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#1 of 52 Old 08-08-2014, 08:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Rethinking unschooling and chores and money

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Experiences, even second hand, are most welcome.

I'm planning on having a planning meeting regarding chores and activities, etc. I'm going to lump them together. But the habits are pretty terrible here, and I'm even contemplating a small amount of payment for chores beyond cleaning up after themselves.

Hold on to your Holt, unschoolers, here's my thinking. I don't require chores. Well, OK. I'm not radical, I do have the girls put away their clean laundry and get their dirty laundry in the basket. I hear "money makes kids only want to do stuff for money", but I also hear from unschoolers that to some extent, having a house in a particular state of tidiness is at some point what the parent wants and not what's just good for smooth functioning of a household. I agree, the chores are my deal.

However, I'd love help around the house and have more time for activities. If I had enough money, I'd be willing to pay a professional to clean my house. Oh, wait, I am a house cleaning professional!

I'm thinking of offering $2 per hour on agreed upon cleaning one day a week, above and beyond cleaning up after themselves. In fact, I'd like being able to earn the money hinge on being willing to clean up after themselves as they go along in the day (I'm willing to help) and helping clean up for 5 minutes after dinner.

What this allows me to do is offer a monetary award if they want it, and it accounts for differing temperaments. I would expect dd9 to be on board in spirit and in action most of the time. I expect himming and hawing from dd7. It would allow them to opt out entirely without repercussion.

All this would be negotiated ahead of time in a broader context. I'm tired of spending every waking hour trying to keep the chaos at bay and I do not have high expectations.

I'd like to completely reexamine chores and unschooling in the context of our experience, from unschoolers themselves. I need some more things to think about with this issue, and beyond the ideas I've put forward here.

Hurry! Before it's too late! (Cue Luke and Han and Leia screaming in the trash compactor....)

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#2 of 52 Old 08-09-2014, 05:33 PM
 
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Good luck! I don't think there is anything wrong with paying kids for chores beyond certain baseline expectations that everyone should meet (don't throw food wrappers on the floor, dirty clothes in wash basket, etc)

I have tried to pay my children for work. I didn't get very far. For a bunch of reasons, money has not been great collateral for my kids.

Really, the only thing I have found that works in terms of keeping the house manageable has been decluttering.

I would pay per job as opposed to per hour. If you pay per hour, you run the real chance of kids dilly-dallying, and still wanting pay. You also run the risk of child a complaining about child b: "she has spent half the time upstair and did 1/10 the work of me…why should she get the same pay?!?"

I would also be very specific about what you want done. Make a list, if need be. Your idea of clean and theirs might vary greatly. This is as much to help them know what clean look like or entails. I know I tend to think that people (ok, my family members) should just know that cleaning involves both putting away and wiping down the surface - but alas, they don't. Husband included.
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#3 of 52 Old 08-09-2014, 08:32 PM
 
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I'm not a unschooler (or even a homeschooler) but my instincts are that $2 for 60 minutes of work is going to feel daunting and not worth it to a 9 and 7 year old. Maybe make the link between time, activities, and work on your part and how that benefits the family more real for them?
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#4 of 52 Old 08-09-2014, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My girls have a little experience from working with me on a job. Once a month or so, they come on a "tidy up" job with a client. She needed the tidy up, it's a long drive for 2 hours so part of the agreement was that I get to bring the girls so dh can work that day as well, and we go swimming at at the Y which is on the way. I pay them $6 per hour for real work that I can direct and evaluate, or $1 per hour for "busy work". But your point about per-job is reasonable.

I'll be working out a talk for a couple weeks from now. They are getting better at little follow-up clean ups. But right now we are in the middle of fair and GS camp is next week and I am so tired and what the hell am I still posting for?????

kathy, thanks for chiming in.

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#5 of 52 Old 08-10-2014, 06:04 PM
 
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Hold on to your Holt, unschoolers, here's my thinking. I don't require chores. Well, OK. I'm not radical, I do have the girls put away their clean laundry and get their dirty laundry in the basket. I hear "money makes kids only want to do stuff for money", but I also hear from unschoolers that to some extent, having a house in a particular state of tidiness is at some point what the parent wants and not what's just good for smooth functioning of a household. I agree, the chores are my deal.
We're not radical US by any means, and I do have expectations that everyone helps with day to day work (according to age &/or ability of course)without pay as contributing members of the household, probably more so than a lot of families. I don't think I would say it's required really...the only consequence for not doing it is my occasional honest displeasure &/or lack of time to spend doing fun stuff with them because I had to do it all myself. Not in a punitive way, but sometimes chores must be done and there's only so much time, KWIM? They usually cooperate but I think I have luck on my side in that dd12 is neat by nature and great at organizing and dd6...well...6 is a helpfull age.

I'm not so sure about tidyness being only the parent's deal...hmm...most of my (pretty low!) standards are based on being able to find things when we need them, plus room to play, and the kids get more upset over this than I do generally. HAve to think more about that one.

Funny you should mention Holt, one of his sayings that's always resonated with me is that children really are motivated by wanting to fit in by doing as we (the adults) do, and I have noticed that my kids are willing to do just about any 'adult' work alongside us or other adults with no complaints at all.

They each get an allowance that is not connected to chores, plus we pay for their help with big jobs sometimes. So far no problems resulting from money being involved. I do agree that you'd be better off paying by the job; less potential conflict esp. with two kids involved.
You could always give it a try and tweak it or scrap it if it doesn't work.
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#6 of 52 Old 08-11-2014, 09:23 AM
 
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Yeah, I'm not sure I buy tidiness being the parent's deal. I used to figure that was the case because my kids did so much messing and had so little interest in tidying, but over the years they have expressed consistent appreciation of our occasional brushes with tidiness. My two youngest also have a Pinterest-fueled obsession with spare, Japanese-style interior design and express again and again how much they appreciate that aesthetic and wish we could enact it here.

My kids and I all like clean uncluttered tidy spaces. We really do. We cope well, and laugh easily at ourselves, when it comes to our messy cluttered reality. But we do wish it were otherwise. We just don't have the tools or the structure or the sense of responsibility or the general wherewithal to get there and stay there.

