Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Successful Kid Training

Isn't this how everyone uses a salad spinner???

Back in April of 2013 I made a radical decision--my kids up to that point all helped by putting their own dishes in the dishwasher, but I was ready to teach them to hand wash dishes so that they could do all of the dishes by themselves without me having to help.  I admit that things were rocky at first.  I had to rewash many dishes after the kids went to bed (I learned to never, ever re-clean things in the presence of the original cleaner because that is a total motivation killer, so I now only do it in secret).

After a few months, David learned how to wash dishes well.  Lizzy picked up on the skill about three months after David.  Joy...well, she's young.  Which means that two nights out of every three, I only wash the hardest dishes and the rest gets done without me.

Except I found that I didn't like my old system of David doing dishes every Monday and Thursday, Lizzy every Tuesday and Friday and Joy every Wednesday.  I was always forgetting who was on which day.  Plus, the kids would fight over who had to set the table.  And left to their own devices, Joy was the only child who was eager to help with preparing dinner.  The other two would help when forced, but I usually didn't and just let Joy help me every night.  Which was fine for a while, but then I started thinking that my other two kids really need to learn how to cook even if it's not their passion, so I needed to come up with a system that forced them to help me.

Enter the spinning wheel.

We now have a system where we spin the wheel one spot every day so you do each chore every three days.  I know some people prefer to assign chores on a weekly basis, a school year basis, or by age--but I'm not a big fan of that system.  Even though each child becomes proficient at each skill at a different point, I am okay with it taking more time with Joy.  And I would have hated having to wash dishes every night for a week when I was a kid.  So a daily rotation it is.

Today was one of the "good" days.  This would be the day that David is on dinner preparation, Lizzy is on dishes, and Joy is on set table.  (My least favorite day of the cycle is the day that Joy is on dishes, which really means MOM is on dishes, but she's learning.)  I already had a roast in the crock pot, so all that needed preparing was a salad and canned biscuits being warmed up in the oven.  David did both of these on his own while I only chopped the sweet pepper for the salad.  Lizzy did all the dishes, and Joy set the table.

But then the fighting over dinner cleanup ensued.  Lizzy had this elaborate plan where the table setter swept the floor and the dinner prep person cleared the table.  I let that one go for a while until I actually thought about it--that is completely unfair as setting the table and sweeping are the two easiest jobs!  Nope.  Not going to work.  So then I changed it where the table setter was in charge of clearing and the dinner prepper got the sweeping job.  Which worked okay.  But it led to "that's not my job so I'm not going to help" and other selfish attitudes that I didn't like.

My most recent change that has helped to improve the selfishness bug is that both the table setter and the dinner prepper BOTH help clear the table until it's done, and then the table setter washes the table and the dinner prepper sweeps the floor as their final job.  This generally results in all three kids working together and doing more than is "required."  I am happy with the way things are going now.

In the beginning, training my kids to do dishes and help make dinner was a real chore on my part.  I had to stand right over them, instructing them on every minute detail of cooking and dish washing, which made the task take even longer.  But all that training paid off because now I can walk away and the older two can handle almost all of it on their own.  Kid training is definitely worth it in the long run.

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