Monday, February 24, 2014

My kids do a lot of chores.

Emily mowing the yard, age 16
My kids do a lot of chores.

Sometimes people are surprised by this, perhaps thinking that kids shouldn't have to do much "work" around the house. I'm always shocked when I see chore lists for a 10-year-old that read like this:

  1. feed the dog
  2. clean your room

Kids are capable of so much more!

Emily, Suzy, and James
painting the barn in 2012
At the same time, I am certain some kids do far more work than mine. We live in a small house with a small yard in a small village. We have no animals (pets or otherwise). Our duties are limited in those ways.

My childhood included a lot of chores and helping out. I have five younger siblings, four of whom are at least ten years younger than me. Therefore, my mom was often occupied with them and relied on me and my next-youngest sister to help both with chores and with the younger ones. I think it was effective training. (Didn't think so then, though, not surprisingly, and neither do my kids!)

A few years ago, I read a book called 401 Ways to Get Your Kids to Work at Home by Bonnie Runyon McCullough, which I found very inspiring. The book includes checklists of skills children should know at various ages. I photocopied these years ago, when my oldest (now 19) was still a preschooler, with the goal of ensuring that I would not miss any essential household skills.

Kids need to work in order to feel useful. Also our job as parents requires us to prepare them for adulthood. We aren't doing them any favors if we don't teach them how to load the clothes washer or what cleaners to use on the flooring. These skills are essential for real life and kids need to learn them.

Suzy age 11, helping Grandma and
Grandpa move some belongings
Since I am a work-at-home mom, my kids and I have a deal. If they want to continue to be homeschooled (and they do), then they need to take up most of the slack left by me working 25 hours a week. This means they do a lot of the daily duties that I would do if I was not working for pay.

I thought I'd share a list of duties my kids accomplish on a regular basis and would love to hear your reactions. Are they doing enough? Too much? The right things? What do your kids do and why?

Outside Chores regularly include:
James age 13 and Suzy age 11,
helping their dad paint a cabinet for Grandpa
Mowing (age 11+)
Snow shoveling in season
Weeding and other gardening
Taking out the trash

Inside chores regularly include:
Cleaning their own rooms
Washing windows and sills
Sweeping floors
David, James, and Suzy
painting our barn in 2012
Mopping floors
Cleaning bathroom
Washing baseboards
Folding laundry

In addition, my kids handle most of the kitchen duty in the home, including:
Cooking meals (usually the kids make all the meals)
Cleaning up kitchen
Doing dishes by hand
Putting away groceries

I have done many different chore charts over the years and they all work well - for a while. Currently the three kids living at home rotate kitchen duties weekly and housecleaning chores monthly. If you'd like to know more, please comment.

Are the kids always cheerful? NO
Are the jobs always done well? NO
Am I always glad that they are doing the chores instead of me? NO

But it's important and it works.

Note: most of these pictures are taken on special work occasions because I don't often grab the camera and snap photos of the kids doing their toilet cleaning or dishwashing. Maybe I should. Nah, they wouldn't like it at all.


Denise Bryant said...

You've inspired me in the past & I'm slowly incorporating more chores over here. It's a lot of work to do, so lots of kudos to you!


Wee Pip said...

Great post! I definitely need to make my kids do more, regularly. We do stuff in bursts of work and it's more spontaneous (I've never been able to keep everyone on a chore chart, though I love the idea). My kids do a lot of wood stacking in the spring, summer, fall, and occasional stacking in the winter (gotta keep warm!) Also, my husband does a better job of getting everyone working hard. I cave in or fizzle out of energy too easily.