(My husband, on the other hand, is relatively tidy and organized in his habits but he enjoys the cluttered aesthetic -- shelves jammed full of stuff, bins everywhere, too much furniture in every room.)

Anyway, just because children habitually live within untidiness and contribute enthusiastically to it, doesn't mean they don't truly wish it were otherwise. I see this issue as more complicated than the parent just owning the chores.

For us the most successful strategy has been for me to start working on a particular area of the house and to make big changes in that small area, changes that are immediately noticed and appreciated. Once that happens, enthusiasm for the process often becomes contagious. There's a pride and sense of satisfaction that we get from such a process that is genuine. It's much more motivating to achieve this than to simply feel like you're putting a bit of a dent in the total mess. And once the kids have invested their own energy into some noticeable improvements to a particular area, they are more likely to guard the area against incursions by mess in the days to come.

This approach goes against my natural triage-style inclination, which is to do a quick sweep through all the common living areas, tidying a few of the most intrusive bits of mess, getting each room from about 90% clutter to 50% clutter. Everything gets a bit better with this style of tidying, but what we never achieve is the aesthetic appreciation of a space that has 0% clutter, a look and feel that is likely to inspire and motivate.

We have a term in our family called "counter-blindness." It was used to describe the phenomenon where something has been sitting on the kitchen counter for so long that it has become part of the wallpaper of our lives and we don't even see it anymore. Someone will spent 45 minutes looking for the small thermos, and no one in the family will have any idea what has become of it, and then eventually it will be discovered sitting right beside the dish soap in plain view, where it has been for weeks or months, where each of us has scanned our eyes over it multiple times a day without perceiving its presence. I've become convinced that a more generalized counter-blindness gets in the way of us achieving a more tidy home life. Interestingly, we've found that digital photography is a cure for counter-blindness. If we take a photo of an area of our house and display it on a computer screen, we see the whole things very differently, and previously-invisible bits of clutter pop into view in ways that encourage us to take action. I used to take photos like this for my blog in order to laugh a bit at our cluttered lives and appreciate our penchant for creative chaos, but I realized that they really do encourage you to see things differently and then to enact a plan to change them. And then, when you finish your work, you take another photo and you have a simply stunning Before and After illustration of the value of your work.

We used to have family meetings about these issues on a regular basis and my kids never really wanted a financial solution like paying for chores. I'm not sure exactly why, but when we brainstormed dozens of different possible approaches that was one of the ones that always got set aside with no more than a "hmm, we could do that."

In my own family or origin my parents had a weekly chore chart with points awarded for particular voluntary chores, each point being worth twenty cents. I used the system to fund a skateboard purchase and then quit once I got it, my Type-A brother got wealthy by family standards over a long period of time, my dreamer of a brother and my capricious younger sister both remained poor and learned no housekeeping skills whatsoever. The system simply illustrated our natural tendencies: we are like this to this day! I don't think any of us were really changed by our years under this system.

My feeling is that any system put in place by an adult attempting to change her children's behaviour is likely to be less effective in the long run than ongoing collaborative discussion, open-minded dialogue that really listens to everyone's feelings, and creative (even if largely ineffective in the short-term) problem-solving.

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#7 of 52 Old 08-11-2014, 10:06 AM
 
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We have a term in our family called "counter-blindness." It was used to describe the phenomenon where something has been sitting on the kitchen counter for so long that it has become part of the wallpaper of our lives and we don't even see it anymore. Someone will spent 45 minutes looking for the small thermos, and no one in the family will have any idea what has become of it, and then eventually it will be discovered sitting right beside the dish soap in plain view, where it has been for weeks or months, where each of us has scanned our eyes over it multiple times a day without perceiving its presence. I've become convinced that a more generalized counter-blindness gets in the way of us achieving a more tidy home life. Interestingly, we've found that digital photography is a cure for counter-blindness. If we take a photo of an area of our house and display it on a computer screen, we see the whole things very differently, and previously-invisible bits of clutter pop into view in ways that encourage us to take action. I used to take photos like this for my blog in order to laugh a bit at our cluttered lives and appreciate our penchant for creative chaos, but I realized that they really do encourage you to see things differently and then to enact a plan to change them. And then, when you finish your work, you take another photo and you have a simply stunning Before and After illustration of the value of your work.


Miranda[/QUOTE]

Thank you for naming this. That is fantastic. It also explains why my DS can kick my butt in Eye Spy but can never find his shoes. I may just take a pic next time he asks me where his shoes are.
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#8 of 52 Old 08-11-2014, 10:31 AM
 
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You know, I think that the relationship between unschooling and paying for chores is similar to the relationship between unschooling and textbooks. It's not unschooling-like to impose either, but if the children are secure in the fact that their choices are valued and honoured, and they decide the textbooks or chore money or some sort of structured system for meals or exercise is a good idea, then to me that is still entirely consistent with the unschooling philosophy.

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#9 of 52 Old 08-16-2014, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Really stalling on a thoughtful response. Mostly posting after being gone for a week as a place-holder and a moment to gripe. Gripe about *never* having uninterrupted blocks to get things done. Ever. (I could stay up all night....) This morning, all good intentions to get to the kitchen. Girls want to go out in the coop, but rooster makes them nervous, so I need to accompany. "We need to clip his wings!" so we can keep him in an isolation pen while we work in the coop. So, I bring along a pair of scissors. Apparently they thought this was the moment he gets permanently separated, but I nix that for now, but I'm not so good at saying "no" to them being in the pen in the first place.

I use this moment to clean up some of the chaos that somehow accumulated in the feed shed. I left the lid of the *empty* but not 100% cleaned feed can and some possum got in there and shat all over the inside of the can. The mixed nails spilled, no sign of the container. The miscellaneous boards I keep around to weather proof our coop in the fall are somehow piled right in the way. What poltergeist did this? Had to clean up the cage mess from bringing the birds home Sunday. By now the girls have left but I might as well finish. Brought in new feed in the second can. Got the cages to the big shed and the collected (on a heap on the ground) piles of feed bags to the trash. I honestly can't remember if this was all me, but I am far more methodical than all this, so it must be everyone else's fault.

