After becoming successful with chores in our home when we had our eight children and before writing a resource on that topic, we did a survey of a large number of Christian, homeschooling moms. One statistic we garnered from that survey was that about 75% of those women did not feel prepared for their roles as wives, mothers, and homemakers while the other 25% were prepared. Those women said that the presence or absence of chore responsibility growing up made the difference.
You are preparing your children to become mature, responsible adults so I want to encourage you to invest heavily in a chore system in your home and teaching your children how to do those chores. You can’t tell a child to do something and then expect that he will know what and how to do it. They need to have you demonstrate the chore, talking through it as you go and then letting them try it while you are watching.
I wonder if practice is one of the major missing pieces that cause many to fail at their chore system. Recently we heard a reading specialist mention in a talk that dyslexic children can learn to read, but it takes repetition and practice and more repetition and practice – not just for a week, but for months and years.
We want to teach our children their chores and then think they will be off and running with them. That formula leads to disappointment and frustration for Mom, and that was certainly part of my failure with chores and my children in the beginning. How much better it is when we teach the chore, put it on the schedule, and practice the chore with the child for several days, until it is clear the child knows what to do and how to do it.
The next major stumbling block with a chore system is expecting that the chores will be done and done the way we want them done. I once heard someone say: “Don’t expect what you don’t inspect.” It takes time to daily inspect chores that are assigned to children. That means not only do the children have chores in their schedules but mom needs a time in her schedule to inspect them. This puts accountability in the chore system.
If a child isn’t doing his chores or isn’t doing them well, Mom will decide if she needs to go back to teaching the job. Remember the dyslexic reader – repetition. Perhaps more practice with Mom is what will turn it around. On the other hand, it might be that we have moved into a character issue that must be addressed. It could be distractibility, lack of self-discipline, laziness, not paying attention to detail, hurrying, or many others. These are important to work through with your child too. Remember, we are headed for mature, responsible adults – step by step.
Here’s an encouraging story a teenager’s mom shared with me.
“One of my children, who wishes to remain nameless, just said this – I promise, it is an exact quote . . . ‘I’m glad I have to do chores!’
So there you go. It only took 10 years of reinforcement, toil, sweat, tears etc. (on my part, I mean. 🙂 For those of you just starting in the trenches – don’t give up! It pays major dividends! Definitely not easy – what an understatement – but totally worth it!” Sandra
May I encourage you to work on chore system, not just setting it up but teaching, practicing, and inspecting the chores? “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:17). While it may seem daunting, it is worth it, and it is never to late to start.
If you need any help with a chore system, I suggest you get Managers of Their Chores. It has facilitated so many families in a successful chore system in their home and the positive outcomes that are desired from it.