Prep day usually involves a lot of chores and a rather long list of jobs to do. It does at my house. So I’m always trying to invent new ways to keep the chores fun and get everyone involved. On every other day, the kids are required to simply do their chores because they are part of the family, but on prep day, there are extra chores, so I usually offer some sort of incentive. Here is my latest, and quite successful, idea.
Secret message to do list
I make my list of everything that needs to be done to get ready for Shabbat. Here’s my list for today.
- feed animals
- take out garbage
- put away clean laundry
- girls’ baths
- boy’s room inspection
- girl’s room inspection
- clean stairwell
- boiled eggs
- wash diapers
- clean living room
- clean front hall
- sourdough cookies
- kitchen jobs before dinner
This includes every job for everyone in the house. I have discovered from past experience that we focus on the list. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get done. Now here’s the fun part. At the bottom of the list is a secret message. At our house, it is the title of the movie we will be watching on Friday night. I just put a line for each letter, hangman style without the disturbing and somewhat sadistic man hanging from a noose. (That and the song “Rock a bye baby,” both disturbing and completely unnecessary parts of childhood, but I digress.) If you don’t want to have a movie, the secret message could be a special activity you plan to do Friday night.
Back to my secret message to do list. I have my very complete list and secret message at the bottom. Then I post it on our corkboard in the kitchen. Everyone works to cross things off the list. For long secret messages, I give a letter for every job completed. Our message is pretty short today, so they have to work a bit harder. By the way, I mean only one letter, not all the E’s, etc. Amazingly, this simple game has been quite popular at our house for several weeks now. That makes me happy! It gets the work done, and doesn’t cost a penny. Also, if everything doesn’t get finished in time, the movie doesn’t happen. But that has never happened here. Wink!
I hope you can use this idea at your house to make prep day a little easier. Remember that even little guys can fold dish towels, wipe the kitchen table, make a bed, and put away toys.
Have a wonderful Shabbat tomorrow!
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