Well the first week of school is over and I am back. I decided to use the time wisely and give the house a good scrub down. I sort of succeeded. While I was down on my hands and knees scrubbing I came up with an idea I think will help the kids (and maybe even Zach) become more autonomous in their chores. I call it The Cleaning Book.
For each room there will be two pages, one page with an 8x10 photo of the room cleaned the way I want it to look when chores are done, and on the other a laminated checklist.
The photo is meant to be a visual aid, like one of those "What's Wrong With This Picture?" books. They can look at the photo and look at their room and notice, "hey, there's a sock on my floor" or "My shoes are in the living room" and fix it to look like the picture. The purpose here is not to be rigid, but to give them clear expectations. My parents changed their idea of what "clean enough" looked like frequently and I found that frustrating. By giving them a visual idea of what we'd like the room to look like I hope to avoid that kind of frustration and teach them to notice when things need to be cleaned.
The checklist is an idea borrowed from the years I spent working in coffee shops. We always had a laminated checklist of chores for each person that could be checked off with a dry erase marker as we went along. I loved this. I get a sense of satisfaction from checking something off a list, and again, it provides clear direction. It also aids in remembering what has been accomplished already and what is still left to be done. Right now, while they are little, we'll go over the checklist with them, but as they get older and learn to read, they can check the list off without help from us.
It sounds a little obsessive, I know, but it's really not meant to be. It's more of a guide than a command. Zach even thinks it will be helpful for him.