Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Keeping it Fair Between Siblings

 If you have more than one child, you know the stress of trying to balance. Everything has to be FAIR. 

"I emptied the dishwasher last time!"

"I always have to do the laundry!"

"She gets to pick every time!"


This is one of the challenges of having kids who are close in age and have the same ability to do chores. In our house, we have three types of responsibility. 

Personal responsibilities are things you are always responsible for and are never a job for mom or your sister. Clean up your own dishes, tidy your room and belongings, make your bed, put your laundry away. That sort of thing.

Family responsibilities are the chores the girls are responsible for that benefit the family. They are responsible for emptying the dishwasher, cleaning their bathroom, and doing part of the laundry. These jobs, with the exception of the bathroom, happen multiple times a week. These jobs are not tied to their allowance.

Bonus responsibilities are any other chores I assign as I'm cleaning. They usually come with a "bonus" of some kind, although not always. Sometimes I offer them as an option (that's when the bonus comes in) and sometimes I give them as assignments.

The girls are great (ok, usually fine) with their personal responsibilities and bonus responsibilities. The trouble came with the family jobs. We tried switching off, but no one could ever remember whose turn it was. There was a lot of "you owe me a dishwasher", but it usually ended up with me getting really annoyed and making comments about how we are supposed to be a family that works together! We needed to figure out some sort of system, but we've done enough chore charts to know that wasn't the answer.

The other factor of fair is decision making. (I promise, these things connect. Bear with me). We'd be out after art class, or co-op, or dance, and we'd all be starving so I'd agree we could stop to get lunch. Then came the bargaining and arguing over where to stop. I have one picky eater and one foodie. We usually ended up defaulting to Ms. Picky, which really annoyed Mlle. Foodie. Not only was it unfair, but she was stuck with chicken nuggets - again. Choosing dessert, choosing what movie to watch, choosing literally anything was always a battle of who got their way. 

So here's the solution to keeping it fair. If you have two or three children, this divides up beautifully. If you have more, you may need to get more creative.

Each girl gets three days every week. Those are their days. They are responsible for all the family chores on that day. If the dishwasher needs emptying, if the laundry needs to be moved to the dryer, or if I need the garbage cans returned, that's their job. No debating, no arguing, no bargaining.

But the payoff is that one their day, they make any decision that needs to be made. What we choose for an afternoon snack, what movie we watch, maybe even the meal. If there's a choice to be made and the kids get to make it, it's their choice if it's their day. No arguing. They are not required to solicit opinions and their sibling can't complain.

We've been doing this for two solid months now and I love it. LOVE IT. It is ridiculously simple. Madison chose Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and Reagan has Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. (Sundays are parent choice day). It has completely eliminated the "not fair" and the "always her turn" arguments. I promise you - it has ELIMINATED them. They've both completely embraced the system.

I won't pretend that I have two lovely ladies who adore chores and never argue, but this simple system has kept things fair and argument free for a few months now, and I'm calling it a win!

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