As a full time homeschooling mother of two wonderful children (in different grades) who has her own business run out of her home, a handful of animals, and who has an OCD for cleaning, I often find that doing chores can get pushed to the bottom of the list of things to do and it can really frustrate me. Now, let me be clear, I strive to keep my house clean for my children because we do live in a rural setting where the nearest paved street is miles away, so there is always going to be dirt, but just because there is dirt outside does not mean that I have to live with it inside within reason, right? Well, now that my two children Beck and Elizabeth are getting older, the chores that they can do around the house are increasing.
As a busy mother I find it can be hard at times to juggle all of my responsibilities. While my husband and I both work (him out of the home), I will admit that when my children were younger we felt a little guilty about having them do chores here and there, but as they have grown up we have both seen that giving them the small responsibilities of their chores has helped them to understand how much work there is to do in a day and when they help us out they are learning to be part of a team. Also as the children accomplish their chores they have pride in a job well done. An added bonus has been that the children are also happier because they can help mommy do the chores so she has more time to play too.
Now do not get me wrong, I did not just throw a pile of chores at Beck and Elizabeth one day and now I expect them to get it all done each week. I recognize that there are a few steps to successfully getting help from your young ones with chores. The first thing to remember is that children are children. You need to give them clear expectations of what you want to see so that they can be successful when they complete their chores. Also, if I clearly communicate what the chores are they will happily complete them. It has taken me a few years, but I now have two little helpers to help me get my chores down, usually.
To help track the children’s chores I started off using a chore chart that had picture cards on them and when they did a chore they got to put the card in their slot. When they had enough cards at the end of the week they got to pick what we had for dinner one night or what movie we watched with popcorn on family movie couch night. Simple things like that worked when they were younger. As they grew a little older it was time for punch cards where they got a punch for each chore they did and then they could turn a completed card in for a toy or special privileges. This worked well for a while and then I had to take the big step and now they have set chores to earn their allowances. They can save it up or spend it how they want, but if they miss a chore or promise to do something and then mom or dad have to do it there are consequences like a reduction in their allowance, losing out on their allowance altogether, or losing certain privileges. It seems to work great right now for us. I feel the best thing is that I have set a pattern with the children that if they did chores and help mom and dad out then they would get rewarded for their hard work and they do not even know that they are learning to be responsible, which will be a bonus to them later on in life. Even now our family has a dry erase board set for the month that marks out which family member is doing what chores on certain days. It makes it easier because the chores are clearly lined up for everyone, my husband, the children, and even me.
In regards to what chores the children actually do I could list them off, but I think the truly important thing to understand is that the chores they are doing are ones that have to be done each day and are ones that they can do on their own. A short list of things is like helping take care of our four dogs, taking the trash out, cleaning up their own dishes, or all the dishes in the sink when they go to do their own, helping fold the endless laundry and put it away, helping my husband with the outside chores and the like. Here are some action shots of Beck and Elizabeth doing some of their chores.
Beck and Elizabeth taking out the trash to our dumpster, just down the dirt driveway from the house:
Beck sweeping the rocks and things off the front porch for the week:
Elizabeth putting some dishes away after lunch:
As you can see I am not asking that the children disassemble a room and clean it top to bottom; but rather, I am just asking them to help keep the day-to-day cleaning under control so that when my husband and I have to do the weekly cleaning on the rest of the house it is not a process that takes all day. Oh, and the kids love to pitch-in on cleaning days and help too because they are helping mom and dad and when they do they get to spend more of mom and dad’s free time doing no chore related fun things as a family.
So, in our house we have found that if we all chip in to get the chores done each week then no one, mom especially, will become overworked and stressed trying to fit in everything that needs to be done, from work to school, teaching to running my business, let alone what we all want to do as a family. Whether it is me, my husband, or the children, we are all working together to keep the house maintained in a clean fashion so that we can all enjoy our home, our house, and spend more quality time with each other doing the things we want to.
Jill of Enchanted Homeschooling Mom is the homeschooling mother of 2 awesome children (Beck and Elizabeth), a loving wife, who brings readers along on her family’s homeschooling journey in their rural setting. She enjoys blogging about everything related to her homeschooling experience, from the daily happenings of Beck and Elizabeth, to the adventures in nature around them, to her family’s 4 rescue dogs, to just about anything that makes their homeschooling journey magical. Jill also takes the time to create printables for her homeschool classroom that she provides at her EHM Member’s Only Website. She has a wide variety of printables, curriculums, unit studies, and holiday related items that everyone is sure to find educational, useful, fun, and appropriate. You can follow with Jill’s magical homeschooling journey at enchantedhomeschoolingmom.org, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.