I read MOTC as soon as I finished MOTH. What I am about to share is not a negative opinion of the book, but I do want to share my thoughts about it. I feel the authors spent a huge amount of time sharing the importance of chores and why they are so valuable to children. I think that a lot of the time they were writing to families who may not see the need to teach children to do chores and therefore they gave Biblical and practical reasons for chores. For me, they were preaching to the choir. I have known that chores were a necessary tool to train children to care for their future homes. In fact, I also know that it takes me more time to teach them to do their chores than to do them myself. I think had I come from a stand-point of belief that children should be “allowed their childhood” and not have to work until they are grown, I may have needed their examples and discussions of why chores are so beneficial. However, I’m glad that emphasis is in the book. In fact, it strengthened my resolve to teach them and to teach them to do their jobs well. (More about this in a few minutes.)
Regarding teaching them to do the chores, I find that this is crucial to a child’s maturity process. Matt tends to see a job that needs to be done and then step in to do it. This is very handy around the house, but at times I remind him that there’s a kid who is responsible for that job. Matt doesn’t always like to take the time to call the child in, teach him what to do, and ensure that it gets done. Matt could do the job faster and get on to the other job. (This is particularly an issue in the laundry room when Matt wants to wash a load and one of the boys has their clothes in one of the machines. I think with our new schedule this will be less of a problem since there are times on the schedule specifically for washing clothes.)
Within MOTC are step-by-step instructions on what to do. The first step is to use their Master Chore List and put an X beside the chores you want your children to do. Then you write the frequency you want them to do them. This was fun because I’ve always assigned daily chores and this gave me the chance to include twice-weekly chores (2xw) or twice monthly chores (2xM). Whatever frequency I needed a chore done, I could mark it. They also included a place to list the chores you want them to do but aren’t on the list. Something I hadn’t thought of assigning, but I found on their list, was “high chair cleaner.” Sure! I could get a kid to do that! Something not on their list was “sweep hallway.” I assume they didn’t list this because not every house has a bowling-alley length hallway. I’ve set the frequency of this job as 2xw. Also not on the list is “Take Medicine.” Bailey takes two allergy medicines each day and it never fails… come lunch time I find myself saying, “Bailey, you haven’t taken your medicine!” Now, it’s in a ChorePack!! Brilliant!
Once I went through the Master Chore List I was instructed to pull out a Chore Assignment Worksheet. This was so much easier than I expected it to be. Basically, they walked me through putting all the chores I marked on the master list onto the assignment worksheets. The reason I said this was easier than I expected it to be is because when I was looking at the Master Chore List I could not envision getting all those tasks from the list onto the card stock. I assure you, the directions are well written and easy to follow!
Once I had that step accomplished for the daily tasks I wanted done in the morning, I stopped. I followed the steps and completed one entire set of ChorePacks.
Here is a picture of the morning ChorePacks mid-production.
Once I got all three boys’ Daily/Morning ChorePacks completed and in their clip-on packs, I moved on to the next step. They highly recommend NOT doing this step if you are very new to chores and schedules. I went ahead and did this step, which was to create the weekly ChorePacks. Finally, I worked on the monthly chores, which, as it turns out, I don’t have enough for them to do on a nightly basis. We’ll only have one night a week we work on monthly chores (Monday nights).
Note: Order extra ChorePack kits. The kit only comes with four clip-on things and, if you’re only planning to have one “ChorePack” session a day, this will be fine. I, however, intend to have two sessions a day and a third on Mondays. I went to Staples and found a similar kind of plastic thing but they were way too small to hold several pieces of card stock. I find that using the ones they provide is worth the extra money. When ordering an extra four clip-on things, an extra vinyl chore-card holder, and 20 pieces of card stock at the same time you order your book, the extra cost is only $7. (It will be $9 for me to go back and order separately.) At Staples a 5-pack of clip-on things that will not work properly are 9.95 EURO and Staples does not carry the vinyl chore-card holder and I’d have to purchase an entire package of card stock. Now that I’ve priced these things at Staples, I can assure you that purchasing the kit from the authors is more economical.) Plus, I later found out that Staples’ clips are choking hazards and contain lead, whereas MOTH’s are specifically designed to not be a choking hazard and are lead-free. All the more reason to just order the kit. (I do not receive a commission for MOTH kits sold as a result of my blog! Though that would be nice.)
