Mar 24, 2011

Doing it Right

Recently a good friend told me about a "system" that she was implementing at her home. It has been so beneficial to our family that I wanted to share it with others.

My children have many jobs that they are required to do, and this I feel good about. The problem is that they like to do them fast, get them over with and move on to doing the things that they want to do, and I feel good about this too. But, this can lead to 100 dishes soaking in the sink because truly there is food on them so they must need to soak a little longer... or how about this one...yes, I'm sure I cleaned my bathroom today (I'm staring at the toothpast in the sink and thinking..... no way!)

So, now for the brilliant plan: Good, Better, Best (sound familiar)

A few weeks ago we all started out in Good.

Good means that it is time for mommy to teach you how to do your job the right way.

Mom takes each child by themselves and instructs them how to do their job, reminds them of things they are missing and basically waits in close proximity while they complete their job and then checks off the job to make sure that no parts were skipped...purposefully or accidentally

In order for me to teach I needed to know that additional messes and problems were not being created so when my children are in good they must take turns sitting on the couch without book, pen, paper or toys. They were told that this is not a punishment it is what we do when we are in good. I would take one child at a time and we would work on a job together. It took us a LOOOONNNNGGGG time to finish our jobs. But when we were finished the house was spic and span. That has not happened for quite some time

After two days of tortured sitting on the couch for several hours a day the girls were freed to move to Better.

Better means that you are free to do your job without supervision.

You are also free to do your jobs in any order and at any time that you choose (in the alloted job time) Better means that when you are finished you must come and find mom, lead me showing me each of your jobs that is completed.

The boys I found were dragging their feet a bit and doodling so they had to stay in good and take turns waiting for each other. This only lasted two more days because they saw how the girls were done more than an hour before they were because the didn't have to be supervised by mom.

After a full week the boys had moved to Better and the girls were freed to Best.

In Best children return and report that their jobs are done.

I do not have to review their jobs or check on their completion.

I trust them that when they tell me their jobs are done that they are done in the right way.

I have really enjoyed this simple system. There are no treats or silly rewards or charts to keep up. They know what they are to do and they know how they are to do it, and they know if they are trustworthy that they earn more free time and if they are sloppy and careless then they will loose freedom and have to be supervised again. The children know that they may move up and down from good to better to best at any time depending on if I have to remind, reprimand, conjoul, or encourage quickness.

I also must admit, I am requiring quite a bit from my children.

Here are my lists for my four children..age 7 to 11: (they rotate lists on a monthly basis so each child does one list for a whole month and then everyone gets a new list)


Cook...all three meals...younger two children under 10 are aided by mom

Set and Clear Table...we find this job goes good with cook since the chef needs to put away all food and preparation before and after dinner. (kitchen job)

Garbage...gather, empty, reload liner

Cleaning Room...make bed, sweep floor, pick up

Kids Bathroom....wiping down sink and toilet and sweep

Sweep 2nd Floor


Laundry...starting washer, hanging up clothes to dry, sorting socks, emptying dryer and fold and put away

Counters, Fridge, Sink (kitchen job)....clear and wipe

Chickens...feed and water

Cleaning Room

Master Bathroom

Vacuum all of the upstairs


Dishes (kitchen job and regular job) rinse, load dishwasher, unload dishwasher


Cleaning Room

Downstairs Bathroom

Sweep downstairs


Pick up....all of the upstairs, the stairs and the "mud" room

Table and Chairs...wash all parts including legs


Cleaning Room

Upstairs Bathroom

Sweep upstairs....and shake out rugs

We start our morning with a devotional and scripture study at 7:30-8:00 and then our chef for the month is free to cook and everyone else works on all of their jobs...except their kitchen job. Mom is avaliable and working on her own my room, doing extra jobs, cleaning out closets, etc. We all gather together for breakfast usually by 9:00, then we all work on kitchen jobs and any other jobs that have not been completed yet...usually sweeping and garbage are the only other jobs remaining. Our alloted job time is to be finished by 10:00 at which time we have another devotional...more secular knowledge and family reading. At 11:00 we have family work time until 12 or 12:30 or 1:00 depending on the job and how much energy the mama has.

All jobs are required to be done once a the morning, except kitchen jobs which are done three times a day...breakfast, lunch and dinner. Laundry, Cook and Pick up may also be required to do more than just once in the morning.

I have noticed a large difference in requiring that the job be done well. My children were doing all of their jobs before, but they were only half done jobs and I was finding that I was picking up the slack....changing the laundry, picking up things left on the floor, washing the counters off better etc. I have noticed that my children are very capable of doing a job well and that I was short changing myself by only requiring a half of a job. When my children are older I want then to know how to do a thing well, and to put in the hard work and effort to finish it the right way and in the right time.

It may seems is. It may seem like a was, especially for the first two days when we literally spent the whole day working on our jobs. It may seem like a lot of jobs to require but they do a great job and are becoming proficient in many areas. I am glad for wise friends who share their wisdom with me. This has come as such a blessing in our home at this time, especially during this last stretch of the pregnancy when my abilities and capabilities are reduced. It has been a blessing to see these sweet little spirits step up and be truly responsible and wise stewards over a few things in our family.

On a side note, we also have Saturday jobs. They are still required to complete their daily jobs but in addition the person on cook (#1) plans the meals and goes grocery shopping with a parent. They also vacuum and wash off the benches in the kitchen and family room. The person on laundry (#2) is in charge of counters so they are in charge of helping put the groceries away and and prep of any food...veggies and fruit. The dishes person (#3) is on washing all the fruits and veggies. They must make sure the dishes are all out of the sink so that the fruit has a place to be washed...#2 and #3 work together to finish these jobs. This person also sweeps or vacuums the stairway. (#4) is also in charge of sweeping or vaccuming the stairs. Each person also is in charge of cleaning out their cubby...the area where they keep their school work and other items stored during the week. And we all take a level of the fridge and clean out the fridge each saturday morning before the weeks shopping comes home and needs to be put away. Doing these few little extras has made the week go by so much smoother.

As with any "system" this plan is of course not for everyone, maybe you can take some little gem and make it your own. I love working from principles. It is a principle to do something and do it right. This is dating me...but I still remember that song that good ol' Mr Rogers would sing about if your going to take the time to do it, take the time to do it right. I think this is a powerful principle to teach children as they are growing up and learning wisdom in their youth...To Do It Right.

ps. I do have a 3 year old living at my house as well. He does not have a list of jobs but he sweeps his room...very poorly....each morning and he follows me around and helps me with all of the extra's that I am working on for that day. He is also very helpful in wanting to help the other kids to complete their jobs so he will help with the laundry and help with cook...if he can get away with it :) and help with sweeping. The kids know that he doesn't get passed off for doing their job but they can allow him to help and usually enjoy having a little buddy to do things with. I do not feel that at his young age it is the appropriate time to require him to reach perfection in the few jobs that I am giving him to do. I sometimes will show him how to do something a little better but mostly I just smile and give him hugs for trying. To everything in life there is a season, he will have his turn someday to learn to do it right.