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omishev

schedule for preK-2nd (school, chores etc)

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This summer is the first time in a while that we have spent so much time at home. It has been wonderful and I think it is what we need. However, we spend a ridiculous amount of time picking up, doing chores and activities of daily living, I am concerned about being able to get our work done. My kids are 7, 5 and 3. They are so distracted it takes them forever to get ready, the norm is about 40 min when I am standing over them, nagging, helping. Since I got pregnant I have really been on them about cleaning up after themselves, and they will if I stay on them, but they are very slow moving and constantly distracted. I also spend a lot of time correcting behavior and having them practice how to treat each other nicely. I am constantly interrupted when I am trying to make or clean up from meals, get myself ready, pack to go somewhere, set up an activity etc so it takes me a lot longer than it should, leaving them in "free play" for longer thus allowing time for more messes to be made. I think all this is very important and am glad we have the time at home to work on these skills but am concerned about being able to get much done once we start homeschooling in full swing. We have been doing some this summer but it's hard to imagine getting more done without sacrificing outside time or rest time. Any advice on helping them stay focused and move quickly would be appreciated! Or just encouragement that it is worth all this effort!

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Sometimes, you have to let go in order to get.  I used music a lot in the early years: we work for 1 upbeat, fast tempo song, doing as much as we can. Pippi Longstocking's Cleaning Day song was a favorite, lol, same with some Disney music and Signing Time. After that, we stopped.  No more for the time being.  If need be, we did a "10 second tidy" or "10 Item pick up" where each person put away ten things or worked while I counted.  Then stop.   After meals I used to stick a caddy on the table with a little broom/dustpan, two spray bottles of water, and cleaning cloths.  The children (mine and my extras) were responsible for wiping down their personal areas and cleaning the spot under their chair while I worked on the counters/started the dishwasher.  In your case, I'd probably make sure each kid had their own caddy stocked with dollar store supplies to eliminate.
I found it was better to get it done in small, focused bites than it was for me to make sure it was complete, which was kind of how I approached K-2 anyway.  Short, focused lessons, and then pick up later after a rest if we needed.

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Well, it has been worth the effort for my family. However, I'm not sure if I have a lot of encouragement for you. I have 3, almost 4 teenagers, plus 2 younger ones and all of them still dawdle, especially the teens. I guess my advice to you is not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Sure, work on chores, treating each other well, playing nicely and not interrupting momma; just know that your kids are still at an age of needing intense supervision. 

Perhaps the other encouragement I can offer is that at your kids' ages schoolwork really needn't take more than a couple of hours. Your 7 yo is in, what, 2nd grade? So, maybe 2 hours tops. There were tons of threads several years ago about managing school kids, toddlers, infants, and the daily grind of cleaning and feeding said kids. Many of these had wonderful ideas. But HomeAgain had good advice -- short bursts of focused energy, then rest/play. 

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I put a timer on.  5 min intervals are best.  Long enough to get a job done and short enough that they hurry.  My kids make their beds when they turn 5.  The two oldest alternate making their little brother's bed.  They also are expected to pick up their PJs or other laundry, brush teeth and take dishes to sink.  Their other chores (helping empty dishwasher,  cleaning bathroom mirror, cleaning bathroom counter, organizing shoes in mud room, helping sort and put away laundry) are just assigned to whoever is available at the time though I try to alternate tasks so the same child isn't always doing it.

I did use a chart with stickers for awhile to get the kids accustomed to their chores.  It said things like "made my bed without being asked", and this did help them remember and get into a habit.  Habits take something like 3 weeks to get established so you just need consistency for that time, and it will get much easier.

I highly recommend the timer.  I also say things like "bring a bin and pickup for 5 min"  since small things like Legos are usually the issue, and a bin helps speed the process.  When their bin is full, I tell them to put all toys in their proper home and they are pretty good about it.  

