Tag Archives: Chores

Holly Homemaker – Part 5

The Holly Homemaker series has managed to draw itself out to encompass quite a few articles.

It started from a blog post on Titus2.com and a negative comment about that post. By now you are probably very familiar with the blog post and comment, but in case we have a new reader or you want to refresh you memory, here it is one more time.

5 Year Old’s Enthusiasm

chorepack

From a recent e-mail: “I wanted to send this sweet picture of our oldest, Audrey, wearing herChorePack the first week and getting ready to unload the dishwasher. She RAVED about how she loved the chore pack because it reminded her of everything she needed to do in the morning instead of her forgetting things that needed to get done. We’ve lovedthe system so far! Thank you for creating it.”

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29).

Now, for the comment:

“That poor little girl. She’s happy because she’s pleasing mommy—like all children do. She should be out playing with friends, playing dress up or let’s pretend, MAYBE a few small chores here and there—but CHOREPACKS? You people are going to kill that child’s spirit before she’s 7. God forbid she wants to be anything other than Holly Homemaker—do they have ChorePacks for future lawyers? Or Astronauts? I hope that she grows up to realize that she’s worth more than just an unpaid scullery maid/nanny.”

From the blog comment, we are left with the feeling that the author believes that if a child is given more than a few small chores to do, he will not have any playtime. This is really far from the truth. After the first Holly Homemaker Mom’s Corner, the mom who had originally sent us the photo of her five-year-old daughter with her ChorePack unloading the dishwasher wrote to us. She was a little taken aback at the assumptions that were made in the blog comment concerning her daughter’s activities. This is what she said.

“I was so sad to hear about the woman who commented negatively and was thrilled to see your response. The sad thing is that the commenter does not even know the full story. We also use your scheduling system, and there is plenty of time scheduled for my daughter to play dress up, babies, play with her sister and brother, do school, and crafts, etc. I think this woman has no idea what your ChorePack system is about and the time actually involved in them. My daughter DOES want to be a mommy when she grows up and like you, I think it honors the Lord for her to do so.

“As far as how much time the chores take, my daughter is five so she is responsible for eight things in the morning: praying (she can’t read yet), getting dressed, putting PJ’s away, making her bed, brushing her hair, filling the cat’s water bowl, unloading the top rack of the dishwasher, and brushing her teeth. ALL of this takes her less than 20 minutes in the morning; sometimes she even gets her little sister dressed in that same amount of time.

“We also have an afternoon ChorePack where she waters our two houseplants, makes sure her room is picked up, puts books and toys away, sets the table, and is the kitchen helper if it is her day (she trades off with her brother). I would say this one takes her a maximum of thirty minutes because she usually helps me train our almost two-year-old in picking up her toys as well. So chores ALL DAY take less than an hour which leaves eleven hours for fun and school since the children are up from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“I didn’t even know how to turn on the washing machine when I went to COLLEGE. I had to have my mom come up and show me how to run it when she was visiting the first week. How sad! You would think my mom would be anti-chores since she did everything for us, but she loves the idea that we are training our children on how to keep up with themselves and be responsible, God-fearing adults.” The five-year-old’s mom

The precious, little ChorePack-using girl’s mom gives us a good perspective of what her daughter’s day looks like and how much of it she is spending doing chore work. The jobs are reasonable to her age and capability. Her mommy is helping her invest her time in productive activities like chores and school while allowing plenty of time for play.

To be honest with you, I wonder if the children who will grow up to be lawyers and astronauts aren’t quite possibly the ones who are learning to work at home rather than the ones who are addicted to TV, movies, and Xboxes.

I remember a conversation we had with one of our neighbors who drives a public school bus. She told us that she asked the children on her bus how many of them played outside. Only two raised their hands. She decided to give them a “play-outside challenge.” We had recently had a seven-inch snow, and there was still a lot of snow on the ground. She told her bus children that when she came to pick them up in the morning, she would give a reward to any child who had built a snowman by the bus stop. There was only one child who responded to the challenge of building a snowman that was visible on the route the next day. That child was treated to a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

When children are given chores to do, they are learning to apply themselves to a task that needs to be accomplished. They have something productive to do with a portion of their time. With practice at their chores, they become responsible, diligent, thorough, careful, and efficient. They also learn how to manage their time. All of those are qualities that a professional will need just as much as the Holly Homemaker needs them. The children who learn how to work at home will have the perseverance and determination to apply themselves to difficult tasks they will face in adulthood–whether that is starting a business, becoming an astronaut or lawyer, or raising a family.

Sadly, the children who grow up without being encouraged to work will likely choose to avoid work in their adult lives. They will perpetuate their childhood into their adult years and wonder why they struggle so much. Remember from the March 2011 Holly Homemaker Mom’s Corner where the professional couldn’t find young employees because none of those who applied for the jobs knew how to work?

Those who haven’t learned how to work will not be qualified to be the leaders of their generation because they have set their hearts and affections on fun and games rather than industry and service. Chores and working don’t kill a child’s spirit, instead they develop, enhance, challenge, and produce the kind of spirit that will make that child successful as an adult. It is the children who are left to sit in front of the TV with their XBoxes whose spirits are being killed. Those spirits are being sucked into the mire of self, mindlessness, and entertainment. Could it be that these children are developing the appetites that will make them be “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:4)?”

Here is one more comment that I wanted to include in this series:

“When we learn to work together and when the children work before they go play, we are all happier plus Mom might be freed up enough to play with them.” Mom O

I agree with Mom O that as the children pitch in to help in their homes, Mom’s workload is lightened. This allows her not only her more time to play with her children, talk to them, and read to them, but it also helps facilitate a more joyful, content overall attitude. A happy mom is often the foundation of a happy family.

In the past, Steve and I listened to those, like the negative blog commenter, who would want us to choose not to give our children chores but rather simply let them play and have fun. We also evaluated the results of that kind of parenting, and we didn’t like the results. We saw appetites developed for self and entertainment but we desired our children to have appetites to serve. Working helped our children toward the servant’s heart found in Scripture. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

Others, as they have shared through this series of articles, have seen the bad results of children not learning how to work, as well. This was usually from personal experience in the area of not having been given chores as they were growing up.

When we did a survey of Christian families before writing Managers of Their Chores, overwhelmingly we heard back that these families wanted to teach their children how to work. About 75% of the respondents came from families where they were not required to do household chores, and they felt that decision by their parents had hindered them as adults. They didn’t have the skills they needed or the attitudes toward work that they wanted. They simply weren’t equipped for what they would face as adults. These families are making different decisions for their children, decisions that include a positive attitude toward chores and teaching their children to handle chore responsibility.

I think in this series we have now covered each of the concerns the negative blog commenter had about a five-year-old having a ChorePack to help her do some household chores. I am happy that I can be a Holly Homemaker and that one of the things I can do being home with my children is to teach them how to work. We want our children equipped for their adulthood through the skills they are learning when they work in our home plus the work ethic that comes with chores as well. May we be women who look beyond the cries of the world that says a child’s days should only consist of fun and choose to prepare our children for life.

Holly Homemaker – Part 4

This month we delve once again into a comment that was left on our blog in response to a blog post. We didn’t approve the comment on the blog, but we saved it so that we could address the concerns that it was raising. If you’d like to read the previous articles in this series, please do so. Here is the blog post and the comment that is the basis for this series of articles.

5 Year Old’s Enthusiasm

chorepack

From a recent e-mail: “I wanted to send this sweet picture of our oldest, Audrey, wearing her ChorePack the first week and getting ready to unload the dishwasher. She RAVED about how she loved the chore pack because it reminded her of everything she needed to do in the morning instead of her forgetting things that needed to get done. We’ve loved the system so far! Thank you for creating it.”

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29).

Now, for the comment:

“That poor little girl. She’s happy because she’s pleasing mommy—like all children do. She should be out playing with friends, playing dress up or let’s pretend, MAYBE a few small chores here and there—but CHOREPACKS? You people are going to kill that child’s spirit before she’s 7. God forbid she wants to be anything other than Holly Homemaker—do they have ChorePacks for future lawyers? Or Astronauts? I hope that she grows up to realize that she’s worth more than just an unpaid scullery maid/nanny.”

I have addressed the benefits that I have found in my life of being a Holly Homemaker and how we would like our daughters to choose to be Holly Homemakers when they are married. Last month we started evaluating the part of the comment where the author indicates that she/he doesn’t think a child should have more than a “few small chores here and there.” Obviously a five-year-old unloading a dishwasher is beyond the chore criteria that the blog commenter would feel is reasonable. In the previous article, we observed that in real adult life everyone will have daily, household responsibilities. Learning to do chores as children simply prepares our children to handle those tasks as adults and to have positive attitudes toward them.

One mom wrote to me and listed the chores her children are doing and why it is critical to her that her children learn to work. Here is what she said.

“Today, my four-year-old washed the breakfast dishes and loved it. My six-year-old also does dishes, some sweeping, and setting/clearing the table. Between them my ten and nine-year-old sons sweep the kitchen, keep the house vacuumed (except for the master bedroom and basement), do the garbage and recycling duties, clean the garage, do other yard work as asked, clean the bathroom sinks and toilets daily, take care of the dinner dishes most nights, and sometimes cook a simple meal here and there.

“Recently a neighbor asked if the two older ones would be interested in helping her clean the stables of her little horse farm. She’s getting older and is unmarried. They were very enthusiastic even when they had no expectation of reward. I doubt that if it weren’t for the chores they have to do at home that they would be very eager to perform what they know will be reasonably demanding labor. “Our ‘chore life’ is not perfect, but it’s a long way from what I grew up with. I can remember moaning and fretting about small tasks until my mom gave up, and in the end, I don’t think I had any household responsibilities by the time I finished high school!!

“Anyway—all this to say: CHORES ROCK!” Mom I

When I e-mailed to ask permission to use Mom I’s testimony about chores from her childhood and chores for her children, she sent me a bit more of the story. This is what she said.

“After I emailed, I was thinking also about how my mom said when I was in my early teens that I should make a meal once a week. I just sort of ignored that, and nothing happened. Some time later my mom suggested maybe I should make a meal once a month. I didn’t pursue that either and eventually the whole matter was dropped. At the time I was thrilled. So of course when I eventually needed to make meals, I was quite lost, and still had the sense that this was ‘not my job.’ Perhaps that’s some good coming out of the fact that my mom didn’t persevere in having me do chores—it made me realize that it’s important to me that my children learn how to work! :)” Mom I

From Mom I, we have the perspective of growing up in a home where the children were given no chore responsibility. However, coming to her adult years and motherhood role, Mom I was not prepared. From this experience, she is choosing to raise her children in a different manner by teaching them how to work at home. From that decision, she is already experiencing children who can contribute a substantial amount of help to the household chores, and they are also being sought after for their diligence and skills by others even though the children are only nine and ten. In addition, these nine and ten-year-olds are excited about working to help the neighbor even though they aren’t expecting to be paid. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Don’t you think that those are children who have the potential to be whatever the Lord Jesus calls them to be in their adult lives?

This is another testimonial that was sent to me after the first Holly Homemaker article where the mom was raised in a home without being taught how to work. She shares the results of that kind of childhood and what she thinks about a five-year-old who is learning to do chores. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6).

“I want to thank you for your ministry. I have several of your books and the scheduling has refined what I was already doing immensely. I also have the Chore book and the online ChoreWare program which has helped me tremendously. It has helped me not just with the kids’ chores but with my own housekeeping and getting organized. Which leads me to this month’s Mom’s Corner.

“I was raised by a single, working mom. She was too tired at the end of the day to care about the house, dinner, or even me. I was an only child. When I was asked to help out around the house, which was rare, I was defiant and lazy. When I got married and then had children, I found that I had to learn EVERYTHING on my own about how to clean and maintain a home. It has been hard.

“This five-year-old girl that you used as an example—what a blessing for her to be taught the basic things any person (man or woman) will need to know in her grown up years to maintain a home and feed herself and her family. In her childhood, she will become so engrained in dishwashing and laundry and mopping floors and staying on task, that she will be free in her grown up years to pursue other interests or even schooling and a career if she should choose without losing her school papers because she never learned to be organized, without eating fast food hamburgers because she never learned to prepare herself healthy meals, and without wearing her clothes for the second or third day in a row because she never learned to keep up with her laundry. Our culture says that children need to be free to play and do what they want to do when they are little, but then complain if they grow up to be lazy and living off welfare.” Mom J

The next testimony comes from the perspective of observing the results in young adult’s lives when they haven’t learned the basics of how to take care of themselves when they are on their own. As I read this testimony, I wondered about how gently a Marine Corps soldier would teach a new recruit how to clean his barracks room versus a mommy working with her little children.

“Today I read the Mom’s Corner for March and have to total agree with Teri about teaching ALL children responsibility. Whether we stay home and are ‘Holly Homemakers,’ love this name, or our daughters and daughters-in-law stay home and are ‘Holly Homemakers,’ all our children need to be taught to clean up after themselves and others plus be a team player. As a Marine Corps wife of eight years, I have seen MANY a young Marine come in and have NO idea how to do any of their cleaning or laundry because Mommy always did it for them. I’ve watched my husband have to in-detail train a nineteen-year-old Marine how to clean his barracks room—a task that our seven-year-old son and three-year-old daughter already know how to do in our home. I pray and hope that the Maxwell Family will continue to encourage families in training their children in simple things like chores and responsibilities and that we moms will continue to raise godly children who know how to clean up after themselves!” Mom K

The final comments I want to share with you have to do with the value of chores in helping children develop a servant’s heart. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). Mom L wrote after she read the first Holly Homemaker Mom’s Corner and the negative comment about the blog post.

“How sad to think of children trained to self serve. What a giant chain and ball parents are putting on their children when they choose not to teach them to work and serve others. Thank you for ChorePacks and the helps you give to families.” Mom L

“I have enjoyed your articles about ‘Holly Homemaker.’ When I read the negative comment, I thought about my college roommates. These people never felt the need to pick up after themselves, do the dishes or their laundry. Needless to say, our home was a pit, and I was very unhappy. If the mess had been limited to their room, it would have been fine, but it even poured over into our shared space. Many times I waited for them to feel the need to do the dishes, to the point of them stinking up the whole house. It never bothered them. My point is this—everyone learning to do their share is important because someday we are going to live with others—whether it be a college roommate or a spouse. If we can learn to think of others by picking up after ourselves and sharing the load, it is just one less area of potential conflict. I don’t want my children to be the inconsiderate roommate or the person who expects their spouse to pick up their dirty socks off the floor. Chores can teach a lot about life and living at peace with others!” Mom M

As our children learn to work in our homes, we are teaching them how to work throughout their adult years. This life preparation will be transferrable to many areas in their lives. In the process, they will be learning positive attitudes toward work and developing a servant’s heart. Teaching these skills in our homes makes the transition to independent living for our children easier and less stressful because they know what needs to be done and how to do it. In addition, they are not waiting for others to take care of them. May we be mothers committed to giving our children the tools they need to be successful adults, including teaching them how to work.

Holly Homemaker – Part 3

We are continuing a series of articles inspired by a comment that was made in response to this blog post that we had on our Titus2.com blog. Here is the post if you care to refresh your memory, and the comment follows.

5 Year Old’s Enthusiasm

chorepack

From a recent e-mail: “I wanted to send this sweet picture of our oldest, Audrey, wearing her ChorePack the first week and getting ready to unload the dishwasher. She RAVED about how she loved the chore pack because it reminded her of everything she needed to do in the morning instead of her forgetting things that needed to get done. We’ve loved the system so far! Thank you for creating it.”

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29).

Now, for the comment:

“That poor little girl. She’s happy because she’s pleasing mommy—like all children do. She should be out playing with friends, playing dress up or let’s pretend, MAYBE a few small chores here and there—but CHOREPACKS? You people are going to kill that child’s spirit before she’s 7. God forbid she wants to be anything other than Holly Homemaker—do they have ChorePacks for future lawyers? Or Astronauts? I hope that she grows up to realize that she’s worth more than just an unpaid scullery maid/nanny.

In this article, I would like to move into the realm of whether or not chores are important for a child. I had planned to address this topic as the series continued, but the responses to the first two articles were quite articulate. They provide other voices and other experiences beyond my own so I will start with what some of them shared with me.

“I have just read this month’s Mom’s Corner, and I wanted to say thank you for the great encouragement you are to all of us, ‘Holly Homemakers.’ Yet, another thought crossed my mind as I read the negative blog comment you had received. The idea that ChorePacks (or chores in general) are for the purpose of training up future homemakers, or even strictly for the purpose of getting the housework completed, is absurd. Are there ChorePacks for future lawyers and astronauts? Absolutely! Those ChorePacks are filled with things like . . . unload the dishwasher, do the laundry, clean the windows, take out the trash, make your bed, and other things. Chores are not designed for the sole purpose of lightening Mom’s load and training up Holly Homemaker. In assigning chores, we are teaching CHARACTER, not simply achievement and tasks. We are giving our children the tools they will need to succeed in becoming whatever God calls them to do. I would be completely negligent in my duties as a parent if I were to send my grown sons off to university (should the Lord require it) to become medical doctors if I had not first taught them how to cheerfully, and without reminder, make their beds in the morning and set the table for dinner. THAT is why, even at 5 years old (and younger), EVERYONE has chores at our house, the future professors, doctors, lawyers, missionaries, and, yes, even my little Holly Homemakers in training.” Mom F

“I just read the Holly Homemaker article. Thank you! It was interesting also that my twelve-year-old son was here and noted my response to the negative comment. He isn’t particularly fond of chores but does them willingly. I pointed out to him something that you didn’t even mention. My job as a mom is to teach my children, not only school (we homeschool) but life skills. One day my sons will leave this house—whether with a wife or on their own—and they need to be able to keep their home clean and running properly. They need to learn how and one day be able to do all the things that I do. If they can learn to enjoy chores, the better off they will be! This is true of a woman who decides to be a lawyer or astronaut also.” Mom G

“The first thought that came to my mind when I read that negative blog comment was, don’t future lawyers and astronauts need to learn how to do dishes, too?  Don’t they need to learn the values of hard work, self-discipline, or consistency?

“People these days are continuing to lie to themselves if they think that having a ‘carefree (irresponsible, child-centered) childhood’ really develops good leaders and professional workers. My husband is a professional engineer with a tremendous amount of responsibility and many employees. He handles vast amounts of taxpayer money every year. He is a rare find, as he takes this responsibility very seriously, and invests enormous amounts of time to make sure he is making the best possible decision for all of his fellow citizens affected.

“Notably, in the past two years, he has hired about seven new employees . . . five of whom were RETIRED professionals. He has had to find older men who take pride in their work, because there are no younger men with the expertise or work ethic he requires. The other two new hires did NOT have college degrees, but were men who expect to work hard to earn a living and respect authority . . . rare qualities these days. I bet all of these people had chores to do as children!

“Interestingly enough, it is my husband, the ‘professional’ who most often cleans the pots and pans after dinner for me. It is an expression of his love for me and takes one thing off of my never-ending list of things to do, as a stay-at-home mother of five young children.

“ALL children need to be brought up in a way that will help them enter adulthood with the much needed (and much lacking these days) life skills of taking care of themselves, their belongings, and their surroundings so that those things are second nature, habits. That way they will have more time to learn other things and devote to making ‘a difference’ in this world, whether it be by staying home and raising the next generation or if it is as the business or government leaders of our nation. No one is as effective as they can be when they were taught irresponsibility as a youth.” Mom H

I would agree with these ladies who wrote to me. Our children need to learn to do chores in our homes because these will be skills they will be using throughout their lives in whatever capacity God calls them to. “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27). Helping with household chores is really not even a very big yoke to be born. I want my children prepared for their adult lives and to look back on their childhood with gratitude for that preparation. May I encourage you not to let the world convince you that work is harmful for your children but rather to evaluate the reality of life and set them on a path toward success. Next month we will continue our discussion with more about the importance of teaching our children.

Holly Homemaker – Part 2

Last month Holly Homemaker, Part 1, I began addressing a negative comment that resulted from one of our blog posts on Titus2.com. If you missed it previously, here again is the blog post and comment following it.

5 Year Old’s Enthusiasm

chorepack

From a recent e-mail: “I wanted to send this sweet picture of our oldest, Audrey, wearing her ChorePack the first week and getting ready to unload the dishwasher. She RAVED about how she loved the chore pack because it reminded her of everything she needed to do in the morning instead of her forgetting things that needed to get done. We’ve loved the system so far! Thank you for creating it.”

