Tag: chores

Dealing with Chores: Everyone gets Paid

I have been leery of writing about this since we have only really had a one week trial, well, a little over a week. But so far it is working. It is interesting to see what aspects are and what aspects aren’t. Also, Rachel is still out of town so that will change the dynamic when she returns but here goes.

You may remember, if you have read this site for anytime at all, that roughly 2 years ago we quit chores. No more chores. We were done. After that there were some whiny posts as I dealt with my own baggage regarding chores.

A lot has changed since then. I now work full time. The family is here all day without me, making messes without me here to clean up as I go. When Shamus isn’t working a lot he will do dishes or clean the bathroom and the kids pitch in occasionally but they are all busy with their own stuff and a clean house isn’t a huge priority to them. We still do Saturday Sabbath which is wonderful, and the house stays relatively clean because we don’t have a lot of “stuff” and we do have a pretty good system in place for that. The problem is that I work Sundays. Twelve hour Sundays. And Monday I like to rest and get caught up on computer stuff I missed out on at work. So coming home to a mess- dishes in the living room, dishes in the sink, random stuff on the table. Not huge messes but not neat, not calm, not clean, was getting frustrating. Working 36 hrs a week and then taking Grandma shopping each week and doing our own family shopping…well, I was getting cranky and exhausted. I was burning out. It isn’t that the family wasn’t getting anything done. They were but I was picking up the slack anytime it didn’t get done (I have higher standards of cleanliness than everyone else, except Issac- but he keeps his room and desk clean and doesn’t notice the rest), and most days it came down to me.

We needed a solution.  There were certain things we knew from past experience it had to be:

  1. It had to be elegant. Simple. Easy to implement. None of us have the energy or time to fuss with details. I hate lists and schedules. So does the rest of the family. So no lists, no schedules. No “standards”.
  2. It had to be something we could all do- no “kids get paid for jobs that parents do for free” (leading to cranky parents when kids choose not to help).
  3. It had to benefit everyone and everyone had to agree it was fair.
  4. It had to allow for various quality of work and reward accordingly.
  5. It had to be easy to figure out and make sure people got paid and work with when we couldn’t pay due to no money.

It was tricky to come up with something that would work for that list, but suddenly it all fell into place. We would pay per hour. That was it. For any work done to benefit the family that member would get paid. Each member has their own rate based on experience, quality of work, time taken to do work. After a lot of talking it out we came up with the kids starting at $5 per hour and myself and Shamus getting $10 per hour- I am faster and more experienced but not as meticulous, he is slower but super high quality work when he does it. Issac is like Shamus. Takes forever to do a load of dishes but every dish is perfectly clean, dry, and put away neatly. Es is more like me, hurried but doesn’t take long. We used “doing a load of dishes” as our measurement with the goal of “each family member earning roughly $2.50 for a whole  load of dishes. That is the job that needs done most often. That is the job that is most easily measured because we know how each person does the job. Each kid can up the quality/speed of their work and get paid more per hour. That is the only time they need to show us their work. They need to prove they have consistently upped the quality of their work in order to get a raise. Otherwise we have a sheet of notepaper on the wall and everyone just notes an estimate of time spent.  5 minutes sweeping the floor? Mark 5 min. on the sheet. An hour cleaning a room, or doing laundry, or shopping for groceries? Mark an hour. Whatever.

image8
This picture is from back when Issac was about 8. He is 12 now. I want to pat his head, the tiny thing. (He is now my height and about to pass me up.)

Yes, it takes trust, and we trust the kids and they trust us. It is up to them if they write something down or not. If they want to do something out of love then awesome. If they want to put down the time spent helping me take Grandma shopping then great. If they can’t remember exactly what time they started something and estimate, it is fine. No stress.

So how has the first week gone?

Esther worked 4.5 hours. She helped with several projects she would never have helped with in the past.  She worked harder in hopes of working her way up to $6 an hour. She also spent quite a bit of time figuring out the math behind how much she needed to save up for a game she wanted and helped her brother do the same. She worked till she had enough to buy the new game she wanted and stopped unless I asked for help for something, but it was still wonderful having a sparkling clean kitchen when I got home from work. She also learned a lot about how her sister and I, and pretty much every other person who has cleaned something only to have to do it again the next day,  feel about  cleaning the kitchen- “It is really frustrating, I worked so hard to get it really clean yesterday and already it is messy again and we have to do it all over again.”

Issac worked 2.5 hours and 10 minutes or something like that. Enough to buy a game he wanted and get his Roblox Builder’s Club for the month. He is talking about working a little each day so he can save up for a new computer but hasn’t gotten to the point of doing just yet.

Shamus worked 1.5 hours but  spent a lot of the time I was home and awake writing.

