Romans 12:5 “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. I love this scripture! Christ’s body is made up of many members. We all have a job to do in the Body of Christ. None of our jobs are the same, but every job is important. We all have to depend on each other.
It’s the same in the family. Our family is made up of many members. We all have a job to do in the family and EVERY job is important. We all have to depend on each other.
As mothers, it is our job to teach our children that they have an important part in their family. It is important for each child to understand that their part is important.
There are many things that children must learn when learning to be a part of the family. Loving, sharing, caring, forgiving, and the list could go on and on. Today, we are going to focus on the aspect of chores and responsibilities of each member in the home. This is a HUGE part of teaching your children.
When my oldest child was about 4 years old and my second child was just a baby we had an incident that was rather funny. For some reason or another (I cannot remember WHAT happened exactly!) but we had water all over our bathroom floor in the basement. Just as I had noticed this mess, the baby woke up and was hungry. I grabbed several towels and threw them at my son and said, “Please wipe up the water the best you can!” and I ran upstairs to feed the baby. My son hollered after me, “What is this anyway?” I answered, “Don’t ask! Just clean it up!” So after sitting with the baby for a few minutes, I noticed that my son had not come back upstairs yet. I decided I should probably check and see how he was doing. “TJ! What are you doing?” I called out to him. He answered me back, “I’m cleaning up the “dontask” like you told me to!” O my goodness. This was a funny incident, but he was such a big helper that day!
I love this saying that i found by Carolyn Morrison at her blog – guiltfreehomeschooling.org
Whether you are folding laundry, making bread, or shingling a roof, this method works:
You do it with them watching you.
You do it with them helping you.
They do it with you helping them.
They do it with you watching them.
You leave with them doing it alone.
It’s so true as we are teaching our children – in everything we do!
Let’s go through a few points as we talk about chores in our home. I hope and pray that these will be a blessing to you and your family.
#1 – Lighten up!
Don’t be so uptight about having a perfectly clean house. Give it just a few short years and your children will be grown and gone and you can have an immaculately clean house if you like. Lighten up a little and have some fun with your kids. About a year ago, I decided that something had to give in our home! Oh, the house was clean and the children were doing school, but I was exhausted! I felt like every waking moment I was cleaning something or picking up a mess that someone left behind. I would be picking up in the living room, just to turn around and find out that the kitchen was a mess. Of course, I had just cleaned the kitchen – but the kids probably needed something to do while I was cleaning the living room so they decided to do a science project in the kitchen. Go figure! What was I going to do? I was just trying to stay ahead of the game, but it wasn’t working out so well.
On a side note, there is something to be said about not going overboard when cleaning. I have learned that a little dust never hurt anyone. I have lightened up quite a bit. I will not let my house get filthy, but every now and then, there is going to be a little clutter somewhere in my house! And, there may be a few fingerprints on the doors – just remember those fingerprints will not be that little forever. Someday, there will not be any little fingerprints to smudge up those windows and tabletops. Don’t get frustrated over them – enjoy them! I’m reminded of a poem by Lorrie Williams, called Messy Little Fingers.
Every day I wake up ready for the mess,
I look around and think o great!
They’ve already made a mess.
I wonder what they’re thinking as they smear makeup on the wall.
Is it “Poor, poor Mommy” or “This was cool after all”?
They touch and grab and mess and bother,
While I sit there saying “Please, just go find your father”
I wonder why they do it day after day
Don’t they know it’s hard on me? I don’t have time to play.
When I put them to sleep at night I breathe a sigh of relief,
At least right now I sit and enjoy the wonders of disbelief.
I look around at my house and think, “Didn’t I just clean?
Every day I try and try, but it’s the same old thing.”
I always stop and wonder, “Why me, Lord – o why me?
I’ve been blessed, yes I know – But did you have to make it three?”
I love my children dearly, as I’m getting out the rags.
I sweep and mop and clean all night, praying tomorrow I won’t be a hag.
I see those messy little fingers on windows, doors, and walls –
Three little hand prints reminding me how small.
Life isn’t easy and kids are always testy,
I clean up those messy little fingers thanking God for little blessings.
The sun is rising, and we awake; “Hurry Mommy, Hurry Mommy! It’s time to get up and skate!
Please take us to the park and play with us outside.
We will be good, we promise, and fill your heart with pride.”
My children, you are wonderful, and today I will take off
Not from a corporate job – just from being a cleaning shop.
It took me three years to figure it out and now I share with you;
those messy little fingers are the best things God’s ever given to you!
Want another way to lighten up? Take one week his summer to go through your house and de-clutter. Less mess = less stress and less to clean! Decide what you can live without. Have a garage sale and get rid of those unwanted items – don’t forget to save your money for the home school conference next year! Whatever is left, take to Goodwill and donate!
