the checklist?"  If not, they go back and redo it to the list.  When that's done, I inspect it, to the checklist, and we go over any parts that were missed, explaining along the way that if they had truly followed the checklist, there wouldn't be any missed parts.  

One other thing I do in regards to our chore cards, is specifically for my non-readers.  Instead of words, which wouldn't help them at all, I found free clipart to use to tell them what to do.  Here's an example:

You'll notice that it's white, while all of the others are colored.  The colored cards are easy for me to keep track of. I can tell at a glance who's "lost" their cards, when I find them in the middle of the kitchen floor. ;)  But, colors don't work so well for these, because, well, the pictures are colored!  So, all of my readers get colors, and my non readers get white cards.  It still serves the same purpose, I can still tell who's are in the middle of the floor, and not clipped to their shirts, and it's much easier to "read" for my littles.  

A few incidentals:  I laminate my cards. I laminate EVERYTHING, but these cards are especially important.  They get hole punched and put on a ring, and they will tear up easily if they're not laminated.  I recommend this laminator, and I was able to just pick it up for something like $30, I think, from WalMart.  When it's laminated, it's nice and sturdy, heavy duty stuff.  It works just perfectly for us.  

After they're laminated, they're punched, put on a ring, and a name badge type clip is attached.  All of that you can get at WalMart or any office supply store.  

The only thing I will do differently when I redo the cards (which you'll have to, periodically, as the children grow, you add more kids doing chores, or change the chores up) is that I'm going to coordinate the colors of their cards to the assigned colors on the schedule.  On our schedule, each child is assigned a color, so they can tell at a glance which column is theirs.  When we redo the chore cards, each child will be assigned the same color, instead of letting them choose, which is what I did this time.  I think it'll make it easier when I'm making up 6 sets, instead of 3, and it will save on fighting because so-and-so picked whatever color first.  ;)

Other than that, these work really well for us, to help keep the kids generally on track.  It does take training to get them used to them, but you'll truly reap the benefits, especially as they get older and more independent.

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