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The “C” Word

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There’s a nasty word in our house. One that starts with “C” and sends little children screaming for hiding places. Okay, maybe not screaming… but the kids definitely scurry for cover. Sometimes.

Chores. There, I said it. Who could ever imagine that such a tiny little word could invoke unequivocal mayhem in many homes? I can’t tell you the countless number of articles I have read in the last two weeks regarding chores or morning routines or getting your children out the door on time. Apparently back-to-school season brings out the stress of trying to combine tiny humans and routines. 

As a homeschooling family, we don’t have a deadline each morning that the entire family races to meet, hurdling our bodies out the front door and into the waiting vehicle, accompanied by “Hurry up!” and “Don’t bring that toy!” and “If I have to tell you ONE more time…” However, a lack of schedule tends to make it difficult to transition into our school day, and little pit stops can rob our mornings of joy, orderliness and productivity.

Enter the Chore Chart.

I decided to introduce this age-old concept to my kids over the summer, hoping that by the time school started, we would have it down pat. I have tweaked it several times, but I finally feel like we have something that works for us. In hearing other mothers’ struggles with requiring chores from their children, enforcing chore follow-through, or just dealing with bad attitudes regarding chores, I am reminded of an excerpt from “To Train Up A Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl:

“My Amish neighbors say that before seven the children are a drain on the family–costing money and time. Between seven and fourteen, they pay their way. After fourteen, they become an asset, bringing in profit. Certainly by the time a child reaches seven, he should be making your life easier. A houseful of seven-year-olds would easily be self-sustaining.”

So many parents feel like they are personal slaves to the tiny humans in their homes. This isn’t how a family is meant to exist! Familes are supposed to be our center for communication, love, training, and preparation for life. I love my children, and that causes me to want to do things for them… but not at the detriment of letting them learn life lessons. We should be lovingly serving each other and the family unit by helping the household run smoothly.

This does NOT mean that my children do the majority of the household chores. It doesn’t mean they are cleaning all day long. It DOES mean that in the mornings, after breakfast, they have a list of chores to complete in a timely manner. It also means that they help set the dinner table, clean up after dinner, straighten toys and keep up with their personal hygiene. For our six and seven year olds, this is what a Chore Chart looks like:

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Using this chart means I can switch out chores on a daily or as-needed basis.

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You may notice the verse written on the yellow envelopes. This is to address bad attitudes that come up (inevitably) during chores from time-to-time. Phillipians 2:14 says, “Do all things without complaining or disputing.” This is a big deal in our home, as we expect our kids to obey with the right heart and attitude. It’s still a process at times to promote cheerful chores, but most days we sing and giggle while we complete our work. Starting our day out this way leads to more productivity (on their part AND mine) as well as “cleaning the slate” for a new day… and new messes!

What about you? What chores do your children do? What chores do you WISH they would do?

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