Now that you have eliminated the unnecessary – go through the house and organize. Make sure that you only have things in each room that NEED to be there. Make things easily accessible. In the laundry room, we have a clean laundry basket for my husband and I, my son, and one for each of our daughters. They are color coded so everyone knows which basket to put items in. Make sure you have the cleaning supplies available for that room in particular. Example – In the bathroom, you may have a roll of paper towels, windex, cleaning rags, toilet cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, rubber gloves, etc. If the cleaning supplies are easily accessible, then it will make the chores much easier for your children AND yourself!
#2 – The Bible says that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” If your children see that Mom has a merry heart then most likely they will have a merry heart as well. It is pretty contagious! But, be very careful – when we get into a bad mood, this is contagious as well. O how easy it is to be so caught up in everything we have to do during the day! We get so preoccupied with our “to do” list and have a very hard time finding the “merry” in our hearts. One thing that I have found that works well for us is to have Praise and Worship music playing in our home as often as possible. I love to listen to Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir among other favorites. When I feel the spirit in those songs, I have NO problem letting the “merry” in my heart shine! And not only does it do my heart good like a medicine, but it’s also like a medicine for my children! Being in the presence of Jesus is worth more than getting everything on your “to do” list finished. And you might be surprised! When you are filled with His spirit, you will accomplish sooo much more! So crank up the music and be merry!
#3 – Stop complaining!
While I admit that this could just be thrown in with point #2, I think that there are a few more things that can be said on this subject.
Teach your children to do everything without complaining. Phillipians 2:14 says, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings:”
Let’s be honest – when we are complaining while we are doing the work or complaining about the work that needs to be done, we do NOT have a merry heart. We are basically telling our children that we do not feel like doing the job that GOD has given us. He truly did call us to be “joyful mothers of children” Psalms 113:9. Complaining is NOT very joyful. As a matter of fact, your children will probably not enjoy being around you if you are complaining all the time. Let’s face it – Do YOU like to be around someone who is complaining all the time? Most of the things we do in our homes are for our spouses and children – cooking, cleaning, laundry, paying the bills (possibly), running the kids to doctors and dentist appointments, taking them to their music lessons, etc. If we are constantly complaining about what we are doing, our children AND our husband may misinterpret this and think that we don’t love THEM enough to do these things. They may begin to think that THEY are a burden. This is NOT a good message to be sending to your family. So, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise” Proverbs 6:6
#4 – Chore Rings and Prep Work
Proverbs 14:15 “The prudent man looketh well to his going”. The prudent man or woman is always prepared!
Make a list of things you would like to see done weekly around your house. It may help if you walk through the house and make a list for each room. As you write each item down, put the initials of the child that is able to do this job. There may just be one child that is old enough to clean toilets, but you may have 3 children that can empty the garbage. Make sure you put everyone’s initials next to each item, even if there are 12 people! And if you have that many children, you should have no problem getting the house cleaned in record time!
There are several ways to accomplish getting things done during the week. You can focus on one or two rooms a day or you can just do a little bit of everything here and there. Now that you have made your list, write your children’s names AND your name on a sheet of paper. No, you will not get out of doing things around the house mom! There is plenty to go around! Next you will decide what you want to be done on Monday, Tuesday, and so on by each persons name. Arrange the chores for your children in a way that makes sense. Hopefully you will get the idea by looking at the pics I have added to this post. For example – on the day that I clean the kitchen, Savannah will sweep the kitchen and Mariah will mop the kitchen. Tanner has a different job for this day. Another example – Savannah and Mariah may straighten the basement one day and Tanner will vacuum the basement. Use a method that works for YOUR family. We try to do all of our chores Monday – Friday so that we can have family time on Saturday.
Once you have finished making your list of what needs to be done each day by each child, then you will get 4×6 cards and write out each childs chores for each day of the week. You can also use card stock and cut them to size. You may want to go color coded so that each child knows which chore cards are theirs. We did this in the beginning, but as the children got older we started trading off the chore cards so that everyone had an opportunity to do different chores. Again – whatever works for your family! You will have a 4×6 card for each day of the week for each child. Let’s look at an example for Monday – Tanner’s chores may include: cleaning his bathroom, vacuuming upstairs, and doing 1 load of laundry. On the back of that chore card, there will be precise instructions on how to do these chores. Trust me – this is a necessity. One day I had left the house to run errands and the children were to stay with my husband at home. I left a few chores for the kids to do while I was gone. Savannahs chore was to clean the shower. When I returned home I found a dirty mop in our bathroom. Apparently she had used this DIRTY mop to clean the shower. Well, it was then that I decided I needed to write out some instructions on HOW to clean and do some training sessions. If they have instructions that they can follow, it will make the job much easier for them.
There are a few things that are not included on our chore rings. #1 is dishwasher duty. For this, we use a 4×6 (this is on the dishwasher with a magnet) that gets turned over each time they are finished unloading. One side says Tanner and the other says Savannah. If they forget to turn the card over after unloading then they must unload again. No griping or complaining! That is just the way it is. We also have a rule in our home that when we are finished with a dish, we rinse it off and put it in the dishwasher. Don’t let things pile up in the sink! #2 is clean up after meals. Everyone clears their place at the table. We all finish cleaning off the table and bringing things to the kitchen. Everyone does their part to put things away and clean up. When we work as a family, everything gets done much faster. And, #3 is bedrooms get straightened before bedtime and beds are to be made in the morning when we wake up. Although, I must admit, there are some days when I am not as picky about this. Sometimes you just need to let up on certain things.
