Ah, chores. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them!
I recently dove back into the task of training my children to do chores around the house. For the first two years of parenting, I worked diligently to teach and train my little workers. I’m sure any of you who have tried this for more than two minutes can related: teach, demonstrate, oversee, let them do it, check, find it not done, correct, try again…and over and over! A few weeks before Seth was born, I tried to teach a few new chores, hoping that they could step up for a few weeks while I recovered. Well…we tried. Then came a difficult summer, and proper vacuum and mop usage were the farthest things from my mind. Since then, I haven’t had the energy to train and correct—I’ve just done it myself. Well, that energy has completely run out and been replaced with a renewed desire to teach my children to be helpful! Our large, busy family can’t function without everyone pitching in. And in the future, who wants a roommate or spouse who can’t seem to find the broom or dish soap? No, the time has come to try again.
We have three categories of chores: daily chores, weekly chores, and extra chores.
Daily chores: I daily bang my head against the wall. For the love, my children honestly seem confused that in the morning, they should do the chores under the “morning” column. Yes, all of them. Yes, every morning. That’s why they are labeled “morning”. Same thing with “evening”. When my sister was here, she observed our struggle for a few days before reading the chore list. She discovered things like “bring laundry downstairs”, “brush teeth”, and “get dressed”. We are talking basic, functional tasks. The only family-centered chore on the list is to take the trash out. All the other chores involving caring for personal hygiene or personal items.
I thought that my children might be particularly challenging until I read this post, where a mom who is also committed to raising children in the Lord shared that it took five years of overseeing the basic mealtime chores before her kids got it down! Phew. It may not change the fact that unsupervised brushing of teeth remains a far-off dream, but I was greatly encouraged to find my children “normal”, if not easy.
Enough about daily chores. For weekly chores, I follow a cleaning calendar with one bigger chore assigned to each day, so that all major tasks get done once per week. To get the kids involved, I pulled age-appropriate chore lists from Focus on the Family and a blog. I adapted these to our family’s needs and made one master list. From this, I started with the youngest age category and checked off what each child could do without assistance or repeated instruction. They could all do the age 2/3 chores. The first two chores on the 4/5 list (set and clear table) needed some work, so that’s where we’re starting!
To help motivate our little ones, I turned to an age-old parenting method: bribery. For each chore that needs to be mastered, we are offering $1 (money bags!) when the chore has been completed five times without correction. The child assigned to “set table” last week has one more time until success. The child on “clear table”…might be clearing for awhile. My hope is to get the kiddos up to their age-appropriate chore expectations within the year. Pray for us.
For extra chores (baseboards, wiping various items, organizing toys, etc.), I have a “job jar” that contains options for jobs that can be done to earn money. We’re newly requiring the kids to earn $3 per week in order to have money to give, spend, and save. This past week, I started paying Vernon and Brooklyn to each put away a younger sibling’s laundry. It’s a fast way for them to earn their money without additional teaching, and my laundry pile has been tamed!
So there you go! I’m sure everyone has great interest in how the King house stays clean (or not!). I’m always open to suggestions for improvement, so let me know your best tips and tricks!