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20 hours ago, parent said:

I put a timer on.  5 min intervals are best.  Long enough to get a job done and short enough that they hurry.  My kids make their beds when they turn 5.  The two oldest alternate making their little brother's bed.  They also are expected to pick up their PJs or other laundry, brush teeth and take dishes to sink.  Their other chores (helping empty dishwasher,  cleaning bathroom mirror, cleaning bathroom counter, organizing shoes in mud room, helping sort and put away laundry) are just assigned to whoever is available at the time though I try to alternate tasks so the same child isn't always doing it.

I did use a chart with stickers for awhile to get the kids accustomed to their chores.  It said things like "made my bed without being asked", and this did help them remember and get into a habit.  Habits take something like 3 weeks to get established so you just need consistency for that time, and it will get much easier.

I highly recommend the timer.  I also say things like "bring a bin and pickup for 5 min"  since small things like Legos are usually the issue, and a bin helps speed the process.  When their bin is full, I tell them to put all toys in their proper home and they are pretty good about it.  

Thanks! Do you have any punishment/reward system tied to the timer? My kids do not care one bit about timers if there is not a consequence for failing to do xyz before the timer beeps. It's not the kind of thing I want to spank for,  a time out just wastes more time and losing TV can only happen once a day. Looking for other ideas! Thanks!

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I always hated it when my kids were younger and people would tell me it’s just the stage of life I am in. There is a lot of truth in it though. These types of things get better as your kids get a little older. I had similar feelings when my oldest was 7, but now that my youngest is 7, things go a lot more smoothly. 

If kid clutter is a huge problem, I would temporarily put stuff away until it’s easy to manage. Our legos had to be put away for a couple months. I also find it easier if we have a pick up time pegged to another part of our schedule. Timers worked really well with two of my kids, I set it up as a try to beat the timer race and then see if we can do it faster the next time. I didn’t punish for not beating the timer but I did reward when they beat it.

My third is a dawdler.  I haven’t figured out a good way to motivate him not to dawdle with picking up his own messes. He is a great helper with other chores though. I find that with him he just can’t be sent off to cleanup on his own. He needs someone keeping him focused. Part of that is his personality and I think part is his age. 

I think it’s normal, especially when expecting to worry about the future, but I have found things generally fall into place over time. Good luck!

Edited by Rachel

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4 hours ago, omishev said:

Thanks! Do you have any punishment/reward system tied to the timer? My kids do not care one bit about timers if there is not a consequence for failing to do xyz before the timer beeps. It's not the kind of thing I want to spank for,  a time out just wastes more time and losing TV can only happen once a day. Looking for other ideas! Thanks!

My kids dont get designated TV and most days have none.  It is usually, pick up before you can go outside, pickup before lunch, pick up before we go to the library.  I have never had to discipline them for not picking up.  They know they need to do it before they can do something else.  If they don't do something they are supposed to do, like one son had a habit of carrying his laundry into the laundry room and dropping it on the floor right in front of the cabinet instead of opening the door and putting it in the basket, then I have to call him and have him put it away properly.  If I pick it up, he won't learn to do it.  My 4 yr old has to be supervised more as he will dump all the blocks and then be reluctant to pick them up, and I do have to be creative with motivation.  In general, maybe it's my kid's competitiveness, they want to get their job done first and be done before the timer.  I will also give them each a cleaning task and use the timer trick, and they all try to get their jobs done first.

If it's something like eating a snack or finishing a meal and they are dawdling, I will put on the timer and say, when the timer beeps, the food goes in the garbage.  So, they will hurry and eat because I followed through on that threat a couple times.  If we are in a hurry that morning, then I will start breakfast with a 10 min timer.

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On 7/20/2019 at 11:10 AM, Rachel said:

I always hated it when my kids were younger and people would tell me it’s just the stage of life I am in. There is a lot of truth in it though. These types of things get better as your kids get a little older. I had similar feelings when my oldest was 7, but now that my youngest is 7, things go a lot more smoothly. 

If kid clutter is a huge problem, I would temporarily put stuff away until it’s easy to manage. Our legos had to be put away for a couple months. I also find it easier if we have a pick up time pegged to another part of our schedule. Timers worked really well with two of my kids, I set it up as a try to beat the timer race and then see if we can do it faster the next time. I didn’t punish for not beating the timer but I did reward when they beat it.

