Whose Work Is It?

Last month we discussed the tremendous value of a family chore team. That generated a question related specifically to those with older children, but certainly, those with younger ones will someday be in this position as well. 

Here is what was asked:

Managers of Their Chores was a helpful guide while raising my children. We are in a new season with young adults (ages 17 and almost 19) living at home while taking college classes, the oldest working very part-time, and the other pursuing interests related to her future career. Contributing to the household tasks and chores has taken quite a backseat on everyone’s priority list. I am worn out and sometimes feeling taken advantage of. Can you please share how the household responsibilities are managed now that you have adult children living at home? — Sandra

As my homeschooling duties lessened first with a couple of graduated children, then just older children homeschooling, and finally homeschooling was finished, I had time available. This was time that had been utilized homeschooling that then allowed me to pick up more of the household chores that were previously shared. 

Communication and evaluation of time usage are critical at this stage in family life. Perhaps this verse is a great guideline in a family for chore distribution: “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).

We want our children to own responsibility in the home, and we all want to serve one another in love. Those who have fewer obligations in work, ministry, and study should then have more time to invest in household chores. 

I remember when our first son started a courtship. He invested much time in that relationship. We worked to make sure his chores could be flexible as to when they were accomplished. For example, he had the chore of unloading the dishwasher after dinner but before breakfast. That could be done whenever he chose to fit it into his life in the evening or early morning.

For several years, Jesse was the one who cleaned the boys’ bathroom. Each boy had that responsibility for a season of years, Jesse being the youngest of the five boys to end up with it. When all the boys were working full time, but the girls weren’t, we chose to take that job from Jesse and move it to the girls. That was not a decision Jesse asked for but one the girls offered. Jesse was still our lawn mower and could plan that around his schedule. 

At this point with four adult children still living here, each person is responsible for his own laundry. We divide the basic cleaning between we four women in the house, with me taking a bit more than the others. The kitchen work is managed and done by the one who has the most time available. The girls do it when I am writing a book. I do it when they have big projects, and sometimes we share it quite evenly. 

Jesse does the least, but he works full-time. The girls work part-time, generally, but sometimes work projects bump it to full time and more. All of them invest many hours each week in ministry. It seems reasonable that when I, as a mom, have fewer or no homeschooling responsibilities, and my children gain more responsibility whether with education, work, or ministry that I step back into more of the meal and housekeeping roles.

As moms, we want to be careful that we don’t expect our children to serve us when we have time to do household work ourselves, but also we don’t want to enable them not to shoulder adult responsibilities. Family communication in time management and household responsibilities help everyone come on board with the plan the family decides to put in place.