Thursday, 1 September 2011

chore time

What do I think of when September starts? Chore time. Routines. Organizing ourselves. Starting over again.

When I was growing up, Saturday was chore day. Wake up, do our chores (boys outside to burn garbage and chop wood; girls inside to vacuum and dust), and then have some free time after everything was done. We lived on a farm, so there was always lots to do.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up with two days of rest: Saturday AND Sunday.

So Saturdays at our house now can be something of a mixed bag: me with a list of things I'd like to get done, and him with dreams for some weekend R and R.

Some friends sang a song at our wedding, and I don't remember all of the words, but the idea was something like this: Rebecca would help Derek work, work, work, and Derek would help Rebecca play, play, play. At the time, I thought: really?!? What's that all about?? I can play! I don't need any help in that area! But I was very wrong. Those friends were mighty insightful, and this tension has come up again and again: me wanting to be very productive, him wanting to rest and relax. And we really do need both. But it makes for some messy Saturdays.

I have this dream of everyone in our household taking on some of the household chores. Because here's the thing: some days I get tired of feeling like the maid.

I admire Old Order Mennonites, who seem to have a day for every chore. Monday is laundry day, and if you drive in the country, you can see their lines full on a Monday morning. And I love how Sunday is visiting day, with baked goods made during the week to prepare to host.

In the book The Help by Kathryn Stockett, one maid described her daily chores:

Monday: oil up the furniture [what does this even MEAN?]
Tuesday: wash and iron the damn sheets [I'm quoting here]
Wednesday: scrubbing the bathtub
Thursday: polishing floors, sucking rugs [???]
Friday: heavy cooking for the weekend and what-have-you
Every day: mopping, washing clothes, ironing shirts [???]
Silver and windows: as needed

Inspired by this book, I thought I should buy some silver polish for my tarnished toe ring. Then I'd really feel like I'm doing some deep cleaning. I found this little online tidbit that I'll pass on to you: take a bowl, put aluminum foil inside, put your silver in, sprinkle some baking soda on top, then pour boiling water over it. Watch the magic. It works for bigger silver pieces too. Just FYI.

I resist structure, but I think that this fall I'll be introducing THE CHART. I talked about this to my daughters, and they quickly got on it, crafting their own charts for family sign-up.

The idea is that everyone will sign up for something (at least one thing) each day. Doesn't have to be big, but it gives all of us the sense that each person is contributing.

Here is Eden's version:

Sunday: Do laundry (Rebecca)
Monday: VBS (Eden) [side note: this chart was made during our church's Vacation Bible School]
Tuesday: Play with Fudgie [our guinea pig]
Wednesday: Bake (Eden and Rebecca)
Thursday: Vacuuming
Friday: Clean up (Eden)
Saturday: Potty (Eden)

Zoe's version had everyday things to sign up for: setting table, clearing table, unloading dishwasher, help with supper prep. Then once a week things were: vacuum, bathrooms, dust, mow the lawn. She left spaces under each one for people to sign up.

my keen bathroom cleaner:
they battle over who gets to clean the bathroom!
I have a feeling that the 2 of them will keep on top of things better than I ever have, which is a good thing. Our house is finally in good, capable hands.

How do you do chores at your house?

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