Josi Kilpack blogged about a chore routine that works for their family and has invited everyone else to blog about what works for them. So here is what has worked for me. This isn't really a chore for me, but it sure affects my mood and the moods of everyone else in the house.
Growing up as the oldest of six kids, my parents often left me in charge of everyone when they went out. I was "The Babysitter". My responsibilities included getting everyone dinner, making sure that dinner was cleaned up, getting everyone to bed on time and making sure no body did any bodily harm to anyone else.
It never worked. My brother (16 months younger than me) didn't like the idea of having a babysitter. My sisters didn't want me to boss them around, and I'm sure I was plenty bossy. The two littlest just followed the example of everyone else. I'm sure if my mother had a cell phone, I would have called her so often it would have driven them crazy. Instead, I begged, cried, bribed, tricked and screamed at my siblings. It never worked though. Usually one of them would hear the car pull into the driveway and warn the others. The smart ones would jump into bed and pretend to be asleep. Or they would wait until Mom and Dad came in the door and claim some strange inability to sleep.
Meanwhile, I would go to bed angry and frustrated. I hated being the bossy older sister. It bothered me that they would all gang up on me and the feelings seemed to carry into regular play as well. In fact, for some of my siblings the feelings have carried on into adulthood.
When my own children grew old enough to leave alone, I decided to try something different. I told the kids that they were old enough not to have a babysitter. (I first tried this for short periods when my oldest daughter was eleven.) Each child is in charge of their own behavior. They are not to tattle on their siblings unless the behavior was dangerous or hurt someone. I put the oldest in charge of the youngest as far as knowing where she was and making sure she was safe.
Since there was no competition and no one being bossy they seem to get to bed on time and clean up after themselves quite well. They know to look out for each other but not to try to control each other. This works for me. I come home to find them all asleep, the kitchen clean and a peaceful home.