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:
- Children need to do chores. As a matter of fact everyone living together in a household should have responsibilities in that home.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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)
- 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) –
- [ ] 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
- [ ] 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!