18 April 2008

Tools of the Trade - Reducing Sibling Fighting

I've decided to discontinue Factoid Friday. If I run into super-interesting facts, I'll just let you know, instead of having a feature. What I thought would be more helpful would be to post the things I've learned that have made my life easier. My 'tools of the trade' so to speak.

Something I found on the internet that I've tweaked so much that I can rightly call my own is "Kid of the Day." How it works is this: Each day is a different kid's "day." This means that if there is a decision to be made, they get to make it. Things like who gets the middle seat in the van, what kind of sandwiches we have for lunch, what movie they get to watch or who gets to sit by Mommy at dinner time. They will still argue, but when the all powerful phrase, "It's MY day!" is said, the argument is over. The trump card has been played. Each day it rotates, crowning the next kid decision-maker of the day. Of course this doesn't get rid of all fighting, but it does reduce specific recurring instances of fighting and whining. They know that their day is coming and they will get to choose what they want.

I've also added this philosophy to chores. There are certain chores that must be done everyday. I've divided them into four groups and each kid is assigned one group a day. It rotates with the "day's" kid getting the easy stuff. For example: If it's your day you get 1. clean the table off after meals 2. pick up toys/sweep the kitchen 3. day off of unloading dishwasher (we have 4 kids and 3 dishwasher zones) 4. pick up hall/stairs/landing.

Other kids get:
  • kid #2 - 1. wash table 2. pick up/sweep dining room 3. unload top of dishwasher 4. set napkins/silverware for dinner
  • kid #3 - 1. switch laundry to dryer 2. pick up/sweep back porch 3. unload bottom of dishwasher 4. set plates/cups out for dinner
  • kid #4 - 1. make couch pillows look nice 2. pick up/sweep living room 3. unload silverware 4. set condiments etc. out for dinner
At left is our old chore list. (I'm currently working on the new one. This list has been in use for a little over a year and needed to be updated.) The "kid of the day" is upper left. I have four copies of the list attached to that ring. The only difference between them is that the names are rotated one spot on each subsequent copy. I also use a different color for each kid so that the non-readers can tell when it is "their day." The one in the photo is colored blue for my youngest boy. (The names are colored out to protect the not-so-innocent.) Each morning, I flip the page revealing the new "Kid of the Day" as well as everyone's daily ration of chores.

The kids have really taken to this and not only keep impeccable track of whose "day" it is, but have memorized what chores go with which day. (i.e. If it was my day yesterday, then I unload the top of the dishwasher today.) The chart itself is almost superfluous as we rarely have to consult it anymore.

If you're in need of a kid chore-management system or want a trick to help make kid decisions, try it out. If you already have something that works, let me know. My philosophy on this whole home-management job (as well as life in general) is that I use whatever works best...until something better comes along.


bethany said...

That kid of the day thing is something we will be doing now! Great idea! I love it.

Chores..well, jackson is old enough to do more things, oliver...well he can clean stuff up, but I think I'll wait a year to make a schedule for them. Great ideas on that though as well!

tricia said...

Thanks. I love that I can just ask, "Whose day is it?" and the bickering is over.

sean said...

Wow...one day I can make my kids do chores? :) Sometimes I forget they won't always be 1 and 2.

sean said...

AGain.... not SEan...Jadah

tricia said...

jadah, you so funny!

JacksonFamHappenings said...

I love this!! It should be easy with two kids! I am catching up on my tricia blog reading! You are so creative I just say go to your room and clean it! 5 hours later the room is messier than before!!!!

Genny said...

You are so creative. So, can they all do everything or do you have to help the younger ones and how did you figure out what they could do?

tricia said...

the olders can do everything no problem. the littlest needs a lot of help, but he can unload the dishwasher without any. of course, my standards for some things has to drop a little. like little guy washes the table on his day, but it's not a great job. i usually wash it over again.

or when they sweep, it's not a great job, but it is better than no sweeping at all. (plus i bought an electric sweeper for them to use. two reasons: it lets them do a better job and they think its fun so they want to do it.

but i think the main point is getting them to contribute. it's good for them to understand that a family works together.

before i assign chores i kinda test them out. see what they can do, then if they can accomplish it at least somewhat, i assign it.

i've found that they are a lot more capable than we think they are.