Another note: For pre-readers the website has a large variety of clip art you can drag and drop onto your ChorePack Template so your littles can see a picture of what they’re supposed to be doing. Parker will get his own ChorePack when he turns two.
Now, as I mentioned above, I find it very important to teach the children to do their chores well. Our thirty-minute block for morning chores should take us just that long. I made sure that I put only 30 minutes of work for each boy in his Morning ChorePack. However, yesterday when we did our training we spent about an hour and a half.
Above you can see Bailey wearing his ChorePack and working on his main morning task. He’s responsible for cleaning the living room. In his ChorePack are four cards that tell him exactly what he’s responsible for:
Had I assigned this chore to Hayden I could have probably written, “Clean Living Room” on one card but Bailey needs specific instructions to go through. See how detailed and child-specific this is? Wonderful!
Matt sat with Bailey and showed him exactly how to do his chore so that his job would “pass.” We are using “pass/fail” as the authors suggested. They need to know that sometimes simply making an effort is not good enough. Sometimes they need to do the job RIGHT. The first time. I am sure we’re not going to damage their self esteem by telling them that their job did not pass inspection. In fact, my children will enter their adulthoods with the ability to keep a house and cook and that will give them a measure of self-esteem!
In teaching Hayden how to do this chore, I showed him how to tell if the dishes are clean by looking that the lights on the outside of the dishwasher. I also showed him where to put things he’d never seen before. See, my kids have been capable of unloading the dishwasher for a while, but I still find miscellaneous items stuffed in random cabinets and drawers. I spent a little time showing Hayden where to put certain things. I gave him a tip: any time he finds an item he’s not sure where it belongs, set it beside the sink on the clean, drying towel and after he’s done, I can show him where they go. Within a few weeks he should know where everything goes. This is one benefit to keeping their chores for 6-12 months instead of changing monthly. The effort we’re putting into training them will be longer lasting.
My little comedian! At least he was having fun! But regarding his chores, I explained to Carson that he needed to get around the edges of the room while sweeping and that if I find food on the floor then he’s failed his chore.
One additional note about the Pass/Fail. We told them as we started this new training phase that there is a reason we’re using those words. We said that when a person does a job, they must do it right or either they won’t get paid or someone could get hurt. We told them to think about the guy whose job it is to inspect Military Vehicles in Afghanistan. If that guy does a poor job, the people who ride in that vehicle later get hurt, which in turn, directly affects the families of those people. One “fail” and it could really change the lives of a lot of people. Of course, whether or not Parker’s toys are properly sorted or our floor expertly swept will not result in a life or death situation. But if my sons learn to do their chores thoroughly now, then, if they become a soldier who does check the vehicles, then they can rest assured that they have the work habits necessary to ensure safety for their fellow service-members. Maybe a bit dramatic but it was something that my boys could totally relate to. We have allowed the quality of their chores to drop drastically and we are now going enforce a better work habit.
Finally, we aren’t mean when we say “this job failed inspection.” To begin with we told them that throughout January we are in training mode and that we understand that they are learning to do these jobs perfectly. The first day when we saw their jobs, there were dozens of things we needed to point out. On day two, we only needed to point out about 5-6 things from each boys’ room that was out of place. I said, “Okay, now this would be a “Fail” because of those things there, but you did a great job! Look how much faster you got this job done today since you had kept it so clean since you last cleaned it!”
To sum up the third installment of MOTH: On this day we introduced their Daily/Morning ChorePacks and trained them in what we expected from them. Here is a list of what is in each of their ChorePacks:
1. Empty Dishwasher
2. Brush Teeth
c) toilet surface
e) any out-of-place items
Clean mirrors and toilet bowl
4. Clean Room:
Toys, trash, books, towels, clothes,
Don’t forget Edges
2. Clean High Chair
3 Clean Room:
Toys, trash, books, towels, clothes,
4. Brush teeth
1. Take Medicine
2. Living Room:
Books & puzzles
3. Living Room:
4. Behind Recliners
5. Sort toys in White Basket into 4 piles; H,C,B,P
Deliver to rooms
6. Brush Teeth
7. Clean Room:
Toys, trash, books, towels, clothes,
For other installments of the MOTH series see these links:
MOTH 3 – You are here.