I get a lot of questions about the hows of large family household management. I understand! When our family was suddenly quickly growing, the mountains of work it brought along were overwhelming!
Thankfully, I realized from the beginning that even little hands can do a lot of work. Little ones can pull weeds. They can fold laundry. They can sweep. They can unload dishwashers.
I made adjustments. I had to slow down to teach. I was accustomed to just blazing my way through the household cleaning and getting things spotless. Now I had to adjust to a colicky baby and a teething toddler hanging on me as I tried to keep preschoolers from smashing all my pretty dishes. I found nursing home/hospital plates and bowls at a thrift store one day. Those have been a lifesaver in the dish department! I use empty salsa jars, empty jelly jars, anything, as cups and save my pretty glasses and fancy dishes for holidays and company.
The childrens’ drawers aren’t perfect piles of neatly folded clothes, separated by type. They may even be hanging out of the drawers, but… my little ones are learning to work.
Now, I am a list person. My life revolves around to-do lists. I can’t remember anything. So, I need to write down every last little to-do. I quickly had lists for the children too! They were color coded, beautifully organized, carefully thought out chore lists. The work all got done. My husband would walk in and walk over to the board and say, “S-, the chickens aren’t watered.” or “W-, the garbage needs to be taken out.”
But then they got older. And after 10 years of my beautiful chore charts, a monster grew in my house. It was the “that’s not my job” monster. Oh, did I detest it. I’m not wiping that floor, it’s not my job. That’s so-and-so’s job. No, I need to go do my job, I can’t do that right now. Etc. etc. My husband wasn’t impressed. I wasn’t impressed. It grew worse when we moved into a larger house with more areas.
A couple months ago I ripped down the chore chart and hung a sign in its place. “Work together or don’t eat.” Soon, news spread through the house and children gathered around the bulletin board. The eldest slumped her shoulders. I think she envisioned herself doing it all by herself. I’m not sure! The second child looked happy. She likes working together. And so everyone had their opinion, their thoughts, how this was going to work out.
I’ll tell you. It has made the house wonderful. Sure, everyone has a day here or there that they just don’t feel like working. But in general, everyone pitches in all over house and in the outdoor chores and gets them done before school starts for the day.
Generally, in the morning, the animals outside all need to be fed, checked, watered. Inside, the dishes need to be done, counters wiped, floors swept, trash taken out, laundry switched, laundry folded, table wiped, picking up, and vacuuming. In the summer time there is a garden to weed and tend to and lawns to mow. It does look like a long list but with a lot of people it can be whipped out in a hurry.
I found throwing the chore list out so freeing! It has worked extremely well for our family. So, maybe… if you keep hearing, “That’s not my job!” … try throwing that chore list out!