This one is always tricky. Kids just wanna play. They need to play but this momma needs a clean house once in a while too. Besides, have you stepped on a lego piece lately? OUCH! THEY HURT!!
So here are the rules of our house:
Each boy has to clean their room well enough to be vacuumed each day. I don't vacuum this often but that is a way they can tell if it will pass inspection.
Then they each have another room assignment. For now it works that there are 3 main rooms and 3 boys old enough for chores. The kitchen, bathroom and living room. I let them decide how many days to have each assignment and how to rotate. They decided to rotate each day. So in addition to cleaning their rooms they have to clean one of the other rooms. Each chore has to pass moms inspection before they can play. I am stricter with the older ones. Generally they have to pick up toys, load and unload the dishwasher, wipe counter tops down and wipe the mirror down. I keep clorox wipes under the bathroom sink as well as wipes for the mirror. These tend to get pricey but for me it's worth it. They boys learn to clean and in return are more careful about the messes they make. SCORE! for mom!
The toilet is always a problem area with boys but they are also responsible for wiping that down and around the floor at the base of the toilet. I am surprised at how much more careful they are in the bathroom when they have to clean the mess up.
We have had days of no playing with friends because they decided to fight the system sorta speak. They have to get their chores done to go play. If they don't they don't play. Very seldom is this rule broken. So, if they mess around they get to hear all the other kids playing while they are still stuck inside. UGH! Since this is a daily routine it doesn't usually take too long to get things picked up, beds made and clothes put away.
The rule is that if your friends leave a mess you have to clean it up. This has helped the boys be more responsible and speak up for themselves too. They don't like having to clean up all the legos by themselves. Josh had problems with this and no one cleaning up before leaving so he made his room off limits for a while. I think they learn to appreciate what they have and to take care of things better.
I live by the motto "A place for everything and everything in it's place". I try to organize the boys rooms to make clean up as easy as possible. They have different bins for sets of toys; legos, action heros, balls, etc. Plus each one has a bookshelf in their room. Once in a while I will go in and do a mom cleaning where I just organize books and what not. For the most part this works and they are able to control their own rooms.
Of course all this said, I am not above bribery at all. When we were (read "mom was") trying to unpack I gave them 15 minute challenges. Boys love challenges, especially when the reward is food! Mom supervised the cleaning and organizing and general unpacking of the bedrooms. When the timer went off I got to decide who had helped and cleaned the most with the best attitude. Josh can get the most done but he is 10 and doesn't always like the extra work. So with that I had to add about having a good attitude. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place got 1, 2, or 3 pieces of parade candy respectively. I managed to get 1 1/2 hours work out of them; above their regular chores! WHOO HOO! Then I sent them outside to run off the sugar energy.
We have also done reward charts. They got stars throughout the week based on overall attitude, behavior, and getting their chores etc done. Each Saturday night is family pizza night. We make pizza and watch a movie. They get "concessions" based on their stars. Some weeks they have had so many they couldn't use them all. Other weeks they had only 1 star. We even had a week where they had lost all their stars for bad behavior. That wasn't a very fun movie night.
Moving to a new area I have often said, "if we get ..... done then we can go ....". The boys know that I will follow through with what I say. If it's done- we go; if not- we don't. Simple and predictable.
Sometimes even I have been disappointed to not be able to go but that is how it is and the boys learn this quick.
Mostly, I make a point to tell them how much their help means. At dinner I unload to dad the days events and what each boy did. Just another chance to be in the spotlight. Perhaps I am trying to "kill them with kindness" but I think it all combined is working. Hopefully I don't have to punish them too often for naughty behavior.
What about at your house? Share your tips with me!