Friday, February 24, 2012

The Winter of Learning

Esther has gotten so used to her breathing treatments
(she's on her third upper respiratory infection for the winter)
that she'll hold it to her face most of the time!
It has been a while since I have been able to blog, and there is good reason!  This winter we have suffered more illness than in any other year I can remember.  I am just not getting over another sinus infection (I had one in Oct/Nov/Dec for 7 weeks) but this time it also included bronchitis.  This round has already lasted nearly 7 weeks and I'm still not completely over it.  Much of this  time my head was just too foggy to think clearly enough to blog, and the rest of the time was taken up with caring for my sick kids, as I was not the only one sick, in fact, everyone in the family has gotten at least 1 of the 3 colds that has ran through the family since the beginning of December!

This has been a huge test for all of us - to get the essentials of daily life in a large family accomplished even with a diminished task force, and to do it all with little or no help from me (I am also on activity limitations due to my pregnancy/hypertension).  Overall it has gone very well and the kids are a learning new chores and Dayton and Elizabeth have graduated to doing chores that they never had before.  While the work is not always what I would call "properly completed" it is manageable and has worked sufficiently during our illnesses - so well that I can truly say that our home has been running smoother that at any other time that I have been under the weather, and maybe even better than when I'm not!

Severely limited electronics leads to creative play!

My biggest struggle has been with being so limited in what I can do, and being too sick to do it even if I wasn't limited!  But I know that nothing that happens in my life is without purpose, and this trial is directly from the loving hand of my heavenly Father and it's for my good and His glory.  So I have been pondering what He is trying to teach me that I have not been learning (second long lasting sinus infection in one winter...).  I can not read God's mind, but I did have the thought that maybe God brought this trial into my life right now to make it easier for me to rest under the restrictions that my doctor has placed on me - if I'm too sick to do anything, it doesn't bother me nearly as much that I can't do them!  I can also see that this time has been very good for my children - they are learning to serve!  They are so helpful when I need something done for me and I rarely get a negative response - some of them will even do what I ask when they've heard me ask other for help!  This is also helping my older girls to learn to take more responsibility on a daily basis and the chores that I have for them are definitely teaching them and preparing them to be able to manage their own homes someday!
I can knit even when I'm sick - here's 1 of the matching
hat/booties sets that I have finished!

I have had several friends ask how we are doing chores now - we did a huge change in how we are doing chores starting at the first of the year.  So here's a rundown of how we have delegated chores:

This is the first ever sock that I knitted -
This fits Esther and I'm making matching ones
for Carese now!
The three oldest girls rotate through having complete responsibility for the following three chores - dishes, cooking and laundry.

The three boys (12, 10 and 8) are responsible for keeping portions of the house tidy/clean and we divided it up as follows - living room, school room, kitchen + bathrooms.

Elizabeth is responsible for the stairs and hallway.  And Esther is the little helper that is shared as she is willing to help, and the kids love to have her help them!

I have set up daily chores, which are done every morning before school, 4 o'clock chores which is basically tidying up before their daddy comes home.  They also have weekly chores, mostly done on Saturday, which are a more in depth tidying/cleaning of the rooms they have or work in.  And we also have monthly chores which are done on the first Saturday of the month.

Here's the complete list for each "jurisdiction"

Jurisdiction - Dishes
Load Dishwasher
Wash Big Dishes
Wipe dishes Counter
Clean Sinks
Put away ALL clean dishes
Wipe/Set/Clear Table
chairs cleaned as needed
keep stock of dishwashing detergents

switch drying towel
scrub sink/back splash
clean window & sill

1st Saturday
wipe out dish cupboards
clean cupboard under sink

Jurisdiction - Laundry
Sort all Dirty Clothes
Sort all Clean clothes
give to person who owns them
sweep floor
clean sink
keep stock of laundry detergents

Clear counter
organize hooks
tidy cleaning closet

1st Saturday
wash window/wipe off top of
clear out behind w/d

Jurisdiction -Meals
Prepare all meals
plan menu with Mom
clear/wipe all counters after every meal
put away leftovers (use them for meals)
clean 1 appliance/day
keep list of items needed to purchase

clean stovetop
wipe out bread cupboard

1st Saturday
clean inside fridge
clean inside microwaves

Jurisdiction - Kitchen/Bathrooms
sweep all floors
mop kitchen everyday
counters/sinks cleared daily
toilet paper stocked/available
hand towels on racks everyday
Keep stock of toilet paper/cleaning supplies

clean 1 bathroom

1st Saturday
clean under sinks/behind mirrors
wash cabinet doors (bathrooms too)
wash doors/light switches

Jurisdiction – Livingroom
floors swept
tables cleared
couches/chairs cleared
pillows/blankets in place

damp mop as needed
sweep off couches
wipe livingroom tables

1st Saturday
wash windows/doors/light switches

Jurisdiction - Schoolroom
sweep floor
tables tidy/clear
bookshelves tidy
coat closet neat
chairs at desks
wipe play table

1st Saturday
wash windows/doors/light switches

Jurisdiction - Stairs/Hallway
clear everything
banister cleared

clean banister
vacuum all carpet
1st Saturday
doors/light switches cleaned

In our daily routine the children are also responsible for making their beds, tidying their bedrooms and having a quite time before they come down to breakfast.  We also have a buddy system, where the older girls are assigned a little one to help with chores and other things like getting ready for church and helping them get their food at meals.

We also have incentives!  If they accomplish all that was required of them in a given week, they can get "Saturday Candy".  We purchase the packages of small candy bars (8/$1) and we get enough that each child gets three of these miniature candy bars.  Also, if they do their chores the best for their group they get to choose which chore they get next (we switch once a month) with the option of keeping their current chores.  And, if they have done a very poor job on the chores, they get to keep their chores until they learn to do them right!

So there you have it.  I hope that this information is helpful to someone.

And lastly,  I must say that during our illnesses, we have not accomplished everything on these lists, but stuck to the essentials.  Now that I'm recovering and none of the children are sick, I am hopeful that over the next week we can go through the lists and recover lost ground!

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