Saturday, May 3, 2014

Children and Chores


The school year has nearly ended!  (Yeah!)  Summer will arrive on the heels of spring.  In the all-too-short summer months I do quite a bit of organizing and planning for the next school year. One area which always seems to come to the forefront is housekeeping.  My house, which is fairly clean and orderly during summer, suddenly becomes a path of mass destruction during the school year.  In an effort to keep this from happening again, here are my tips for getting your children involved in helping keep the house tidy.  


As soon as possible, teach them how to do a job and do it well.  We have a mantra in our home when it comes to chores:  If you can toddle, you can tote.  It’s not original to me, but I love it!  As soon as my children could walk, they were given jobs to do. You can find lists of age appropriate chore suggestions at:


We’ve tried a weekly printed chore chart.  But, we have found that it works best for us to list daily chores on my dry erase board in the kitchen.  I let them pick the ones they would most like to do. If one of the younger boys selects a task, which he is being trained to do by an older sibling, then that older brother will automatically get to go with that little brother to complete that chore.  At other times, I add a name beside the specific chores.  It depends a bit on how much time I have for training that day.  Given the option, the younger boys will pick some of the harder and more “exotic” items on the list. And that means T-I-M-E to show them how it’s done.  However you do it, try to be sure you that “hit all the bases” and that each room of the house is eventually rotated through by each child. 


1)    To KNOW what was expected of them,
2)    Have consistency from us,
3)    Be given a variety of tasks.
4)    Rewards!!

 If they cleaned the bathroom, they wanted to know that (just because we were having company) a job, which was rated as “acceptable” last week, was “just not good enough” this week.   They have told me that they want to know the “right” way to do it the first time and they will strive to have it in that condition each and every time.

You must be sure that you are not asking them to do something that you have not trained them to do or have given them something to do that is beyond their frame of reference.  I have struggled with getting frustrated with a child when they fail to complete a task, only to have them say, “But, Mom, you never showed me how to do it.”  

To insure this consistency, you must TRAIN them.  The first time a new task is introduced, I have them just watch me do it – along with my snappy and interesting running commentary on each step I am making.   The next time, I have them do it while I am watching them.  I have them repeat each step back to me while I watch.  The third time, they complete the task alone – with freedom to ask me if they need help or forget a step.  By the fourth time, they do it all and then I inspect their work when it is completed.

It is said that “variety is the spice of life” and so, too, it is with chores.  Our boys have certain areas of cleaning which they PREFER.  For instance, my middle son LOVES to clean the bathroom.  I’m NOT kidding!  So, for many months, he cleaned the bathroom every week.  His brothers began to expect that “John will take the bathroom cleaning on the chore list.”  One day, while gesturing with the toilet brush, he explained to me, “Mom, I do like the bathroom.  But, that doesn’t mean I want to be the ONLY one who does the bathroom!”  I got his message.  I now make sure that we “share the love” when it comes to the bathroom.  Although he still cleans it more often than the other boys.

Finally, after about 90 minutes of hard work, we ALL take a well-deserved snack break.  All “happy helpers” get to enjoy a special treat together.  We sit, grin at each other, and say, “Wow!  That was hard work!”  We really deserve this treat.  Boy are these cookies good!” 


One last thing I would urge you to do is make a running list of objectives.  We titled ours:  “Before our children leave our home, they will know how to effectively …”  Then, list objectives by types.  For instance:  home maintenance, automotive, cleaning, etc.  Then, add a column to check off for each child.  In this manner you will ensure that you are cross-training each member of the family and that you don’t have to tie up any unexpected loose ends right before you send them off to college.  

And remember...

Do all to the Glory of God, 


1 comment: