Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It Keeps Going and Going and Going...

Memory Verse: 1 Timothy 4:15 (NIV)
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

Intro: It keeps going, and going, and going…
(Marketing credit: Energizer)

Housekeeping: That household mess, it keeps going and going and going. It’s a perpetual chore that we diligently need to keep going on to stay on top it. We all have different ways of keeping ourselves energized.

Assignment: How do you keep energized so you can get it all done? bouncy music? treat it like a workout? Do you use a schedule?, a housekeeping binder system? luck of the draw system?.. or is this an area where you need encouragement? Do you need God’s help to keep order and beauty in your dwelling place? Take this week to tell us how You diligently keep going with your housekeeping chores.

Picture ideas: Show us some before and after pictures of a space you’ve been working on /show us your favourite tools / share a youtube of your favourite housekeeping music that keeps you energized.

Well, it looks like I'm writing that "Chore-Chart Post" sooner rather than later!!!

As an opener let me just say that while homeschooling 6 kids there is NO POSSIBLE WAY I could EVER keep up with housework if I wanted to do ANYthing besides clean, cook and put away stuff. I tried for several years, and I beat myself up thinking that the silly Proverbs 31 woman was in heaven shaking her head at me, wondering when I'd finally get it all together.

I had a sort of epiphany about 10 years ago. Two things I realized. One -- the Proverbs 31 woman is not one woman. Proverbs 31 is about a type of woman. (Insert sigh of relief here.) Two -- I wanted to be a homemaker, not a houseslave. OK, I realized 3 things. The third thing? With six kids, I had more work that needed to be done, but I also had 12 more hands to help do it!!!

Thus began the creation and evolution of...(drumroll, please)...The Chore Chart.

I posted this photo for BFS already, but it's relevant, so...
How did I come up with this? Trial and error. We've revamped the chore chart probably a dozen times in the past 10 years. As the littler kids got bigger, they were able to do more involved jobs. When we moved to Mexico, we no longer had a dishwasher, dryer or carpets to vacuum.

So let's go step by step through the birth process...
  • Write down the different areas in your home that need daily attention. For instance, in our house we have the Kitchen, Living Room, Bathroom and Outside, plus the kids' bedrooms.

  • Make a list of the chores in each room that need to be done. Don't worry about who will do what yet. Just make a list. In the Kitchen, we need to clean and wipe the counter, wipe down the outside of the fridge, pick up the floor, clear the table, wash the dishes, take out the trash and cook the meals.
  • Now, let's divide the chores we have so they're a little more evenly distributed and so we have the same number of groups of chores as we have kids. Do you notice something? It's actually easier if you have more kids. All those times those well-meaning folks have said, "Oh, MY! All those kids!!! How do you get it all done???" Answer: I don't. We do.

  • What if you only have 2 children? Well, the same chores still need to be done, right? Just divide it all up! Everyone will do a little more than if you had 6 kids, but still not as much as if you were trying to do it all yourself!

Let's look at my example for a sec...

  • I have 4 areas in the house (not including bedrooms -- those are separate and everyone is responsible for their own space) and 6 kids, so I take some of those extra kitchen jobs and make a new "area": Dishes. Face it: dishes is a big job. If you're washing dishes for 8 people 3 meals a day, you don't want to do another job, too. Then I take another Kitchen job and put it with the outside jobs to balance out the load a bit. One of our "Outside" jobs is laundry. How would you like to be stuck doing laundry for 8 people all day, every day, all week, every week, forever and ever...? "Not I!" said the mom! So we recently created the "Laundry Floater", and it moves from person to person every day. Laundry is a pain here, anyway, because we have such water issues and electricity issues. If you have a washer that works and a dryer, too, then having one person to do laundry for the week isn't such a big deal. Remember that everyone should be able to fold and put away their own clothes, right???
  • I originally had one chore for each child in each room so that we could work together and help each other (read that: so the little boys would work instead of play). I put each chore on a small circle of colored paper with velcro on the back and it velcroed underneath their names. Once the kids learned what to do and how to do it -- and were old enough to follow through without constant supervision (OK, I still have to supervise, but not moment-by-moment!) -- I could turn them loose on an area and then check it over when they were done.

