Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Chore Management

THis is what I posted to a classical homeschooling list I am on. Since I haven't posted on this part of the blog for a long time, I thought I'd put it here as a sort of overview of what things are like right now.

My main issue with management is.... accountability. I don't really LIKE management and am not naturally a delegator. I am a loner who does my best work in solitude and kind of flying by intuition. For that reason, I always seem to manage most effectively when I'm REALLY in over my head and have no choice but to hand things off.

My present chore system is a relic from when I was pregnant with my youngest, who is now 3. At that time I had 2 highschoolers, a middle schooler, 2 grade schoolers (one not yet a reader) and a medically fragile preschooler who at the time was receiving quite a bit of therapy and medical interventions. Plus, the pregnancy was medically very involved and included day-long sessions at the hospital every week and weekly prenatal visits, both 60 miles away from our house.

All that was what motivated me to make a daily after-dinner chore chart and a weekly housekeeping chart; also a menu rotation chart and very structured academic checklists. Since I knew the newborn was going to be hospitalized for at least some time in a city hospital far from our home (he ended up staying for 3 weeks), my goal was to have everything laid out so DH or grandparents could simply step in as supervisors and the kids could just keep going with the chores and schoolwork pretty much indefinitely.

The kids knew they were needed, so they were pretty serious about doing the best job they could. We actually kept up quite well and I was so grateful for TAH with its seriousness about academics and general excellence, since it helped me keep my standards from lapsing.

So guess what -- now that life is "easy" again with healthy youngsters and much less going on comparatively, my temptation is to just let the "management" part slide and do almost everything myself. Obviously I can't do EVERYTHING and I don't, but I am doing much more than my share right now. Another challenge is that my oldest and most meticulous worker went off to college. It took a long time for me to redistribute his jobs and retrain the kids, and some of his jobs I ended up inheriting. Ugh. I always think of T's maxim that kids always do about 80% of what our expectations are, whether those expectations are high or low. My personal corollary is that I always end up about 20% behind what is demanded of me, whether what is
demanded is difficult or moderate (can't say it ever gets EASY with 7 kids college down to 3 years old). I don't think I ever get ahead of the game. I seem to work more effectively in a bit of a crisis mode, which I feel is a character fault. But there it is.

When I started our system, the dinnertime jobs rotated daily and the housekeeping jobs rotated weekly. We had two days of the week devoted to weekly-type cleaning, like mopping the floor, dusting, wiping the windows. The other days there were maintenance "daily" jobs like sweeping, picking up and doing laundry. Those were our morning jobs and after dinner they rotated daily the dinnertime and bedtime jobs like washing up, putting away and so on.

Since my oldest left, we've made the dinnertime jobs permanent. My daughter puts food away and washes the dishes, second son takes out trash, brings laundry baskets upstairs and sweeps the kitchen, third son feeds the dog and wipes the table and counter, fourth son theoretically picks up the little ones' mess upstairs and downstairs (he's 10 and accountability has been a problem since he had too easy a start as a fifth child with lots of competent older siblings!). Since he often forgets his job and I often forget to remind him, I end up making him my primary "go-fer" (getting juice or water for the little ones, bringing things upstairs and downstairs, that
kind of thing). Come to think of it, maybe I should make that his de jure permanent job since it already is de facto, and then teach the little ones to pick up their own toys since they are 3 yo and chronologically- 6- but -developmentally- about- 4 year old, now.

No comments: