If you were sitting in my home at 5:00 pm each day, you would think a silent alarm of some sort had gone off that you’d missed hearing. At 5:00 pm every day, my children know it is time to turn off all of the screens, stop their play or come inside–whatever they are doing stops. 5:00 pm signals the end of one part of our day and the preparation for another. 5:00 pm signals that it is time for us to ready the house for Daddy to come home.
However is it that I can keep up our home with a family of seven? Well, the answer is that I don’t. We do. At 5:00 pm every day I begin making dinner and my children begin doing their daily jobs (or chores you may call them). We call them jobs because Mommy and Daddy have jobs that they must attend to each day and so do our children. We all contribute because we all play an important part.
As I dig out the ingredients for our dinner, my children start whirling around me with what they’ve been assigned for the week. It’s really very simple how we do it. All of the jobs that are shared by the children are each individually written on a little wooden stick–kinda like a mini popsicle stick. On Monday mornings, one of my kids will put all of the sticks in a bowl and mix them up. That chosen child will blindly choose 3 jobs for each person in the family to do. For example, Mini-Me might end up with Sweep, Vacuum Living Room and Wipe Bathroom Counters to do each day for a week. While The Talker might end up with Unload Dishwasher, Trash, and Vacuum Stairs. As I said, each child has 3 random jobs for the week. Next week, it will look differently.
What I love about this arrangement is that we work together every day at the same time and that everyone plays their part, knowing what to do and what is expected of them. Even better is that I can let the house go during the day and know that I don’t have to fret because at 5:00 pm it will all be put into order. So if you come by before 5:00 pm, there will most likely be a sink of dishes to be conquered and probably some sweeping that very obviously needs to be done. Rest assured, if you came back at 6:00 pm, it would look like a very different place!
5:00 pm is when we do these assigned jobs, but it is also when we clean up any toys or messes made above and beyond. You may wonder why we would bother to clean up toys and such so early, after all, we have the whole evening ahead of us, right? Why not wait until bedtime? Well, the answer is that we clean things up so that it doesn’t look like a bomb went off while my husband was at work, but we also recognize that once Daddy gets home we won’t really go back to what we were doing earlier in the day. We eat dinner and then spend time together as a family. Depending on the weather, we either go outside or we may stay inside and play board games, do a puzzle or play the Wii together. Whatever we do, we do it together. We don’t want to waste that precious time with Daddy home cleaning up messes. And I don’t know about you, but when it’s the kid’s bedtime, I want to read out-loud, tuck them in and give lots of hugs and kisses–not bark at them to clean up something from earlier in the day that they’ve forgotten about.
I am a perfectionist by nature, but God is working this out of me with each child He adds to our family. My nature would send me trailing behind each child all day long picking up after them and expecting them to act like they don’t live here. However, the reality is that we really do live here and it is evident. It gives this Mama comfort to know at least one time each day, her home will look like she wants and that by doing it a little bit each day, the load is lighter by not letting it build up and it certainly becomes all the lighter when we all work together as a family–that I don’t have to carry the load alone.