Revamping Systems, Part One: Chores

Since January of 2006, I have been either pregnant, post partum, breastfeeding, or all of the above. We lost the first sweet baby but were expecting again three months later. We had that sweet guy and then were expecting (surprise!) five months later. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

I get really, really sick for the first 18 weeks of pregnancy, and life tends to fall apart around me. Just the essentials are tackled, but everything else falls way off the radar. For over two years now we have held to many of the same systems although our lives have changed dramatically. Two new babies, a new kindergarten student every other year, a baby clinging to life in the ICU, and many other small changes that warranted reorganizing the way our household was being run, but those alterations just never happened.

I began last Thursday night to take a serious look at what was going wrong. Seems we were accomplishing most things (granted, we aren't really studying much right now and it's a lot easier to focus on laundry, meals, and the house when there's no schooling going on) but I was doing all the brain work. I was having to think about what everyone was supposed to be doing at any given moment, and the mental work of it all was exhausting me. If I write it down, I eliminate the repeated mental work. That's step one.

Step two was to decide which areas needed immediate attention. I chose to begin with chores because our lives have been so full of change this year and the old chore assignments were beginning to be cumbersome. Additionally, I am losing my 13-year-old* to his dad's office in September, and so those remaining at home during the day will be 11, 9, 7, 4, 1, and Mighty Joe (3 months). That cute four-year-old currently has no regular chores, so she has just been promoted on paper.

An old and meaty post of Elizabeth Foss's got me to thinking through how I wanted to even present our chores. Did I want to do an Excel spreadsheet as I've done in the past, color coded so each child could see their chores at a glance? Or chore cards, a la the Maxwells? Both have worked well for us in the past.

I ended up doing something entirely different, really a fine meshing of both methods with a little Motivated Moms thrown in for good measure. Elizabeth had done something similar, and I thought it an excellent addition to my chore repertoire. Oh, my kids are gonna love this! Mom staying on top of their chores! Yippee! I am kidding, you know. Don't start bashing yourself because you're kids aren't ecstatic about their chores. Mine tend to have good attitudes and helpful spirits, but they aren't as excited about them as I am.

Next post I'll share with you what our new system looks like and what each child is tackling. And guess what? I got my very own chore list, too. I was thinking of adding things like, "Drink a glass of cold ice tea" or "Lock bedroom door and take a 15 minute nap", but I knew my kids would quickly be onto me.

*I'll address what the 15-year-old and 13-year-old do all day at Dad's office in an upcoming post.