Came in, sighed. Uh-oh. The girls are poised to spread out their hopping frog game all over the downstairs carpet and I might not see it again for a week. Had to argue my way into doing it. Not waiting-for-permission argument, but dd7 is on the edge of a freak-out and she needs to be on board. She winds up helping me by vacuuming for 30 seconds, but I need to do it more thoroughly. I see that while I was gone, my carefully organized piles are now carefully disorganized to make room for the new stove. The empty container that was meant for dd7's stuffed animals (surrounding her bed currently) are now filled with stuff that dh has plopped in there. Now there is yet another box of crap I need to go through.

Garage sale next week, out in town in front of a friend's business since we live in the sticks. Hopefully this pile will be gone next week. But oh lordy. I need another coffee and a chance to gripe. So I sit and decompress on the screen and the kitchen remains untouched, except for the 10 new piles from unloading the car.

It's 11 and I still haven't brushed my teeth. Almost time for lunch, and still the kitchen waits.

I'll get back to you after a couple of days while I think about what I want to work out with the girls. I need to find a way to dig out from this chaos, but it's coming at me from all sides and the more it does that the more I need to rest and the more it comes at me. Gah! I need dh and the girls to go away for a week. I can't even think about how to keep this place useable until I get it functioning again. The girls are fighting over two good Sharpies when I know somewhere we have 36, spread out over all the boxes that dh has deposited stuff.

"Momma, where are the scissors?" (We have 6 pair). I have no freakin' idea, sweetie.

ETA: Keeping gripes on one post so this doesn't turn the thread into a gripe-fest: putting away clean dishes. Open cupboard to put away pan, take 2 minutes to reorganize pots so I can find everything. Put away knife in drawer. Make quick sense of the mess dh made when he puts stuff away. He puts things away, which is more than I can say for myself, but he just piles stuff in willy-nilly to get it done. But he gets it done. I don't even have a leg to stand o to complain, but there it is. Take 3 minutes to gripe about it online. This is how the kitchen (doesn't) get done.
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#10 of 52 Old 08-18-2014, 07:29 PM
 
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Hold on to your Holt, unschoolers, here's my thinking.

{edited out all the other stuff}

Hurry! Before it's too late! (Cue Luke and Han and Leia screaming in the trash compactor....)
Hah! Sorry, just had to say, you totally made me LOL with those three. Thank you!

Just wanted to add, reading your latest post, was that it sounds to me like you really do want help with the housework, so having a system where they can opt in and out might not really meet *your* needs? Not that I'm suggesting you make the housework compulsary, of course. I wonder if you could 'demand' time from them instead? Work out a time each day that is dedicated to housework - they can join in if they want, and if they don't want to, then it's their responsibility to keep themselves occupied while you go crazy cleaning. And to not be making a bigger mess during that time! Then they have two opportunities to contribute - cleaning or not cleaning, heh. Obviously this will only work if they are able to keep themselves occupied - maybe start with small bits of time?

However I'm no one to take cleaning advice from. My house is a mess and I was ranting and raving about it to my oldest today.
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#11 of 52 Old 08-18-2014, 08:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hah! Sorry, just had to say, you totally made me LOL with those three. Thank you!
You're welcome. I think I left Chewy out of that reference (sorry, Fuzzball). I can just hear the voice C3PO saying "Can't you hear [her] down there, R2? They're dying!" Oh, right, that's after they turned the compactor off.

Someone turned my compactor off for me. Still rethinking a permanent solution, but it was enough for me to scream my head off that I would not immediately drop everything and spend the entire day building an escape-proof pen for the cockerels, that I can't keep putting off my priorities for their priorities, I get it, I'll do it but the house comes first, and moving around the house like a steam engine clearing 5 months of detritus. Not very collaborative or consensual at this point, but I'm not always good at asking for what I need on a daily basis. I think I can reprioritize and be OK, but at some point it's just not. Makes me wonder whether I made some wrong moves when they were little, moves that honored their needs without honoring mine. Because I always thought that some point I would be able to prioritize my own needs, but I was never really taught that growing up.

But, they are older and more self sufficient and getting use to some new routines and I am trying to be better at keeping up with my responsibilities (which feels a little like I'm stuck playing defense and not managing to take an offensive position) and we are about a third of the way done of climbing out of this chaos. I can't expect them to make sense of it, but I can really push the expectations where I've made real progress. I'm afraid at this point a nice, collaborative conversation alone won't suffice here. I'm making my needs known rather assertively. I even tried talking to dd9 once and she said "Just tell me directly." Yay, permission to order her around! But I remember that same exact thought when I was a kid. I wished my mom would just tell me what to do straight out and be done with it instead of beating around the bush so I could somehow arrive at the conclusion myself.

I couldn't even check in on this thread for a couple of days I was so pissed at everything, even dh, I couldn't even talk about it. Me. At a loss for words. But every time I thought about saying one piece, all the other connected to it would threaten to come with it and I had to purse my lips and not say one thing.

Creating new routines can be painful for everyone. Hopefully we'll start some see the results of our good work and have some ideas for how everyone can help to keep it that way, even paying for some chores. But the idea that we'd all sweetly come to the table and talk about our needs and wants is something I realize is not going to happen in our house right now. Nope-- this house is more Malcolm in the Middle. And as much as I try not to, I feel so much like Lois so much of the time.

Anyway, project for now is keeping on truckin' on the housework and harvesting our possessions for this weekend's garage sale. Just like Lois, I have one half of the house spotless, and you can even see the line between the halves! Tomorrow is room cleaning if I can get started down there before they get an idea for a game. If I start first, they'll help me and be on board. If they start first, I've lost the whole week.

