This is the first of an ongoing series addressing how large family logistics play out in our home in relation to household organisation. If you’ve ever wondered how we manage in any area of household management feel free to ask, either in the comment box or send me an email.
Two friends on the soccer sidelines recently shared their observations regarding my household that has set me on a path of reflection. Our conversation began with their comments on; ‘how clean my house was when they’ve visited’ and queries as to ‘how did I manage to achieve a clean home with a houseful of children?’ Their surprise at my answer; “the children all help,” gave me the most pause, apparently my children help more than theirs, perhaps part of their equation is that both their families have two children whereas we have ten, my answer led to further questions on how this plays out in our home. As this is not the first time I’ve had queries as to our large family logistics I thought I’d share details for others who may also be interested.
Large family organisiation is not a one size fits all as every family is unique and each have their own way of running their household. Both PC and I are from large families, I’m the eldest of eight, PC is one of seven, yet our families are completely different from one another with mothers who ran their households in totally disparate ways. We have many friends with large families who each unique. Many factors contribute to how a household functions; parents’ personalities, their expectations, their upbringing, family dynamics, the ages and number of children etc, too the operating of a household will change according to various factors; the arrival of new babies, children growing older, children leaving home, illnesses etc. I share our keeping house strategy with you not to say this is how it must be done but rather this is what is working for us currently.
How Do We Daily Keep House?
Each child is responsible for keeping their bedrooms tidy, and all have daily kitchen and area jobs. We’ve been using our current approach for keeping house on a daily basis for several years now, it works well and we have no plans to change. This is a system that applies to every child in our home over the age of five, at five they are considered capable and expected to help. Kitchen and area jobs are written on a roster, the roster is changed fortnightly and both assignments are usually undertaken individually, although a young child (5) is mostly teamed up with Mum or an older sibling whose personality leans towards patience.
Why Do The Children Work As Individuals?
We’ve trialed pairs and teams in the past but this hasn’t worked as some children are more diligent than others which means fellow teammates either carry the slack and/or arguments break out. Therefore all jobs are now undertaken individually except for the trainee(5yr old). This approach is by the children’s request.
How Do The Children Know What Their Jobs Are?
All jobs to be undertaken on a daily/semi daily basis have been entered into an excel spreadsheet with blank spaces waiting for names to be penciled in over a few months, this gives us a record of who has been doing which jobs to ensure fairness according to abilities, the roster sheet is magnetised to the fridge. By having a printed roster sheet arguments are mostly eliminated, no longer do helpers try to engage in an argument with a directive parent, it’s the roster sheet giving direction and it’s hard to argue with a piece of paper 😉
When Are Jobs Undertaken?
Kitchen jobs are obviously done on a daily basis, some more than once a day throughout the day, like the dishwasher which is loaded at least twice a day. Other kitchen jobs such as the compost and garbage are undertaken as dinner preparations begin.
Ideally beds are to be made before lessons begin, bedrooms tidied later in the day at the same time as the area jobs are done. We strive to tackle area jobs around 4pm each day although this time is trickier on the couple of afternoons each week we have after school activities.
Whilst the plans aren’t always perfectly executed they are completed sufficiently so our home doesn’t fall into dissaray.
Download (PDF, 4KB)
What Are The Kitchen Jobs?
Kitchen jobs include standard daily jobs such as setting and clearing the table, unpacking and packing the dishwasher as well as hand washing. Other jobs may only need to be done a couple of times a week such as wiping down the cupboard doors. All the children are capable of completing most jobs though sometimes they may need the assistance of a helper, though a young child is never assigned the much harder jobs such as the hand washing. The plan is a ‘harder fortnight’ is followed by a fortnight of easier tasks.
What Are Area Jobs?
We are blessed to have a large home with several living areas and a large yard with plenty of outdoor living space. We’ve allocated every room in our home and the outside into ‘areas’ and each child is responsible for an assigned area each fortnight. Some areas are of lesser difficulty therefore we sometimes combine two areas. Area jobs include the; lounge room, study, learning room, bathrooms, laundry, yard, deck and verandahs.
Smiling here, I see our 14 year old has been altering the spreadsheet and added footnotes, she obviously felt some clarity was needed.
Download (PDF, 5KB)
Are Children Ever Expected To Clean Another’s Area?
Yes. Consider one fortnight the lounge room is an older child’s area, yet the younger children have been playing in that space with the K’nex, it is only correct to expect the younger children to clean up after themselves.
Whilst my friends interpretation of a clean home was generous, as I’m confident our home is never perfect and we do live on a building site, chances are our home when they visited most likely met my ‘visitor standard’, though I’m certain once they’ve visited a few more times they’ll manage to see it in all its messy glory 😉 Whilst nowadays we can receive a phone call advising of an impending visit and have our home ready for visitors within half an hour I assure you we weren’t alway as prepared. When we had only small children, when I was far less organised than I am today there is no way we could have been visitor ready within thirty minutes, truthfully there were years it would have taken two days to be ready. If you are struggling with small children, with so many myriad household tasks that you feel as if you are drowning, I want to reassure you that when you observe other parents who seem to have it all together that perhaps they really don’t, or perhaps they’ve been in the depths of the trenches where you are today and have only managed to climb out with the assistance of time, tenacity and organisation. Today your life may be tough and overwhelming, I wish to reassure you that one day you will awake and realise life is getting a little easier and you too are now climbing out of the trenches, stronger. Holding you in prayer, supporting and encouraging you.
- Do you have any further questions as to how we keep house on a daily basis?
- Any tips you’d like to share that work well in your household?
Next in our series we’ll be sharing how we have managed to some what subdue the never ending laundry.
Is there any area of our household management you’d like us to particularly address?