Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Team Elvis Solves the Problem of the Undone Chores


When I was a child I dreamed of growing up and having a maid to do all my housework. That dream never came true... Instead I have Team Elvis to make sure our home is clean and organised. We all clean floors and toilets, vacuum carpets, empty bins, hang washing... even me, who doesn't particularly like these sorts of tasks. The girls make sure I work too.

I soon realised that a team works better when there's a plan to coordinate efforts and our plan has always been the roster. But...

Our chores roster hasn’t been working very well for quite some time. I wrote it a few years ago and things have changed around here. The boys have grown up and are now employed. They aren’t always home when the jobs need doing. Sometimes the bathroom doesn’t get cleaned or the recycling piles up because no one takes it out to the bin… I’ve been meaning to reassess the situation for a long time.

This morning, we discovered a couple of jobs undone as usual. Of course, both boys weren’t home. “I really must look at that roster,” I said for the hundredth time.

This afternoon, while I was working on the computer, voices filtered into my room from the kitchen.

"We need to take Callum off the roster as he's working full time. He can still help Sophie whenever he’s home.”

“We could give Sophie Callum’s bathroom jobs and promote Gemma-Rose to Sophie’s.”

“If we give one person a 'mother's choice' job each day that'll cover all the odd jobs that crop up."

“I don’t want to do that job two days running!”

The girls were writing a new roster using an Excel spreadsheet, and as they seemed to have everything under control, I remained quietly in the bedroom.

An hour later, the roster was complete. Imogen had colour coordinated the jobs. They asked to use my printer, borrowed Andy’s laminator… and voila! We have a new roster.

“It should work,” said Imogen. “We wrote it together. Everyone has had their say. I listened to everyone’s suggestions and complaints. Everyone is happy.”

Sophie certainly looks happy. “I’ve been promoted! I’ve now got more jobs. I’m doing the same amount of chores as the bigger girls… and a big weekend bathroom job too. I get to clean the showers!”

With all that team work and problem solving, the house should run smoothly. I’m really pleased I don’t have to worry about the chores. But should I worry about Sophie? More chores? Cleaning showers? I don’t think she’s normal.

And is a roster normal for a family that calls themselves unschoolers? Surely we can't in truth call ourselves unschoolers? I've thought about this carefully and really I don't care. The house is clean. Everyone is happy. What does it matter if we break the rules? We shall be rebel unschoolers and not radical unschoolers.

Or perhaps we don't need a label at all. We have a name of our own. We are Team Elvis.

I am sure that what works for us, won't work for everyone else. We are all different. Every team needs its own housework plan. I'd love to hear yours.

20 comments:

  1. We wrote it together. Everyone has had their say. I listened to everyone's suggestions and complaints. Everyone is happy."
    Sounds like joyfully unschooling to me. Especially with you in the other room overhearing snippets of conversation.

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    1. Susan,

      Yes! Joyfully unschooling? I like that. Thank you so much for sharing that thought. I guess it was all children initiated and everyone worked together until they found a suitable plan. They all have ownership which seems to work much better than being told what to do.

      God bless!

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  2. What a brilliant idea to have a roster printed out.

    I must admit I just hate gardening; especially cutting the grass and pruning bushes and trees. I believe my part of the roster is to buy the equipment - lawn mower, spades, forks ... that sort of thing. Although in all honesty I DO get a lot of help with gardening tasks.

    God bless.

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    1. Victor,

      I hate gardening too. For 25 years we had to look after various landlords' gardens and make sure they looked immaculate. It was a big chore. These days I don't mind if our garden gets overrun a bit. It's ours and no one can insist we cut the grass. I guess I am a bit of a rebel at heart!

      Andy is good at buying the gardening equipment too. We used to have boys who wanted to use it but these days they seem to have other things they are doing. One day we won't have children at home and no one on the roster. I wonder if they'd like to come back on a regular basis and keep helping out with all the chores!

      God bless you!

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  3. Oh we've had so many over the years, always evolving and changing. Sometimes we work in teams, sometimes as individuals, sometimes dividing rooms, sometimes dividing the house into quadrants, sometimes dividing the everdyay(kitchen) jobs up, sometimes for one person (or two). Everyone from the seven year old up does their own laundry. All from the 7yr old up help cook. Always changing.

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    1. Erin,

      I guess a family's needs change over time and the work plan has to change too. And changing the way of dividing up the tasks adds novelty and gives new enthusiasm to the workers.

      "Everyone from the seven year old up does their own laundry." I am impressed! Does every child do a load of washing once a week? I wonder how it works. You'll have to share more! We all pitch in together when doing the washing except for Callum who organises his own. Everyone does their own ironing but I do help Gemma-Rose and I'm willing to do a few things for someone else while I'm doing mine.

