Chores – “It’s a Hard Knock Life!”

This is the song often heard blasting through the CD player as my kids were doing their chores.  I guess it makes them feel better as they “slave away” for hours (their perception) completing their individual list of chores for the day.  And as a gracious Mom/Boss who has achieved “upper management” status, I simply smile and let them play it as loud as they want….as long as the job gets done! (which by the way can mostly be accomplished in much less than 1 hour)

I have been asked by many recently to share my “take” on chores and how that area of life plays out for the Lambdin family.  So…here it goes:

I am sure there are as many philosophies, ideas and plans for chores as there are families.  Some families choose to have their kids do minimal chores or even none at all…either hiring help or having Mom do most of the work (after all no one does it as good as mom does, right?). Others  attempt to have their kids take on some chores but don’t follow-up or follow through and end up fighting constantly.  Many do not take the time to train their children how to do the chore properly and then get mad when they do not “do it right”.  Some wonder if they are requiring too much or too little. And I think I can safely say that everyone that has ever lived with more than just themselves has struggled in this area of chores.

My chore philosophy:

  1. Children need to do chores. As a matter of fact everyone living together in a household should have responsibilities in that home.
  2. Children can learn many things through chores – a good work ethic, responsibility, overcoming laziness, pride at a job well done, teamwork, leadership, initiative and appreciation.  Now there is a great list of character qualities that we should all be wanting to instill in our children! (and I bet some of you in business would love to hire people with these qualities to work for you)
  3. Children are capable of beginning simple chores at a very young age (by 2 they can throw away trash, pick up toys etc..) and before the end of their first decade of life they should be competent in most household duties.
  4. My job (at least one of them as it applies to chores & raising my children) is that by the time they leave my home they have mastered all household chores. (Define all: bathrooms from top to bottom, laundry – washing, drying, folding, floors, windows, dusting, vacuuming, dishes, kitchen from top to bottom, defrosting refrigerator, cleaning out cars, weeding, lawn mowing, trash, organizing, de-cluttering, ceiling fans, blinds, simple sewing, ironing and cooking) And this goes for boy & girls…they all need to know how to do these things even if they grow up and hire it out, simply do not do it or have their spouse do it. (I rarely iron because my love is so much better at it than I am…but I do know how)
  5. It is my responsibility (because I am in upper management) to train them on how to do the job, to give clear written expectations, to follow-up and then to recognize them for a job well done.

Now with that said…there are many different seasons in family life and that means we are continually adjusting our chore charts, responsibilities and schedules as our family grows and changes.  For example when I had 4 children ages 6, 3, 18 months and a newborn the chores were mainly done by myself, my husband and my eldest daughter.  As they grew older I spent a lot of time on training.  By the time the eldest reached the age of 10, she stepped into the training role followed quickly by the younger sisters.  During the “middle years” I can honestly say I did nothing…but supervise. It was fabulous! (a well oiled machine!) I am still in that supervisory role but when the older kids began high school (that we see as the serious academic training years) then we had to adjust their chores to weekends & summertime responsibilities putting me back in a more hands on training role with the “littles”.

Ok, ok so you want to see some “practical” ideas not just to hear my theory.

Here you go:

First of all we have always had a chore chart on the refrigerator or bulletin board.  For years I had many months mapped out at a time. (and sadly I never took a photo of those charts…complete with creativity and colorful stickers!  But I assure you I could have been hired as a personnel director for a major company.)  Now we only have one month mapped out at a time because of the multitudes of directions the high schoolers are going, a college student coming home for summer & holidays and thus being added to the chore chart and my new season of having more littles at home daily than big kids.

Here is what the current chore chart looks like:

This allows everyone to easily see at any given moment who has what chore.  We have always chosen to have our kids rotate chores weekly so that they do not get “stuck” too long with an undesirable chore and so that they learn how to do each chore well with years of practice (repetition is the key to learning!). 

Now along with the chore chart calendar….we have a written list of what needs to be done within each chore assignment (complete with check off boxes for those first-born obsessive compulsives who love to check things off a list, for those “beavers” who need accuracy and to do it “right” and it even provides something to color for the free-spirited kids who colored through the entire line with a different color crayon).   There is a check list of things that needed to be done daily as well as things that only needed to be done weekly (we pick one day a week that we call “big clean up” where everything is “spic & span” – deep cleaned – and mommy loves this day!) There were even things that only needed to be done monthly and so we picked one day a month to do those specific chores.

