Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cleaning: Team-building Time for Families, organization part 4

When I was growing up, we used to have a "ghost" who was responsible for any messes around the house that no one else claimed responsibility.  What else can you do as a parent when you ask, "Who made this mess?"  That is why I have always enjoyed the following story:

Goodbye Mr. Nobody  
Lurking in our house is a grim, relentless creature.  He is elusive, but I can track his tricky trail with my carefully trained eye.  This disgusting creature has the gall to eat an entire box of doughnuts in one night.  He can devour a gallon of milk, leaving none for breakfast.  He tracks mud onto freshly mopped floors and leaves toys and clothing strewn throughout the house.  He hides coats, shoes, and even homework.  Who is this abominable alien?  Mr. Nobody.
I was tired of Mr. Nobody and the tension he created in our home, so I decided to try something new.  I invented Mr. Everybody.  Since Mr. Nobody was leaving the toys out, Mr. Everybody would pick them up.  Instead of demanding to know who left the mess, I had Everybody help clean it up. 

It took the children a few days to catch the spirit of Mr. Everybody.  But once they realized that I was no longer trying to place blame, we were able to resolve many minor problems.  Now that Everybody pitches in to help, we have much more cooperation and unity in our family.  (Velda Gilbert Mc Donald, "Good-bye Mr. Nobody," Ensign, 6/89)

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days
to Clean

Teaching Children to Clean
I haven't convinced my family yet but I firmly believe that shared chores build a family team.  I read that, "In a survey of 250 children, over ninety-seven percent honestly felt that they should work at home."  Which is probably one of those surveys where people say what they think they should say, not what they really believe!!!  However, I honestly believe that children like to help and know they should because finishing a task from start to finish builds self-esteem and so does keeping the house looking nice.

Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much increase comes by the strength of the ox.  (Proverbs 14:4)

Where mom is the primary meal manager, dads and eventually teens can become proficient at making a meal that is "their domain."  So this is a chore that all can take a turn and give Mom a break once-in-a-while.
A good method of delegating mealtime chores (for example):
  1. On a large index card, divide chores (in this case meal-related) as equally as possible into three groups (I have three kids).  Ours looks like this:  Blue=Set table, wipe counters and table, switch cards; Yellow=Unload dishwasher; Red=Wash dishes that can't go in dishwasher, put away food
  2. The index card is on the calendar in the kitchen.  
  3. On the calendar in each Sunday square are marks of blue, yellow, and red.  
  4. Beside each color is one of the kids' names.  
  5. If they don't like this weeks' tasks, at least they'll change next week.  
  6. Everyone is responsible for bringing in his own dishes from the table, rinsing them, and putting them into the dishwasher.
  7. Be Consistent!!!

Chores Instruction
With all chores, give a clear idea of what is expected of the child and when it must be completed.  One year when my kids were first learning to do chores such as cleaning the bathroom, I found a really good Achievement Day activity (I was an Achievement Day leader at the time) where I put the instructions for chores such as cleaning the bathroom on index cards.

I (patiently) showed them how to clean the toilet, tub, sink, floor, mirror, etc. repeatedly, until they could do it themselves.  I also instructed the children (and husband) on the location of the cleaning equipment and how to store it.  There was a performance standard expected and time frame in which the chore must be done.  

To this day, I have to ensure expectations are consistently maintained.  "If children are allowed to go two full weeks without doing their chores, they question whether they really need to do them at all.  Inspect jobs when they are done.  It says to a child that these tasks do matter.  Be generous and genuine with compliments for a job well done...If there is a problem, withdraw a privilege, but don't nag."  (Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg, Table Talk, Focus on the Family 1994 pp. 63-71)

The beauty of work depends upon the way we meet it; whether we arm ourselves each morning to attack it as an enemy that must be vanquished before night comes--or whether we open our eyes with the sunrise to welcome it as an approaching friend who will make us feel at evening the day was well worth its fatigue.  ~Lucy Larcom

Cleanliness is next to godliness.  The Spirit of God will not dwell in an unclean place--and that goes for your room as well as your body.  ~Florence S. Johnson

What this country needs is cleaner minds and dirtier fingernails.  ~Mark Twain

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.  ~Phillis Diller

Ma used to say:
Wash on Monday, 
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday.
~Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder

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