I worked 9.5 hours. That included some projects I had been putting off so isn’t really my norm. It was so much easier to do that knowing I was going to get some reimbursement for my time, that my time was important. I love serving my family, I have been doing it for 17 years now but it was nice to feel valuable, and also to feel like I wasn’t just spending money that needed to go to other things. The money I spend is “mine”. I can use it to buy people things but there is no guilt and no stress. (I recognize that I am working for my money “twice”. So is Shamus. It is more a system for divvying up money that lets everyone help out and feel valued. I am thinking in general I will end up closer to 4 hours a week, maybe 5, which is much more reasonable financially.

In general the house is staying cleaner- everyone knows how it feels to clean and have it messed up again and forming habits of cleaning up after themselves. The kids now have a real means of earning money towards bigger things, it is no longer in our hands, it is in theirs. Everyone is happy because we all have an easy way to get spending money. If we don’t have the money at the time then it will be “saved” until we do. I plan to finance my traveling out of that, as well as games clothes, treats, etc for all. This means we will likely, in the long run, spend less as a family than we normally do when money isn’t tight.

It will be interesting to see if this is something we can continue or if we find it is just too expensive or if it just falls to the way side. For now it is really working and we all are pretty happy with the results.

Addendum:

I neglected to add that I post jobs that need done to the door frame using mini post-it notes, which get tossed when a job is done (or for recurring jobs they get put in a pile). And for Sabbath prep I move the notes to the table so all can see what needs done an grab what they want to do.

It occurred to me that it is likely that, in the future, we could hire people for a set time for more regular job and have everyone sign up. For instance, “I would like to hire someone to do this job  each day and whoever wants it can do it each day or once a week or whatever. ” Or we can do a scheduled time each day more like a regular job. The possibilities are endless.   We could also offer an extra $1 an hour for certain jobs. For now we are keeping it simple and we will add to it as it is needed or as we figure out what works.

This has all already lead to a conversation about how  Issac would like to save us money by not charging. I pointed out that even better he could do more jobs and even if we are paying him, by not paying me he will be saving our family $5 an hour. He thought that was pretty cool.

Plank Pullin’: Packrat edition

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5, style.

So, I have been talking a lot about this new adventure where we don’t tell my kids to do chores anymore and they actually step in and do stuff around the house when asked (once only) or even, get this, without  being asked!  A lot?  It is the ONLY thing I have been talking about lately but that is because it is HUGE for us and it is taking up a lot of my thinky brain– you all will be TOTALLY SICK OF IT by the time I am finished, trust me. It is almost as if this whole “unschoooling” thing actually works when applied to other areas of life– who knew (and those of you who did, hush up– you have one a beautiful job not saying I told you so and I would appreciate it if you continued NOT saying I told you so. :))

So, it is still on my mind because I am still working through it so of course this week’s Plank Pullin’ is totally about that.

Here is the thing: I am messy. I like to have things look neat and deliberately get rid of clutter so it is easier to keep things neat (used to be a total pack rat–took 6 moves to make me stop)– when we have a lot of stuff I stash things and pile all the stuff I don’t know what to do with in one corner/drawer/cupboard/out of site.   My husband is fairly messy as well– he likes things neat and clean (no bugs) and will keep his desktop clean (well he declutters a lot more often than I do– you do NOT get to see my desktop but just know that as long as I have a spot for my water bottle I am happy) and if something starts bugging him he will do something about it, not complain to me about it.  He is also my absent minded professor– so when someone asks who left the cheese out, it was probably him. 🙂

So WHY am I surprised that my kids are packrats and tend to leave things behind when they are doing something (my oldest especially.)  They get it from US!  And my biggest pet peeve, the stufing and putting off doing something?  ME! ME! ME!  They get it from ME!

Oops.

You see, this week I helped my oldest rearrange her room (so she had a “wall” between her and her younger sister’s bed) and whilst doing that helped her clean the pile of junk she shoved into the closet when she was having company.  I was angry and irritated about that pile.  REALLY irritated.  I had been asking her to clean it up for over a month.  This time I stopped asking and just helped because I knew she hated the mess and was overwhelmed by it.  I was also upset that she still had a laundry basket full of clean clothes sitting on the floor.  She gave me all sorts of excuses and I just got cranky about it.

The things is?  I have a similar pile in my bedroom. Several similar piles.  Sure they aren’t full of garbage like hers (well the bottom of my closet might be since that is where presents get stashed and all those little wrappers and tags end up there, and there might be packing materials and random bits of stuff mixed in with the big pile but…..)  I also have a pile of clothes that I can’t be bothered to hang up (because I forget what I have if I hang it up–the closet door closes and I can’t see through it :)) and a huge pile of things that I have move from other parts of the house as we cleaned– because I didn’t know what to do with this stuff.

Did you see the excuses?

Yeah.

See God keeps showing me that MY attitude and actions are what the kids are seeing and copying (also that some of this stuff is just hereditary–you should see all the stuff my brother’s collect, and my dad, and my grandparents:)).  So whether I choose to clean up my own act I REALLY need to remember that I have my own messes to deal with first, THEN I can help them clean up theirs.