This is what those chore lists look like (and I have this on a computer document so I can adjust and change as needed. I make dozens of copies at a time and put them in a hanging pocket holder for easy access…thus eliminating the “I didn’t know I had to do that in the bathroom” excuse) –

Bathroom

Daily

  • [ ] Toilet, counters, sink – wiped off with Clorox wipes
  • [ ] Floor swept
  • [ ] Rugs vacuumed
  • [ ] Trash emptied (both bathrooms)
  • [ ] Picked up
  • [ ] Mirrors cleaned

1x a week – big clean up

  • [ ] Toilet, Tub, Counters & sink SCRUBBED
  • [ ] Floor scrubbed (hands & knees)
  • [ ] Walls washed
  • [ ] Organize Towels
  • [ ] Clean soap container
  • [ ] Fill up cabinet with toilet paper
  • [ ] clean vase/flowers
  • [ ] Remove Cob Webs

monthly

  • [ ] Organize drawers & hair accessories

I have similar lists for the bedroom, kitchen, living room, laundry, family/school room & backyard (if you would like a copy just leave a comment and I will send you my word document)

Here is where the lists are located and how they are organized:

As the kids get older they usually no longer need a check off list but they still come in handy when they are training the “littles” or of they start slacking off and need a reminder of what they are supposed to be doing.

One more thing – we do not give our kids an allowance for doing chores (actually we do not give allowances at all…but that is for another post) as we believe everyone has a responsibility to take care of our home. We do however have a few paid opportunities that are not on anyones chore list and yet still need to be done.  They change on occasion but until our recent finacial crunch they have been: Mom & Dad’s bathroom,  the china hutch (completely emptying & cleaning), weeding, cleaning the garage.

There it is in a “nutshell”…if you have more questions (What if the kids do not do their chores? What if they are not done like you would do them? What ages do they get added to the actual chore chart?  Is my house clean?  You mentioned cooking – is that on the chore chart? Or any other question) just leave them in the comment section and I’ll answer there so everyone can read them.

And I am sure other readers as well as myself would love to hear how you handle chores in your house, helpful hints or great solutions…leave those comments as well and we can all learn from each other.

Perfect post for Labor Day thinks this Upper Management Mom!

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42 Comments

Filed under Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, My "take", Parenting

42 responses to “Chores – “It’s a Hard Knock Life!”

  1. Laura

    Beth,

    Would love the chart you have already created! Thank you for using your Administrative “gifts to build up the church body”!

  2. Jeannie New

    Beth, I love your posts. Could you post your cleaning lists per room? If not, email is great.
    Thank you!

    • bethlambdin

      Jeannie…I would love to post them if I could figure out how to make a pdf file (which I will work on)….but for now I will have to email them. 🙂

  3. Barb McCandless

    When my daughter went off to college, she couldn’t believe how many of the girls in her dorm didn’t know how to do laundry! My kids started doing their own as soon as they were tall enough to see inside the washer. I was less consistent about chores over all though – wish I’d been better. One thing that did work well for us was rather than having lists of individual chores, our kids were each assigned as Inside Helper, Outside Helper, or Kitchen Helper for the week. Kitchen Helper was the most structured and regular in terms of what was required. The others were more flexible – whatever we needed done that week. (I did have paid house cleaning help – the first thing I did when my CM biz started taking off.)”

  4. Sarah Sciarini

    So glad you wrote this- especially the part about “training” your kids so they know how to do the chores! I adore Matt, but he didn’t have chores growing up, and so I’ve had to teach him everything from how to load a dishwasher, to minor household repairs. He would be the first to tell anyone that not “training” your kids to do chores isn’t doing them any favors– it doesn’t do their future spouses any favors either!

  5. Angela

    Please email me what you have with regard to chores for all the rooms – my son would do so much better with a check off list. Thank you so much for sharing your talents and gifts – you inspire me.

  6. Angie

    Love it!
    Myself being #10 in my family – we knew our jobs, when & how it had to be done and that it had to meet our parents (high) standards. Growing up on a farm – guys were outside and ladies inside and outside. One summer my one sister informed my mom that “It’s summer vacation, I’m not a work horse.” Yup, that was cleared quite quickly. : )

    For my 2 children – as soon as they could match things, they were matching socks; as soon as they were toddling around, a old socks went on a hand and they dusted. No this isn’t child labor, yes, it’s teaching children responsibility and that everyone is part of the family and just like families that pray together, stay together; same go for families that work together, play together.

    Charts are fabulous! Too young to read – that’s what pictures/stickers are for! My kids always loved being able to check things off and get a small reward after the major cleaning day – which was going to the library. They’d bring their filled book bags home and for the next 2 hours we would sit and read, all the while enjoying a clean house!