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29).

Now, for the comment:

“That poor little girl. She’s happy because she’s pleasing mommy—like all children do. She should be out playing with friends, playing dress up or let’s pretend, MAYBE a few small chores here and there—but CHOREPACKS? You people are going to kill that child’s spirit before she’s 7. God forbid she wants to be anything other than Holly Homemaker—do they have ChorePacks for future lawyers? Or Astronauts? I hope that she grows up to realize that she’s worth more than just an unpaid scullery maid/nanny.”

While we didn’t have any trouble discerning the disdainful bias of the comment, we actually liked the term Holly Homemaker. Holly Homemaker sounded warm, loving, and inviting to us—the type of mother I would like to be and a title I would embrace. We want our daughters to grow up in a home where when they are adults, they would choose to stay home with their children, a Holly Homemaker, rather than pursue a career. No amount of salary can compare to the value of nurturing a heart in the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that choice begins with the atmosphere I cultivate in my home and the role model I set before them.

After writing last month’s Mom’s Corner, I had some responses that I thought would be an encouragement to many of my readers, who can sometimes not feel valued. Here are a few of those comments.

“I am a ‘Holly Homemaker’ literally. My name is Holly, and I am a homemaker, wife, mama, homeschooler, manager of the home, and all that is included in that. I LOVE what I do even though it is the hardest job I have ever had! I am so blessed to have been given this career! I cannot think of any other career that has a higher calling! It is AWESOME!!!” Mom A

“I am blessed to be home with my children. I have a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and previously worked as the Legislative Director for the now-Governor of my state. Four years ago, my husband and I adopted two young children out of the foster care system, and I’ve been home with them ever since.

“It is my privilege to raise them in the Lord, homeschool them, and keep our family’s home. Some days I do feel unappreciated, but I wouldn’t want to be any place else.”Mom B “I was only a few hours short of my doctorate in education curriculum and design when I met my husband, and we got married. Previously, I’d made a handsome salary, had traveled abroad extensively, and was very successful in my career. I did not pursue any of that out of choice, but necessity. I was 37 years old before God brought my husband and me together. Upon our union, I immediately became a stay at home wife, and later a homeschooling mother to our son, who is now 15.

“While I was raised by wonderful Christian parents, they did not raise me to believe my place in life was in the home. God brought me to this realization Himself. There was nothing in my past life that equals the joy being a wife and momma now bring.

“The whole time I was single, my dream and prayer was to one day be standing in an old farmhouse doorway, with a baby on my hip, a toddler clinging to my calico dress, as we watched the older children out in the front yard playing—swinging from a homemade swing, climbing trees, and chasing each other as they dodged the chickens running in between their legs.

“While God did not see fit to bless us with more than one child, I am believing in a quiver full of grandchildren one day! My son is being prepared to be the sole provider for his family, knowing being home is God’s highest calling for any woman. I pray he will seek out God’s best for him, in the form of a godly woman who puts husband, children, and home above all else.” Mom C

“I too am a Holly Homemaker and love it. I love the title since my youngest daughter’s name is Holly. I can’t imagine playing the world’s game and having to leave my family every day to serve someone less important than the people I love most!!!

“My earnest prayer is that my daughters will grow to be godly women who enjoy staying home with their families and serving them. They all say that is what they desire, and I am overjoyed that their hearts have been set this way by our wonderful Lord.” Mom D “I consider my role at home priceless!” Mom E

When we think of being a Holly Homemaker, keep in mind Titus 2:4-5: “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Here we see a list of what the Lord Jesus is directing a young, married woman to have as the emphasis of her life. There are three aspects identified that I can fulfill much better by being a Holly Homemaker than by having a career and those are to love my husband, to love my children, and to be a keeper at home.

By being home I can maintain my house so that it is the haven I desire it to be for my husband and children. I have time to keep up with the household chores like laundry, meals, dishes, and cleaning so that they are accomplished. I am not stressed trying to fit them into a couple of evening and weekend hours.

Staying home allows me to focus on being a loving wife when my husband is home. I can arrange my time so that I am free for family activities and interactions when my husband is available. I am not distracted by other things that need to be done.

Because I have chosen not to have an outside-the-home career, I am able to more fully love my children. This includes having time to spend with them throughout the day. It also means that I can provide them with a home education, which would be difficult, if not impossible, if I had a full or even part-time job.

Perhaps the greatest way I love my children is by bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). I am Steve’s helpmeet in this vital assignment from the Lord. By being home all day with my children I have that many more hours to impact their lives for Jesus Christ by sharing Scripture with them, praying with them, talking about the Lord Jesus with them, ministering with them, helping them apply Scripture to their lives, directing them in godly responses to each other, memorizing with them, and all that is involved in a loving, daily life in a Christian home.

I was quite drawn to the statement from the mom who said she felt her role at home was priceless. If all that we can accomplish in our homes were to be hired out and given a price tag, we could somewhat quantify it, and it would likely add up to quite a sum of money each month. However, the eternal impact we have on our husband, our children, and those around us in our ministry at home is most certainly priceless. Even if the world doesn’t choose to value what Holly Homemaker is doing, may we be women who embrace that calling and joyfully fulfill that role.

Holly Homemaker – Part 1

Not long ago we received an e-mail with a testimonial from a family who had just started using ChorePacks, a chore system detailed in our Managers of Their Chores book. We used that e-mail as the basis for a blog post on Titus2.com. Here is that blog post.

5 Year Old’s Enthusiasm

chorepack

From a recent e-mail: “I wanted to send this sweet picture of our oldest, Audrey, wearing her ChorePack the first week and getting ready to unload the dishwasher. She RAVED about how she loved the chore pack because it reminded her of everything she needed to do in the morning instead of her forgetting things that needed to get done. We’ve loved the system so far! Thank you for creating it.”

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29).

While we had several positive blog comments about ChorePacks from other ChorePack users, we had one negative comment. We chose not to approve that comment on the blog, because there was so much we wanted to say in response to it, and that required a greater investment of time. Here is the blog comment:

“That poor little girl. She’s happy because she’s pleasing mommy like all children do. She should be out playing with friends, playing dress up or let’s pretend, MAYBE a few small chores here and there–but CHOREPACKS? You people are going to kill that child’s spirit before she’s 7. God forbid she wants to be anything other than Holly Homemaker–do they have chore packs for future lawyers? Or Astronauts? I hope that she grows up to realize that she’s worth more than just an unpaid scullery maid/nanny.”

The world devalues the woman who chooses to forgo a lucrative career to stay home and raise her children. People often hold the same derogatory attitude that is portrayed in this blog comment. Their thinking is that the woman who wants to be home with her children is, as this blog commenter described, nothing more than an “unpaid scullery maid/nanny,” indicating she has no value. Untrue! The raising up of a precious life in Christ is of far more value than the highest paid executive’s take home pay!

However Scripture holds up another standard. “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5).

