The Chore List Game, with Kids

I have utilized almost every form of chore list or motivational cleaning list ever created. My computer is full of e-Books and pdfs and downloads galore. I finally developed a method that worked for me, and then modified it into a “version 2” because I get bored easily and we get super busy so there needed to be a way to do the same thing in a different order.  It’s been mentioned it before, but I call it “Basically Clean”.  Our house will never been magazine ready, but it can be basically clean.

The best aspect of this list are the time limits. Every item has a time limit. For example, “Bathroom Sinks and Mirrors – 10 mins.” If the house were consistently tidy, then 10 minutes is ample time to swipe out the sinks and get the spots off the mirrors. My house, unfortunately, is rarely consistently tidy. This means that cleaning the sinks and mirrors could potentially be a 30-45 minute journey into decluttering and sorting.

The time limit means that the goal is to spend ONLY that much time on that spot, then move on. The next day, theoretically, it won’t take as long to do the quick swipe and the rest of the ten minutes could be spent tackling more of the sink that didn’t get finished the day before. Eventually, it will all get handled.

The time limits also give me an opportunity to add up all the allotted times so I know exactly how much TOTAL time I am spending on house work on any given day. When I know I have 10 hours in the day, but the actual house stuff is only going to take 3 of those hours, it seems less daunting. That’s an hour after coffee, and hour after lunch, and an hour before dinner.

My issue has always been my children constantly interrupting me (I’m on a timer!) and then things don’t get done or they take forever to get done.

It finally hit me, how to get them to stop and let me work! Bonus: sometimes they actually HELP me work. YES!

Day One of my week (which is typically Monday) has 200 minutes of work. That’s 3 hours and 20 minutes, if I did my math correctly. At the bottom of my printed list is a space for “Helpers”. ANYONE who helps me do any of the items on the list OR goes beyond their regular responsibilities to help elsewhere, gets their name put on the Helpers list.

When the day is over, I’ll add up all the time it ACTUALLY took me to get it all done, and if it’s less than the expected time, the helpers get the extra minutes banked for one on one time with Mom.

For example, yesterday had 200 minutes allotted to it. Because of other appointments, and some health issues, I only actually worked on about 140 minutes worth of chores. Those chores only took me 105 minutes to complete. That left me with 35 extra minutes. The kid who voluntarily cleaned her room while I was at the doctor gets that 35 minutes as one on one time with me!

Today, I already have two names under my Helpers. News is spreading fast. For years, they had been told that if I finished my work I could spend time with them, but now they see it, in print.

 

In case you’re wondering, here’s my Version Two list. It is specific to us, but you can see how I have it laid out.

Basically Clean Version Two (Day one through five) Printable List

Get out of my kitchen!!

I’ve been loafing a bit this morning. It was a late night for me since I stay up until hubby has to go to work. Then the kids woke me up a lot and I was up early with Lil Man. Three cups of coffee later, Mr. B woke up and we embarked on a two hour Deadliest Catch viewing before he wandered off to mow the grass. I had tweeted a bit, eaten a bit, and folded a load of laundry. The kids had eaten, found drinks, been sent outside, come inside, was sent outside, came inside, was sent back outside (you see a pattern here?).
I walked into the kitchen, listening to Lil Man beat on the front door because he wants to go outside with Daddy, and that is when my head exploded.
I don’t get it. I never ever ever ever would have dug through my momma’s cabinets looking for something without permission. I certainly would have never ever ever gone on a hunt for a different type of glass/mug/plate/etc. when there were already ones, at my level, that served the same purpose. But now, on top of the dishes to be washed and extra groceries that need to be put away I know have odd water bottles, coffee to go mugs, special glasses, and all my kitchen chairs are strewn around the floor. There is cereal everywhere, boxes left out and groceries scattered. If I had done this as a kid….wait, I NEVER WOULD HAVE DONE THIS….  EVER!
I feel like the only room with any hope of staying in one piece is the room I’m in at the time. I need a clone.
I need seven of them. Stat.
 

Squashing the genius within

It would have never crossed my mind to go gather “supplies” from around my house and get creative with them. I never stole momma’s yarn, screwdriver, clothespins and t.p. rolls and ran off into the back yard to act like MacGyver. I don’t really know what would have happened but I’m pretty certain it would have been a bad bad thing. For the longest time my mom and I had separate crayon boxes and coloring books. I wouldn’t dare touch her stuff. I still won’t. Not without explicit permission and sometimes supervision.

As I got older, I started noticing how the kids in school getting awards and accolades were raised in environments that allowed for creative inventing and experimenting. Testing, trying, pushing, creating, risking, succeeding and failing. I was jealous. There was and still is a part of me that thinks of how much “more” I could have been if I had been allowed to explore my world that way.  I know now that there is more to a person’s creativity and success than just living in a more free environment. There are people all over that had nothing to explore or creating with and they still grew to be amazing people.

It is a misconception in my head. Mix it with my regret over all the things I could have done had I been more this or more that and you end up with a mom heck bent on making sure her kids feel free to be, to explore, to create, to test and to dream.

