I have decided to combine the Bedtime (from last week) and Chores topics because for me, they have a common theme: My husband is often not here and not helping, so I am (attempting to) handle it alone.
Ahh, I remember the days so fondly now when bedtime was 8pm and all children actually went to bed near that time. That seems like an impossible fantasy now.
We eat dinner on the late side--7pm or later, due to the schedules. Even if we don't wait for someone to eat, the food isn't ready sooner because the cook has been driving around during dinner prep time. After dinner everyone has a chore and is supposed to pack backpacks, etc. (the "list" described in the organization post), get on pjs,and brush teeth. So imagine me driving around (an average of 3 trips per night if Daryl isn't available, sometimes as many as 6!), making dinner, sitting down and eating dinner wiith kids, doing baths and toothbrushing and pajamas, helping with homework, reviewing school paperwork, supervising dinner chores, and reading aloud without any adult assistance. I'm not complaining, just trying to describe it accurately so that it is understood that I can't do it all speedily and efficiently and perfectly.
After dinner chores and "list" they listen to me read a chapter of a book (ideally at 8:30pm or so, but usually I don't start reading until 9pm) and go to bed. If only it were so simple...
Little A. does go to bed between 8 and 8:30pm. She is not old enough to complain, manuever or scheme, however. She still wakes up 2-4x a night to nurse. She is in a crib in a room adjoining ours (like a suite). I have always loved the idea of a family bed but have never done it, mostly because I am a "princess and the pea" type who can't sleep while being kicked, etc. by a toddler.
K., who is 2.5, goes to bed at 8pm (or even before) if he hasn't had a nap. Most days he does nap, however, and he goes to bed between 9 and 9:30pm. He is fixated on having Mommy do everything for him, so Daddy can't put on his pjs or read him a book. Since A. wants only me as well, and usually at least one other person has a problem only I can solve, this slows down the entire bedtime process, because, amazing and special as I am, I can really only do one thing at a time. After he gets his pjs on, I read him 2 books, nurse him a little bit, and then his older sister tucks him in, first singing him Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Only she can do this, in his opinion. We refer to it as "twinkling" him.
T., who is 5, but in afternoon kindergarten, stays up too late--till 9:30 or later, but she sleeps in until 9am or sometimes later. She puts on her own pjs after many reminders and either listens to me read a chapter book or I read her a picture book. She resists getting ready for bed until everyone else does.
As a point of reference for bedtimes, the elementary school bunch has to get up at 7:30am to catch an 8:30 bus.
I. who is 8, also needs a LOT of prodding. She does her dinner chore SO slowly, stops so many times for distractions and must be reminded/threatened a LOT. By the time she gets ready for bed it is at least 9pm, usually around 9:30, occasionally as late as 10pm.
L., who is 10, is the best about getting ready for bed. He does his dinner chore fairly speedily, and then goes out with J. to feed his rabbit, followed by the "list" and getting ready. Then he goes to bed, by 9:30pm at the latest.
The oldest 2, described below, need to get up around 6:30am to catch a 7:10am bus.
J. is the worst. She takes an astonishing amount of time to get ready for bed, visiting the bathroom at least 3 times. Often she still has homework to complete after dinner, her dinner chore, showering, the "list" and a variety of obsessive/compulsive activities she must complete before retiring, like lotioning her hands, making sure the dog has gone out and come back in, bidding Daryl and I goodnight several times, etc. It is usually 10:30 before she gets to bed, and she needs more sleep than she gets.
D. is very self-regulating and goes to bed when tired, after completing his chores and homework. He may go to bed early if he is tired, or stay up and watch a sports event on TV for a while. He never has trouble getting up on time and is never late.
The dinner chores rotate weekly and are just written on a sheet of paper. Any chore that needs to be done more than once a day is done each time by the same person. Every Sunday I cross out the names and bump everyone up the chore list.
The 5 year old's chores do not rotate--she has the same chores every week: Unload the dishwasher and set the dinner table. If it needs to be unloaded more than once, then she does it more than once. Any dishes she can't reach to put away, she leaves in the dishwasher and the loader will put them away.
The other sets of chores are as follows:
2) Clear and wipe table and counters.
3) Load dishwasher.
Watch/entertain K. and A. during dinner prep.
4) Cooks Helper.
Take out trash and recycling.
If someone is not home when a job needs to be done, I usually do it. Some jobs can wait until they get home, like clearing and wiping the table or sweeping.
Everyone is supposed to keep their own room clean (usually means rooms are messy).
We all work together at picking up the house.
I do all the laundry, and once upon a time, we had a rule that boys brought down their laundry on Monday, girls on Wednesday, and on Friday I did my laundry. No one ever actually brought down their laundry on the appointed day, however, so now they just bring it down when they need clean clothes. Frequently this means they don't have clean clothes, or not the ones they want, because they haven't brought down a hamper in 2 weeks. I do not stay up late doing laundry on these occasions (when they bring the hamper down at 9pm and want clean clothes for tomorrow!) but I have taught the 2 eldest to do their own if they need to.
And my dirty little secret...I have someone clean for me. She vacuums, dusts, does bathrooms, kitchen. She does not clean kids' rooms if they are messy. She doesn't do laundry or dishes or pick up toys, although she will push things out of the way!
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