Holly Homemaker: I really liked that title! I delight in being Holly Homemaker, and it brings me joy when my daughters say they want to be wives and mothers. I don’t view myself as an unpaid scullery maid/nanny even if others do.

In reality, I don’t think I am the only one who values being home with my children and chooses that over a career. Here is a recent e-mail I received.

“I am writing to update you as I had asked for prayer several months ago regarding selling my chiropractic practice to become a full-time ‘keeper at home’.

“Guess what, a wonderful young doctor bought my practice! I am now at home full-time and no longer employed outside the home. I am thrilled! And, I’m very, very thankful to God for allowing this and orchestrating the details as only He could have done. Now that I am home, I realize how much I have to learn! But I am excited about being home and being more engaged and available as a wife and mother.”

This is an educated, professional woman choosing to give up her career for something she sees as more important than that career”being home with her children. She doesn’t sound to me like she would consider herself an unpaid scullery maid/nanny. However, I think she would happily don the title of Holly Homemaker. I regularly hear from women who are giving up all that their higher education earned them in a career as a doctor or lawyer to become a Holly Homemaker. They are esteeming the riches of full-time investment in their children’s lives to be greater than the accolades and financial rewards of their professional career.

With the unprecedented growth of broken homes, we Holly Homemakers have the opportunity to offer our children the security and nurturing that even secular psychologists say is important. We avoid the time pressures that working moms face of trying to accomplish everything at home plus be at work for eight hours or more each day. We are our own bosses, and we set our own schedules.

I know there are many working women who are doing so because they have no other choice. They long to be able to be home with their children. They pray that the Lord will provide a way for them to do so. If circumstances allowed, they would instantly become a Holly Homemaker filled with joy in doing so.

For those of you who are Holly Homemakers, we want to affirm the decision you have made to invest your life in the lives of your children. We hope you will take joy in that role and not let the world devalue in your heart what you are choosing to do. For those who would like to be a Holly Homemaker but can’t at this time, we pray that the Lord will soon open those doors for you. We have heard many wonderful stories of Him answering those kinds of prayers. Next month we will continue this discussion.

The Kitchen Cleanup Dilemma

This Mom’s Corner comes from a request that we had for practical advice concerning how to get children to do what they are supposed to do. Here are the details:

“My concern and quest for help begins in the kitchen. A background on my children is that they are EXTREMELY happy children, almost to a fault. What I mean is that they do not know when to STOP laughing, giggling, and being silly, in order to get down to business. We have used your ChorePack system and for the most part it works wonders in keeping my home clean and well ordered. I especially love that the non-readers can have responsibilities without my prodding constantly.

“My trouble is in the kitchen. They are each assigned a task to do for ‘KP’. They complete this task after every meal. I am there to inspect after it is done, and during the task I am there to ensure that they are doing it. The trouble is that they do the task sloppily, they goof off half the time, and I feel as if I am nagging them to continue.

“I have tried different approaches to solving this problem, including various consequences. Some seemed too harsh for the offense, while others just didn’t work. I have tried offering rewards. That didn’t seem to motivate for the duration either.

“The other day I had a wrapped gift I had found as we unpacked our boxes from another move. I set it on the table, and everyone was very interested. I told them that they could open it if everyone did their KP WELL and without talking. I left the room to go unpack boxes. They enjoyed their usual meal filled with giggles and noises, and then all of a sudden my house was QUIET!! Not too long after, I heard one or the other begin giggling and chatting, and I thought, ‘Oh well, that didn’t work too well.’ I walked out to find a PERFECTLY cleaned kitchen!! I was not only floored but somewhat disappointed that it took a wrapped gift on the table to accomplish that for which I have been striving for YEARS!!

“I asked my eldest son later (age 12), ‘What could I do to get my children to clean quietly like that when there ISN’T a reward waiting?’ He wisely said, ‘Well, this is just an idea . . . but you could ask a woman who has older children and has some more ideas than you!!’ Here I am asking you for some ideas, advice, and prayer!! I am seeing that I am training my children to disobey me, not the goal for any of us. I have gone to the Lord through James 1 and am believing that He WILL give me the wisdom I need to train my children in the way they should go!!”

I opened this Mom’s Corner with all of the details from the question we received because I felt that most of us could relate to the mom’s situation and struggles. She has tried many ways to get her children to do what they should do, but she isn’t having the success she would like to achieve. This then can easily lead to discouragement for Mom.

She has started right where she needs to begin—by depending on the Lord and crying out to him. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. . .” (James 1:5-6). We know that when we are weak, without answers, the Lord Jesus is strong. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. . .” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I believe what is being dealt with here is very normal childish behavior. Scripture speaks to this in 1 Corinthians 13:11. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Children are simply children—full of life, excitement, and most certainly childish ways. We can expect them to act like children while they are children. Our goal is to help them mature into a godly adult with a heart to serve and obey Jesus. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

This is a gradual process best facilitated little by little with loving encouragement, gentleness, and consistent consequences. Here are two verses that support this approach, “The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” (Proverbs 16:21). “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10).

What we want to have happen as we disciple and teach our children is to tell them what they are to do, demonstrate it for them, watch them do it, encourage them, and then have them do it perfectly from then on. However, that simply isn’t the way it always works. Remember with me and say it to yourself again, “They are just children.” It takes a mom’s ongoing time, effort, and consistency to achieve the desired goal.

In this case, as in almost every case that involves children’s behavior, consistency of consequence is more important than the actual consequence itself. It isn’t the exact consequence that matters most, but it is the utilizing of the consequence every time it is needed. It is likely that even though this mom has been in the kitchen with the children, she hasn’t been consistent with her consequences.

Let’s take a very normal problem and assign it a consequence. The problem is that a child isn’t doing his cleanup job but instead is reading the mail sitting on the kitchen counter. If we have designated ten minutes of sitting on a chair during free time as a consequence for a child who isn’t doing his kitchen work, then we would give that consequence. I am certain that if the consequence is given and utilized EVERY time the child begins to read the mail, he will soon stop doing it and stick to his task.

What happens, though, is that we remind the child to get back to work or he will receive the consequence. He stops reading but soon is back to it, and again we remind him to do his job. We would do better in teaching our children to be responsible by giving them the consequence right away and giving it consistently every time. If we make it a simple consequence like sitting on a chair during free time, we are more likely to actually use the consequence. If the consequence is difficult to implement or if we feel it is too hard, we will tend to continue with the reminders to help the children avoid it.

We know the children in the example can do what they are supposed to do because they did the job the mom wanted them to do when she had a reward for them—a wrapped present to be opened upon the successful completion of KP. A reward like that is okay once in a while, but we desire that our children learn to do what they should do simply because they need to do it, not because there is a reward for it. This mom found through her little experiment with the package that her children were very capable of doing what she was asking them to do, doing it well, and doing it in a timely fashion. Now she just wants to continue with her training and discipline to bring her children to maturity in doing these things without rewards, reminders, or consequences.