      All our children help with the cooking too. It's a very useful skill to have.

      God bless!

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  4. Sue, I need to get my kids on a chore roster! I'm doing too much! I love reading about your family. You are very blessed!

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    1. Dana,

      You are a very busy woman working full time as well as running a home. I am not surprised you are doing too much! I do admire you combining so many roles.

      I am always so pleased when you visit and share my family stories. Thank you for reading and taking the time to stop and say hello. It is appreciated!

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  5. You should post a photo of your new roster! I'd love to see it...I am very visual. We have a chart that I've printed up with check off boxes, but I have to print off a new one every other week. We all do our own laundry ( I do Hubby's) We each have an assigned day, and I throw in a load of towels as the basket gets filled. That REALLY helped with the dread of laundry stacking up! I wish we had a "Sophie" at home...I am afraid that we ALL dream of maids!

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    1. Karla,

      I will see if I can work out how to post an image of the roster. It probably doesn't look as impressive as it sounds.

      As you are printing off a new chart every other week, do your assigned chores change regularly, adding variety?

      Another family where everyone does their own laundry! What happens if it rains on your assigned laundry day? Do you use the dryer? We tend to take advantage of good weather and try not to wash on rainy days except when really necessary. I guess some places don't have good drying weather whatever day of the week it is. I also hate laundry piling up! Our children are responsible for washing their own bedding. I guess yours wash their own too.

      Sophie? She is at a delightful age. She so wants to be like her older sisters. They are her heroes. If they work she wants to work too! If you have read previous posts you might have noticed that one of my children isn't quite as motivated to work!

      When I was about 11 or 12 I went to a private school where many of the girls came from rich families with maids. I guess that's where that dream came from. Since then I've discovered there are better things than maids though I still hate housework!

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  6. I love the term 'rebel unschoolers' instead of radical! Yes! We break the rules, even the unschooling ones!

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    1. Faith,

      Maybe we all get a bit too worried about labels. Dare we call ourselves unschoolers? Will someone come along and challenge us, saying we have no right to this term? Should we admit we do things that wouldn't be regarded as unschooly? It all gets a bit silly sometimes. Perhaps rules are guidelines and can be broken to suit individual families' needs. Anyway I have always enjoyed being a rebel. Thank you for stopping and commenting. Your words made me feel accepted!

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  7. Okay, I'm envious. Yessiree, envious. In my house, guess who does all the housework?

    Bet it didn't take you long to figure it out :) When we first moved into the new house things were running smoothly but it didn't last long. Right now Michaela's room is a mess and I'm not cleaning it (lol). We'll see who gives in first!

    And guess who is cleaning the kitty litter tray?

    I guess what I'm trying to say is:
    Team Elvis rocks!!

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    1. Mary,

      I remember how you and Michaela were discussing kitty litter trays awhile back. Didn't she say that NO other 7 or 8 year olds have to clean trays? It's not a job for little girls. She sounds a very smart girl!!

      I used to hate moving house but I must admit I loved setting up home and having everything ordered and tidy. Every move always involved getting rid of excess possessions and rubbish and it seemed like we had a fresh start each time. We have been in this house for 3 1/2 years and I will admit we need a big sorting out session. Yes, the house runs smoothly and is presentable but the garage... Mary, I wouldn't let you go in there if you came to visit. It's a disgrace!

      You must let me know who ends up cleaning Michaela's room. Who has the stronger will?

      God bless!

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  8. "We shall be rebel unschoolers and not radical unschoolers."

    Hear! Hear! Fun post, Sue!

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    1. Pam,

      Did you suspect I'm a bit of a rebel?

      I wrote the post and then re-read it. The words, "The girls make sure I work too," made me think of you. I thought, "Pam will know that's not really true." You know my girls say, "Go and sit down Mum. We'll do that." (They must think I'm getting old and can't cope!!) I considered removing that false sentence but then everyone might think I'm lazy and that will never do, so I left it in!

      Thanks for reading, Pam!

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  9. You have seriously spurred up a job conversation in our house. Team Barber is cheering. ;) LOL

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    1. Susan,

      How does Team Barber divide up all the chores? Do you have any good tips to share?

      Lovely to see you on my blog!

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  10. Not really. Amy and I take turns doing the "icky" chores, and we make Robyn help us so she can learn the ropes. :) She independently can vacuum and dust and pick up clutter. We do work best if we all work together at the same time.

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    1. Susan,

      You said, "We do work best if we all work together at the same time." I think that's the key - working together. No one likes to work alone. It's much more fun to do things together.

      God bless!

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