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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:


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


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?


What Was I Thinking?

This is the third day in a row that it’s been rainy/overcast outside. There is something about that kind of weather combined with living in an apartment that causes normally well-behaved children and parents to get a little stir-crazy. Yesterday morning, my Music Man got up with our little bitties (L & C) in order to allow me to sleep in. Once I was up and functional, we both agreed that we needed to get our wild animals children interested in something other than destroying the property and our sanity. In the pursuit of finding this something interesting, we did something we had sworn in the past not to do. We took them to Chuck E. Cheese.

Now, our last experience with the place where a kid can be a kid was when L was a toddler, before C was born. We went at lunchtime (mistake), on a Sunday (bigger mistake). The place was grimy, packed, smelly and all together disgusting. I doubt we were even there thirty minutes. That experience was seared into our brains as the worst parenting decision. Ever. So I’m not sure exactly what I was thinking when I suggested to Music Man that we go there, other than the fact that our preferred place of patronage didn’t open until later in the day. I was mentally prepared to provide baby wipes and hand sanitizer after each and every surface touched.

Amazingly enough, we had a wonderful time. There were only two other families there at the same time, and one of them was having a birthday party at a table. $5 in tokens bought L & C a ton of fun on new ride-on games and good old arcade favorites. A couple of games “stole” tokens, and the employees were very prompt in fixing the problem, not to mention reimbursing the kids with several tokens each time. The ticket counter machine messed up, but that was okay because the “fixer man” (C’s name for him) hooked us up with 100 or so extra tickets. Every one was pleasant, nothing was grimy. We still used hand sanitizer when we left, but more out of respect for the germs we knew were there, not ones we could feel infesting the surfaces of the games. Music Man and I looked at each other when we left with identical, Wow, what do you know? expressions on our faces. The kids had an amazing time on only $5 and were telling us about these people, the best parents ever, that they knew.

So the moral of the story is, 4 years is enough time to boycott a place before you give it a second chance!

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