We get a lot of comments, both good and bad, about how much stuff we make our oldest kid do. Ze, for example, makes hir own lunch for school, has a list of household chores to do (mostly limited only by height restrictions), and is in charge of remembering things like homework and recurring special things like pizza money on pizza day or that Wednesday is special uniform day.
It’s expecting a lot of a 7 year old (and even more of a 6 or 5 year old, which DC1 once was!) But it’s something we need to do to keep our household running in the absence of a full-time live-in housekeeper. As full-time working adults with high-level jobs and a 2 year old we just don’t have that kind of mental load. And DC1 is capable and it isn’t usually that big a deal when we all forget things.
Except occasionally DC1 forgets to wear the special uniform 3 weeks in a row and we get an email noting that if there’s a fourth time, then demerits will follow. We’re not sure what demerits are going to do, but they sure sound scary. Or DC1 will forget chores or homework and blissfully spend the evening playing board-games with DH, only remembering long after bedtime or the next morning that there’s an assignment due.
So here’s what we do that works.
Uniform, pizza money, and school holidays/fairs are all put on DC1’s wall calendar. Each day at bedtime ze crosses off the day and sees what is listed for the next day. If it’s the special uniform, ze takes it out of the closet and hangs it on hir dresser knob. If it’s pizza money, ze demands it from DH and puts it in hir back pack. If it’s a holiday, then we’re reminded.
For that long list of chores, during one of DH’s business trips I made DC1 make a full checklist of all the chores ze has to do each night. Homework (or workbooks on weekends), piano practicing, making lunch for the next day (if applicable), putting away the clean silverware, loading the dishwasher, feeding the kittens, helping fold laundry (if applicable). (See, we’re tyrants! DC1 never gets to do anything fun.) Once all of those chores are done, DC1 is free to spend hir time as ze wishes on weekends, and can do anything except video games on weekdays (since even the checklist couldn’t help DC1 remember hir chores if video games are an option).
Of course, it’s not enough to do the homework or make the lunch. Those items also have to make it into the backpack. So there’s a new rule that they have to go into the backpack as soon as they’re done. They’re not allowed to sit out on desk or counter where they can be forgotten and then I have to turn back to get them on the way to school and everybody is late. Because I hate that.
So… calendar, checklist, and automation. That’s how we keep things together with DC1 during the week and that’s how we’re able to give DC1 so many responsibilities.
Related: financial diffraction talks about using her calendar to keep track of money
How do you and yours get out the door in the morning every day of the week? Any tips?