Saban has a Process and So Does Mom: Kids’ Laundry and Kitchen Duties

There’s a lot of talk these days about Nick Saban and his “process” for developing his team. The BCS national championship has sports writers deconstructing what he does to make the team successful. Well, though I don’t have an agent or a contract, I do have a process of my own that I have found to be effective in developing the kids as participants in the family’s home keeping.

It started a few years ago when I decided that I was not going to allow myself to be a scullery maid for the family. I reached a point where I literally could not keep up and was becoming resentful of the effort.

Like many kids, mine functioned under a pervading myth that houseshold magic accounted for how the clothes were reliably clean, the silverware could be retrieved from the drawer even blindfolded, and the bedsheets were changed regularly. Meanwhile, no one dared ask why mommy had clenched teeth and flew into screaming fits at the slightest provocation.

So it actually wasn’t out of a purposeful training plan but of true necessity that I insisted each member of the family have specific household duties. A guidance counselor encouraged us moms to assign the kids responsibilities at home. “Make the children think the home cannot run without them. They need to have a role at home see that they are needed. There is nothing better for developing their self esteem and sense of responsibility.”

Committing to this concept, we developed the Process which has produced our own championship-worthy results. In addition to the usual bedroom cleaning, each child does kitchen or laundry each month. Duties are swapped at the end of each month.

Kitchen duty: Maintains the kitchen so that the family can enjoy meals and snacks in a clean and organized environment. Duties include:

  • Loading dishes after meals (each individual will put his or her meal in the diswhasher if there is room)
  • Wiping down the dinner table and countertops
  • Sweeping the floor
  • Putting leftovers in the fridge
  • Running the dishwasher, if needed
  • Cleaning out the sink

The biggest gauge of success with the kitchen position is keeping the sink clear. If clean dishes aren’t unloaded, there is nowhere for dirty dishes to go but into the sink to soak and wait. This makes for a messy work environment for the next meal and makes clean up harder. The best way kids can manage this is to unload the dishwasher each morning or before the dinner prep so there is a “clean slate” and the cook can work. If the dishwasher is unloaded frequently, it’s available for the rest of us to load our own plates each night, a natural benefit of keeping this job done.

Laundry Duty: Keeps the laundry moving sequentially through three stations: dirty clothes hamper, laundry room, and bedroom drawers/closets. Duties include:

  • Gathering laundry
  • Sorting for wash according to colored/pales/whites (I am the only one who has handwashables so I keep these out of the laundry routine)
  • Running washer – usually one load started in the morning and one during the evening
  • Moving clothes from washer to dryer
  • Removing clothes from dryer and hanging/folding and placing into individual’s hampers. Each individual puts away his/her own clothes each evening.

Any clothing that isn’t in one of the three “stations” is by definition out of place. That’s not to say we don’t have clothing out of place sometimes – like strewn on the floor – but it’s easy to correct quickly. Also, a sibling who needs a clean uniform can be a very effective advocate for keeping the laundry moving. And yes, someone has had to dig into the dirty clothes to re-wear a pair of jeans when there were none clean. But honestly, that happened sometimes when I was doing the laundry, so it is certainly no worse now with the Process. I just don’t get blamed.

Instead of trying to play all the positions, I coach the household team. Saban may kiss his Waterford crystal, but I’m toasting with mine.