We moved to our half acre a little over a year ago with grand plans. Okay, the "we" with the grand plans was me. An orchard. Raised beds. A pollinator garden. The chickens (moved from our old place). Bees (hopefully next spring).
Many of my plans came to fruition (no pun intended) but I forgot how much work it can be keeping up with everything. The pounds and pounds of unrelenting process-us-now or else tomatoes. The unyielding siege of summer squash. The diligent delivery of eggs. The baking from scratch, the home-cooked meals, the hand-knit Christmas presents. Not to mention keeping the house in decent shape, the front (non-edible at this point) yard weeded, the patio swept, the cats cared for and so on.
My dad visited in the midst of tomato-fest. He looked at my two kids - ages 6 and 8 - and said: "It's too much work for one person to keep all this up."
Yeah! What had I been thinking. Keeping up a homestead is quite a bit of work! These weren't just beings who needed help with homework, required lunches packed for them, prodding to clean up their rooms, help folding their laundry. These were little homesteaders perfectly capable of pitching in big time - beyond the set the table/clear the table sort of thing. Heck, in the Little House on the Prairie days (my kids hate it when I bring this up), kids their age would be out plowing, chopping wood, baking, you name it.
I set about asking for help. Big zero. Demanding help. Not much more.
And then, Pinterest came to the rescue. I came across the idea of the Job Jar.
I promptly brainstormed all the little things I do during that day that a 6 and 8 year old could help with. Man there was a lot - a lot that would help me keep my head above water and keep me a step ahead of the chaos. A lot of places where some well placed child labor could keep the homestead afloat.
My Job Jar is a thrifted canister filled with folded paper notes. It works well and didn't cost a dime but the kids keep picking the same jobs over and over again. I might switch to popsicle sticks or wine corks (here's the general idea with ping pong balls).
A Facebook page commenter suggested a job wheel. Here's a handy one for multiple kids.
A blogger friend uses a coat hook type of solution.
And, if you are willing to pay for the chore beyond regular allowance, chore magnets are a fun idea.
The Follow Through:
Now, when my kids get a consequence (in lieu of the time out system), they have to do a job from the job jar. If they leave toys and such out after they go to bed or don't clean up their rooms, whatever's left lying about goes into the ransom box (another Pinterest find). It can be ransomed by one job per item.
We have regular, daily jobs that the kids need to do to earn their weekly allowance but I suppose job jar pickings could be tied to the allowance as well.
Have you tried a system like a job jar? How did it work for you? How do you get your kids to pitch in?
* I'm linking to Homestead Barn Hop for this post.