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#12 of 52 Old 08-29-2014, 08:27 PM
 
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We're on the RU end of things around here yet I do have something called "allowance" for dd (7) that she has gotten every week since she was 3. So--$5. Once a week. Just for spending money. I implemented it, really, because I didn't want to be the one who was saying "no" at the store. Instead, it was always "that is so freaking beautiful, that plastic whatchadoodie you have there. Sparkles and glitz. wow. Do you think you'll buy it? Gotcher wallet on ya?" I left out any commentary that she was about to waste her (my) money on a piece of cheap plastic junk that would break by tonight, and I'm glad I did, because she has that figured out now and hoards her money for bigger purchases. I look at it like this: Make $5 mistakes with money so that in the future you might not make $5,000 ones.

I don't require any chores, yet sometimes I take full ownership of my feelings on messes. "dd, I'm starting to get a twitch about the playmobil land in front of the bathroom. Were you inspired right there? Is is something I can put in the bin or help you move to a place that isn't quite so trippy?" And once every blue moon, I do the old "the big mess is getting to me. I want to put it all away so you can have a fresh start and I don't have to worry so much about stepping on stuff. You think later today we could see about that?" and if she's like "have at it, mom", I do. Sometimes she joins in. But--she also, last night, went and got the screwdriver to fix the door frame, just because she noticed it was loose and making the door have issues. She also wd40'ed the hinges. Now THIS is what I'm after. Wow. I was so blown away that I asked her permission to tell the story to people. It's just such a caring and thoughtful thing and brilliant problem-solving and I doubt I would have seen it if I was all bossy-momma about being a helper.

Here's what's weird, though...when we were on the road RVing for a while, she wanted "jobs". So, cleaning the grease off the hitch, going on a hunt for dog toys, putting in the slide...all these things when it was time to go. She would go berzerk if I forgot and picked up the dog toys. "that's MY job!"

There are a couple of areas in the house that I will keep pretty clutter-free, and I tend to mutter a bit when I'm removing things from my desk or the kitchen counter or the bathroom. "what on earth is all of this? How did the dolly clothes end up in here? I can't use my computer at all with all these yarn balls in the way! There is something strange in the bathroom sink!" And, yeah, I ask her permission before removing the substances from the sink. There could be a fantastic mystery experiment in there that we have to relocate so I can wash my face. Or it might be an abandoned plastic-animal bath. But ultimately, it's my issue, so I move the stuff...and sometimes it's my own stuff in the way...and I mutter about that too. But if something of mine is in her way, and she mentions it, I'm on it like lightning...and I'm gradually seeing that go the other way too. yay!
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#13 of 52 Old 08-29-2014, 09:03 PM
 
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But if something of mine is in her way, and she mentions it, I'm on it like lightning...and I'm gradually seeing that go the other way too. yay!
That is awesome. And I also love the door-hinge story. Pretty impressive stuff.

I guess I don't see the consistent modelling approach necessarily working well in multi-child families. Most of the time when Kid A sees someone else's mess and comments on it, there's no clear ownership of the problem -- Kid B denies having anything to do with the mess even though it's his stuff and Kid D begrudging admits and maybe she and Kid C were playing there -- and there is little to no appropriate restorative action taken. If I dash in and take care of it, that's not sending the message that "we each contribute to cleaning up our own messes when they bother others." The take-home message is "mom will deal with it." And if I don't clean it up, the message is "nobody does anything, and this place is always a mess."

I have two kids who have been pretty good about taking a role in household chores. One (the youngest) is awesome and definitely does way more than her share. The second-youngest has always come pretty close to pulling her weight. My oldest two, though, oy!

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#14 of 52 Old 08-30-2014, 07:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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lanamommy, love your post, thank you.

I agree that with 2 kids or more there is a bit of a tugofwar happening. 3 kids if you count me and my less-than-ideal cleaning habits. Just the other day we agreed on a time to clean their room together --it's a full basement, not a "room" per se--but life intervened and I didn't follow up and they were having the best day they'd had in months. DH and I near the end of our clean-up process from the refinishing project and he took out a huge storage shelf and (thank you oh lord of such things) his collection of plumbing bits and hardware cloth and wire that we fought and fought about not keeping in the house (we don't have a proper garage--just a small shed and as much as I also don't like mice crawling around he is at a totally different level of poop-phobia..... oh, yeah, sorry, rambling.

I made a big calendar for everybody to help us since our regular activities are gearing up again. They outline our activities, but a little of what to expect from mom and dad. Mondays is going to be my lazy morning, since Sunday will be a big work day. We get ready for riding and/or gym, Dad is in charge of getting us fed when we get home, bedtime is relaxed but no TV. Tuesdays, am chores, bath day, special but simple dinner, lights out "on time" but a good night for a family movie. When I work it's "Dad's choice". Saturdays after a few minor chores, I've dedicated the rest of the day to the girls' choices. Hopefully no more arguing about whether girl scout night is a good night to flip the tube on afterwards (it's already a late night).

Hopefully this will be a good framework on which to build the chores, but frankly it's I who gets distracted and selective and I put things off. Sigh.

The girls already get allowance, about $4 between them so even smaller than lanamommy's daughter. We do 1 quarter per year per week, and dd7 is poised to get a "raise" here and receive $2. We are self-employed, so they don't need a different source of cash. As their stamina increases, we can find work for them. They already earn about $10 a month with one of my clients. They don't need chores as a source of cash.

We'll have our family meeting soon-- the focus will be planning for the busy activities we have coming up, and making sure we have what we need, ideas for homemade dinners and snacks, and cleanup will be a part of that. But I am so bad at it myself. I mean, I clean houses professionally and can't keep my own house tidy. I guess in the end it's not a priority, but it really has to become that.

