It seems like I'm always striving to "get organized". If it's one area in the management of our home or my personal life, it's another. Last week, I got some inspiration and took off.
In the hallway at the top of the stairs, just off the kitchen, we have a wall that wasn't utilized as I wanted it to be. As I kept thinking about it, I realized this space would really be better put to use with a few "tools" to help our family create some sort of "mission control" center. I think all of us need to find a way to manage the aspects of this most basic and most important unit of society- the family.
Walking around the craft store brought much needed inspiration. Each of the things I brought to this space have a purpose. (Plus, they all were fairly inexpensive to boot.) Setting up a functional space to help organize us not only brought me joy, but the creativity involved and beauty of how it all came together provided a lot of satisfaction to me.
Next, I was glad to find this interesting wrought iron key holder. (You know my history with keys!)
A chalk board would serve as a place for communication. Handy for reminders, phone messages, "what's for dinner", and even love notes. I dolled up this inexpensive chalk board's frame with some cheap acrylic paint. (So it would go with my color scheme.)
To the right of the chalkboard, I was delighted to find a basket that I could hang on the wall that would corral the chalkboard eraser and incoming mail. Keith is always asking me where I put the bills so this would be the spot for him to look. Also a spot to put the mail that still comes here for Gary and Jane.
A note: Every family needs a monthly calendar. (We actually like to keep a three month block.) This is a place to write down activities, birthdays, upcoming events, lessons, etc. You know what I'm talking about. We print these out on the computer and have them on the fridge (near the phone when someone calls to ask about a date) for easy, out in plain sight referral. I also keep my own calendars in my planning binder. On the fridge, I also keep a copy of my weekly schedule/specific tasks to do (which includes menus) as well as my basic weekly plan.
Now, for the most exciting tool: the family job board.
First, let me explain how I created it. I took a standard cork backed bulletin board and painted the frame. I then took some pretty scrapbook paper and glued it on top. (Finding a strong adhesive is critical.) I didn't worry about the paper's aligning to each other. The labels and pockets were glued on with silver tacks for accent as well as more security. I loved the silver letter stickers. They were a fun way to tie it all together.
Now, this is how it all works:
Next to each child's name are two pockets. A "to do" pocket and a "done" pocket. On the left are various job category pockets. I brainstormed all of the tasks that need to be done in our home; specifically by the children. These are weekly, quarterly, and daily things that need to be done by all of us to help our home run smoothly and to especially teach my kids to work and contribute to our family.
Kitchen: kitchen clean up a.m., kitchen clean up p.m., set the table, make breakfast, make dinner, make a treat, load dishwasher, unload dishwasher, wash pans, sweep floor, mop floor, clean microwave, clean oven, organize/clean pantry, organize/clean Lazy Susan, wipe down cabinets, clean fridge, defrost freezer
Living Area:, empty garbages, clean up bathroom, clean main bathroom, clean down bathroom, sweep stairs, sweep main floor, dust main floor, dust downstairs, vacuum upstairs, vacuum downstairs, vacuum stairs
Laundry: put laundry away, fold laundry, change sheets, ironing, take down and sort laundry, start laundry
Tidy: tidy bedroom (x3), tidy music room, tidy living room, tidy family room, tidy library
Outside: mow front lawn, mow back lawn, sweep after mowing, weed eater, weed garden, water garden boxes, water planters and pots, take garbage bins out/bring back in, rake leaves, sweep deck/porch/patio, shovel snow, clean out car, organize garage, scoop poop, washing windows.
Other: music practice, take Lucy out a.m., take Lucy out p.m., take Lucy on a walk, feed Lucy, give Lucy bath homework, organize movie shelf, dust ceiling fan/light fixtures/blinds, organize game closet, wash walls, organize book shelves, organize closet
I decided that I get tired, really tired, of reminding them of their jobs every day. Sick of being the "enforcer", the policeman. This board allows me to let go of that. It places the responsibility on them. It implements a "return and report" way of doing things in a no pressure kind of way.
It's basically this: I put the job cards in their "to do" pocket in the morning which allows them to see and then do the job by dinnertime. (mostly) No dinner unless the tasks are completed. Just as simple as that. No harping, no cajoling on my part. (I need to remind myself of that!) I know the tasks are completed when the children's cards are in the "done" pocket.
Other thoughts and tips:
~I've found that this system only works if Mom follows through. It's up to me to put the cards in those pockets and it's up to me to see that things are done correctly and timely. It's also up to me to enforce consequences if things aren't done, even if it takes being the meanie. It's up to me (and Keith) to teach and model how to work, how to do the job thoroughly, which all results in the fine sense of satisfaction that comes from fulfilling a task and doing your best.
~This works well for little kids. They like this kind of stuff.
~Thoughtfully give out jobs with careful consideration for age, ability, time restraints, etc.
~Incentives (pleasant and not so pleasant) are marvelous training tools. Positive reinforcements such as "when we get done we can do our planned fun activity!" or "Let's make a treat or go out for ice cream later when everything's nice and tidy!" Also, the not so positive but true "bad attitude" = more jobs.
~It takes time to implement any kind of structural change and way of doing things. (i.e. harder for big kids to get used to.)We're talking about forming good habits here. And those are best formed when children are small, eager, and teachable.
~This job board is especially helpful on Saturdays, a day we do most of the cleaning. Great in the summer when there's more time to work. I don't have to write out a list for all the kids. There's not an excuse for the kids to say they forgot what they were supposed to do.
~We don't give our kids monetary allowances for the basic every day jobs they do. We believe that as individual members of our family, we are each obligated to contribute to the management of our home. It's just what we do. Mom, Dad, the kids. We do the things that need to be done. If our children want to earn spending money, we negotiate deals where they can do extra jobs for $. The kids have payed for fancy shoes/clothes, camp funds, toys, materials, and school trips/activities this way over the years. The ways we teach our kids about money are all individual parental choices, but oh so essential in the training and teaching of our children.