Monday, May 9, 2016

Family Chore Time

As crazy as it sounds, we have been in our "new" house the better part of a year now (nearly 10 months). When we bought this place, I swore - a la Scarlett O'Hara - that we were going to TIDY and CLEAN and DUST and not let the place fall down around our ears. After all, the reason [I was constantly told] that our old place was a mess was because it was too small - our new house is 1.5 times bigger, so this shouldn't be a problem, right? And furthermore, it is BRAND SPANKING NEW. If you can't keep a brand new house from looking like crap, you have a serious problem.

(I also swore never to garden again. This has not been a hard promise to keep.)

Anyway, as we are now feeling quite settled and normal and content, the time had come to institute a family chore plan. This coincided nicely with Chris and Gwen's shared desire for a pet, which was starting to recur more often in conversations in the past few months. Please recall that the MINUTE I told Gwen we had officially bought a new house, she replied, "So now we can get a dog, right?" I am not at all against the idea of getting a dog, but I do find myself as the voice of reason when I point out the things that need to happen before we are ready to adopt a pet, and one of those things was Getting The Chores Sorted Out. We are pretty good at sorting out the day-to-day stuff like laundry, dishwasher loading/emptying, etcetera - though I will admit that from time to time the kitchen looks less like a small happy family of three just had breakfast and more like forty-five people just used it for a three-day drug-fueled food-binge - but the more infrequent tasks like vacuuming, dusting, cleaning bathrooms, changing bedsheets, and so on were either only being done by me, or only being done after significant nagging by me, and neither of these were happening often enough. So I laid down the law: There will be no dog joining our family until we are all, as a family, proven effective at doing chores.

Thus was Family Chore Time established. On Saturday mornings, after a lazy morning in bed snuggling and reading and lounging around, we all follow our individual chore lists and get the house clean. Gwen's list includes cleaning her room, helping me dust, and tidying up any of her personal items in the common spaces of living room/kitchen. She also has to clear off her bathroom counters so I can wipe them down. These are pretty easy jobs, and in fact the big one - Clean Your Room - comes with an itemized list to make this overwhelming job more manageable:
- Pick up all your books and put them on your bookshelf.
- Pick up all the clothes on the floor and put them in the dirty laundry hamper.
- Pick up all the art supplies and put them away in your art drawers. 
- (and so on)

This may seem micro-managey - and it IS - but for Gwen, "clean your room" is vague and discouraging and seems like it will take FOREVER. Looking at one item on the list, completing that item, and then going on to the next, has at least a chance of success.

Of course, in the real world, this process looks more like this:
Me: Time to clean your room! Here's your room cleaning list!
Gwen: grumble grumble grumble okay.
Me: (Goes to do my own toilet-scrubbing chores for twenty minutes, then returns to check on Gwen)
Me: How's it going:
(Repeat for four hours)

So, yeah, we're not exactly in the "Ready for Dog" territory yet. I was hopeful, when we started this a month ago, that Gwen would eventually realize keeping her room clean through the week = less time spent cleaning it on a sunny Saturday morning when she could be doing ANYTHING ELSE MORE FUN, but that hasn't sunk in yet. We'll keep at it. In the meantime, though, I really like the fact that the house is cleaner, and that I am not doing 100% of the cleaning/nagging myself.

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