Friday, September 02, 2011

If My House Looks Good, It's Probably A Fluke

I HEART September! It's a great month full of awesome anticipation for Autumn. This weekend I'll probably pull out my Fall decorations (even though it's still 90 degrees outside) and fill my home with scents of pumpkins and spices.

But before I can do that, I have to buckle down and admit something:

I'm a terrible, terrible housekeeper.

Or, more importantly, I'm a terrible, terrible chore supervisor. Person. Mom. Something.

I'm working on ways to improve this area of my life, since it affects my entire family in myriads of ways. I've read other bloggers' schedules and "secrets" to their housekeeping Edens, and I realized that they have something I simply do not have: Motivation. Oh, and self-control. Probably energy, too (at least right now. I'm sure once I have SIX kids to raise and I'm not pregnant anymore, all that missing energy will come rushing back, right? RIGHT?). I've read about how people can cram everything that needs to be done in simple chunks of time, leaving hours and hours for their personal improvement and wholesome recreational activities. I'm not bitter about these women and their schedules. I actually admire them, you know? I think it's awesome that they've found something that works for them and their family and it creates order and peace in their homes.

I've been thinking all week about what I can do to improve upon the things I already do right. Because I do some things right! I know, it's a shocker, but here are some of the things I actually get right as a mother/wife/CEO of a household:

1. We read scriptures (one-two verses each. Right now we're in Alma 30) every morning at 7AM. And then say family prayer.
2. My kids ride their bikes to school wearing clean clothes, with finished homework in their backpacks, helmets on their heads, and sometimes sack lunches (home lunch is something that has become optional because of my inability to care about making their lunches).
3. After school, the three oldest have to do their homework and piano practice before they can do anything else. I usually sit down for at least 45 minutes to 2 hours with #3 (see previous post).
4. We eat dinner as a family. I try to actually MAKE something for dinner. It's usually met with disdain and #3 storms out (again, see previous post) and everyone hates everything, but we sit down as a FAMILY, PEOPLE!
5. We always say a family prayer before bedtime. The girls will say their own personal prayers in their rooms after reading their books for a while, but either Brandon or I will listen to the boys say their personal prayers as we tuck them in.
6. We go to Church every week.
7. We have FHE every Monday night, even if it's only 15 minutes long.

That's about it. That's all I get right. Granted, in my eyes, I think most of these are the most important things we can do, of course --I mean, we're talking spiritual growth here, right? Celestial Glory and Familes are Forever awesomeness! But my list of failures is much, much, much longer. I can't tell you them, though, dear reader, because my therapist has me doing this new thing called "not talking bad about myself to other people" --as if talking bad about myself was somehow detrimental to my soul or something. (I like my therapist.)

My intent and desire is to get better at the much, much, much longer list of failures, though. I'm just not sure how to go about doing it. Yeah, yeah, I could tackle one task at a time, but that would be too logical, dear reader. And where is the fun in that? Here are some ideas I'm trying to wrap my brain around intellectually and emotionally so I can actually pull out the big guns and do it physically:

1. Create two laundry days a week where I actually A. DO THE LAUNDRY, and B. DO THE LAUNDRY.
2. Turn off the television for most of the day; make the preschooler and toddler do more outside play, coloring/drawing, puzzles, etc.
3. Implement more chores for the preschooler. That kid (#4) is getting away with murder, people!
4. Figure out how to get the kids and hubby to actually help more without it becoming a war. What I mean is, figure out a system where everyone knows the expectations, follows them, and/or reaps the awesome/evil consequences. I've been pretty good at chore charts (I even bragged once on this blog about how great we are with chores), but since summer, and my pregnancy, and school starting, and my pregnancy, chore charts are now outdated. Ignored. Laughed at.

Do you realize, dear reader, how hard it is to get anything done when you don't have the energy or motivation to do it? And your lovely angel-children take advantage of your said state? And try to get away with stuff? It's crazy exhausting, that's what it is!

And now you know my current reality.

Truth be told, I've spent a lot of time on this couch this summer, feeling sorry for myself. Trying to get up. Cringing inside when my husband has run out of clean garments (again!) and berating myself for not teaching my kids more responsibility. I mean, what if I died tomorrow? What the heck are these people going to do without me!?

That's why I need to figure this out. I have to get this done and settled and routine-ized before I tackle the ultimate "switching of rooms so the baby will have someplace to live and the older kids will have a taste of some freedom and giving away of toys to children who actually love toys since our kids obviously have no love for anything they own."

Help me out, dear reader! Please tell me:
1. What is your daily routine while your kiddos are in school?
2. How do your chore chart systems work? Do you implement rewards?
3. Does your husband have chores to do? Are they spoken or unspoken?
4. Do your kids get allowance? If so, how much, how often, are there stipulations attached?

Muchos Merci!


Judi said...

Oh Cheryl...You are not a failure..You are human, like so many of us. We don't fail, we just don't succeed as much as we would like to or want to, so we just keep trying.
I only have two kids and a smaller home than yours, but just the same it needs to be cleaned and organized.
A friend of mine taught me once that if you spend 15-20 minutes a day in each room you could really get a lot done. That is how I started with my kids when they were younger. 15 minutes to pick up your room and you would get "something" that is up to you...we did quarters, a treat after dinner, or whatever...but it worked..we did it after dinner every night so then there room was picked up until the next worked. As they got older we did allowance, would have them work towards something they really wanted to buy (video game, ball, sports jersey) etc...and that worked for a while too...but as they got older it was about the $$$. So the chart would rotate so that they didn't always have the same job except for their room...everything else changed daily, and according to age as well.
Now that we are down to one kid at home he gets money. We pay him minimum wage for every hour that he spends during the week during chores..bedroom, bathroom, vacuming, garbage and whatever else is asked of him. He gets an extra 10% if he does it with a good attitude and doesn't have to be asked to do everything all the time. It helps...This first week of school we were kind of relaxed..but now back on it, because he wants money.

