Saturday, April 26, 2008

Random Chores

The husband has come up with a new plan for chore division among the laborers.
He presented us with a cup filled with popsicle sticks.
The children eyed it warily.
I sat back with arms folded, jaded from years of coming up with such plans myself and having them last exactly one week.
I kept my mouth set in a prim line of superior and indulgent supportiveness though. Nary a word of doubt escaped my lips.

Thing is, it's working.
The plan is pure simple genius and I have jumped into full participation of it,
and here it is:

He asked me to come up with a list of jobs that needed to be done around the house every single day. These jobs were printed on the ends of popsicle sticks, and dropped into a cup. Each child chooses three sticks, blindly, the moment he walks in from school, and does the jobs immediately.

Here's the math: I decided that I would choose 5 sticks per day also, and 3 sticks per child (4) equals 17 sticks in all. Two of the sticks are blank, so there are 15 jobs listed on the sticks.

Here are the details: The jobs you get every day are random, so you never know what you're going to have to do. This keeps things from getting boring. Getting a blank stick is fun. The most difficult job on the list is VACUUM, which means you have to vacuum one common room of the house (not your bedroom). All of the other jobs can be done in around 30 seconds. Samples are: Downstairs Toilet (wipe it down and swish inside), Kids' Bathroom Counter (wipe it down), Bookcase (straighten it), Pantry (straighten it), Dust (dust any common room with the feather duster), TV (straighten videos, etc)...They're easy jobs, and the only day that they were difficult was the first day. The second day there were only one or two books out of place - 30 seconds to straighten the shelf. Wiping down the stove top is simple when somebody does it every single day. Same with the Pantry, which used to be a collection of empty cereal boxes, half-open stale graham crackers and the packaging from a multitude of fruit cups.

All of the jobs affect the entire family. There is no "Clean Your Room", or "Put Away The Clothes That Your Mother Has Washed For You." These things are expected - you're supposed to pick up after yourself. The jobs on the list are all little things that just need doing every day - they're nobody's mess - they're everybody's mess!

None of the jobs are "time-sensitive". They are all things that can be delayed if somebody has play practice after school, or are otherwise delayed. As long as the kitchen trash is taken out and a fresh bag put in sometime during the long as the floor is window "windexed"...well, we call it good.

Actually we call it very good. The house has never looked so clean.

The children love it. Sincerely. Middle child says to me, "I like doing this because it's really quick and because you're not telling us what to do."



Momma played Bass.... said...

its a genius idea! And its working at our house too, but I need to tweak the jobs list. Turns out that the downstairs porch doesn't need to be swept every day. And the burn pile does need to be burned every day - so I'll switch those.

We were thinking of having two of slightly harder jobs and one with super-easy jobs. They'd have to have one hard one and two easy ones each day. That idea is on hold until summer though.

Tell Matt thank you - I love the system too!

cjs said...

I'm making my kids read this.

then I'm going to the store to buy popsicle sticks.

Kulio said...

Awesome! The dollar store sells popsicle sticks....

Also - "tweaking" is important, so as mpb says, be prepared to change things up. I had "Cupboards", for wipe down the cupboards, but it doesn't need to be done every day -- so I put that stick in a bag and every once in a while I might throw it in there. Mpb also suggested that you could have "summer" sticks and "winter" sticks too.

kool kenna said...

Awsome idea! i love it. when my mom is about to make us do some chores i will have her read this first.

Lisa Yik the Chick said...

love it and will do it this summer for sure!

Joann said...

So glad it's working!! I will have to try it now. And love the cup choice, too. :-)

Kelle said...

I'm doing this for myself!!!

Anonymous said...

Great idea! I posted a list and was letting them choose but I love the stick idea better! Wow! We'll start this Monday...and maybe the house will actually be clean next week! --Liann (I'm not really annonymous, I just can't remember my username!)

First UMC said...

ok, life got crazy and I had to give up the popsicle sticks but now soccer is over and we're back. I've tweaked - made the list smaller so each job would get done each day (before I had too many jobs - thought extras would be good. No) And I've tried to make them jobs that they can do right then (except I did keep the 'empty the dishwasher in the morning' because i hate to do that. My back is stiff from sleeping and i just hate to bend over the dishwasher).

Anyways - its working and I love it.

Funny thing...the other day I asked "youngest boy" if he'd done his popsicle stick and he got all excited and ran to the freezer. Poor kid - not only did he not get a popsicle but he had to wash the kitchen floor.