It’s killing me.

They sneak “supplies” out of the house and it gets broken or lost. I can’t tell their clean clothes from the dirty clothes because they dump the hampers to make boats or pulleys or offices. Clotheslines with knots in them strung up in dangerous fashion. Furniture being pulled together, concoctions of various shampoos and lotions in the bathroom, collections of trash to be recycled into some new contraption and towers of dishes (that come crashing down) from emptying the dishwasher because putting them away just wouldn’t be fun if you didn’t balance the coffee mugs 5 high in a leaning tower while walking across a kitchen chair bridge to the cabinet.

I’m tired. They don’t put anything back and they have no concept or concern for respecting other people’s property.

**I made an effort to teach the ‘everything is God’s’ lesson but sadly, it just made their argument stronger…. I can’t say you took MY stuff if it’s all God’s. As an adult I get it, but when arguing with my little geniuses my head wanted to explode**

I don’t want to squash their ideas or hinder their natural learning process but most of this is just wasteful messes. They are illogical and while I should be able to turn it into a lesson I seem to be completely incapable of explaining to them WHY it was a bad idea.

Do you let your kids experiment and explore independently? Do you let them have access to tools and rope and craft supplies and such or do you specify when and how things will get used?

I have spent two days undoing the damage they have done when I could have been, and should have been doing my regular chores. Now it’s all backed up again. Doodlebug just informed me their clothes were put away.

Except for Taderbug’s. Hers were in a pile on the floor where her basket is supposed to be because she’s using her basket as a desk.

It's a Why Bother day today

The kitchen is mostly clean.  The living room could probably be tidy within 15 minutes. Why can’t I get up? Why can I not summon up the gumption to just invest 30 minutes into my house to make it look better.
For starters, I need to go to the little girls room- again .  This is annoying. My daughter is in my bathroom taking a bath and yes I could go in there anyway I’m stalling.  It’s also upstairs. That increases my desire to stall exponentially.
Next, I’m not dressed.  I’d get dressed but I have nothing clean to wear.  I’ll be tossing on my yoga pants from yesterday when Lowe’s arrives today with my new washer and dryer.  *That should clear up the why does Tader have no clean clothes? question*  Being dressed would make me feel more motivated.  I could go ahead and get my dirty yoga pants on now but they are upstairs- need I say more on that?
Lastly, why bother cleaning? The little chaos makers that I love so very much will simply destroy it as fast as I pick it up – if.not.faster.  AND, I can’t clean it/organize it/put it up the way I want it so why bother.  I’m having another one of those “if I had the right stuff to hold my stuff then I’d want to put my stuff away but since nothing has a place why bother taking the time to cram it somewhere when it’s going to be the wrong place to start with” days.
I need a giant gift card to Ikea.  Or maybe just a creative professional organizer (since hubby says I have everything I could possibly need to organize I just won’t do it). Or maybe just two days alone to sew up all the cute ideas I have for organizing my house.
But then again, why bother? The kids will be here for another 18 years at least…  I can clean then right?

Before you run that bath, check for toilet paper

Nothing like stepping into a steaming HOT bath, looking down, and seeing little pieces of wet toilet paper floating around your legs.
I *heart* my kids.
The shower was quick, as the hot water heater was almost emptied when I filled the tub.
It’s been that kind of day.  I’m not really sure if this sudden onset depression is just stress + hormones + weather or if there are deeper underlying things that help trigger it. I do know it’s getting on my last nerve.  Hubby has been holding (sleeping in his chair) the baby since he got home so I could just sit without someone in my lap for a few minutes.  He’s trying to be helpful.  I’m just totally overwhelmed right now. He would be more than willing to stay home watch the kids for me to go out somewhere but what I really need is for everyone to leave me here.
I’d love to move the laundry up and down the stairs without having to carry a 20lb baby in the basket with me.   I’d like to start cleaning the kitchen and finish it. I’d LOVE to cut coupons without Lil Man eating most of them.
Tomorrow my friend Jess is coming over to hang out for a bit.  She’s bringing four kids with her.  I was hoping to find my kitchen table before she got here so we could sit at the table while the kids are in the living room playing.  Probably not going to happen.
In my head I know that this is just the “baby stage”, where things get left unorganized for a bit and one day I’ll wake up and he’ll be playing without needing me and I’ll have the time to take back my house.  Then I start thinking how much better things would be if I took it back now, or better yet, if I had NEVER let it get this way.
Then I feel like a craptastic mom for failing my husband and my kids for the past 15 years and not having things taken care of in advance so we could weather this “baby stage” unscathed.
Then I start thinking maybe I just don’t have it in me to be “together”.  I mean, we were married for FIVE years before we had Doodlebug.  Our house wasn’t all pull together then.
Maybe I will never have my ducks in a row or my “stuffs” in one sock.  What if my kids grow up to be unorganized messes?
What if moving to a bigger house doesn’t make it any better? What if getting rid of excess stuff doesn’t make it any better?  What if…