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It’s not a chore to be Helpful Heather

June 23, 2009

heatherChildren and chores:

Have you marveled, like me, how some women manage their household let alone with a LOT of kids? For sometime now, I have watched shows like “18 Kids and Counting” with Michelle Duggar and “John & Kate Plus 8” with Kate Goslin and wondered how they do all that they do in a day and not fall apart half way through? Now, I realize that we are only seeing snippets and there are many hands to help, but still, somewhere along the way, one has got to wonder, HOW do they do it? That got me to thinking about my own grandmother who was one of 11 and I think I found some answers there.

I remember when I was little and my grandmother would tell me stories about when she was a little girl and that when she was younger, it was her job, as one of the kids in the middle of the eleven, to make beds – and boy, could she! I think she may have has dome military training along the way because she could make a bed quickly, but also precisely and perfect! However, my grandfather would chime in, when it came to cooking meals shortly after they were married, that was a different story. Now, at that point in my life I found that hard to believe because my grandmother was one of the best cooks I ever knew, but for her, growing up, that was not one of her jobs, instead that job went to an older sister.

So, all of this to say, chores for children is not only a way to teach them responsibility, but to help you as well. What chores are right for you and your family, I am not certain, but in our family, my boys who range in ages from 9 to 4 years, there are a variety of things they do to help. I will list them, and perhaps this will help you.

  • They all help to set the table with utensils, plates, sometimes food, and drinks.
  • They all help to clear & wipe down the table at the end of the meal.
  • Loading and unloading the dishwasher or washing dishes by hand. This can be some time that you and one child get to spend one on one time talking and enjoying each other’s company, while getting a job done.
  • Sweeping floor after meals – we have a dust buster that my youngest *loves* and so, he usually likes to take this job, though all can do it.
  • Making their beds in the mornings after getting up.
  • Keeping their room straight: things off the floor and out from under the beds and not shoved in the closets either.
  • They all help to collect and sort laundry on laundry days – in addition, they all help in stripping their beds when needed and the older ones help in making their beds as well.
  • Once the laundry is done and folded, they are responsible for taking it to their rooms and putting away. For my 4 year old, I usually ask that he just put it on top of his dresser and then I put it away, some things are just easier – though, this will soon change as he gains more responsibility.
  • Vacuuming – the older ones can do this as well – though they don’t like to as much as the younger one. And yes, I do know that sometimes it is just easier to do it yourself, but that doesn’t help the kids in the long run.
  • All the kids will help with windows and mirrors that need cleaning.
  • Sorting and organizing things seems to be a strength of my eldest, so I try to find as much as I can for him in that department. Everything from reorganizing a kitchen drawer to helping get the play room organized – especially after a big purge.
  • My eldest is also responsible for collecting the trash the day before trash day as well as keeping the kitchen trash can empty as needed.
  • The younger two help with the recycling: We have three recycle bins in our kitchen, so this is emptied once a week.
  • I also have a friend who allows her 9 year old to clean the toilets – rubber gloves included. Don’t laugh, but I save that job for me. I do that, usually in the morning, when I am chatting to one of my other girlfriends on the phone – because who doesn’t like to be slightly distracted while tackling what I consider one of the most odious jobs in cleaning my house – remember, I live with four men!

Now, for those of you who know me and have been to my house, you know that all is NOT perfect (ever) . I have learned to relax my standards a bit for the greater cause; because there is great joy to be found while listening to my kids tell daddy, very proudly, at the end of the day, that they helped clean the house and did chores. It makes them feel a part of the greater good as well as helping to lay a foundation for the time when (eventually) they fly from the nest and need to live on their own.

I am sure sometime in the not so distant future, my kids will be threatening me with child labor laws, etc, but I will simply reply that “We are a family. We all make messes, but we need to be willing to jump in where and when we are needed to help one another to make things run smoothly.” I still wish I could clone myself many days, but once I started sharing the load and understood that it was for their ultimate benefit, my stress level certainly went down and I was able to think of other ways to show my boys how much I love them and I care, verses being the crazy mommy running around with a million things on my to do list! My mother -in -love and I have an agreement that goes like this: Come and see me anytime you wish, but if you want to see my house  – make an appointment.

Our house is definately a working household. It is lived in. It is loved in. It is played in. At the end of the day, we all hope it was a good one. If there is still a mess on the floor and dirty dishes in my sink come morning that’s ok, because in 100 years, it won’t matter anyway!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Connie Wright Alexander permalink
    June 23, 2009 9:13 am

    My children are ages 6, 4, and 2. And, they definately have chores around our home. Just like Heather said, we all live here, so we all pitch in and clean up the mess. Here’s a tip that may keep the distribution of chores varied. I write the kids chores (and mine) on strips of paper, fold them, and put them in a bowl. (I mark mine, so I know which chores I should choose…or I let the kids tell me what I need to do; it’s always cook something or fold laundry…lucky me). I then write fun activities on strips of paper (play Leapster, play Play-Doh, watch cartoons, etc.) and put those in a bowl. During “work & play” time, we each draw a chore and work on that for 20 minutes, then we draw an activity and we play for 20 minutes. We set the oven timer and do this routine for about 2 hours. The next thing you know, the chores are done. You can vary the chores, play activities, time, based on your children’s ages and interests.

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