Rhythm–Part Four: The Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

Well, here we get down into the nitty-gritty:  how we craft a rhythm to take care of the THINGS in our home.  All things require care, require cleaning, require maintenance.  And here is my top secret thought:

This is often what can make or break homeschooling. It can also make or break how peaceful a mother feels…(not that one cannot have a wonderfully clean home and still have a whole bunch of sadness or tension in it!)  However,  I think in general, if mama is completely stressed and overwhelmed by her environment, and has to homeschool on top of total care of the home with no one helping in the form of the family working together, then mama may burn out.  If life cannot be brought under some bit of control in order to not have the Mount Rushmore of Laundry, things clean, the environment uncluttered to the point where mama does not feel nuts….then homeschool is that much harder to get done.

At least that’s how it is in my home.  And I think this is how many women function.  We all know people before things, but at the same time, if one is home all day long and every flat surface is piled high with things, every drawer and closet is bursting, the laundry and dishes are piled up…..

It just doesn’t feel good.

So, my thoughts are these:

1.  You must be home enough to also include getting your housework done.

2.  Mama should not have to do everything by herself, unless of course you have only very tiny children in the home that are working with you but obviously cannot complete tasks..

3.  Children learn how to work together as a team not only in team sports, but also and mainly I think  in the home. Chores are an important part of family life!  We all live here and we all help!

4. Less stuff equals less to do.

5.  A rhythm for housecleaning, errands, cooking, etc. is essential or no one in the family will know what needs to be done when.

I have written quite a bit about chores before; my favorite back posts on chores include this one:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/08/15/more-regarding-children-and-chores-in-the-waldorf-home/  and this one, written when my third child was very little:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/08/children-chores-housecleaning-and-homeschooling/

I recently sat down and made a giant master list of every possible chore with the help of the book “Managers of Their Chores” by the Maxwells.  It is a Christian resource and will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it helped me immensely to organize my thoughts around chores .  On my master list (the book I mentioned includes a master list to start from),  I included seasonal chores, occasional chores – everything I could think of. I also checked in Martha Stewart’s housekeeping book to see what care was recommended regarding certain items and seasonal cleaning.  Most of that information is also available for free on her website (but I do like the book form).

Once I reviewed my master list,  I started to think about what the children could do, what I could do realistically, what my spouse normally does.   I decided to work on getting my children to do chores mainly in the morning where I could be around to not only do the chores with the children and show them exactly how I want it done at first, but then to be available to check on the chore when it is done so we can talk about it, problem solve together, etc.  I think we all have this vision in our heads of just sending our children off to do X chore, but the reality is we have to be there to demonstrate, to  check in with and then to see that the chore is completed for children who are younger.  The independence grows in time.

Children under seven should be weaving in and out of work through imitation of what you are doing to work in your home with parts of the chores accessible for small children.  Children in the grades can and should start doing chores with you step by step,  and then work on completing the chores independently after they know how to do it.  You can then be there to check to see if the chore is completed.  With multiple children, I find having a specific time to check on chores is  a necessity as I cannot send everyone off to the wind to do different chores at different times and be so busy myself I don’t check to see if the chore was started, completed or how it was completed.  That is why mornings are best for me to schedule the majority of chores.

Everyone always asks where to start.  I think getting dressed, brushing hair, brushing teeth, folding pajamas and putting them away and making beds are a good place to start.  Chores around mealtimes also are good places to start since everyone is working to put food on the table and clean up.  My children enjoy outside chores, cooking, vacuuming and taking care of our dog as well.  Start small, think of the steps it takes to complete a task well, demonstrate it, do it with your child, supervise your child, then have them work  independently and check in with them.    Slow and steady wins the race!

Please feel free to leave a comment or link detailing the ages of your children and what chores they are responsible for around the home.

Many blessings,

Carrie

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15 thoughts on “Rhythm–Part Four: The Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

  1. Carrie, I have been enjoying this series. My kiddos are 8 years old and I have a check list that they must do every morning before they are allowed free time. All three of us have a clip board attached to the refrigerator with our morning chores: wash, make beds, get dressed, eat breakfast, pick up any toys etc. When they finish doing one thing they check it off and move on to the next. It’s been working pretty well. I also have a cleaning list that they help with during the week.
    I am looking forward to reading more in this series.

  2. Thanks Carrie- this is great! And it is very hard for me to concentrate on homeschooling if it is messy. The school room and kitchen table and kitchen sink need to be tidy or I feel my blood pressure rise!

  3. My 4 year old LOVES folding the laundry. Dishtowels and her clothes are her responsibility. I love seeing her go about her work, enjoying it while talking away to herself. I am glad you are talking about this. I would like to have things better defined. There are a few little things that just haven’t been implemented that will be easy – such as putting away your pj’s.

