Family House Cleaning Party

One of the principles behind Positive Discipline is that behavior is motivated by the human need for belonging and significance.  Humans get a sense of belonging through connecting with others and exploring their roles within a group.  Significance comes when people feel capable and believe that what they do has meaning.  There are many ways to offer experiences that meet these needs for our kids.  One of the things we do as a family is Family Work.

We don't talk about chores at our house - chores just has a negative vibe to it - I mean, when something is a "chore" its generally thought of as something you need to live through...  We do, however, talk about Family Work.  Family Work is the jobs we all have around the house.  Family Work is important because it focuses on what we need to do to keep our shared space tidy for each other to live in.  Family Work is decided and modified during weekly Family Meetings.  Family Work is not something that my husband and I command our kids to do, instead we have conversations involving the whole family about what needs to get done and how to make it work for everyone.

Before the summer rolled around we had started to do Saturday morning house cleaning with the kids.  I would make a list of all the work that needed to happen and we would put on music and cross things off as we went.  For some reason, I would always insist the kids do their rooms first - which would often leave them feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, prompting me to go in and "help" while at the same time trying to stay calm and not think about all the work I could be doing...  We all felt irritated and defeated by the time the house was clean - not what I was going for.

So, at a Family Meeting a few weeks ago, I brought up that I would like to start doing the weekend house cleaning again and would like help from everyone...  I said, "I would like to do it Saturday so that we just get it done, but no one else is into that.  Which day would be best for you guys?"  Notice that whether or not it happened wasn't up for discussion, instead, I was asking for their help in deciding when it would happen.

The kids decided that Sunday was a better day - we were too busy on Saturdays and they just wanted to play when we got home from soccer or volleyball games...  Ok, I could live with that.

So this past Sunday I taped a big poster to our sliding glass door and wrote Family House Cleaning Party on the top in big block letters.  I then called the family down.  Instead of having everything written out on the poster, I asked the kids what we needed to do.  They would choose a color marker and took turns writing on the poster,  It was a bit of a process, but I remembered that I needed the kids to feel as though they were a part of it (belonging) and that their contributions were helpful and meaningful (significance).

This is what we ended up with:

I let go of how I thought the clean up should go.  We turned on One Direction Radio on Pandora (again, looking for buy in and keeping it fun) and got to work.  Ian (my six year old), wanted to start with sweeping the downstairs.  I was actually quite shocked by this because he never is willing to sweep.  He did the best job he could and then his sister insisted on swiffering the area he swept - GREAT!!!!  The downstairs hardwood was clean as could be, and the kids took such pride in crossing off the things they dd...  They continued to carry on and work on what they suggested needed to be done.

These are the epiphanies I had from this experience:
1.  Kids have to be involved in the planning, then they have ownership and buy in to what needs to be accomplished.
2.  The kids won't move at my pace, so I need to celebrate that they are contributing and not get hung up on wanting them to do it the way I do it.
3.  My attitude sets the tone, when I stay positive and do a lot of encouraging everyone is motivated to get the work done.
4.  Ben and I will still be doing most of the work, but who cares???  My kids are engaged in help to do a full house clean up - celebrate!

This week we are working on a Family Work chart that will allow the kids to pick one contribution to do each day after school.  During our last Family Meeting we brainstormed some things that could go on the list.  We will see how that pans out...  I'll be sure to let you know!