Mama Monday: Chores Part 1

I hate doing housework. I hate trying to make my children do housework. But I know first-hand the damage that is done if we don't teach our children to have a good work ethic when it comes to chores.

My mom grew up having to work hard. She had three sisters and one brother, and they all had to work to keep the family farm afloat. So when my mom had my sister and I, she didn't want us to have to work as hard as she did growing up. She wanted us to enjoy being children. She saw our homework as our "chore." Long story short, my dad changed the sheets on my bed every Sunday until I left home for college. I never washed my clothes until I went to college (Mom had to give me a cheat sheet of how to wash everything). I was never made to do anything other than help my mom dust every Saturday.

Fast forward to today, I am a 33 year-old woman with three children, and I am finally having to learn how to keep a home. Pathetic...totally. Catastrophic...some days. Impossible...Not according to Philippians 4:13.  Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I know that I do not want my children, boy or girl, to not know how to keep a home. To learn from me that you need to do the necessary things to be able to enjoy the fun things. To know that even if you don't like to do something, it doesn't mean you get a pass. To understand that with everyone pitching in, an insurmountable job becomes managable.

Just to be honest, I am still not a great housekeeper or even a very good one, but I'm trying to get better. Most of all I'm trying to teach my kids about chores and working with a good attitude. Here are some things that I've found work in our home:
  1. Do the thing that you hate doing first! For me, that would be folding and putting away the laundry or doing the dishes, but I've noticed if I get those done first then they are not hanging over my head all day (which usually means they don't get done at all!).
  2. Use a timer. This is especially useful for cleaning with your kids. I did this all day long with my girls Saturday (Monkey is not much of a cleaner yet). We set the timer for 45 minutes and worked like crazy on one room at a time. When the timer went off, we took a 15 minute break to do whatever we liked. After the 15 minutes, we did another 45 minute work session. Just a tip to make sure that they come back after the 15 minute break, I tell them that whoever is last back to the work area has to stay an extra 10 minutes the next time to keep working. I always make sure that I am the last one back, but they race like crazy to make sure it's not them. Easy way to get willing workers!
  3. Punish whining and complaining with extra work. Ask Chipette why we don't whine, and this is what you will hear, "Do all thing without grumbling or complaining, Philippians 2:14." She's my whiner, every family's got one, so she's heard this verse A LOT growing up. But Chipette knows if she whines when I ask her to help with something around the house, mom can always find another little something that needs to be done :) Magpie's problem is persistance once she's started the job, very willing, but horrible follow through.
  4. Explain to your children why we do what we do. It's really easy just to tell your kids, "Go clean your room. Take out the trash. Pick up your toys." But sometimes it's good to explain why we do those things. We clean our rooms so that we can be good stewards of these wonderful blessings God has given us. We take out the trash so that our home will be a healthy place to live without bacteria or pests. We pick up our toys so that we can find the things we need when we want to have fun (and so that mom doesn't puncture her foot by stepping on a Barbie hand...those things are brutal!)
  5. Show your children how to clean. If you want your children to grow up to be a good housekeeper, you will have to take the time to train them. Is it easier to clean their room yourself when you can have it done in 15 minutes? YES! Is that helping your child any to learn how to clean their room? NO! Take the time to work on one chore at a time until they have it mastered. For example, Magpie (who's 4) can make her bed, put her toys away, fold clothes, set the table for dinner, and feed the goldfish because I took the time to teach her those things.
  6. Model an industrious spirit. This is hands-down the hardest for me. My children are watching me and your children are watching you. If they see me leave my belongings out instead of putting them in their proper place, guess what my kids will do? If they see me reading, watching TV, or on the computer when there are chores that need doing, what are my kids going to do when it's time to do their chores? If your kids see that you are working hard to keep the home running efficiently, then they will be much more likely to pitch in and help. Children, and adults for that matter, will not tolerate hypocrisy.
Hopefully I've mentioned something to help you out or just to encourage you as you train your children. Most of you are probably thinking, "That's pretty sad she didn't already know this stuff." :) My motives are pretty selfish actually. One day my kid might marry your kid and wouldn't we like to go visit them in a nice, clean house!

Still tidying up the treehouse,


P.S. Next week on Mama Monday, I'll share my kid's chore system. Here is the link to part two: Chores Part 2

1 comment:

  1. Some great thoughts! A few we need to enforce more than we do, definitely. :)

    Thanks for a great post!