Renee shares a bucket chore system that is working well in her home. It’s quite similar to what I do for our school bags.
Cleaning: if it was more like eating chocolate I’d totally get into it, but it’s not. It’s the never ending, laborious, unrewarding and thankless job that never seems to have a beginning or an end, only ever a middle. Put it this way, if cleaning was a fairy tale, the damsel never gets to the bottom of the washing pile to ever have time to met her prince charming, she’s left kissing frogs and hanging out with pumpkins FOREVER.
This year I decided I’d had enough frog kissing and it was time to put a little more household cleaning responsibility back onto my two children, with the creation of a Magnetic Peg Chore Chart for the fridge. The chart was such a success, to the point I rarely have to refer to it anymore because chores are just done, that I decided to add an additional level – buckets.
The idea for buckets, I need to credit to my cousin. This system is one she developed years ago for her three sons and used into their teen years with success. I just thought the concept was brilliant and if it could work with teenagers, then it would be a winner with my two small children.
How do the buckets work?
In a nutshell, every child has his or her own ‘bucket’, which they are responsible for. The aim of the bucket system is to reduce, as my husband would call it nagging about picking up random little items you find throughout the day (shoes, socks, toys, pencils etc). Instead, items are dropped into the rightful owners bucket and once a week the owners of each bucket have an allocated timeframe to empty their buckets or the items get confiscated, binned or even donated to charity. These choices are to the discretion of the parent, but my cousin stressed that follow through was everything with making this system work, especially with older children and teens.
How I implemented the bucket system
STEP 1: Which bucket?
I decided that tuff tubs were really the best choice for our home because they have a good size flat bottom, are light weight plastic, have handles so small children can pull around, come in many colours and are flexible. Perfect for what I needed.
STEP 2: The purchase
Rather than purchasing the buckets myself, I took the child on shopping trip to select their own bucket colour. No surprises they went for their favourite colours, my daughter purple, and my son blue. I really wanted them to have a sense of ownership about their buckets, the same as they felt for the peg chore chart. And it worked! They were actually excited about getting their buckets home to test them out.
STEP 3: Location
It became very clear, in early implementation, that the core success of the bucket system was really location, a spot that was easy for me to access regularly throughout the day. I decided on a small corner in our kitchen, the most used room in the house after the lounge room. I walk past this spot constantly, so it made sense to locate the buckets there, I could pop the random items I found into the buckets without having to walk the extra mile to bedrooms. Perfect!
STEP 4: Empty the buckets day
Unlike my cousin who had teenage sons, my children are still only little and do require assistance with putting the items in their bucket away. We quickly created a weekend routine, whereby we;
- Take the buckets into the master bedroom.
- Fold all the washing a put every persons clothes into their bucket (note that I normally get them to put their stinky shoes away first from the bucket, so the clean clothes aren’t sitting on top).
- I take the bucket into their bedroom.
- A parent helps each child empty their bucket and put their clothes away.
Often we complete all the clothes folding on Saturday, but it’s Sunday afternoon before we actually empty the buckets. This works wonderfully, as it breaks up the household chores and the children can help with more without loosing interest. Bucket empty time is usually pretty civil; my daughter will often put her music on and even help her little brother out with his bucket.
As a working Mum, I can’t express how in love I am with the bucket system. It really has made a difference to my daily workload of general tidy-up and the children know which bucket is theirs and what is expected of them on the weekend. In fact, it has worked so well, that the Daddy of the house has requested his own bucket so I will stop ‘nagging’ him about taking his tools back to the shed. Apparently, they can be trained at any age 😉