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#15 of 52 Old 08-30-2014, 12:50 PM
 
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Ok. So my response has nothing to do with the unschooling and money aspect of your issue. But I so relate to being the one who really sucks at keeping up on these things and my oldest is following in my footsteps. It drives my hubby crazy but he is so busy with making our financial life work that he can't always do it. We are in the midst of trying to work on this as well. Just thought I would say that we are focusing on "out of the box" thinking that works for our(my) lazy way of doing housework. For example: laundry. Ugh. Getting it in the washer is no problem. Heck, I don't even mind or have trouble getting it on the line outside on nice days. But folding and putting away? Yuck. We always ended up with piles of clean clothes all over every surface of the living room and bedrooms. Solution? Everything gets dumped in one large laundry basket from the line or dryer. Then each of us has our own large round clean clothes hamper that I quickly sort everything into. Oh, and there is an extra one for sheets, towels, etc. These go behind closet doors. If anyone wants to fold or hang up their clothes they can feel free to do so. If not, who cares? Dig through the hamper and get what you want. They are out of site and out of the way. No more piles of clean laundry on every chair and bed. Eye sore removed. It would drive many people crazy but it works great for us and it was so simple to implement. Now we are trying to figure out the same type of thing for paper clutter and dishes - our two other really bad problem areas. Good luck!
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#16 of 52 Old 08-30-2014, 12:50 PM
 
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My kids are younger, only 4 and 6. I keep a pretty tidy house. By that I mean: I can make it look "party clean" with under three hours of cleaning. We host a lot of events because I kind of have emotional issues around going out and I don't think it is ok to isolate my kids. So we have a large, diverse community that comes over a lot.

So my house *explodes* with stuff all over the floor just about daily. My kids are some of the least tidy people I've ever forking met. My oldest is a hurricane. From the day she could move around she went through every book shelf and drawer she could reach and she dumped *everything* on the floor. The first few years of her life were really hard on me. But I was patient. Babies are allowed to explore.

Now we handle chores by listing chores for everyone in the house on the door in the kitchen. I painted it with black board paint. "Everyone in the family has to work to help our family." There is no money associated with the work--it is just how life works. We generally do our chores right after breakfast. Chores vary dramatically by age and ability. My four year old is more physically competent than her sister was at four so she has more complicated chores that make her feel useful and valuable. My six year old is responsible for emptying the dishwasher--which frequently has to happen three times a day. She glares at me sometimes, but she doesn't argue or fight the chore. She picked it as a responsibility. We do check boxes for doing chores but there is no reward system. This is our "optimal" work load. Sometime life intervenes and we snap our fingers and say "Shucks" when we don't fill our boxes. Whoopie.

I manage to keep a clean house because I declutter like crazy. From when my kids were about 18 months old I told them, "If you are not able to pick up your things by yourself then you are burdened with too many things and that isn't fair to you. What should we pass along?" It works great. Everything in our house is organized and fits in the space. I take huge black garbage bags to charity monthly and some months we get rid of three or four bags of stuff.

I am constantly overwhelmed by how many things come into our lives. This isn't about my shopping habits. They have out of state relatives who send us a lot of stuff. Like 8-12 boxes of stuff for Christmas. It is crazy. Our neighbors are generous with hand me downs. Some of the moms in the home school group are very "generous" with giving my kids stuff.

My younger daughter is, thankfully, more naturally tidy or I would feel like I am just failing to model or teach any skills. My older daughter struggles because she is a chaos muppet. We are working on ways to give her dedicated spaces to keep in complete disarray because it makes her happy. We have a rather small house and the middle of the living room just isn't an option. So far she has been happy with having a one week limit on big messes.

Once a week I clean up the whole house and vacuum and sweep and mop. That is when everything gets picked up thoroughly. In between the kids have to keep the main areas free of things that hurt feet. Otherwise I try to cover my eyes and not have anxiety issues around the growing mess. Sometimes I chant (silently) "I only have to put up with it till Monday."

Luckily for me we live on recovered marsh land and we have major bug issues if I don't *clean* once a week. This has been proven many times through the years. My kids have seen the swarms that arrive from tardiness in cleaning. *shiver* They are ok with the fact that we have to clean whether we like it or not.

They get $5 a week for "walking around money". We say, "In families people share." When they get a bit older they will control more of "their share" of food and/or clothing money.

We are very blessed to have enough money and extra. Our kids have no appreciation for money right now because they don't know what it is like to have needs go unmet. I cannot motivate them towards doing work right now for money. But they both idealize future careers that pay well. It's kind of weird. They understand that someday they will have to meet their needs and they will have to learn how. Right now they know that they can get away with focusing on other things.

We'll see what happens over the years. My oldest is obsessed with selling things in the front yard. She has a sales stand permanently installed. She makes money. It's kind of awesome.

My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.

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#17 of 52 Old 08-30-2014, 02:43 PM
 
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HI, rightkindofme! Nice to "see" you here again.
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#18 of 52 Old 08-30-2014, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post
My oldest is a hurricane. From the day she could move around she went through every book shelf and drawer she could reach and she dumped *everything* on the floor. The first few years of her life were really hard on me. But I was patient. Babies are allowed to explore.

My younger daughter is, thankfully, more naturally tidy or I would feel like I am just failing to model or teach any skills. My older daughter struggles because she is a chaos muppet. We are working on ways to give her dedicated spaces to keep in complete disarray because it makes her happy. We have a rather small house and the middle of the living room just isn't an option. So far she has been happy with having a one week limit on big messes.
This is the same as in my home, only it's my youngest who is the hurricane. She is also the one who is almost never bored. It's helped that I have always let the girls help themselves to tools like scissors, paper, pretty much anything. Unfortunately, her favorite place to work is the couch. Much of this resulted from cramming 2 stories worth of stuff into one story for 6 months, but I'll probably find once the house is reasonably organized that it really is coming entirely from her. She *is* this way. And I'm afraid I'm not really much help.

Anyway, musing on the money part. Do some kids not help when money is offered through chores perhaps because allowances are to high? I'm seeing $5 per week for young kids, and the collective allowance in my house is $4 for 2 kids, 7 and 9. I try to keep the allowance very low because I don't want to make it easy for them to get large amounts of money amassed, and as I said, they can get paid handsomely for helping us in our businesses. The allowance is a very small stipend to learn about money and desire, delayed gratification and planning, etc. I'm very consistent--every week for 4 years and counting. Wow, almost 5 years now!

Kids who do chores because they are a family responsibility-- I get that. But doesn't it take amazing Wonder Powers of consistency and perseverance to make that routine? Some things I am less consistent about. Bathing. Hair brushing. Cleaning day. Other things I am very consistent about-- allowance. Ummmmm.... coffee..... OK, pathetic really. Need to work on that.