I have also found that when something really doesn’t work for them I need to adapt things so they WILL work for them.  Which is why my kids don’t have drawers– they, like me, stash things in drawers then forget about them (every drawer in our house is a junk drawer except those in the kitchen cabinets that hold designated items).  They used to dump their drawers on the floor every time they got dressed.  So we got rid of the drawers and put in shelves.  We find that having too many clothes leads to mess–they get overwhelmed looking for things that actually fit/feel right, so we go through and get rid of what doesn’t fit or feel right.  If a certain type of storage doesn’t work for me, I get rid of it and move to something that does, so we do the same thing for them. 🙂

Just had some tea with my oldest and discussed all the things that we have in common, that drive each other crazy– the messes, staying up all night playing video games, the interrupting, the… you get the idea.  And she pointed out how angry she used to get when I would yell at her for something that I do.  Yeah.  Working on it.

 

An Experiment

I have begun an experiment.

Issac reading to me outside.
Issac reading to me outside.

Yesterday something occurred that reminded me a lot of my childhood, and me as a child.  It brought out all the self-blame and helplessness in a situation that was really beyond my control.  The thing is I realized that I had been using the same tones and attitudes with my children that has been aimed at me both yesterday and when I was young.  (Being the oldest SUCKS because you hear “you should have known better” and why didn’t you” and “why didn’t you think that THIS could happen” ALL THE TIME and I realized yesterday that that was happening in our home.)  Now I come from a shouty family–my grandmother got ANGRY and shouted, my mom got pretty mad and shouted, and I only shout when I have hit a certain point, but it gets hit a lot more often than I would like and I want to change that.  Which is where the experiment comes in.

This week, starting last night, I am only going to ask (gently and giving them the option whether to do it or not) once regarding anything that needs done. Shamus put the kids in charge of the dishes last fall when the dishwasher broke and it has been fights EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. and sometimes the dishes still aren’t done the next day which means there is a fight in the morning. No more. I am sick and tired of nagging, cajoling, and having to ask him to tell them to do them because they quit listening to my voice. Basically doing a reboot, partly because I really need to change my own attitude about work if I want them to change theirs, partly because I know I am being my mother way too often and it is hurting my oldest’s heart (the other two follow her example and she is the most deliberate with the not doing what she is told to do.) So I will not tell them to do anything this week– just ask gently and then move along. (Also not telling them about the change.)

So, here is what has happened so far:

Rachel made a knight costume, which quickly changed into a full Minecraft armor plus a creeper costume.

Last night:

  • Asked the kids to do the dishes, no one did (they fought over who should go first) so I went and just did them without a word.
  • Asked, while doing dishes I asked if someone could please check the laundry. They started to fight and I said, “No, I was just asking if someone could, not saying you guys had to.” Essie immediately went and checked but forgot to transfer the laundry. Rach started to berate her and I said it was fine, I was glad to know what needed done down there.
  • A few minutes later asked if someone would go and transfer it, Rach immediately did the job without a word (she seldom works without much nagging.
  • Asked Issac if he wanted to sit and read a book with me and he immediately said yes (sometimes balks) so we read together while the girls played their games.
  • Sat with Rach a bit, asked what she had to do today (she babysits and has things she has to do in order to go). She listed things off and decided (at 10:30pm) that she wanted to get out the school books and practice some things that she would have to help the kids she babysits with on their homework–she did several pages of division, some spelling, practicing her writing while she did (she has beautiful handwriting naturally but gets things backwards due to her severe dyslexia).
  • Essie decided to join her and voluntarily did several pages in a math activity books she found. They had me stay by and check their work (haven’t done this in several years I think.) Both girls were shocked at how much they knew and how many pages they could just skip because they knew how to do everything there.
Our dandelion field.

Today:

 

  • Rach got up, did some more spelling, prepared her food for babysitting, and did everything else she needed to do before she sat down to watch her movie (all without me nagging her).
  • Issac and Esther got up, got dressed, and then helped me gather their dirty laundry.
  • Discovered that Esther PANICS when she has to choose her clothes (which explains why she prefers to spend her day in her pjs.)  So, I put out a weeks worth of outfits with one dress outfit–which made her absolutely thrilled.
  • Any time I have asked someone to do something or help me it has been done immediately and the only fight we have had was between Essie and Issac about who’s turn it was on the computer which was quickly dealt with.

Also noticed–the kids didn’t fight, well, not after the initial my turn, your turn stuff. And because I wasn’t angry already when there were small disputes about balloons I was able to gently remind them that the balloons were private property and each owner had the right to choose how to handle it. So, so far it has been fairly peaceful and Shamus was even surprised at how mcuh work they are actually doing compared to how much when we had to fight it out of them.