>>hi avivah! i am wondering if you set certain standards for jobs? for example, whoever does the bathroom must do the floor, toilet, counter, garbage, etc. i found that i needed to make checklists for jobs like that, and nobody did it thoroughly, and although i was willing to supervise once or twice, i ended up feeling like a prison warden. <<
Yes, I do set standards. At the beginning of the year I explain to all of the kids who will have that chore what is expected. Then at the beginning of their month (or two weeks, depending what the job is), I give a quick reminder. I do periodic checks, but not every day.
I let my kids know that it’s worth it to do the job right because if I see it’s done wrong………you guessed it, they get more opportunities to practice doing it right! If it’s once, I’ll tell them to correct it, but if it’s more than three times that they’re doing things in a shoddy way, they’ve earned themselves an extra amount of time on that chore. That might mean doing an extra week on this chore after the cycle changes, or it might be an extra job somewhere else. It depends on the specifics and what I sense will be most effective at that time. I’ve done this on a number of occasions and they know what to expect.
>>also, what are your consequences for a shoddy job? like if one of your older kids decided to just make toast for breakfast every day because they didn’t feel like making anything more? would you step in and correct that? would you encourage in a different direction? or is part of them becoming internally motivated that you stay out of it? thanks, as always, for the great advice! you are the voice in my head that keeps me headed in the right direction!!<<
I post the weekly menu plan on the side of the fridge. For the person on breakfast duty, I try to show them the recipe I have in mind the night before, so they won’t be held up if I’m not up when they’re ready to start. Sometimes, usually on Sunday morning (when the complete week’s plan usually hasn’t yet been posted) or the first of the month (when the new person is taking over) there will be a morning where they’ll make what they think they should, because they don’t know what I want. I’m absolutely fine with that. I can’t remember anyone refusing to do this. If they did, I’d let them know they’ve earned the privilege of washing the dishes or cooking lunch and dinner for the day (or week, if it was said with disrespect) as well as making breakfast.
So for your question about if I’d step in or not, it would very much depend what the motivation of the child was and what my level of concern about that particular thing getting done. I’m actually pretty relaxed – I know, I probably sound like a drill sargeant with my extra work motto, don’t I? But really, I view my kids as responsible, hard working, and know they want to do the right thing, so I feel there’s plenty of room to give the benefit of the doubt. If they overslept and wanted to make something faster, it would be okay with me assuming oversleeping wasn’t a habit; things happens and I don’t expect perfection!
But – here’s where I’m not relaxed: if someone is flouting authority or being disrespectful. If they simply didn’t feel like doing what I posted, then too bad. Since when do you have to feel like it to do your job? Sometimes kids need help developing good habits. Doing the right thing is often not comfortable or easy, and they need our support and encouragement in overcoming their desire to procrastinate or take the easy way out.
After saying all of that, the real question is what is your goal when having your kids do chores? Is it to accomplish something specific in terms of character development, cleanliness level, smoothness of home functioning? Or are you happy to have whatever help they can give you in the way they give it to you? For me, it wouldn’t flow with my goals to let a child do whatever they wanted in spite of what I said. But everyone has their own goals and will need to take different steps depending where they want to go.
PS- After I write my response, I often read the question to my kids and ask them for what they would do and what they think I would do. Dd13 right away said the child has to make what’s on the menu and should make lunch in addition to breakfast. Dd15 (she just had a birthday :)) said it depends how much you care if they eat toast every day, and if it’s fine with you, then leave it be. As you read, I agree with them both.