Personally, I would work toward having the children become responsible in their jobs but allowing them to talk and enjoy each other’s fellowship as they are in the kitchen together. In our family, this is one of the greatest blessings of tackling a job as a group—being able to talk as we work. While the children are fellowshipping through their KP duties, their work will go much more quickly and they are building those lifelong relationships. Our family loves working together. However, talking can lead to goofiness, which undermines the task at hand, so there have to be consequences that are set in place for playing rather than working and for not doing a good job.

Consider making the consequence for poor quality work having to redo the job during the child’s free time. Since this is an after-lunch cleanup, if a child is required to redo several of his jobs, it will most likely mean he isn’t ready to start the afternoon’s schoolwork on time. Then are two choices. The first possibility would be to have him redo the poor or undone work right then, and begin school later. For however much later school is started, it would go that much later in the day. For example, let’s say it is 12:55 when Mom inspects the kitchen and sees a child’s work that needs to be redone. She calls her child to redo the work, and it takes him until 1:15 to accomplish the tasks. School was to begin at 1:00, so he now has to go fifteen minutes later in the afternoon with school than he normally would go.

The second possibility would be to begin school at the scheduled time, and then when free time arrives, have the child redo his work. For example, if the child didn’t load the dishes into the dishwasher after lunch and some of those dishes are needed for an afternoon snack, he could be required to wash and dry the dishes by hand. However, if the dishes aren’t needed until dinnertime, there might be opportunity after school for him to redo his job. Which way to work the consequence would depend on whether the chore has to be accomplished correctly for other aspects of the day to continue.

If the consequence, consistently used, isn’t working, then one raises the impact of the consequence. In this case, the mom could begin adding extra time doing other jobs, doing schoolwork, or for a younger child, sitting on a chair. If that isn’t working, add more time. But remember with me, and say it to yourself again, “I have to be consistent.” If your consequence isn’t working, reevaluate whether you are being consistent.

This mom might try to give her children an incentive to move through their work in a timely fashion, such as free time before the next scheduled activity. For example, breakfast cleanup could be scheduled for a half hour, but you know it should only take fifteen minutes. If the children are working efficiently, they will have fifteen minutes of free time before school starts. However, if they goof off during their meal cleanup, they would be using up their free time. If that happens, then it really doesn’t matter much because it was just their free time that was impacted. Just be careful, though, not to always use rewards and thereby teach your children to work only if there is a reward.

I have regularly dismissed all the kitchen helpers and left the work to one child whom I observed not doing his work. Extra work for our children has been a good consequence that I can use consistently. I would also consider using extra work for the child who isn’t doing a good job with his task—give him a sibling’s job in addition to his own work—particularly if this could reward the child who is being thorough and diligent with his work, releasing him from it for a day or two or more.

After sharing, in a much briefer fashion, these thoughts and suggestions with the mom who wrote the introductory question, she responded a short while later with this result:

“I have really taken your counsel to heart, especially the encouragement to be consistent and the ideas to add more work for those trying to sneak out of work!! I can assure you that these, perhaps obvious, thoughts have truly brought PEACE to my home after each meal!! It was really helpful for me to hear from you that my children WILL grow into maturity!! I believe this is true AS LONG AS I train them in that right direction.”

Using consequences consistently is vitally important to gaining results in teaching our children to do what the need to do. We also want to remember that they are children and not expect adult behavior from them. Look back at their level of responsibility two years ago, and it is likely there has been progress. Two years in the future, it will have progressed even further. May I encourage you to lovingly, gently, and consistently tackle any areas with your children—like KP—that have had you discouraged? I believe you will be happily surprised with the results.

Bickering, Complaining, and Time Pressure – Part 3

(We hadn’t realized we never completed a series we started earlier this year! So, here is the final part.) This month I want to finish the response to the questions contained in this e-mail:

“I was just reading your latest Mom’s Corner and was wondering about you addressing something in the future. We are trying to raise five children, ages six years down to eight months, in the way God would want. I am having difficulty with bickering, bickering, and more bickering. The children complain about having to do chores and not getting enough play time because they have to do school. We are homeschooling. I try to explain that we help each other and should treat each other as we would have others treat us. Also of note . . . I feel my time is so divided, especially with twin eight month olds. I don’t feel like I have the time to do all the things that need to be done such as when it comes to getting the children to listen and be kind to each other. I know that this should be the priority, but it seems too hard.” Mom to Five

You can read the first two parts of this series of articles here.

To tackle the complaining about chores, doing school, or not having enough play time, much of what was shared in parts one and two of these articles will apply. In this case, once again, the consequences have to be consistent and effective. The children who complain about chores could be given more chores to do, which is a very natural consequence. However, with little children it can be difficult to come up with additional chores that they are capable of accomplishing since they can do so few chores on their own in the first place.

When our younger children complained about chores or school, I often used chair time as a consequence. Since their grumbles were linked to their desire to play rather than do what they needed to do, the consequence was designed to impact what they preferred to do while at the same time making it counterproductive to complain. If it wasn’t convenient for them to sit their chair time right at that moment, I wrote a note so that at lunchtime or later in the afternoon, the child would have his consequence.

As would frequently happen in our home, a child would likely make an excuse for his complaining, tell me he wasn’t grumbling, or argue about his consequence. I usually started with five minutes of chair-sitting time. When the excuses or arguing began, I said, “The time is now ten minutes.” If it continued (as often happened because the first try didn’t work), I would say, “The time is now fifteen minutes.” We had a couple of times where a child worked his way up to forty-five minutes. However, we felt the consequence was reasonable and so much better than becoming entangled in an argument with the child.

These two verses were the main ones we used with our children concerning complaining and why they shouldn’t grumble. “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” (Philippians 2:14). “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). The first verse is the directive not to complain, and the second verse provides the instruction of what the child’s heart attitude is to encompass.

Something to take into consideration concerning both the children’s bickering and their complaining would be other influences. The more time children spend playing with friends, the more likely that they will be dissatisfied with their sibling playmates. They come to prefer their friends over their brothers and sisters. In addition, they are usually learning negative attitudes from their friends that they bring home and with which they begin to afflict their family members. Influences that cause unkindness among siblings might also be coming from other activities where our children are around other children. Being exposed to the typical child’s foolishness can lead our children to mirror that same foolishness in their lives with their brothers and sisters.

The same problems would go for the amount of time children spend watching TV. TV impacts children’s attitudes toward each other adversely, and it fosters a spirit of complaining when the children are required to do activities like chores and school that take away from TV time.

This mom also indicated that she doesn’t feel like she has time to stop and teach the children when a problem surfaces. She knows, though, the vital importance of investing time in the discipleship process with her children. I want to encourage this mom in the use of a daily schedule so that she is more productive and has time available not only to give her children consequences when they bicker but also to teach them how to be sweet to each other.