    When my daughter went to Europe for 3 weeks as a student amabasador at age 14, I knew she would survive doing hand laundry and knowing how long the clothes would take to dry. She’s now 3rd year college and is very self suffcient.

    I know when I am at work, (summer time) my 17 yr. old son knows he needs to have his list completed before I get home. He too, knows how to do many functions – laundry, dishes, dusting etc…and that work is not gender specified in our house. I know that when he goes off to college in 2 years, he will be self-sufficent, at least if he chooses to be! ; )

    Thanks for sharing Beth, and as always, it’s pleasure reading your Monday Motivations!

  7. Lisa Hemstreet

    Hi Beth,
    I love it…this is just what I needed this morning as we are headed back to school and a new routine. My goals this week is to update this system in my home. I can’t wait to hear all about the no allowance…I wish I had never started it. I would love to get a copy of your Word documents to help me with this one. Thanks Beth for always being so willing to share!

  8. Cheri

    Hi Beth! Thank you so much for this! Would you please e-mail your lists by room to me? I would really appreciate it! Thanks so much!

  9. Tim Stephens

    Hey Beth,

    Its Tim, yes I know your once troubled student is now looking into better house management…
    But hey if it worked for Annie, it should work for me to.

    I would love a list as well. PDF, if you have word, you should be able to goto save as…and then select PDF file. If you dont there are loads of other ways. Let me know.

    This is defiantly what a organized father looks for with three kids. Great post.

  10. Lorraine

    I’ll just “Amen” what the others have said. I get so much inspiration and motivation from your blog, and appreciate your willingness to share. I’d LOVE for you to email me the charts for the other rooms as well, and look forward to hearing how you deal with the allowance issue.

  11. Cathy Huckaby

    very helpful Beth, and we agree…the kids should know how to do ALL chores incl. simple sewing and laundry (incl. sorting and adding bleach to the whites…we’d like to know your take on ALLOWANCES….

  12. Lois Wollman

    Beth,

    Thanks for your views on chores. I would love to see the checklists for other chores besides the bathroom. I too have found it helpful to have a job list so the children know what’s expected, and they like to mark off chores when completed! 🙂 But I don’t have checklists for each chore, as you mentioned.

  13. Stacey Woods

    Yeah I am thinking we need to mirror that chore list!

    Prob is we already have 1 who is 13, is it to late to start? Lol, and I am curious what u do if they don’t complete their chores? I think I need to have Dan & you have a talk w/ Michael explaining the importance of follow through with kids! 🙂 He’s a boss and I always tell him, do you want to raise a lazy employee for someone or do you want to raise someone like you?! Lol

  14. Melissa

    Beth – this is fantastic. Please email me the lists as well. My almost 6 year old definitly would benefit from this – as well as my husband! Thank you again for sharing such fantastic ideas!

  15. send me we doc and I’ll make a pdf for you

  16. Ann

    Thank you for posting this! I have 3 littles to train and would love your chore list. My kids have had it easy in comparison! You are a weath of insight!
    -Thank you!

  17. Tracy

    Email that list also

  18. Tina Maffia

    You have such a gift! Thank you so much for sharing what seems to be a tried and true solution to chores. I would love to see all your chore checklists and what your thoughts might be for starting this process with older kids. I must admit, I’ve tried charts, Lists, Tickets, Index cards……. over the years. And as my kids have gotten older, everyones schedules have become more and more booked and the homeworks increased, it’s made it especially hard to stay on top of the whole chore thing. Your thoughts? Thanks again for inspiring me!

  19. DeAnna

    Hi Beth—Amen!!! Finally, someone who is on my soap box with me—LOL! I totally agree with all of your comments. When I was growing up, like every other teenager, I really didn’t want to do chores. But when I got married, I can say, I knew how to cook, clean and do everything, Thanks to the teachings of my Mom & Grandparents. Now as a parent, we talk to our daughters all the time about their responibilites and how we all have to work as a team to take care of our home. Part of our job as parents is to teach our children how to cook, clean, etc, because if we don’t teach them, who will? I know that my daughters, ages 16 & 13, if they had to go out on their own right now, today, they could be self sufficient and I am proud of that. They know how to use tools, do yard work, plant a garden, cook, clean etc. My husband & I have taken a great deal of time to teach these little birds who will soon fly on their own! Love to you!

  20. gretchen

    Thanks for sharing – you are amazing! Can you please email the list for the other areas of the house?

  21. Would love the lists emailed to me that you were referring to in your blog. I love you ideas, and view on life. Can’t wait to implement with my own kids. Thanks Beth.