So, we are not consistent, cleaning and tidying are routinely unroutine. Money for chores could get things moving. Ah, but there lies the problem for someone like me to implement. I'm not paying them to clean up after themselves. And how to get them to do that without nagging so much? DD7 fairly explodes, like all the detritus is within her, carried around like Pigpen and his dust cloud.

Aack, this is going nowhere thinking about it.

"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
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#19 of 52 Old 08-30-2014, 06:55 PM
 
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We have a small house and DS6 in particular is a very messy person. DH is very tidy, although he likes to collect little things that sit on shelves. DS6 is a huge collector of things. He asks and generally gets what he is asking for (from us or his friends). This is, in some ways really great, and, in other ways, it does not teach him this 'delayed gratification' thing.
In any case, I am constantly cleaning. I am almost always downsizing and once every two weeks, I get a spasm of anguish and need to clean the things that are not placed in the areas that are dedicated for them. Well, such it is. We are three and we each have our own level of comfort when it comes to messiness and we each also define the concept of 'mess' differently.
I don't frequently give DS chores, but I do ask him to pick things up that he drops, like wrappers. I ask him to put his shoes away, etc. He is a very helpful kid. He especially likes to help people in our street. For example, he helped sweep the construction site down the street today. He just likes doing this. I do model this behavior, as I, for example, swept another neighbor's yard yesterday just because it was necessary and they are not able to do it.
We had a yard sale, but even though we sold quite a bit, it does not seem to have made a real difference. We still have a full, non-functional garage.
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#20 of 52 Old 08-30-2014, 10:13 PM
 
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Do some kids not help when money is offered through chores perhaps because allowances are to high?
I'm not sure. We give what I think are modest allowances. Fiona (11) now gets $5.50/week, but socially she's a teenager so it seems pretty minimal compared to her friends, and she pays for about half of her clothing out of it.

So I don't think it's generous allowances that are the problem here but we have a related issue, in that my kids sometimes make very good money indeed for things that they find intrinsically enjoyable. For instance, all my kids have been able to make upwards of $1 a minute for playing their violin during busy community market days (for up to half an hour at a time, up to two such sets each Friday through the summer if they want). Fiona makes $25 once or twice a month for spending a morning hanging out with a terrific preschooler in the role of "mother's helper" or occasional babysitter. Last spring she tried out her graphic design skills having fun designing a poster for a youth art show, and then -- surprise! -- got paid $32 for her efforts. Just this week a local arts organization (where I thankfully sit on the board and was able to dissuade them) wanted to give her $100 for helping out during the young children's music camp.

These opportunities aren't present every day, but they come up often enough to keep my kids pretty flush and to give them a somewhat generous assessment of the value of their work. Fiona has enough money set aside for her next iPod, in case her current one breaks. And thus there would be absolutely no financial attractiveness to an offer of, say $2 for cleaning the bathroom. She needs a better reason than that to clean a toilet.

I don't believe in paying kids to do basic household chores, but even if I did, that wouldn't have flown here due to external economic realities.

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#21 of 52 Old 08-31-2014, 05:18 AM
 
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Well, just posting from our own experience, I have no theory and no policy regarding chores and so far dd has had no allowance.

- house is not highly tidy but not highly messy either.
- house is small, that means less to clean but less "place" for everything so less chance of "everything in its place" more like, move things from location to location based on what is being used currently.
- we do chores semi regularly
- i'd say that about half the time, dd helps when asked. and also when we plan something together. now she is getting old enough (11) that planning something together is actually worth the work involved. When she was younger (up to age 6-7), I did try to include her in work knowing that it would then take twice as long, because I believed in the continuum concept etc. When I did things myself it was because it would be faster that way. But recently i have noticed that it is finally starting to go the other way and her help actually reduces the work considerably. At the same time she is not *always* wanting to help as she was in early childhood.
- being an only child she has been entrusted with household work (that she has to do on her own not just 'help' when she feels like it) perhaps later than she would have had there been younger ones, but she is catching on. (Like those who start reading later catch up pretty well too.)

Does she always help when asked - no. Of course she doesn't say "no" she says "not now." Sometimes i wait, sometimes i do it myself. If it is something that needs to be done so that we can do something else, e.g. pack lunch so we can go, i inform her of that so she knows that one depends on the other.

Interestingly one of the ways she helps is by not wanting to buy anything and often reminding me when I am considering buying something, that we have too many things. It just occurred to me that this is also probably why the question of allowance has not come up. She is really not interested in buying anything. Most of our cleaning sessions have to do with decluttering, which she is always interested in helping with though while the spirit is willing it is not always easy for her to get rid of things once they are ours. All the more reason not to get any more things.

I have no problem asking dd to help around the house and honestly I don't see why doing so is in any way unaligned with unschooling. I am not making up chores for her edification, these are part of life. But Sweet Silver, I loved your phrase "Hold on to your Holt." I personally don't recall him addressing chores but if he did I imagine he would recognize them as part of life.

no longer  or  or ... dd is going on 12 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?
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#22 of 52 Old 08-31-2014, 08:29 AM
 
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I used to be a public school teacher. When I had to hire substitutes they were always gobsmacked that they could sit in the corner and my students would go through all the motions of a regular class day, including covering new material, without any involvement from the sub. I am a *huge* believer in the power of routine.

Every day after breakfast I cheerily stand up and say, "Alright! Time to get the house set for another day of fun!" We work together. I help them spot the things they are "missing" while they pick up their toys and we work in the same area (moving around the house) for about an hour. We talk a lot while we work. It feels chummy and intimate to be doing our daily work together to help our family work. I spend a lot of time talking about how grateful I am to have the help now because I was very overwhelmed for a few years now. "Gosh it is so nice that you two are so big and so helpful now." They also see a direct link between how many hours I have to work and how much fun stuff we go do. They are happy to help if that is how they will get to the park this afternoon. If I'm still cleaning house because I had no help... I may not have the energy. Sorry. So as they get older they voluntarily do more and more because my oldest wishes we were out of the house for five hours every day.