With five children, including twin eight month old babies, this mom most certainly has plenty to keep her busy. It is no wonder that she would struggle with time pressures and not think she has time to instruct her children when they are bickering. I firmly believe that a schedule is the key she needs to help her have the time to keep up with her household responsibilities, homeschool her children, and interact with them when they are not getting along well.

Our book Managers of Their Homes has much more information on scheduling and includes a Scheduling Kit (colored squares and sticky tac). Especially for those who don’t think they can schedule, it is designed to make the process as easy as possible. Daily, we receive testimonies about how this book is being used as a tool to transform families. To read some of them, just click on product testimonies at the above link. Even if you haven’t felt you could ever make or use a schedule, if you have a need in your home, I encourage you to consider a schedule as a solution.

Life with little children will bring bickering between them, complaining about responsibility, and time pressure for Mom. We know the importance of raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, so addressing these problems is vitally important. As a mom whose children are much older than the mom who wrote the introductory e-mail, I know firsthand the necessity of praying for ourselves and our children. I encourage young moms to expect the process of discipling their children to be a long-term project and to willingly invest their hearts into it. Then you want to look for consistent consequences that you can give with a loving attitude while evaluating any influences that may be undermining the work you are doing with your children. May I encourage you to be a mom who puts a schedule in place so that she will have the needed time to continually instruct her children in the way they should go. Let us run with patience the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).

Children’s Chores

Children and chores. I wonder if there is any more difficult area of raising children to tackle than this one. In the chore survey we sent out with the June Corners, we gathered a huge quantity of information about chores. In a nutshell, from the questions we asked, here is a summary. Most moms weren’t prepared, while growing up, to be homemakers. Consequently, they have struggled–some greatly–with taking care of their families and homes. A handful of the respondents were prepared. Those who were prepared attribute it to having to do chores when they were children.

Chores Are Beneficial to Children

Every one of the over 250 survey respondents believed that chores were beneficial for the children and the family. The list of reasons why chores are good was long and varied. Some of the benefits were current for the child, the family, and the home. Many of the benefits would be realized and enjoyed throughout the adult years of the child’s life.

From the survey, the biggest difficulty with chores was first working with children–having to remind them, their negative attitudes, and their poor work. The second major problem was Mom’s lack of consistency–in developing a chore plan, in scheduling time for chores, in checking the work that was done, and in giving consequences for a bad job and rewards for good work.

The chore poll confirmed what we already knew: that chores are important in our children’s lives, and chores need to be made a priority in our homes. In our culture, with its “let children be children” philosophy, it is easy to believe we are doing our children a disservice by expecting them to have responsibility as they are growing up. In reality, the opposite is true. If we choose not to give our children chores and teach them to accomplish them well, we are handicapping our children for their futures as adults. There are a multitude of long-term benefits our children will realize from the disciplines and skills they will develop as a result of chore responsibilities.

Chore Consistency

At one point, Steve and I realized our struggles with many unsuccessful years of chores had come because we wanted our children to be responsible for their chores, but we hadn’t made it the priority it needed to be to ensure that it happened. As is so often true of anything good we want to accomplish in our children’s lives, it comes back to Mom. If I don’t have an accepting attitude toward my work, the children won’t toward theirs. If I don’t assign the children chores, they won’t do any. If I don’t schedule a time for them to do chores, they will forget all day. If I don’t check their work, they will do it sloppily, if at all. If I don’t give consequences, they won’t be motivated to improve their chore performance.

To be honest, I would like it if so much didn’t depend on me. At the same time, I know the Lord uses all of this not only in my children’s lives, but also in my life. I am told in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Even if this part of motherhood is difficult, I am not to give up. I am not to grow weary.

I have to admit I have wanted to give up–more than once! I can remember telling Steve that perhaps I could let the children grow up but keep their bedroom doors closed and never go in. I would ignore the fact that they weren’t doing what they had been assigned to do in their rooms. Eventually they would be adults. It would no longer be my responsibility as to whether they picked up their bedrooms or didn’t. Even while speaking those words, I knew this was not an option the Lord was putting before me. He had told me in Titus 2:4 to love my children. Part of loving them was the necessity of teaching them to be responsible.

This area of children and chores is vitally important. As we have studied chores and their impact on children’s lives and then on them as adults, we have come to see that chores are as critical as homeschooling is. It is as essential a part of their education as their book work. Being aware of the benefits of chores is a major part of the necessary motivation to make the daily decisions that will foster chore success.

My encouragement to you is to make chores a priority for your children. Consider chores as much a part of your child’s education as his math book is. When you view chores in this light, you will be motivated to invest the time and energy needed to be successful with chores. After all, it does mostly fall back on us moms. Will we women, who seek the best for our children, hold them responsible to do their chores?

We now have available a book with a ChorePack Kit all about chores and helping you make your chore system: Managers of Their Chores: A Practical Guide to Children's Chores.

Benefiting from Summer Chores

This week seven-year-old Mary, eleven-year-old Anna, and I spent fifteen minutes each day polishing kitchen cabinets. That is a task that looked daunting to me, although I am serious about trying to tackle it at least once a year. My engineer husband has convinced me that if I want my kitchen cabinets to stay nice, I need to take care of them properly. As we evaluated this need and my time, we realized that this was the perfect opportunity to include the girls in a job where they could work with Mom. Each day it seemed that our fifteen minutes was up almost as soon as we started. Our time was filled with happy chatter, typical of mommies and their little girls.

After two days, our nine-year-old son said he would like to join us in our project. At that point, I headed to the store to purchase two more bottles of furniture polish. As we polished and buffed, I asked the children if they could explain the purpose of what we were doing. They did well in knowing that the polish cleaned and protected the wood. Next I questioned them on why we wanted to take care of the cabinets. They decided it was so that they would stay in good condition and look pretty. I presented them with a third question, asking why we wouldn’t just let them get messed up and then replace them. That question was a stumper for them. In their minds, it sounded reasonable just to have Daddy buy new cabinets when they no longer looked acceptable. This headed us into a discussion of being good stewards of what Jesus has given to us. That evening in our family Bible time, stewardship came up. Jesse piped in with, “Oh, yes, Mommy talked to us about being good stewards this morning when we were working on the cabinets.”

15-Minute-Chore-Time Nets Results

A simple fifteen minutes of time with my children for several days has netted our family many positive benefits. (For further information, see Managers of Their Homes.) The girls have learned a skill they may need in their own homes one day. They are being taught in one of the areas that Titus 2:4-5 tells the older women to teach the younger women, and that is in being a keeper at home. My son experienced the pleasure found in volunteering to give of his time to help another—to take joy in serving rather than having to be served. We enjoyed fellowship and spiritual discussions. In addition, the cabinets will all be polished with just a few more days of work.

Summer, if you don’t school through it, is the perfect time to dig into household cleaning and organizing tasks that don’t fit into normal homeschooling days and weeks. Rather than dreading these jobs, we can enlist the help of the children and discover benefits similar to those our family found in our cabinet-polishing. My girls didn’t complain at all when I explained to them what we were going to do—not on the first day or on subsequent days. They now look at the cabinets with a sense of accomplishment in their eyes. I expect they will be even more careful in the future to have dry hands when they open the cabinet doors and to use the handles. They have seen firsthand how much work it takes to keep up the cabinets. They don’t want to make more work.