You could imagine that if you've never done anything like this before, you'll still spend the better part of the day on housework...and you will have some pretty stressful times. There have been days when I've had to call the same child back to the same chore 3 or 4 times because it wasn't done to my satisfaction. Wouldn't it be easier to just do it myself??? Oh, yeah...for the short-term. But the long-term rewards are worth the perserverance.

Here I am, 10 years down the road, and I can now leave in the morning to go to a women's prayer time and come home at 9 a.m. to a house that's spiffy, breakfast finished and kids working on lessons (usually -- sometimes the house is a disaster, half the kids are still in bed and the other half are at each other's throats. Life is still life.).

Now, don't think that we have it all together! My house is not a showcase!!! Martha Stewart not only doesn't live here, she would probably run screaming if she came to visit! My goal is not a "Better Homes and Gardens" interview...I want peace in my house, time to work on projects and do fun things with my husband, my kids and other people, and (maybe most importantly) I want my kids to achieve the same in their homes when they are adults.

My verses for the week:

Psalm 128:1-2 Blessed is every one that fears the Lord, that walks in his ways. For you shall eat the labor of your hands; happy shall you be, and it will be well with you.

**This passage is sweet to me for this reason: the years we spent laboring to teach the kids discipline, perserverance and responsibility in daily chores are now beginning to bear fruit. The fruit is sweet indeed!!!**

My Work Crew

Oh, BTW, this is my Tackle it Tuesday post, too, since it's housework-related, it's a project I've been working on and it just so happens to be Tuesday!

Tackle It Tuesday Meme


Sombra said...

Go read Gina's post at http://ginashomeschool.blogspot.com/ - Don't forget Proverbs 31 woman had servant girls!!!

Love your work crew - and yes, isn't it great when there's a "God"incidence.. His timing is perfect isn't it.

thanks for posting

Mrs. Sombra
BFS Teacher

Libby said...

Que tal? Gracias a visitar a mi blog. Un gusto conocerte!
How fun to find another missionary mom's blog! I will come back and read todays BFS post later but I wanted to say hi and that I look forward to reading more of your blog. That background on your blog looks familiar to me! :)
Have you ever read this blog? Another place missionary women are connecting...http://coffeegirlconfessions.blogspot.com/
Libby in Peru

tonsofsons said...

I have 5 boys under 11. I know it is impossible to do it all and have a sparkling clean house.

Amen to your post!

Love the chart idea!

earthlingorgeous said...

Love that chores chart. I'll be having the same for my daughter too and it would be round the clock.

Lovely kids you got by the way. I agree so much housework is a chore that keeps going and going and going but with God by our side no task is ever daunting.

Jonathan Greene said...

Love the blog. Blessings in Mexico.

Sheri said...

that is the fruit of being consistant-having children who can do things and do them well without us standing over them. Takes a long time to train them but oh, so worth it. Your cleaning crew is mighty good looking-glad you have those extra 12 hands...do you loan them out to needy moms in the states?

Rebecca said...

Will I loan them out? Some days...no, seriously -- I only have them for a few more years! I'm keeping them to myself as much as possible for now!!!

Jill Connelly said...

Oh, yes! I used to use a chore chart. Not sure why I ever got away from it. Must be I fell into the "it's faster if I just do it myself" hole. And hole it is because without the chore chart, not much gets done. You have inspired me to get back to a chart. I only have 30 minutes in the day to get housework done so the chart is crucial. Thanks a bunch!

MrsTamara-BFS said...

Thank you for sharing your post! Great chore chart and I appreciated reading your inspiration behind the Proverbs 31 woman.

Have a great week,
BFS Teacher

Nikki said...

I enjoyed reading your post! ~ Blessings! ~ Nikki

Fruitful Vine said...

Wow Rebecca
I just posted a chore chart just like that on the fridge last week and the boys love going to see what they need to do after breakfast without me having to tell them. Judah(6yr old) is reading fluently now and he tells Jeremiah(5yr old) what is there if I'm not in the kitchen. The days of the week are on the top and there are two sections(one for each boy) under each day. I just move the names across as the days go and then the following week I switch one name up and the other down so that the workload evens out. It has helped so much to keep order and peace because they are occupied doing worthwhile things that bless the family. they had a control journal before but being a bit younger then they thought it was fun to pull the sheets out of the sheet protector and walk all over the binder. Now I am the only one with a control journal, they get the chore chart on the fridge. Works for me. Sorry this is so long but I just got excited to see that I did the same thing that you have been doing. Blessings dear sister