Being a helper is not necessarily a natural born talent. In our family, we believe that it takes time and training to encourage children to be helpers. They all want to please, they just don’t all want to help.
The answer for us- chores, starting at a pretty young age. Not to get money. Not to be a punishment.
But simply because you are a part of the team and you are expected to learn to help others.
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” – Ephesians 4:16
Chores and how we tackle them change often around here, usually in tandem with our moves. It always seems about that time some children have aged up and out of certain things and need to be taught others. Sometimes changes just need to be made to keep things fresh.
Because chores have never been negotiable here adding and switching around does not rock our kiddos worlds. We treat it as a rite of passage… “look what you are big enough to do now” and they usually embrace the challenge.
The hardest part usually comes on our side- the training. You cannot just give a child a job and expect that they will know how to do it. Just like anything you want done well, you must teach them how to do it and then allow them to practice. And sometimes practice some more. Make it fun though and you will be surprised at how well this goes. The first few times may take more parental involvement, but in the end, the results are worth it.
So what can you start off your younger children with?
Helping to empty the dishwasher.
I would like to say this is not daily at our house, but with a family our size, it often is. We started the youngest off doing the silverware as well as small fruit size bowls that we use for snacks and fruit. I made sure that the bowls were in a bottom drawer that was easy for them to pull out and place them in. Minimal worry of breakage!
Cleaning off the front and back doors weekly.
Why? One, because our little ones are the ones that put most of the fingerprints on both. Plus, because we use normally use homemade cleaning products there is no risk in them poisoning themselves.
Vacuuming the kitchen floor.
This we do twice a week. Again, most of the crumbs come from our littles. Go figure! 😉 We have a small lightweight vacuum that the younger kids loved using, so this was not a biggie. Most kids likes to vacuum. Is it always perfect? No way. But it gets done, they get thanked, and it blesses your family.
Bring your clothes up from the laundry room once a week and put them away.
It will take a few times to get this to not be a throw-them-all-in-the-first-drawer-you-find thing, but you can do it!
Daily morning chores.
These were, and still are, the same every morning. Make your bed, get dressed, brush your teeth. Easy. When our kids were younger I laid out an outfit for them at night so they would know what to put on. Once they got older, they could choose from their drawers. The outfits were in a few stacks and the only rule was you had to choose one from the top. No digging in to find one you like best. Keeps the mess to a minimum AND keeps us from seeing the same 7 outfits over and over again!
These are the same every night. 10 minute tidy your bedroom. Brush teeth and take vitamins. Easy.
And how do we remember it all? And not seem like a nagging mom?
A chart of course!
Our chart hangs in our kitchen where everyone can see it. Even now, each morning the kids check the chart to see what they need to do that day and then plan accordingly. No need to remind them. No need to nag, no need to have to remember it all myself. Easy!
Again, our reason for chores is not to be lazy parents whose kids do all the work. It is to raise responsible children who know how to help, WANT to help, and know what responsibility and teamwork are all about. Isn’t that the kind of child YOU want to raise?