Friday, March 25, 2011

The Chore Chart

It started out simply enough, I needed help. Help around the house, help with running our lives, just help. I was working two jobs, leaving the house at 6:30 AM and not getting home until 9 PM, and once home, I still needed to cook dinner, bathe self and child, feed animals, launder clothes, etc, etc, etc.

Somewhere in my sleep-deprived delirium, I really believed that a 2 year old Z would be my salvation. She would take some of that stress off of me, she would be the help that I was so desparately crying out for but not recieving. Certainly she was responsible enough to help rescue our home from the mountains of clutter and chaos that threatened to swallow us in our sleep, obviously her untapped energy was exactly what our home needed.

I was determined. Children need responsibilty and structure and I was going to give it to her. I honestly thought (in this sleep-reduced haze) that I was the most clever momma to ever walk the planet, surely no one else was maximizing their toddler's potential in the form of cheap labor. Obviously, I was a pioneer, a genius. I could see the morning television interviews (via Skype from the office, of course), book deals, magazine articles and blog posts all discussing my controversial choice of parenting.

My plan would be the working momma's solution.

Early one Saturday morning, I created a simple Excel spreadsheet, 5 rows and 8 columns. I made it landscape and titled the columns. Column 1 - Chore, Columns 2-8 - days of the week. As I began to list out the chores, I stopped, "She is 2, she can't read yet.".

I opened up a Word Document and made two columns - Pros and Cons of an early reading program for Z.

She could read my Chore Chart

She would know what we are spelling when we are speaking over her head
She would be able to read the labels of cans and boxes and know that we are trying to give her more vegetables
She would be able to read my blog and Facebook pages - worse yet, she would be able to read my text messages

I decided to go ahead and draw pictures for each of the chores that I wanted done. It looked like this:

Ignore the drawing, I told you I was exhausted.
I was impressed with myself. I laminated it so that we could draw smiley faces or Xs on it and clear it out each week. I figured we could afford to pay her $1 per week if the entire grid was smiley faces and we could prorate for those Xs. Then I realized that there are 28 spaces. 28 does not divide nicely into a dollar (now each square is worth only 3.6 cents, what if she only does one thing right in the whole week?)

Undeterred, I presented the chart to Z. "Look, babe, you are gonna be my helper. And you could earn a DOLLAR!".

Throughout the first week she would do things, we would mark smiley faces. She was excited, I was ecstatic. Look what an awesome momma I am!

And then came the second week.

Now, my ingenius chart was being used as a stall tactic to get out of going to bed, a way to get other things she wanted. I watched her two nights in a row, purposely spill out all of the toys from her toy box just after she had put them in there. "Can I have another smiley face, momma?". It became a battle by the end of the week for her to do any chores at all and the fights and resistance were worse than me having to do it on my own.

Finally, fatigue and bad attitude wore me down, I guess sometimes, it's just easier to wait for the Cleaning Fairy to do it.

I wrote this post in response to the Bloggy Moms Blog Dare prompt for the day:
Do you require your children to help out around the house?  If they are not yet old enough, will you require that of them?

1 comment:

  1. I will have to do this. Our house is always blown up and I am let to clean. :(


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