When our children were young, Matt said that he wanted them to help me with the housework. This statement made me anxious because I had a certain way that I liked things done and my kids were, well, they were little kids! So I came up with a plan and had to remind myself that it really didn’t matter if things weren’t done the way that I wanted them to be done, what was important was that they were done.
The plan was to give them chores that I wasn’t too concerned about whether or not they would be done the way I wanted them done, or chores that if done every day, eventually they would be completed. For instance, one of the jobs that I didn’t care how it was done was to collect the towels and wash cloths from the bathroom and take them to the laundry room. As for an example of the jobs that if it were done everyday eventually it would get done–sweeping the floor. My logic was that eventually the broom would hit every spot, right? Well, close enough!
Another thing that I did after some trial and error was to establish yearly chores rather than daily, or even monthly, ones. The trial and error part started out something like this: “Mom! It was my turn yesterday, it’s her turn.” Other child, “No, it’s not, it’s her turn!” And I surely didn’t remember whose turn it was! Eventually we began our yearly chore system. This eliminated lots of time spent planning; Now I only had to plan all the chores once a year and I only had to change the names on the list. This plan helped encourage efficiency in that all kids wanted to hurry through their chores so they learned to quickly do a good job so that their jobs would pass inspection.
I really liked the idea of boys doing dishes and cooking and girls shoveling snow and raking leaves, because I didn’t know what God had in store for my children and it seemed prudent to train them to know how to do all possible household jobs. I knew one man who earned money in college because he was the only man in his dorm who could sew. Another man whose mom taught him to sew made his wife’s wedding dress! I will say this, Matty had a lot of energy that needed to be used, so once he was trained he got most of the strenuous and outdoor jobs. Sure, girls can do these things but it is also good for boys to learn to be men and to care for girls/women by doing the heavy lifting types of jobs.
Another benefit to training your children is that they will be able to minister to the brethren, as well as come along side your neighbors who could use a helping hand. I believe that it’s important to teach our children to help those in need. This also turned into a money making opportunity when our kids were older. They would offer to do things for folks for free but people would insist on giving them money. Also, if you ever had a roommate who didn’t know how to accomplish basic household responsibilities this will mean more to you! Please don’t let your child be that roommate.
Here is a sample list of chores you may want to turn over to your kids:
-taking out garbage
-making their beds and washing sheets
-picking up their room
-caring for animals
We had each child take a room–kitchen, bathroom, living room. That room was their responsibility for the year and then we grouped other responsibilities for the last child. We didn’t give an allowance for these things, because, like roommates, it’s part of the responsibility of living in the home–everyone, including the parents, has work to do.
When the kids are little they think that chores are fun. Enjoy, because it won’t last long! But when they are older I hope that you will stay in the “battle” and teach your children to be responsible, God-honoring adults.