Fresh from our ACC (the Annual Chore Conference), we’re enjoying a slightly cleaner, if a slightly more confused home.
I’ll be honest, we left introducing chores for our children until it was almost too late. I dearly hope you don’t make this mistake too. In fact, if you’re reading this and your 1 year-old is not yet vacuuming the hallway, it’s not too early for him to start.
That might seem a bit unrealistic, but the spirit of it is good. If he can walk confidently, he can push a broom, right? I know, I know, the process might not actually result in a swept floor, but then again, it might. A bit. The difficulty, I find, is in overcoming the temptation to just do it myself, because I will (probably) have to do the job anyway after the small child has “finished”.
So, back to our annual convention. (Might have to make it bi-annual.) We kicked off with a group brainstorming session, noting down on the chalkboard wall all the household jobs which are essential to its smooth running. It was a bit slow to begin with, all they could think of was unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, and folding clean laundry. If only. Then they got into it, and a few dozen more things were suggested, including food shopping, loo cleaning, and chicken-cuddling.
(As an aside, our chalkboard wall has to be in the top ten best uses of £5 + one hour spent painting. Here’s the Wilko paint we used; masking tape round your edges, two coats and you’re away.)
Then we moved to allocation of tasks. Each group member was assigned a different colour chalk and a dot placed beside each task. This was a chance to get shot of having to muck out the poultry. Unfortunately, Mr Baker did not quite succeed. My hope was to hold the line, and come away having not acquired any extra jobs. In fact, I’m not sure I didn’t have something offloaded.
So there were re-shuffles and lots of sudden growing up. And, this is the really crazy part, they started to fight over the chores. “No, I WANT TO CLEAN THE TOILETS!” yelled a small child. “OK, but I WANT TO SCRUB THE BATHTUB!” yelled another, drowning out the first. Father and I looked at one another in speechless amazement.
Quickly rallying my senses (and making a mental note not to expect this excitement to outlast 24 hours), I grabbed the chalks and started assigning toilets, bathtubs, weeding and other odious tasks. The firstborn appeared to have taken on at least ten extra jobs; we’ll see how that pans out.
If you’re wondering about replicating this incredible scene in your own home, you might find this list of age-appropriate chores helpful. It’s hardly exhaustive, even if it is exhausting. (Could be useful as proof against the claim, “I’m too young to do that!”)
Even if the excitement fades substantially by the following day (it did), and even if it seems like it’s harder work to ensure the chores are completed (it is), it’s good to get off to a flying start, I reckon. Here’s a useful saying…
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
If we succeed here, our grandchildren will grow up in very organised households indeed. And I look forward to being invited to their very own ACC.
As a keynote speaker of course.