Changing of the chores (Part 3)

I find boys and chores to be a difficult combination.

Is it just my boys, or do most boys get distracted from their chores? Arggh.

I feel like I have to remind them to stay on task every forty seconds. (Yes, I tend to exaggerate, but I don't even know that that's an exaggeration, some days.)

It's not that they're trying to shirk responsibility, it's just that they can so easily forget that they were even doing their chore, and begin distractedly playing some imaginary game or something.

When it comes to tidying the living room, that problem is magnified. Our living room is essentially our family room and play room in addition to being the living room, so we tidy it three times a day.

While my girls have the instinctive ability to see things, it seems my boys don't actually have that ability.

They'll walk past something-lying-on-the-floor-that-needs-to-be-put-away twelve times and simply wander around a whole lot, getting nothing done. It is truly painful to watch. They stay in the living room, but in general, a whole lot of wandering (off to play or climb or wrestle) seems to occur from both boys while Ella does the actual tidying.

I love my boys and I'm not trying to say they're daft, I'm just saying it's not their gift.

One day I had the brilliant idea (so clearly it came from the Lord) to make a game of it, so I told them we were going to pretend that I was the sergeant and they were the soldiers. I sat on the couch and directed them with my voice to a particular item, and told them exactly where to put it. And it WORKED!

That gave me the idea to make this a regular thing. So now when the kids tidy the living room, there is one "Caller" and two "Cleaners". The Caller gets to instruct, politely, the two Cleaners. And the Cleaners get to clean, cheerfully and quickly. We've been doing this for weeks and it is taking FAR less time to get this living room tidy. We rotate out the role of Caller, so that everyone gets their chance to be the "boss". And I have reminded the kids (and they now remind one another), that a good Leader (Caller) is also a good helper. (Ie: lend a helping hand, even if you are Caller for the day.)

Hooray for creative solutions!


  1. First off... it's not just your boys. I have one over here too. (raising hand) Amy says it's because their worlds are too loud. ;-)

    Steele is actually very good at organizing when he is focused on it. He's a little type A when it comes to that kind of stuff. It's getting him focused that's the challenge. So they other day we did just about the same thing you did at your house. Except ours was kind of Star Wars-y. I had no idea what I was talking about - but it worked.

  2. Oh I am SO glad to hear there are more boys like this! I tell myself they are not trying to disobey, they just can't stay focused...although I still become frustrated and the job still needs to be done! I like this game and my boys do love to be soldiers...we'll have to give it a try!

  3. girl can join all of your boys! :) She use to be so great at it...but now oh my. Maybe we'll play "house" and get the chores done. She does like to "pretend you're my mom and..." Yes, I really am her mom it cracks me up everytime we "pretend" this way.

  4. so great and creative!!!! good job stacy!

  5. Cutzi,
    I had a feeling it was Boys In General. :) I always think if I can climb into their world for a second (hence, the game) I might reach them! :)

    mommy barnhart,
    I still get frustrated, too. More often than not, I'm raising my voice and exasperated with them about it. Ugh.

    We've "pretended" I was the mommy at our house, too! (I always think that's funny!)

    Thank you!

  6. I love this idea, Stacy!

    And at my house, it's everyone, regardless of gender who struggles in this area at times. They are all getting better as they grow but it's always more fun to clean with a game!

    My not so great attempts at making a game to clean are these lame ways:

    "I'm going to sit here and close my eyes and when I open them everything will be clean! Ready, Go!"

    "I'll count (from the other end of the house while I'm changing a diaper) and we'll see how long it takes you guys to get the family room picked up!"

    Or even worse: "When this timer goes off (by which I mean "when I say "Beep" like the oven timer") you should be all finished! Yay! Go!"

    None of those are near as fun or effective as the Caller/Cleaner system sounds like it is at your house!

    Good work, Rensink kids!!

  7. You forgot to mention the best part of the Caller/Cleaners program ... when Adelia gets to be the caller. It is her natural gifting, after all, to shout out orders to her older siblings.


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