You know your househusband may be losing it when you find the couch buried in clean clothes waiting to be folded.
This last two weeks have been busy in the evenings which meant the laundry got washed as usual but not folded. You see I had been folding the laundry until my 5 year old informs me that mommy should be doing the laundry. I asked why while I contemplated trying to explain mommy works so daddy does the housework and all the role reversals in that. Her reasoning was much more direct. “When mommy does the laundry I can find my clothes.” Apparently my sorting is some what random, some of her stuff was ending up in her brothers and mommies drawers and vice versa. The solution was that we all do it. I have a very direct approach to fixing problems. You tell me there is a problem you get to help fix it.
Now the procedure is that on a night that we need to fold laundry we pick a show off the PVR and everyone first pulls out blankets, towels and sheets and those get folded and put away. The PVR allowing us to pause the show while we putt everything away. Then every one starts pulling out their own stuff folding it and arranging it into their own pile however they see fit. My son tends to get one large pile while my daughter sorts everything down to warm socks and not warm socks. My toddler just giggles, knocks over piles and randomly grabs clothes to disappear who knows where. The funniest part to me is everyone repeatedly holds up something for my wife and goes “Who’s is this?” Usually she know but sometimes she has to examine it closely first.
This pile which was probably a dozen loads took us an hour to fold and put away. It normally doesn’t get this bad and 2-3 loads from the day go very quickly. Next challenge to teach the kids to do their own laundry… That might be a little ambitious but worth a try. They are getting good at the other chores and showing the responsibility need but probably another 6 month before I’ll try teaching them.
Getting kids to clean is always a battle but it is becoming less of one each time. My to older kids (5 and 8) are responsible for cleaning their room, the play room and library/craft area. They must have it done by Friday morning to get their allowance so I can vacuum. The key word here is responsible.
Teaching responsibility is a big part of why we started this routine. Getting them to understand that things just need to get done isn’t always easy. I used example like “I am responsible for cooking you dinner. I can’t just decide not to cook dinner just because I don’t want to.” It takes a lot of repetition but it is starting to sink in.
The first thing is defining and making sure that they understand what it is that they are responsible for. I am a big fan of 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey and some of this comes from listening to his CD. They are responsible for:
- Getting all their laundry in a basket and downstairs to the laundry room.
- All Stuffies on the bed or in their hammock.
- All books on bookshelves
- All toys in bins (preferably the right bin but we are working on that one)
- All Craft supplies away in the craft drawers
- All Art projects on their shelves or filed.
- All recycling recycled. (Had to define what is recyclable and what isn’t. That took some work and I check both and explain if there is a problem)
- All garbage in the garbage.
- Floors to the point that I can vacuum. That is the final checkpoint.
I also had to explain what was not acceptable, ie piling everything on the couch. While it made the floor clear enough to vacuum the coach was unusable.
They can do this anyway that they want as long as on Friday morning I can vacuum. They can choose to keep it clean by doing a little bit each day. Never has happened even with all my hints. Come Wednesday night they have to clean. My wife is out Wednesdays so me and the kids clean. Seeing me clean my area reinforces the responsibility lesson.
So last night they choose rooms. First choice goes to the one that I say cleaned best last week. Second choice goes to the other one and the third room is shared. My daughter cleaned her room and more than half of the shared room. My son cleaned a bit and then got distracted by a book he found. My daughter is done and can do what she like this afternoon. My son, who wanted to have a friend over is going to be cleaning instead. I also have a new Mythbusters on the PVR to offer as enticement. He will have it done for tomorrow I have confidence in that. They also get an allowance that is conditional on the Friday morning clean rule.
Repetition is the key, same expectations, same rewards, same consequences.