Tag Archives: 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.