I give them a fair bit of allowance for a few specific reasons. I truly don't buy them everything they want. And I expect them to replace a lot of the things they break. That requires the ability to save up at a reasonable rate. My oldest has paid for three "fix it up" haircuts for her younger sister after butchering her hair. That eats up many months of allowance and would be impossible if she made less. My line is, "It is ok to make mistakes. Then you clean up the mess and pay to fix it. That is taking ethical responsibility." So we have House By Ikea. Everything is cheap to replace.

I think that my kids are partially as non-motivated by money as they are because I talk about us being rich and having enough money. We give a lot of money to charity. When they have money in their hot little hand they tend to look around for someone who looks like they may have less money and they give it away. They want to be able to help people. They don't prize money for itself but they like what they can do with it. They like being able to give money away. My oldest sometimes goes to the county fair and buys extra ride tickets and wanders around giving them to kids who are crying because they can't go on a ride. She's six. I am going to be fascinated watching her grow up.

We negotiate a lot for trades of work loads. "If we want to go do ____ social thing I'm going to need energy. Unfortunately today I was planning to do ____ and ____ and I'm not sure I'll have the energy." That gets a resounding, "We'll help!!!" And they are getting so much more competent so fast that it is serious help at this point. I'm grateful.

I think that part of the reason that my kids are cheerful about doing chores is because I am verbally coaxing and grateful to an extreme degree. I think of it as a favor as much as a responsibility. Most of the chores "are mine" and it is really nice that they want to help me. They like making me happy and the forking easiest way in the whole world to make me happy is to say, "Can I help with anything?" Melts my stone cold witch heart. Then I'm nicer for the rest of the day.

I like positive feedback loops that maintain themselves. Which means that if I finish my chores while they are still working I smile and say, "Oh gosh! I ran out of my chores! Can I help you with anything?" I generally get big hugs and smiles then they order me around for a while. It works for us. I am very willing to let them tell me how to help them and I respond with a smile and "Yes, ma'am."

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#23 of 52 Old 08-31-2014, 11:43 AM
 
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Subscribing with interest with my 3 and 5 yos. I try to get them to pick up after themselves, with mixed success. Neither has ever expressed the slightest interest in having or using money yet, but I'm sure that's coming.
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#24 of 52 Old 08-31-2014, 07:53 PM
 
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This thread is reminding me of how different the strategies need to be in different families. For instance, rightkindofme, two of the things you mention as motivating for your kids created exactly the opposite effect in my kids:

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We negotiate a lot for trades of work loads. "If we want to go do ____ social thing I'm going to need energy. Unfortunately today I was planning to do ____ and ____ and I'm not sure I'll have the energy." That gets a resounding, "We'll help!!!"
I had kids who, with the exception of a very small selected list of structured, committed-to outside activities (like gymnastics class and violin lessons) hated leaving home. They'd wake up and ask "Where do we have to go today?" in a resentful tone of voice. Their favourite days were the Nothing Days when they got to stay home and just play.

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I think that part of the reason that my kids are cheerful about doing chores is because I am verbally coaxing and grateful to an extreme degree.
This worked to an extent with my third of fourth kids, but with my first and second, praise and other positive emotional responses were completely counter-productive. They would immediately stop doing anything if I expressed pleasure and gratitude. It was as if by noticing their positive actions and making it clear I was happy I had pronounced judgement and made it about me, and this wiped out any intrinsic motivation and sense of pride they might have had. I remember my eldest screaming at me one day "I used to like doing that, but now [by commenting positively on it] you just wrecked it: you made me hate it!"

My kids have very strong counter-wills.

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#25 of 52 Old 09-01-2014, 04:25 AM
 
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Totally! I am someone who stops doing things when someone else says they like it. This has actually caused problems with my husband. Whoops. He says, "Oh I love it when you wear _____" and I'll never wear it again. I don't do it *on purpose*. It just happens. :-\

Ha. So I'm suuuuuuuper lucky to have the kids I have.

When I am talking to new-to-home-schooling people I always tell them, "Be open to trying tons of different things. Lots of structure, no structure, somewhere in between. You don't know your kids learning type and you probably don't really know your own. Experiment and throw away the things that don't work. No one can guess for you what will work out."

I do not believe my approaches would work out universally. I'm just sharing what works in our house.

ETA: It's not a *great* thing, but I suspect my kids are so motivated by pleasing me because I have numerous mental illness issues. I'm sad a fair bit of the time. I tell them frequently that I'm not sad because of them. I have chemicals in my brain that kind of suck and they make me sad more than other people. My kids have rather turned into "performers" because they are trying to get me to stop crying. I feel really guilty about this dynamic, actually. But it is what it is.

My kids like time at home, but they like friends more. When we are home for the day they spend the day tapping their fingers waiting for the traditional schoolers in the neighborhood to be released.

I don't play much. I help them do things and I facilitate, but I don't get down on the floor for much fantasy play. I can do so when we are on vacation and my normal workload disappears so I feel less stress. At home... I suck. I have too much anxiety. I'm too conscious of how much oppressive work owning a home is. There is always work I haven't gotten to yet. I am really bad at tuning out work to play. I can't play until I'm done with my work. See previous reference to mental illness. So my kids like getting me out of the house. I'm more fun.

My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.


Last edited by rightkindofme; 09-01-2014 at 04:34 AM. Reason: Because two posts in a row to add info is lame.
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#26 of 52 Old 09-01-2014, 09:29 AM
 
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I'm watching this space and appreciating the contributions fro the BTDT mamas, so thank you.

My kids are still quite young, but I do think about chores and money, and DP and I have talked about it.

When my oldest was very small (toddler, perhaps?) a homeschool mama told me that she happily cleans up after her small children because if they were in preschool, the staff would do the majority of tidying up, before setting out the next activity. That made a lot of sense to me, even though I do ask a lot of my kids when it comes to cleaning. I expect them to help A LOT, and they do, so far (with occasional duress and complaint), but I do the lion's share, and I'm okay with that at the moment.

We have a very small home (not as small as McKittre's) and I require it to be tidy and organized, both for my mental health and ability to function on a daily basis, and because my kids function better in a useable space too.

