Growing up, my mom had one priority for me: college. She was convinced that if I could just make excellent grades and get into college, my life would be perfect. In fact, she often made accommodations at home to make sure I would have plenty of time to study. One of those accommodations was that she rarely made me responsible for any household chores.
You would think that any person would be totally excited about this and I probably was back then. The trouble came when I moved out and got married. I didn’t have a clue how to clean anything. I had never done a load of laundry. And the stove? Well, I could make rice crispy treats and frozen waffles.
I know you are probably laughing at the thought, but it really wasn’t so funny. It took me years to make up for what I really needed to know to take care of my home and family. Of course, this isn’t a post where we are going to trash my momma for all of her faults. She was absolutely amazing and did the best she could.
Just like every other momma out there. All parents make mistakes, but a wise person looks at the lessons they have learned in life and sets goals to improve. Enter project family chores.
Why Should My Child Do Chores?
Chores are a valuable part of family life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my kids to miss this opportunity! I have my children do chores because it:
- teaches excellent work ethics
- helps you learn to work for someone else
- builds a sense of loyalty toward the family
- prepares you for life
- enables mom (especially this single mom) to actually manage the whole house
When Should I Start Chores?
I am so thankful that I started chores with my kids when they were very young. If I had it to do over again, one thing I would have taught my kids was to play with one thing and put it away. As a small child, this can be taught. I just didn’t do that. Nonetheless, I did teach them a lot about chores.
It is indeed more difficult to do my own chores when I am teaching a young child. I can easily see why many parents abandon the idea. Many times it just seems easier to do it yourself, but we have to think long term here. Our goal is to teach them, not to make our own lives easier. (But eventually, you will get that, too!)
I begin holding my children accountable for chores around age 3. This is about the time when they are constantly asking to help and think it is really exciting to have the opportunity. Capitalize on that and find fun ways for your child to be involved.
A few years ago, our schedule looked a little like this:
Nathan (4) was responsible for putting away the silverware, clearing plates from the dinner table, dumping the bathroom trash, and putting away his laundry.
Rachel (7) was responsible for wiping the dinner table and counters, sweeping/mopping the kitchen floor, scrubbing toilets, folding ALL the laundry and putting away her own.
Leah (8) was responsible for unloading and loading the dishwasher, scrubbing bathroom sinks, vacuuming the carpet, sorting and loading laundry to be washed, and putting away her own.
Today, my children are ages 10, 9, 7, and 4. All four of them contribute to the family through chores. The older 3 rotate through a zone schedule that I will share below. They are responsible for the entire house between the three of them. They do bathrooms, sweep floors, do all the dishes, wash and fold all the laundry, and keep their rooms clean.
The youngest child, Luke, does have responsibilities. He helps me with tasks as much as possible. He also unloads the silverware and dumps the bathroom trash. All of the children rotate with helping me prepare the dinner meal each day. Breakfast and lunch for 3-4 months are prepared in one afternoon with our breakfast and lunch station.
As a single mom, this is a big relief. We are home most of the time and our house easily gets wrecked. Having the children responsible for almost all of the chores really lightens my load so that I can tend to other tasks. Their contribution to the family takes only about 30 minutes of their day, but it saves me hours.
Simple Chore Chart
I’ve played around with a lot of systems over the years. The one I have found that works the best is really very simple. Our chores are divided into zones. Zones 1-3 are done daily. For a long time, I had a recycled piece of cardboard and clothes pins that I rotated through each zone. I tweaked and edited the zones until they contained an equitable amount of chores. Eventually, we settled on a piece of cardstock that I printed and put up on the fridge. I used clear glass beads and printed the first letter of each child’s name. Then glued them on with mod podge. I glued a magnet to the back and the project was done. Super simple.
These are the zones—>
Zone 1: Dishes and Counters
The person in charge of this zone loads and unloads the dishwasher, makes sure all food is put away, and wipes the counters.
Zone 2: Living Room/Laundry
The person in charge of this zone makes sure that everything in the living room is picked up and straightened. This includes the foyer and the hallway to the kids’ rooms. Once a week, this area must be vacuumed. This person is also in charge of starting a load of laundry and then making sure it gets in the dryer. Once it is done, he/she brings it out and sorts it into piles. Every child in the family then comes and folds his/her own laundry and puts it away.
Zone 3: Kitchen Table/Floor/Bathroom
This person is in charge of clearing anything left on the kitchen table (including school supplies) and wiping the table off after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They will sweep the floor after dinner and tidy the bathroom. Once a week the entire bathroom is cleaned (toilet, tub, counters, etc).
At this time, all of the other zones are a group effort, such as the backyard and the car. As I mentioned, each person is responsible for his/her room and folding his/her own laundry. And that’s it. Simple huh? I wish I had figured out the zone thing years ago. It has been such a help to me.
Each day, our chores are a part of our daily checklist for homeschool. Once completed, the kids check them off and turn in their notebooks. I “grade” their work for the day, along with their chore. I do pay them based on this checklist. I don’t pay them just for doing the work. I only pay them for doing an excellent job. You can read more about that in the daily checklist post.
Of course, if you adapted this idea in your home, your zones might look different. Your high traffic areas might not even be included in my list. I would suggest that you begin writing it down and, little-by-little, just tweak it until the zones seem to work for your family.
GET YOUR FREE PRINTABLES:
I have made a fully editable version of the chore chart, plus the chore challenge. I pray that these free printables bless your family and help you to bless others this year.
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