This is a post from Amy Warrick of No Greater Honors
It goes without saying that when you have several children running around, and many hands and feet to keep up with, messes can happen fast. There is also an upside to this, of course – many hands to help clean up. WHEN they help, that is.
When my children were all small ( and a I had a couple less) it was so easy to keep the house clean! I probably wouldn’t have told you that then – I would have told you about having to do it all because they were too little. The truth is, though – in retrospect – that was an easy time. As our ‘baby’ grows and we move in to a different phase of child training and raising, we are no longer in the ‘do it all for them because they can’t’ stage, but rather a character building one. We now have the assurance that we have taught some of the older children the how to of doing a good job, and we have to teach them to make sure to do a good job, every time. I had no idea how hard on the nerves this could be!
It is important, though, to teach them good habits of taking care of their responsibilities. I could go many different directions with that, but today I just wanted to give a few good reasons WHY children should be helping, and a good idea for making sure they are – and how you can teach them to learn to be accountable for themselves!
Proverbs 14:4 says:
“Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.”
No, my children are not oxen (though sometimes, they do act like they’ve been born in a barn!). When I look at this verse, I know that literally – a barn is a clean place, when there are no animals – but without the animals, what can the farmer do? When I apply this to myself, I think of my children. If I had none – or if they just stayed small, I would have a spotless house. However – I would always be the one doing it, and what more could I be doing if it weren’t so? Having several children doesn’t just mean that messes happen faster, but that much can be accomplished. “Many hands make light work” is so true.
Good reasons for training our children to clean:
1. We can’t do it all by ourselves.
2. Our job as parents is to do for our children what they can’t do for themselves – not to do for them what they could do, but just don’t want to do. That would be a disservice and not prepare them for reality.
3. One day, Lord willing, our children will grow up to be adults that must have these skills. They must be able to take care of themselves, and responsibility for what they are doing/have done. A small thing like teaching them to be responsible for their bed, their room, their mess at the table, their toys in the living room, etc. – can lead to some very good character training in being responsible for bigger things in their future.
4. We can teach them not only to care for themselves, but to be selfless in helping others. I’m going to go a step further and say that not only should they take care of their mess, but they can learn to help someone else who may need an extra hand. Get their minds geared early to helping other people.
5. You will find that, though they may balk and complain when having to clean at home, when you are teaching them well at home and staying diligent, it will show when they are away from home. I can’t tell you the times that I have been shocked to see or hear about/from one of my children who are at someone else’s house, cleaning just to clean a mess. They become observant of the difference a clean environment makes when they get in one that may not be so tidy.
There is a great infographic that has floated through the WWW that talks about age appropriate chores for children. Here is the link, and guess what? It’s a FREE printable!
There is another aspect here,though. One that can come in to play when they get older. There should come a point where, when the child(ren) have been taught, that they must learn to become accountable not just to you, but also to themselves. This is a hard stage, because it is usually accompanied with the ‘I’m not so sure I like all this cleaning business’ stage. The two stages tend to fight against each other. Still, good character must always win out! So, we give them the tools.
In my homeschool, we use a strong Montessori method influence. Part of making that work involves making sure your child/student has the right tools to complete their work and interests. The same is true in the this case – we must give our children the right tools to help them become successfully independent and self-motivated to complete what is needed. So I’m going to offer you my own free printable. By clicking the link below, you will find FREE printable work cards, in several different styles/formats, that can help your child learn to help himself.
*I know – you were excited. You can release that deep breath you’ve been holding! hahaha*
Here’s an example of what they look like:
It’s fairly self-explanatory – there is space for 5-6 jobs, depending on the style you choose to use, and they can be used one of two ways. You can write directly on the card, or laminate it first and use a dry-erase marker. If you are going to keep the same basic jobs for each child, I would highly suggest writing directly on the paper, then laminating it to keep it from tearing up. If you want to go the route of laminating first, then using a dry erase marker, I would suggest using a fine tip marker, so that you have plenty of space to write. I would show you my children’s cards, but they are personal to them with their name on them. I will give you an example, though. Hoss, my oldest son’s, card has the following jobs on it:
Feed and water the dog
One load of laundry *wash, dry, fold, put away*
Clean kitchen after breakfast
Clean dining room after lunch
*extra – clean front and back yard
(each child has an *extra job on their card, which should be done once a week)
My children work VERY well with lists, so these are perfect for our home. If you don’t think your child will do well with a written/typed list, I would suggest making a chart, calendar, or even using picture cards for the smallest little handy helpers who may not be able to read yet.
If you would love to try these in your home, the link to these great cards is here. I hope these can be a help, and a blessing to your children (and even more so, to you!)
Happy Cleaning! 🙂