My third is a dawdler.  I haven’t figured out a good way to motivate him not to dawdle with picking up his own messes. He is a great helper with other chores though. I find that with him he just can’t be sent off to cleanup on his own. He needs someone keeping him focused. Part of that is his personality and I think part is his age. 

I think it’s normal, especially when expecting to worry about the future, but I have found things generally fall into place over time. Good luck!

Thanks! My 3 yo is a hard worker and probably has the best focus of any of them, even if there is no "why" or urgency. My 5 yo is lazy as all get out. He has many other wonderful qualities and in many ways is the easiest child but he would just lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling. I have to be right by his side helping him and nagging him for anything to happen. My 7 yo is capable but very distracted (we have not had her tested but I would not be surprised if she had a diagnosis) and also very sensitive to fairness issues, like if she is doing more work than her brothers and will stop if they aren't putting in equal effort.  We usually don't have a ton of different toys out. Books, legos, markers and a bin of sea creatures are the only toys available on the main level of the house so that is what we are dealing with. I could clean it all up in 5 min flat if I did it myself so 3 kids working together should be able to do it in less than an hour, right??

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On 7/20/2019 at 11:50 AM, parent said:

My kids dont get designated TV and most days have none.  It is usually, pick up before you can go outside, pickup before lunch, pick up before we go to the library.  I have never had to discipline them for not picking up.  They know they need to do it before they can do something else.  If they don't do something they are supposed to do, like one son had a habit of carrying his laundry into the laundry room and dropping it on the floor right in front of the cabinet instead of opening the door and putting it in the basket, then I have to call him and have him put it away properly.  If I pick it up, he won't learn to do it.  My 4 yr old has to be supervised more as he will dump all the blocks and then be reluctant to pick them up, and I do have to be creative with motivation.  In general, maybe it's my kid's competitiveness, they want to get their job done first and be done before the timer.  I will also give them each a cleaning task and use the timer trick, and they all try to get their jobs done first.

If it's something like eating a snack or finishing a meal and they are dawdling, I will put on the timer and say, when the timer beeps, the food goes in the garbage.  So, they will hurry and eat because I followed through on that threat a couple times.  If we are in a hurry that morning, then I will start breakfast with a 10 min timer.

Hmm... ok, it must be a personality thing that timers just don't work for them. We usually do a big pick up before we go outside after rest time and it can easily take them an hour to clean up books, markers, legos and dinosaurs (which I could do in 5 min, it's not that bad). I had to stop in the winter because we only have an hour of daylight after naps and I feel very strongly about them getting outside time. When they are hungry they get overwhelmed by the littlest things so before meals is even worse. They don't have a good enough sense of time to realize that if they take longer to clean up they have less time at the playground or whatever. I have my 7 yo do the math sometimes to figure out how long they have to play if it takes 10 min to clean up vs 1 hr but even she doesn't really know what 1 hr feels like vs 1 hr 50 min. The boys don't get it at all unless it gets to the point where we have to cancel the activity altogether. That is really unfortunate as often we are doing something that is beneficial to their well-being (library, outside) and I really want to do. Having new library books and plenty of outside time set them up for success the rest of the day.

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Since you have four types of items to clean up (books, markers, Legos and dinosaurs) and four people to do the cleaning (you and three kids), maybe you could semi-permanently assign the tasks. I would give the eldest whatever is typically the hardest...probably legos?  The next in line would get the next hardest. I would assign the three year old the easiest item and readily trade jobs if for some reason they preferred mine. 

Then I would give a firm time limit (maybe ten minutes) and at the end of the time we would leave on the outing. Of course, only people who were done with their clean up would be allowed to participate in the outing. If they dawdle or argue and don’t get their item cleaned up, then they can just sit on a bench at the park or library. And then the instant you get home, that child needs to immediately report back to their cleaning until it is done. 

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