Good luck! Just remember to breathe!

Kimberly said...

Here's what works for me during the school year...

My kids don't have chore charts. They go to school, do homework, activities and keep their rooms and their stuff picked up. I want them to be out enjoying their childhood and being social with the little time we have at home each day!

I have a chore chart for myself. I have a list of jobs I want to get done each day while the kids are at school so that by Saturday all the deep cleaning is done and we can play. This includes daily stuff like pick up and I limit it to one load of laundry a day. That way it gets washed, folded, and put away without getting overwhelming.

My husband does his OWN laundry, picks up his own crap, and cleans the kitchen after dinner if I cook.

My kids don't really do chores so I don't give them allowance. Hugs and kisses from mom count right?

And kudos to you for what you are doing! Those are the areas we struggle with at our house!

Ginger said...

I love this post because I too am a terrible housekeeper. I didn't used to be, but I'm a working mom of 3 teenagers... teenagers are GROSS. I've given up. I wish I could give you a magic answer that would work NO MATTER what. But, unfortunately - I'm a complete failure at #'s 1, 2, 3, & 4.

Oh wait, I mean, #1 - I'm at work. #2 - No charts, no system. #3 - Husband have chores? hahahahaha... I wish. #4 - No allowance. Their allowance is clean clothes, food in their bellies, occasional entertainment, and yes answers more than no answers.

I wish I was more help! From what I've read on your blog, I think you are a great mom.

blogging and bliss~ said...

You know I have tried chore charts they don't work.what I do is the 2 oldest switch the main areas one does livingroom one dishes. I switch them every other day. The little 6 yr old does dinning rm and just got added to taking out trash and unloading dish washer
I wish my hose was cleaner and clean upmyself the big tuff like mopping and sweeping. My daughter helps with laundry on her day for living room. I mix the chores up and Fridays we try to do bathrooms and deeper cleaning.
Husband goes to work does mowing bbqs and that's all I get! Just work on finding what works for you but I know I can usually remember which kid did dishes the day before and can then know who's turn it is. It works for me.

Anonymous said...!

Cheryl said...

My kids have very few jobs on school days...they are responsible to make their bed, do homework, practice piano and either unload the dishwasher or set or clear the kitchen table. They need time to play and be kids. But on Saturday they know they have chores and my chore chart consists of a fancy post it note for each kid on the fridge with a list of their chores...before we do anything fun those have to be done. I am not a creative/"fluff" person and my post it notes work just as well as a fancy chore chart!

I have a list of simple chores I divide up each week that I do during the day. Laundry on 2-3 days, wipe down bathrooms, mop floor. I focus on the upstairs one day and the downstairs another. again I don't do well with the fancy "flylady" system, mine is simple and my house isn't as clean as if I followed it, but it's okay. I do more deep cleaning on Saturdays.

Our list of weaknesses is ALWAYS bigger than our list of strengths...take one bite of the elephant at a time!

michelle said...

"Figure out how to get the kids and hubby to actually help more without it becoming a war. "

I have two words:


If YOU come up with the chore chart, it's already set up to be a war. First rule of motivation is to let people be part of the planning. If they are part of the process of creating it, they'll own it more than if you create it and try to enforce it.

I'm not a great housekeeper, either, but I've finally realized that keeping house is a team effort and the process of figuring out how to make that happen should thus be a team effort.

We have some regular chores but what we are working on is also fitting in a regular family clean-up time, maybe just for 10-15 minutes a day. But when it's everyone together, it creates a new layer of purpose -- not cleaning house per se, but working together as a family.

Amanda D said...

It's the first day of school here so we don't have a routine yet. I'm not sure what will work yet. However, I am sure that the chores the kids have to do will be scaled back -- mostly to putting their clothes away, making beds and setting and clearing the table.

My kids do get allowance. It has been $1 per year per month. So my 10 year old gets $10 around the first of the month. I've realized though that my 6-year-old has too much money that way, so I think that 10 will be the year that they get $1 per year. My 8-year-old is going to start getting $5 or $6 and my 6-year-old will get $3 or $4. Does that make sense? Paying out weekly didn't work for me but paying monthly works great. They have to pay tithing on allowance.

As for the first part of this post -- you are doing the most important thing and you are miles ahead of me. Keep up the good work, Cheryl.

Handsfullmom said...

I posted my schedule on your other post, but here's a couple of other answers to your questions:

2. Rewards are not given for basic chores. That's just what they do because they're part of our family. However, EXTRA chores earn privilege cards or work hours (4 privilege cards equals one work hour, so they're somewhat interchangeable). The kids use their privilege cards for buying stuff out of prize bin occasionally (things like books, Legos, etc.), 15 minutes on the Wii, or for 15 minutes of staying up past bedtime. Work hours are used by the older kids for really neat privileges like going along on my husband's work trips. Lillian earned 60 hours one year to go to New York, Joey had to have 30 to go to Chicago (the number is based on how expensive the trip is).

3. DH does not do regular chores, but he does help with the kids a lot and pitches in when I'm having a tough time. And he cooks every weekend without fail, so I guess that counts, right?

4. We sort of do allowance. The kids get $1 per month per year of age and we hand out six months' worth at a time in June and December (so they have money for the summer and for Christmas shopping). They pay tithing and then we deposit half of the money into their own savings account. It's not a lot of money, but it does give them enough for a few fun things. Work hours can also be turned in for $1 in cash or $2 in credit (towards things like dates to the movies or things in the prize bin we've already purchased).