We clean up before lunch, and before bed. We all participate in those two clean-ups, and no one protests those, probably because they've always been a part of it. But I still do the lion's share, and sometimes I have to be very specific in order to get any help (ie. You put the red block into the bin) and sometimes they're happy to help in a much bigger way. Also, I clean up behind them a lot, in between those two family tidy-ups, but those are the ones that I solicit help with.

As they're getting older, we do add more responsibility. So now my 5yo makes her bed, puts her laundry away, and helps with her brother, while he is still at the put-the-red-block-in-the-bin stage.

I still see my need for cleanliness and organization as MY issue, though, and I try to take responsibility for that. But being that they've grown up with a very tidy and organized house, they seem to have a natural (or conditioned?) tendency to put things away.

Also, I do a lot of waiting-for-the-bus parenting, in that if I need something to happen by them, the next thing doesn't happen until they do it. So, lunch isn't on the table until the house is tidy again. Bedtime stories don't happen until the house is tidy again. Not because I'm rewarding them with either, but because I need the first- before the second, if that makes sense. Again, I get that this is MY thing, but it is what it is, and it works for us. So I don't keep asking them to do it, I just ask the once, make myself clear, do my part, and then I wait. Just wait. No scowls or tapping feet. I might sit with a book, or putter, but I don't keep harping. I hate harping. It makes me feet nasty, and it doesn't seem to work with my kids. They need time. Time to do the task when it works for them, and I'm okay with that, within reason.

When I invite DD to do a task, and she says "no," I respect that. (ie. Me: "Would you take the laundry upstairs?" Her: "Not right now, Mama, I'm reading." Me: "Okay.")
When I require DD to do a task, I am clear that I expect her to do it before we move on to the next thing. (ie. Me: "You need to clean up the stickers that are all over the living room floor before we leave the house, please." Her: "Do I have to?" Me: "Yes, please.")

All this to say, we don't plan to give an allowance, but we do plan to increase responsibility as age and willingness allows.

dust.gifFour-eyed tattooed fairy godmother queer, mama to my lucky star (5) and little bird (2.5). Resident storyteller at www.thestoryforest.com. Enchanting audiostories for curious kids. Come play in the forest!
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#27 of 52 Old 09-01-2014, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My kids are, and have always been, completely disinterested in joining me in chores. I have never required them, never complained about them (except for picking up after their storms of activity sometimes, but that's the limit). Never expressed the kind of woe-is-me attitude my mother took. I made my activities available, made them pleasant. Nope nope and nope. Neither had any interest whatsoever in "playing" housekeeping. Once in a blue moon they will take to dusting something to make it pretty. DD9 likes polishing the bathroom faucet after teethbrushing, while at the same time completely ignoring the plethora of toothpaste spots *she* plastered all over the mirror.

It would help if I perked up and motivated my ass in the morning, but my ass resents any morning motivation. So, once I get going, they are already firmly ensconced in a game or fighting and my energy needs to go into that. I struggle with "getting in synch" with the kids. But all the serendipitous synchronicity (I've always wanted to use those words together!) will not change the fact that my girls, unlike many children, have never found their joy in joining mom and dad with the chores.

Now, barn cleanup after fair, those girls are full of energy and helpfulness, cider pressings with the community get them busy doing all kinds of work. Maybe if I lived in a commune, their involvement would be different.

This isn't really a complaint, more of a statement of what I have to work with in my home. It's more that they will choose to play nearby than actively pitch in. I'm about to head out to do some chicken chores, and that means they will likely go out and do whatever they have going, usually cataloging egg laying or comb development or something.

"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
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#28 of 52 Old 09-01-2014, 11:58 AM
 
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Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post
When my oldest was very small (toddler, perhaps?) a homeschool mama told me that she happily cleans up after her small children because if they were in preschool, the staff would do the majority of tidying up, before setting out the next activity.
It may indeed be a perfectly awesome strategy, but the justification behind it made me do this --> :

A particular action is worthy, desirable and developmentally appropriate because it is the norm when children are institutionalized in age-levelled groups at an early age?

Again, I'm not saying we shouldn't tidy up after our 3- and 4-year-olds. Just that I don't buy this particular argument.

Miranda
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#29 of 52 Old 09-01-2014, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If I was preschool parent, I would expect that they would incorporate some clean up into the activity, Waldorf-style hopefully. As an unschooler, it's not a big deal though nice, but if I wasn't unschooling and expecting some form of structure that preschool provides, I wouldn't care to have that not include cleanup.

My disorganized self has never really been a great example of always cleaning up after ourselves, and I've never had the discipline to routinely make that a habit and so that, coupled with kids who naturally veer away from it, combines in a perfect storm of laissez faire housekeeping.

"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
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#30 of 52 Old 09-01-2014, 12:51 PM
 
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I have different feelings on this. I started by wanting to make sure I don't hurt their self esteem and all that jazz that goes with it. I have read countless books. I was on board. Then I changed.
I am their mom. I don't ask them to do things. I tell them. Well I ask but they are expected to do it. My children do way less chores than I ever did. I like the washrooms done once a wk. My 10yo daughter does that. The day comes where it needs to be done and I remind her. My 8yo son is responsible for feeding the cats and the turtle in the morning. My 11yo daughter has a couple small things like cleaning off the stairs and the dining rm. My 7yo dusts the house. Then every day they are expected to clean up after themselves or I may ask them to tidy something up if I need them to.
This is the way I look at it.
I make all of their meals. 3 times a day. I do their laundry. Almost every day. They have clean clothes in their drawers. I do bedtime routine, read with them, teach them, bring them to appointments, go grocery shopping, pay bills, do fun things with them and bring them places. If they can't do their tiny share, we have a problem! They don't get paid to do any of it. It is something that just needs to be done so they do it.
I don't want my children to have too much to do so I do floors, laundry and dishes. They have all of their adult years to handle stuff like that. But the little chores that they do have, suck it up kids. You are part of a family. I teach about not complaining and point out that I don't either.
I have natural consequences. They don't tidy up? Then don't go outside or play until you are done. They literally have about 5 min a day of chores. So I expect them to get them done and they do them.
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