For the past 6 months we have had 4 teens ages 17 to 19 living with us. So our little family of 3 has been a big family of 7 all winter. The kids are each from different states: Montana, Utah, Michigan and Washington – all with one thing in common – the pursuit of excellence through ski racing. They come out to ski for Mission Ridge Ski Team while attending the high school or college here in Wenatchee, WA to pursue their dreams.
We have had athletes housing with us every winter for 9 years now – upwards of 50 kids have come through. They become family. We have had kids go onto the U.S. Ski Team, race World Cup, win National Titles and countless podiums at all levels of the sport. They have also gone onto Ivy League schools and many fantastic colleges right out of our house. It is a joy to watch these kids grow into the individuals they have set out to become.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of everyday life with a big family and busy schedules. People ask me all the time – how do you make that work? All those kids coming and going and how do you stand it?
The answer boils down to old fashioned CHORES.
In a big family or any family if everyone pulls their weight – things go much smoother and people are much happier.
So here are some ideas to apply with your family.
- Make a chores list– make sure it is on the same day and time every week – we do every Monday morning. Make a list of everything that needs to get done and each member of the family can put their name on a line or multiple lines until everything is assigned. Here are some of our line items – vacuuming floor 1, 2 & 3, cleaning the boys & girls bathrooms, sweeping stairs, tiding the yard, wiping all surfaces and cleaning the kitchen. The nice thing about making the list each week is that things may change that need to be done so you can update as needed. When everyone pitches in – we have the whole house cleaned up in 1 hour. Then if something needs to be touched up during the week you can assign that out on the spot but at least the lions share is done.
- Dinner Clean-up: I make dinner or Ryan makes dinner almost every night so the kids are in charge of setting the table, making the salad and doing kitchen clean up afterwards. They pick a new team to do it each night – it is decided at the end of each dinner.
- Garbage Duty: We all have a garbage day – pick a family member to be in charge to get it out the night before. There’s nothing worse than missing garbage day. Of course you will most likely need to remind someone that it is their garbage day because it’s not a favorite chore!
- Yard clean up:This goes a heck of a lot faster if you have more hands. This is not a normal part of house cleaning so I paid each athlete a set hourly rate to get it done and they did a great job. Sure feels good to get spring clean-up off the list.
Tips to remember: They may not do the perfect job the first time so give constructive criticism to allow them to lean to do it correctly. Be kind but hold them accountable as these are life skills and the kids gain pride from being a contributing member of the family – plus, their future spouse will thank you. You may need to remind them to do it but make sure to have set times, days and who is assigned to the item so they will have accountability for the chore. Family meetings are a must to get this all started, lay out the ground rules and details – remember kids want to please and need to have expectations to meet. Set the bar high and they rise to the occasion.
Side Note on Allowances $$$ – I have a friend who lives in Seattle and she is a stay-at-home mom now but before kids she worked in sales for commission. Her kids can EARN their allowance based on a set of chores that have values assigned to them. For example making your bed EVERY day all week is $2, taking out the trash is $2 and the list goes on – the total for the week is $10 if all tasks are completed. If they do not do the chore they do not get the commission – very simple. If they would like extra money that week they can come to mom and she will see if she needs anything done. Like vacuuming out the car is an extra $5 or cleaning up the dog poop every day is an extra $5. Her kids have not missed earning their full commission since she started the program years ago.
Remember moms – you CAN do it all – but you SHOULDN’T. Divide up the work so YOU get a break too – plus you are teaching your kids life skills. Doing it all does not help your kids in the long run. Oh and for easy clean up, try out one of my favorite re-usable cleaning cloths.
Until Next Time,
West Coast Shorter Wife