Now that you have finished your 4×6 chore cards you can have them laminated if you choose. We did this because they are less likely to fall apart and if they get wet it will not hurt them. We used a hole punch in the upper left corner and put a ring in it. The chore charts hang on little suction cup hooks on our fridge and are easily accessible for the kids to carry around the house with them.
#5 – Proper Training
Now, let’s think back to that saying we read earlier:
You do it with them watching you.
You do it with them helping you.
They do it with you helping them.
They do it with you watching them.
You leave with them doing it alone.
If you are introducing chores to your children for the first time, you may want to take a week and just focus on their chore cards and HOW to do these chores. How long this takes will depend on the age and ability of your child. Remember, they are not going to do the job exactly like you would do it. It may not be as perfect as you would like. But if they are trying? – that is what matters most. They will perfect their chores in no time!
When will you do your chores? Find what timing works best for your family. We do ours during our morning school break. This helps the kids get rid of some energy and then they are ready to get back to their schooling. When chores are finished they check in with Mom, I inspect their work, and then they are finished. It’s that easy! If the chores were not done correctly, they immediately re-do that chore as needed.
#6 – Compensation for chores
At our house, our children do not get paid for doing chores. Doing regular chores is just a part of being in the family. The do, however, get paid an allowance. This allowance is just for teaching them to be good stewards. They get .25 cents for each year of their age per week. So if Mariah is 6, she will get $1.50 each week. We also allow our children the opportunity to pay one of their siblings to do their chores. So, if Tanner does not feel like doing a load of laundry today, then he can pay Savannah to do a chore for him. This is going to cost him .25 cents. Now remember, they are not getting paid to do their regular chores to begin with, so Tanner has just used his personal allowance to pay Savannah to do one of his chores. NOT very money smart! This is a good time to teach your children how to handle their money. This is their money and they MUST learn to be responsible with it. Don’t forget to have them pay tithes on their allowance – a good habit to start when they are young.
Now, we do allow our children to earn some extra money if they want. The last 4×6 card on the chore ring is a list of additional chores that they can do each week if they choose to do so. They can only complete each item on the list once a week. This means that they cannot clean out the car 5 times a week and make money each time. Each chore ring has a different set of additional chores so that we do not have two children doing the same additional chore. There are two different rewards for each additional chore. I let my children pick which one they would like to have. For example: Clean out the car = $1.00 or one ice cream cone. Have fun with this and make rewards exciting for your children. Some examples of extra chores might be: cleaning out the car, vacuuming the car, crevice vacuuming one room of the house, sweeping the front porch, cleaning the laundry room, cleaning out the fridge, and basically whatever doesn’t need to be done all the time – but things that you would like to have done every once in a while. This is a great way for your children to save for an item they have been wanting. If they have to pay for it themselves then chances are that they will take really good care of it!
#7 – Less cleaning!
There really could be less to clean if we would all learn to put things away when we are done. Teach your children to put their dolls away before they get the leggos out. This is a hard lesson to learn, especially if you do not teach them when they are very young. Remind your children that when they leave a room, it should be ready for the next person. For example: when they are done in the bathroom, the towel should be hung back up, the toothpaste should not be in the sink OR all over the counter, the toilet should be flushed, the seat on the toilet should be down (so that your little sister who is potty training does not fall in! You see she is in a hurry to go and does not think to look and see if the seat is down or not – more than likely she falls in!). Think about hanging a sign in the bathroom that says, “Is this room ready for the next person?” I love to use the Crayola window and mirror markers. I write little notes to my kids in their bathroom like, “Thanks for keeping the bathroom neat”, or I will use a scripture to reinforce what they should be doing or a character trait we are working on. And, sometimes I will just use a scripture to encourage them to do better, such as, “Little children, love one another”. This is fun for them to read. You could also use this for your scripture memory for the week.
#8 – Follow through!
Last but not least, we must have follow through. If we start with a plan, we must follow through with it. By not following through, we are telling our children that these things are not important. By not following through, we are teaching our children that they can quit in life. By not following through, we are saying to them, “If you don’t feel like it – then you don’t have to do it.”
I am not saying that you should be super strict. There are going to be times when you have a rough week – maybe the kids have been sick, maybe you are tackling a difficult subject with school, maybe you have been taking care of your parents or your grandparents and things haven’t been going as planned. By all means, let go of things for a week and just do the necessary items that need to be done. Maybe on those weeks, you can just all pitch in and clean the necessary things on a Saturday morning. Make it work for your family!
But, try to stay true to your chore schedule. It is good for you as well as your children
AND their spouses will thank you for it later!!