My kids have always done a lot of household chores – their chore roster has covered the daily cleaning in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and rubbish/pets/outside. They are totally responsible for their own bedroom and ironing, and they cook an evening meal a couple of times a month. What is left for me to do you may ask!
The way I saw it was – My main responsibility is to train them in their responsibilities. I may not be doing much of the actual chores, but I am training. Training in and of itself is a chore – it is my job every day.
There is a downside to this though – your house may not look like you wish it did, it won’t look like a magazine cover. As homemakers ourselves, we have to come to a place of contentment – that our home is a training ground, it isn’t a showcase.
When my kids were little I of course did these tasks, but I had my children working alongside of me; learning, not only the skills, the how-to, but also the heart for work, for serving and for being a team. Doing household chores is a very good heart training ground. If we aren’t careful though we forget the heart and just get the house clean.
So the important things to teach are:
- A heart for work – a work ethic, and an ability to do the tasks
- A heart to serve others – we live in this house together – we do each other’s laundry, we wash each other’s plates, we clean the bathroom so it is nice for the next person.
- A heart for the family – we are a team and we work together, play together, and pray together.
As I have said in the past, a key motivator for me is that I want my children to have the skills necessary to look after their own responsibilities as an adult: their time, possessions, money, and self. I also want them to have the skills necessary to look after other people – to be able to help people outside of themselves.
It is important that we know, deep in our heart – that we are convinced, why we are teaching our children these chores. Once I know my ‘why’ I can start to work on ‘what’ I’m going teach, ‘when’, and ‘how’. If we don’t know why then we will feel bad when our children challenge our decisions.
Training our children to do chores is time consuming
Training really is a full time job. Remember training our kids involves
- Showing them how it is done – being a model
- Teaching them – breaking each skill down, talking it through,
- Letting them practice – don’t walk away and leave them to it after you’ve taught them, continue to be by their side, guiding and adjusting their efforts
- Let them be responsible – once they are doing a good job consistently, walk away and let it be their responsibility – don’t hover but do make them accountable. Get them to report back, you go and check it and either praise them for a job well done, or get them to repeat it if it hasn’t been done right.
Sometimes it is just easier to get in and get it done yourself – but you are short changing your kids if you do this. Training is emotionally draining as well as time consuming. But you and your children will reap the benefits. If you want to increase what your children are doing around the house – spend this week observing all that you do and ask yourself the question – which one of your children could do this task? Or – Which one of your children needs training in this task? Take notes and start to prepare for a time of training and adjustment. They may or may not need training, they may need reminding and encouragement, but bit by bit get your children to do the things you know they are capable of doing, then move onto training them to do a little bit more.
As a wife and mother we wear many hats – now you can add Trainer to the list!
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Over to you:
What is your biggest struggle when you are trying to teach your kids chores?