We are a family of 7. Together we make a lot of washing, a lot of dust and we all use everything around us.
When the girls were little, Peach and I would spend Saturday mornings cleaning. As they have got older, we have slowly asked them to help around the house. It started with tasks such as make your bed, open your curtains and turn your lights off. We felt that we made the tasks as age appropriate as we could. Our biological girls have been asked to help us from a young age, however our foster daughter is new to this.
Our hope is that the girls learn to be responsible for their home and responsible for what’s around them.
At first we wrote a list of chores that we felt were age appropriate and would help to keep weekly jobs around the house to a minimum and therefore give Peach and I more time to spend with the girls at the weekend. Peach and I obviously still have jobs around the house and outside the house; just asked for more help with the day to day tasks.
When our eldest daughter moved in, this was all new to her and we were keen to include her as part of the family. We wrote a list of 25 jobs (chores) that the girls could pick 5 from. This included feed the animals, open the lounge curtains, fill water bottles, put the cutlery out for dinner and also bigger tasks like hoover the lounge. The girls agreed what they would be happy to do and I made a ‘Chores list’. As part of our fostering requirements, our eldest has to be given pocket money. We have never given pocket money before as we are used to buying the girls something if they ask for it and if we have the money. So we set a new precedent that the girls would get pocket money for their chores.
This worked for a couple of weeks and then our eldest stopped doing it, as she knew that we had to give her pocket money. So we changed it to earning pocket money for completing chores, and being charged by someone if they had to do your chore for you. That caused arguments and battles, as the girls raced to do another persons easier chore instead of doing their own.
This created animosity and spite, so I had to think how I could change it again. I created additional chores that the girls could earn extra pocket money for. This worked for a short time but I felt uncomfortable knowing that the girls had got to the point where they were doing chores for money and not because they were being responsible for their home.
At the time, I was listening to The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read and your children will thank you for by Philippa Perry. In her book she discusses the negative associations of the word chore and how even asking a child to do a chore creates negative feelings and does not encourage children to be responsible for their home.
Having listened to her book and agreeing with the negative word association, I changed our chores to family contributions and set a weekly family shared moment of going out for breakfast together. The list of contributions was made and the girls have to put their initials beside the contributions that they do. We agreed that the girls are asked to complete double their age of contributions i.e. DM is 12 she does 24. That may sound a lot, but 24 over 7 days is a little over 3 contributions a day. Whether the girls complete or don’t complete their contributions, the family go for breakfast together and get their pocket money. The only difference is that if the girls have done all of their contributions to a happy home, the family will pay for their breakfast. However if they have not done all of their contributions, they use their pocket money to pay for their own breakfast.
We have tried many places to have our family breakfast, we have been MacDonalds, The Harvester, Sainsbury’s Cafe, Morrison’s Cafe and a local garden centre cafe. Today’s breakfast was at The Marina, a Brewer’s Fayre; which has now become our family favourite. For £23 all seven of us had an all you can eat buffet and unlimited drinks; we had a choice of cooked breakfast, cereals, toast, pastries, fruit, tea, coffee, fruit juices, pancakes and muffins. It was amazing!! By far our best value and best choices.
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