Homework, activities, and chores! Oh my!

10Sep2013

The CRUNCH:
Homework, activities, and chores! Oh my!

CRUNCH deets:
You’ve had too much on your plate for years now, but you’ve figured out how to make-do. Your “baby” however… well, she’s growing up. And getting busy! You spend so much time chauffeuring her between gymnastics/piano/swimming that you barely remember your last non-vehicular snack. She doesn’t have time to help with laundry/dishes/meal plans, and now she’s supposed to fit homework in too? Oy.

The Fix:
The chore chart, part deux.

Fix deets:
After I described our super-funky chore chart on Friday, a few of you inquired about the rest of it. Like, what the heck does TKD stand for, what kind of reading/spelling/math is the little bro doing, and how exactly do we get him to do it? So I thought I’d give an overview for anyone who wasn’t totally bored by Friday’s shower-scrubbing escapades and wants to tackle the rest of the chart. I won’t be offended if you stop reading here. I know it’s not really super-funky.

Still with me? Yay! Here goes. Our seven year-old has A LOT of responsibilities. Along with this comes a little less free play and a little more hustling than I’d like. I read somewhere that kids don’t feel nearly as stressed as we do about all the schlepping. I hope that’s true. We gauge his temperament and if/when we have to scale back, we will. This is why we ixnayed French Immersion after his SK year when it was proving to be too much. We know it works for many a biling five year-old, but it wasn’t working for him. Our rules about extracurriculars are that he has to have one sport he does at least twice a week, one instrument, swimming’s mandatory (it’s a lifesaver peeps), and he has to want everything else. Sure, after the first class or six he might grumble about going, but that’s when the reminders of his requests/demands come in oh so handy. TKD stands for Tae Kwon Do, which is the sport he’s committed to until he earns his black belt. He started as a shy and apprehensive five year-old who was terrified of teachers and team-sports. Over two years it’s helped him turn a HUGE corner… thank you Master Jang and the rest of the Ky Young team! This is the first year he’s seriously asked to play hockey and learn how to drum. He’s taken piano lessons for two years, after a percussion class got his music-loving groove on. At some point he’ll likely have to choose between piano and drums, as well as hockey and TKD, but for now we’re playing it by ear. Sorry.

Along with his awesome activities, he has chores, schoolwork, and bonus reading/writing/math when his backpack’s a little light. He loves reading (more on that in an upcoming CRUNCH) so is happy to read to his sibs. Since it’s a HUGE help for me when I’m prepping food/bleaching toilets/unloading groceries, I pay him an agreed-upon rate: one cent per page for a board book, ten cents per page for a chapter book. I printed up a bunch of minute-math worksheets and we found some cool math sites for him to play on, so that or a spelling quiz is our go-to if he’s not homeworked out. We all contribute to household chores – for him that means tidying, laundry, setting the table, and helping out with bins on garbage day.

Our four year-old’s also been taking swimming lessons for a coupla years and this fall he’s starting hockey and drums alongside his big bro. He doesn’t have real homework yet (thank goodness!), so we practice his three R’s together using fun workbooks, FoyerShoeskid-friendly sites, and library books chosen after storytime. Along with tidying, laundry, and bin-duty, he’s responsible for putting away all our shoes. Half the time we come in through the front door, the other half it’s through the back, and all the time it’s a total disaster. Until he does his job.

Which brings us to the magic: how we get our boys to do their jobs. We put it on the chore chart (aka the responsibility chart) and make it part of the routine. While some of you might not be as control-freak A-type as I am when it comes to scheduling, we’re ALL creatures of habit. In other words, we’re all the result of our routines. If you don’t believe me, check out The Power of Habit.* If you remember I mentioned it over here and have already picked up a copy… props! We’ve finessed our habits by assigning each job to a logical time of day: schoolwork is after school, instruments are after dinner, tidying is after playing. I’m around to help but not do it for them (usually on food prep or running baby interference), they know what’s expected (we love those ‘when’ statements – they’re on auto-pilot until the deed is done), and they earn rewards. Along with the reading-buddy cashola our oldest gets, the boys can choose a little TV/iPad free play at the end of the day (before we go upstairs so it doesn’t interfere with the wind-down). It doesn’t work every day, but it works often enough to get ‘er done.

Remember this:
There aren’t enough minutes in the day for anyone to do everything. Writing it all down and keeping relatively on-schedule is the only way to juggle everything and stay on the ball without dropping one. Or at least without dropping a really big one.

Email us or leave a comment below if you have any questions!

*If you don’t have time to read (we hear ya!) then seriously guys, AUDIOBOOKS! The library has tons and you can listen anytime/anywhere FOR FREE. You’re welcome.

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