How do you get 3 kids to spend all morning cleaning your van?

Posted On May 16, 2010

Filed under Work

Comments Dropped 4 responses

Isn’t it funny how when you think you have something down pat, you find out you’ve been doing it wrong all along?  I think that’s called parenthood.  Case in point, I thought my kids knew how to work, but recently discovered my method was not only inefficient, but also unfair. 

Old plan: The kids (including the 2 yr old) were in charge of keeping their rooms clean and picking up after themselves at all times.  The boys also had morning chores – which were up to my discretion – whatever I needed done – sometimes according to various chore charts and sometimes not.  Throughout the rest of the day I also sent them to do whatever little jobs I needed and my favorite consequence for misbehavior was “Put away 5 things from the 5 things basket” (A basket I keep in the living room and filled with anything left out).

New Plan: Family Work Project

Morning personal chores means get dressed, hang up clothes, brush teeth and later will also include make your bed.  (At the moment make beds are part of family work.  We go through the house and make all the beds together.  Once they can do it on their own – correctly and without supervision – it will go to morning chores).  After breakfast and scriptures we start our family work project. 

There are two keys here:

1 – We all work together with no breaks or distractions.  (As the mother of 4, the definition of “no” is a little loosey goosey.  I might feed the baby.  Or change the baby.  Or put the baby down for a nap.  Or feed the baby.  Or change the baby.  Or help the 2 yr old on the potty.  Or feed the baby.  Or…).

2 – The rest of the day is pretty much free from work.  This means I have to plan ahead and make sure everything I want done, gets done during family work time.  Today I forgot it was Saturday.  We spent a couple hours DEEP cleaning the van which only left a few minutes to pick up the house.  We like to have a spotless house for Sunday which isn’t happening this week, because, not only are the kids free from work the rest of the day, I am too. 

Of course, I still cooked 18 meals, cleaned up from 27 meals, cleaned the kitchen counters, swept and mopped the kitchen floor, folded a load of laundry and made a bed because someone wet on it while I was changing his diaper.  (Apparently I don’t understand the meaning of “no”).  But still, I didn’t vacuum or clean bathrooms which I would have done under the old plan.  With this new plan, I can hold that stuff for Monday’s family work time.   No longer am I in charge of doing everything. 

So you’d think the kids would feel like slaves since they are in essence doing more work.  But they don’t.   Kids (especially one of mine) love to know what to expect.  He is usually more likely to avoid work when I dole it out but with this plan he buckles down and works harder than anyone.  He likes knowing what the job is, seeing results, and knowing once he’s done, he’s free. 

It’s awesome.  And my car is SO clean.  Usually I only have time to vacuum it but with all this help I was able to scrub the entire interior while the kids vacuumed.  So clean!  Clean makes my heart go pitter patter.


4 Responses to “How do you get 3 kids to spend all morning cleaning your van?”

  1. Karen

    This is wonderful! I LOVE family work time! THe kids thrive on it as well. I love how you described your “old” way of doing things. I hadn’t thought of it as being unfair, but it does seem that way when you realize what we often expect (and then are disappointed when it doesn’t all get done). Great pictures too!

  2. Mutti

    Wow~ Now you need to come back again and let’s play Family Work Time at my house! It sounds like FUN! Besides that… I miss all of you… including YOU, Mr. Didn’t Get to Come See Me!

  3. lazyorganizer

    Don’t you know there are child labor laws to protect children from this sort of thing? I think I’m going to have to report you to the authorities because your children are obviously miserable and abused.

    I can’t wait to get my children started on my van tomorrow. I’m hopeful that it can, once again, look as clean and sparkly as yours.

    Barefoot says: I know. They look miserable, don’t they?

  4. Anonymous

    Oh! Those pictures warm the heart of this Dad!! I LOVE to see kids working!