  4. My children are 7, 5, 3 & 2. Their chores are mainly in the morning focusing on self care (brushing teeth, washing faces and hands, getting dressed etc…) and taking care of their bedrooms (mainly making beds and putting pj’s away). They are also involved in meal time chores – setting the table, wiping the table and drying up after I wash the dishes (by hand). My 7yr old girl does this all of perfectly, my 5yr old boy has to be ‘encouraged’. I use games and choices to get him interested and focused. For example: he loves being timed (a sand timer is great for this, we have a 3min one for teeth and a 10min one for tidying), I sometimes close my eyes and he see’s what he can get done in the time I have them shut, I tell a story about a blanket that was all messed up and longed to be straightened and smoothed and crisp etc…I ask him what tunes he can whistle while we work, whilst in the kitchen – the list goes on. I have to have a ‘tool box’ (as I call it) of options. It all depends on the mood of THAT child on THAT day what method I will use. I like to leave their clothes laid out the night before and give them a choice of 2 outfits to get them involved. I have so much to say on this subject but feel this is getting a bit long SORRY! Hope this little bit helps!
    Carrie – thanks again, I too, am thoroughly enjoying this series!
    Taira

  5. Great posts in this series, Carrie. I am loving this as a good review for our rhythm. We moved shortly before the holidays so this month has been quite a load of processing and decompressing. This review has been a great addition.
    My oldest is nearly 5 yo and he is expected to choose his clothes and get dressed, make his bed, feed the fish each morning. We have little chore gnomes that I set out each morning to remind him .They sit by the bed or the fish tank and he gets to put them back to bed when the chore is complete. He helps out with the chore we have each day (Sunday- laundry, Monday- kitchen, etc) and helps to set/clean table around meals and do the dishes each day. I have noticed how critical this practical work has been for him in comparison to days/times when our rhythm has been a mess (like just before and after the move!).
    We are all so much more calm and peaceful when we are working together regularly to care for our home.

  6. My children are 4 and 2. My 4 year old regularly helps his sister with things like bathing, some dressing, and putting on shoes. And they go to sleep together at night. They both put their coats and shoes in the proper places when we come inside, and generally put their own clothes away if they take any clothes off during the day. They pick up their toys, with help from me. Those are the helpful things they do – most other “chores” they do are just playing alongside me. They like to unload the dishwasher and “wash the dishes.”

  7. again, thanks for this! my five year old has just recently come into an age of “helping” (besides picking up his own toys) and i am surprised how readily he clears his plate without being told, and his sisters too! even things like, little 3 yr old sister wanting to use her little broom to help me sweep and big brother randomly getting up on his stool and helping me to tackle the dishes (which he actually does a good job at!) i like that they are seeing that this is just what we do with our day…

  8. Hi Carrie. My two kids are much older, past 20 years of age, although as when they were little, I did succeed in getting them to do their share of chores everyday, starting from making their own bed, keeping their clothes into the laundry and so on.The reason I’m writing to you is to ask you if you really believe homeschooling is a good idea. I think the disadvantages of homeschooling far outweighs the disadvantages of going to school. Homeschooling lacks interaction, participation, competition, extra curricular activities, social skills, motivation and healthy criticism – besides being phenomenally expensive – that is very important for the overall development of a child. Children needs to be around other kids their age in order to get motivated to do better and also to get a yardstick with which they can measure their progress and success plus some wonderful time for yourself to put your feet up..literally

    http://yourkidandyou.blogspot.com/

    anita

    • Hi Anita,

      I wanted to reply regarding your thoughts on the disadvantages of homeschooling. I do see your point and being a social person myself I understand where you’re coming from. My husband and I plan on joining a local homeschool group with lots of other children who do get together a couple times per week for certain “classes” and activities. Then there’s Sunday school, youth group, girl scouts/boy scouts, dance lessons, etc. As a child I developed the closest friendships with girls I met in these non-school settings. My husband has 3 homeschooled cousins who are extremely well adjusted socially and in every other way. We also have other children in our life who are teenagers and home schooled, also extremely well adjusted socially, etc. Then there are the societies such as the Amish who thrive in an alternative setting. I think a person who isn’t accustomed to homeschooling and doesn’t really know anyone who has been may fear things unnecessarily – but I can see how that can happen. :)

  9. I have never commented before but have been reading for some time and find your perspective on parenting and life with small children very helpful. I live in Australia and my children are 6, 3.5 (twins) and 7 months. My eldest has been in school but is just about to start education at home, which I am very excited about. I am so grateful to have mentors like you, who have gone ahead and have wisdom to share to help me on my way.

  10. Thanks for this series of posts, Carrie. My kids are 8, 5 and 2. The oldest two are responsible for making their beds, getting themselves dressed, packing their schoolbags and putting their dishes in the dishwasher. I find it helps if I remind them to do nearly all these jobs before breakfast, as breakfast is something they are keen to do! I am working on arrangements for their help at the end of the day with dinner. I’m hoping that if they contribute towards setting the table, serving the food and helping me with cooking, dinner will be more peaceful for everyone. We have also nearly finished a big clean-up of the whole house, so I have been teaching them “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” My job is to find a place for everything and teach the kids where that place is, and the kids’ job is to put things back in place.

  11. I have just come across this blog and have spent the evening reading old posts. My kids are 3 and 1, and my initial reaction when reading this was to think about how much I have to do, and how little they can do. I struggle actually to get anything done as they are often around my ankles demanding attention. This post has made me think about how much they actually do – 3yo loves to load the washing machine, put in the powder and press the buttons, both of them like to hand me laundry and pegs, 1yo loves to ‘sweep’. It also made me think about slowing down and trying to involve them more. For example, I never make the beds. I feel like I don’t have time. But then other parts of the day I feel that I am bored and trying to come up with things to keep them busy. So perhaps I should slow down our mornings to fit in making the beds, and they could help (or not help). Good food for thought, thank you.

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