I'm an obsessive cleaner by nature, and when I get stressed that desire gets worse., I'm sure you have no idea what I'm talking about ;-). While this normally wouldn't be bad, the problem is that it's hard to be such and not go nuts when you have a bunch of little children. I've worked for years at trying to find a good balance in work and play and have come up miserably short. Ever wonder "How am I supposed to help these children learn these life skills when all I went to do is quickly complete a task (because it takes FOREVER for them to do it and it's still not done the way I want it) so it's finished and we can sit and learn/play/go out?" I sure have! I've tried schedules and lists and I've always come up short... until this post on Stewardships.
Teaching my children how to work in a family setting took on a whole new meaning when we starting to think of being stewards of the different areas in our homes. The idea that someone (or all of us) are responsible for certain areas and that everyone learns how to care for each area, has made a world of difference. So, not only did I get equipped with a new way of looking at things, but I was able to have a specific idea of how to teach my children what to do. I'm not super creative, I prefer patterns and set instructions, so it helps me be able to implement things that I want to do when someone has already set the stage of what I want. I downloaded the individual work sheets that look like this:
and then changed them to be applicable to my home (which I have a picture of, but haven't downloaded yet). With Heather having already written out the steps to cleaning each room, all I had to do was tailor them for my home, and I was even able to add on additional areas that needed attention in my home. Each list is broken down into daily and weekly jobs, and everyone gets cycled through the jobs at different times depending on age until everyone knows how to clean each room appropriately. My problem before in keeping up with keeping my home in proper order was that there was no specific written way to do so. Kudo's to all the mom's who can sporadically function and get everything finished, but without a concrete page in front of me (that of course can be deviated from, but it's just nice to know you got to everything you intended or know exactly what you meant to exclude instead of doing so by mistake!), I was finding myself irritated that I hadn't really accomplished what I'd set out to do.
Now every child in my home knows what they are responsible for, and I'm better able to help them accomplish their goals. After a quick round of stewardships in the morning and perhaps the evening, we're finished and ready to go! I don't have to supervise every little thing anymore. The first week we implemented our new system, we didn't get through all the cards. We maybe got through half. However, my son learned how to clean a bathroom and was excited about it, my daughter learned how to wipe down all the doors, doorknobs and light switches with Clorox Anywhere spray (that's my favorite product by the way) and a towel, and the next youngest son learned that we expect him to be present, account for, and willing to do little things that are asked of him... i.e. wipe something down, put away toys etc. The next week we got through all the cards... it took us nearly all day, but the house was shinning! Since our training has come to a close with everyone spun up and knowledgeable about what needs to be done and where, we can now complete all of the "big jobs" in our home in a few hours. Amazing isn't it? And so worth the training time! I'm confident that subsequent children will be able to pick up these new skills quite easily thanks to the stellar example of their siblings.
Anyway, my home is not perfect or perfectly clean. Chicken feed, wood chips, dirt and dust are constant additions to our floor, but everyday we have a chance to catch up with these things so they don't multiply too bad and move forward with everyones help. Plus, it helps that once a week I know that everything will be in order! That sure helps my tendency to want to do all those "big jobs" all day, everyday. There is a time and a place for everything, so knowing a particular thing will happen in "x" amount of days helps me remember that, unless there's been an accident that makes doing that job a necessity... i.e. so and so peed on the kitchen floor, things can wait and it's more important that I go and play!
It's important to learn to work. My children are happier when they are working and the atmosphere of our home greatly benefits. It is worth the time to teach your children how to run your home, and it's important to start early! Don't wait until they're "better able." My 5 year old cleans both of the bathrooms beautifully and cheerfully even months down the road. You don't have to be overworked. slaving at being everything and doing everything for everyone in your family. Helping your children learn to do the work and work alongside with you becomes a fulfilling and enjoyable time for all. My gaggle begs to do dishes. There are no incentives for them to do so... no extra treats, attention, nothing, but they still love to do the work anyway. Why? Because, good hard work feels good! We're working for a common goal and we're blessed for being good stewards over the things that the Lord has given us!