  22. Samantha McCarty

    I would love to have a copy of your charts. Been thinking I needed to have a broken down visual for my kid, and here you are with an example! Thanks!

  23. Kate

    I’ve always had my own chores lists and it was natural for me to create one for my little boys when they were 3 and 5 years old. My oldest loves chores and needs little motivation. But my youngest exploits that characteristic in his older brother by sitting by and not helping. So, I have often times pretended their room was a construction zone and nominated my oldest as the foreman. My youngest loves the game and ends up doing everything his older brother instructs.

    I would love to get a copy of the chores lists you have made. Thanks!

  24. Celeste Galindo

    Beth,
    You never cease to amaze me! I love reading your monday motivations! No wonder Jess has always admired you guys! I definetly need a copy of your lists! I am not very organized so I would need something like this. With me going to school 2 nights a week I really need everyone to pitch in and help around the house! Thanks so much! Love ya!

  25. Melanie Reynolds

    Hi Beth

    I too love your charts and organizational skills! I wish I had that skill but have to live vicariously through others! Would you please send me any and every chart that you have…I love your posts. Thanks
    Melanie

  26. I have 4 children; 7, almost 6, 3, and 1. I would LOVE a copy of your chore check off list. I’ve been trying to figure out how to teach these values about work and work. And I think you’ve solved my problem. My question to you is at what age did you start different chores? And how did you keep the little ones on task the whole time without them running away to play? Is everyone in the same room at the same time working together to complete the check list when they are young? Thank you!!!!

  27. Erlinda

    This is the first year of not having everyone home with me to help around the house & its daunting to remember ALL that I had them do & now have to take the time to “train”. It’s so much easier to just do it myself & get it done the first time. Thanks for the reminder & the encouragement. I’d love to see your chore list for each room.

  28. Shelley Urton

    Hi Beth..
    Great post. I’d love for you to send me your other charts, and check-off lists.

    I just read in 2 Samuel how important it is to teach discipline as early as possible! Yikes! Have I blown it with my 19 year old??

  29. Renee

    Beth, thanks for all of your useful posts 😉 please send me a copy of your lists, what you do when chores are not done, and your thoughts on allowances

  30. Julie

    Hi Beth!

    Thanks for the great post! I would love a copy of your lists! Thanks!!

  31. Melinda Ryan

    Beth,
    I would LOVE to have you e-mail all of your chore charts for everything…..it will be sooooo helpful with my 9, 8, and 4 and a half year old!!! Thank you and my email addy is MindySueCM@yahoo.com
    Thanks again Beth for being such a mentor for me!!

    Melinda Ryan

  32. Carolyn Bowers

    Thank you so much for sharing this Beth! You are so inspiring! If you could send me an email of your lists as well I would greatly appreciate it! I would love to start doing this with Madison!

  33. Sheila

    Thanks Beth for all that you share! I would love an email with your lists.

  34. Maureen

    I am so appreciative of this post and would absolutely love any and all of the lists and chore charts you have created. With 6 children it has been hard to find the time to create a chart like you have, let alone figure out the logistics. Now all I have to do is implement your fantastic ideas, thanks to you.

  35. Renee Coss

    Hi Beth,

    I came across this by accident and just love it. I am amazed that someone else steers their household ship much like me. I think this info is so valuable these are life skills that reach far beyond the home. Thank you for taking the time to write this for others to learn from and then share.

    Blessings,
    Renee

  36. RMC

    Beth,

    I have always been a firm believer in training my kiddos but the recent death of a friend gave me new perspective in the area of life skills for kids.
    My friend left behind 5 children and a husband who are unable to do for themselves. Packing a lunch or putting away their own laundry is a daunting task. Cleaning what is that ??? They want to do things for themselves but they simply don’t know how nor where to begin. We NEED to teach our kids, including (especially)the boys. They need to have skills for life should mom or dad become inaccessible for whatever reason. I am passing on your chore check list to this poor Dad. I think he will find it most helpful.
    Thank you so much for posting this!!
    RMC

  37. Looks like we have the same philosophy on kids and chores:) Glad to see someone else that asks a good bit of their kids. (I have wondered sometimes if I ask too much.) I am truly enjoying your blog!

  38. Deadrin

    The information on chores is perfect timing. Especially, being a supervisor during training.
    THANKS Beth

  39. Chris

    Please email me your complete work lists. I was just talking about what my kids should and shouldn’t be doing as far as chores. A friend sent me your article. I need to get cracking and teach my boys a few things!

  40. Dulcinea

    Could you please email me your room lists? This was so helpful and very well thought out. Thank you for your article.

  41. Christi

    I’d love a copy of your chore lists. Thanks.

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