The honest truth is, I’m not sure WHAT the secret is for a good chore plan. I suppose it is very similar to homeschooling curriculum. If mama don’t like it, it ain’t gonna work.
Life in this area definitely gets easier as your children get older. So hang in there Mamas with young ones. You WILL emerge from the dark years soon. And then you will look back and wonder where the time went. Just keep plugging and training and I promise it WILL pay off.
You don’t want to end up with 14-18 year olds that won’t lift a finger to help run your household. And their future spouses will not be happy either :)
This is what works for us right now. BUT it could change at any time as we see that certain children become capable of new jobs.
1 – PUBLISH YOUR CHORES
They Gotta Know The Rules
This is huge. We cannot expect our children to be successful in doing chores if the chore expectations are not published. Just like the government puts speed limit signs on the road so we know the rules, we MUST also post a chore chart for our children in a central place so THEY know the rules.
They Are Still Small
They are small and learning and they WILL NOT remember what is expected of them if we do not publish our chores. It will be hard enough even when we do publish, so that should be our #1 foundation. For children who cannot read, draw or post a picture for each chore. A picture of a bed means “Make your bed.”
Conserve Your Energy, Mom
The beauty of posting the chores is, instead of you trying to remember what their jobs are and then asking if they have done each one, you simply say in your sweetest voice (or at least try :) “Is your list done?” or “Check your list.” Saving Mom’s voice is very important.
WE USE PAPER INSIDE A PAGE PROTECTOR
It’s not as pretty as a beautifully organized white board (which I have used) but it won’t get accidentally erased by a child. And I can quickly write up a new plan if I want to change things around. I buy these steno pads from Staples and use them for everything from journals to taking notes to things like chore charts.
2 – LET THEM CHECK OFF JOBS WHEN COMPLETED
Do we love checklists? And then making that checkmark when the job is done? Yes we do! So let them do that too!
3 – SET A REGULAR TIME DAILY
Our children do their regular/daily chores between 8-9am (usually.) Actually my two older girls have been getting up at 6 or 7am and doing their chores so they can get them out of the way.
Also, at random times, my husband or I will decide an area in the house or outside cannot go a moment longer without being cleaned and we will gather all the children and get busy right then. Even our 3 year old was stacking logs the other day.
An Aside On How We Got Rid Of Our Housekeeper
I can start hyperventilating on this subject if I don’t keep myself in check!
A huge house
We have a huge, old house built in 1939. It’s about 6300 square feet. And we don’t have a housekeeper. Gasp! We bought it from my mother after my father died back in 2005. (Bless his heart.) We thought it would be great to keep it in the family, but one of my biggest worries was how to keep it up and still have a life.
I was adamant, but…
When we moved here I said to my husband “There is no way we can keep up with this house without a housekeeper.” It was over twice the size of our last house. At the same time I knew deep down, the children needed to get involved in maintaining it. It’s a great way to start developing a good work ethic. “I cannot raise lazy children,” I thought.
But back then, they were only 8, 5 and 2. The thought of me trying to homeschool, clean AND train the children to clean at that age was busting out the RAM in my brain, so for awhile we had 2 ladies cleaning our house 1 time a week for several hours. That STILL left a lot for us to do.
Out they went
Finally, as the children got a couple of years older and in an attempt to save money AND instill that all-important work ethic, we got rid of our housekeepers and started doing it ourselves. Yes, I was scared! We do have a young lady that helps with the children at various times throughout the week and she helps too. (Thank the Lord!)
So far, so good
We are now going on several years of this plan and it is a wonderful thing. My perfectionist need for a scrupulously clean house has changed. (With the help and support of my mom friends :) My relationship with my children is more important than a perfectly dusted mantle, though that need-for-clean is still deep inside me.
Someday the children will be gone
It is a balancing act. Allowing dust bunnies under the buffet to go unswept for days is a huge part of my “parent training” and I continually have to fight not being bugged by that. Though at the same time, we must have order in the home. Decluttered, tidy, order.
Whew! Just remembering that these babies will be grown and gone in the blink of an eye, and that I WILL have a clean house, but it will be quite empty of the life and laughter we have now, is helpful in getting me on the straight and narrow path of this subject. Now. Back to our 5 steps.
4 – INSPIRE THEM
I’m frequently and very animatedly (is that a word?) saying things like,
Do you think I want to be here washing these dishes or would I prefer playing with you, reading books, watching movies, or going to the park?
Your dad and I are preparing you for life! You will always have chores and work in life, and as part of this family, you have chores now. How would our house look if we didn’t ever sweep this floor or clean the kitchen? (They squeal – Yuckyyyyyyyyy.)
Do you really think I can or should do all of this and you guys should just sit around and do nothing? (They answer with downcast eyes – Noooooooo.)
So here is the plan.
We do the chores as fast and as well-done as possible and as soon as we are done, we get to do the really fun stuff.
Like go to the cool children’s museum in Seminole, Oklahoma.
Or knit and listen to Mom read really good books.
We are a team. We/you have a purpose in the world. You must learn to obey us, your parents, so you will understand as you grow up how to obey other authorities – like a boss…. and the law…..and most importantly, God. We are teaching you how to follow His lead for your life, because He has an awesome plan for you. He gave you each amazing gifts and abilities that are unfolding as you grow.
Isn’t that exciting?
Yes it is! So come on, let’s do this stuff, so we can get on with the really big stuff!”
For some reason it’s very easy for me to start talking to them about chores (or any other mundane subject) and wind up talking about God’s awesome plan for their life!
Oh and, by the way, cranking the music up can help.
5 – REWARD THEM
Life is full of actions with either consequences or benefits. It will always be that way. We do expect our children to be part of our team, part of maintaining our house,
part of helping and teaching each other things,
part of preparing meals for the family,
part of making sure we all have clean clothes and the list goes on. And at the same time we want to reward them for a job well done. So….stay tuned for the next post on how we reward them.
God Bless Ladies! Train Those Children Up To Be World Changers!