Consider jobs in your home that need to be done and figure out how to work with your children. Our thirteen-year-old and fifteen-year-old sons are taking over the boys’ bathroom cleaning from their twenty-five-year-old brother, who will add one more sibling to the two he is already teaching piano to this year in lieu of extra cleaning chores. The boys will trade off weeks to do the bathroom cleaning. This week I cleaned their bathroom, explaining step by step what I was doing. For several weeks, I plan to be an observer of the bathroom cleaning until I feel they are consistently doing a good, thorough job. The boys are motivated to learn to maintain their bathroom well because, if they do, Daddy may consider it for a needed remodeling.

Here are some verses that have helped Steve and me to see that teaching our children to work will be helpful to them as they grow up. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 6:6-11). “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat” (Proverbs 13:4). “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing” (Proverbs 20:4).

Steve and I know how much more we enjoy a work project when we can do it together. We have some fond memories of painting rooms in houses we lived in when first married. Steve did the rolling; I did the trim. We worked until we collapsed at night and talked the whole time. The same would be true for our children. Doing a project with Dad or Mom helps the time pass quickly while experiencing the joy of fellowship.

For many homeschoolers, we have several more weeks of summer left before beginning our new school year. I encourage you to target a bit of this time for working on cleaning and organizing tasks with your children. It is also a prime opportunity to teach them how to do new chores. Working together makes the children more willing participants. May we be moms who help our children toward diligence and away from the curse of being a sluggard.

Chores

It is Friday cleaning morning at the Maxwell house! Eleven-year-old Joseph busily oils our oak dining-room table while Anna, age eight, runs the hand-held vacuum over the throw rugs. John, our nine-year-old, is singing as he pushes the vacuum, and Mom is mopping the kitchen and bathroom floor. These are a few of our weekly chores.

I would love for my children to have lots of free time. Unfortunately, the more hours they are on their own, the more likely they are to fuss and squabble with each other. We have found schoolwork and housework are very helpful in giving the children positive direction for their time. Then they are able to comfortably handle the free hours they have left. They greatly enjoy their personal time, and the children don’t complain of being bored!

Steve and I want our children to learn to work. We desire for them to have a healthy attitude toward responsibilities, approaching them with diligence and initiative. Having the children help with the daily workload in our home is a part of their training to eventually become good husbands, wives, homemakers, employees, and employers.

I need the help of my children to keep up with housework. I would not physically have the time to do it all myself in addition to homeschooling. I remind the children regularly of how much they contribute to the family and lighten my workload. Children love to please their mommies, and usually, mine love to do anything that visibly makes me happy. Much of their attitude toward their work stems from how diligent I am to praise them for help and to encourage them that they are needed members of the family.

Chores can present challenges to homeschooling moms. They wonder how much they should expect of their children as far as chores are concerned. Are they giving the children too many or too few jobs? What kind of work is a child capable of and at what age? How do you equitably divide the tasks? When can a child do his chores without being reminded? What consequences are reasonable for not doing an assigned job or for doing it poorly?

As you are considering chores for your children, I have a starting place. It is often helpful to see how other families structure their chore assignments. While your chore chart won’t be identical to another mom’s, you can glean ideas. You could evaluate what is expected of her children at various ages and determine how the chores are divided among the family members. You will get a picture of how long the chores are probably taking plus how often certain jobs are being done.

We have begun a section on our website where you can see real-life chore charts of homeschooling families. (Update: We now have a book on chores.) When we announced to the MOTHBoard that these chores charts were available to look at, we received some interesting feedback.

“Teri, an unexpected plus to the charts . . .

“I looked at the charts for the chores. I have to tell you what happened. I printed them out to do some comparing with the charts we use. Well, our nine-year-old son saw me looking at the charts and noticed that compared to other nine- and ten-year-old boys, he has it pretty easy. ‘WOW, Mom, look at all they have to do!’

“Needless to say, after a conversation our son did come to the realization that he could be doing more. Then, of course, so could his sister! So this morning we made new charts with some more involved chores! Just by seeing what other children are doing, our son was convicted! Today the new chores begin! It looks like Mom is going to get more help!” Janice

“Same here! My almost nine-year-old son, who moans and groans when asked to fold a pile of towels, which is one of about four or five chores, was amazed at the work that children younger than himself were capable of. A six-year-old clean the bathroom? Even he agreed that he could easily handle more work, and that’s exactly what I’m going to give him!” Amanda

As I was writing this Mom’s Corner, I realized something amazing. We have virtually eliminated grumbling about chores in our family! I am pleased this is the case; however, it happened unintentionally. It appears, though, there may be several factors as to why we have moved past chore complaints.

First, we begin assigning regular chores (beyond picking up after himself) around the time a child starts school. Second, the chores are written down. The child knows what is expected of him and so do I. Each child keeps the same chores for at least a year. We also have accountability to ensure the jobs are accomplished. Lastly, the child has a set time each day to do his work. I believe because chores have become so much a part of their daily routine, the children don’t grumble.

If I were always to call the children at random times from their play to do this job or that one, they might respond differently. However, even when I need to do this, the response is generally good. Perhaps it is because they have their assigned, scheduled tasks, and I don’t ask for “over and above” help very often. Just tonight I needed extra hands to get dinner on the table. Steve asked two of the children who were not my normal Thursday dinner helpers to pitch in. They did so with sweet, willing attitudes. They were happily surprised to receive an extra portion of dessert as a reward from their daddy for their cooperation!

The responsibility of whether chores are being done, and being done well, falls squarely back on me. I find it is important to take adequate time to train each child in what he is expected to do. It is all too easy to tell my son to vacuum the floor and then be unhappy with a poor job. However, I can’t assume a child knows how to do a task properly until I have taught him.

Also important, in addition to chore training, are regular inspections to check on the work. My children become sloppy in their jobs if I am not frequently looking at them. In the past two years we have had periods of time when I am intensely busy for several weeks. The children’s thoroughness in their chores slips greatly because I am not checking their work.

I encourage you to have consequences in place for failure to do a job or for not doing it well. The children and I have decided upon a consequence for this in our family. They made the suggestion, and I approved it. For each chore that isn’t done, or is poorly done, they have to sit on a chair for fifteen minutes. This discipline was decided upon because most of our chores take five minutes or less. The children thought that sitting on the chair for fifteen minutes would motivate them to do their jobs since the jobs take much less time than chair sitting would. Whatever consequences you and your husband decide upon, make sure you consistently use them.

I suggest you view your children’s chores as a great learning tool. See the benefits in teaching them to work diligently at their chores with a good attitude. Not only is this a help to you now, but you are also training your children for the lifetime of serving and ministering that the Lord Jesus has called them to.