February 20, 2014

Chores: Lessons Not Found in Books

 Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.  ~Proverbs 13:23
Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.  ~Proverbs 22:6

I remember coming home from school to find the dreaded scrap of paper on the dining room table.  My brother and I knew what was written on it, and we wanted to burn it.  We may have actually done so at least once, but not before reading it and doing as it said, for fear of being grounded indefinitely.  Of course, playing with fire would get us grounded, too, but we didn't think that far ahead.

On that scrap of paper, we'd find a list of chores for each of us.  Clean the bathroom.  Wash the dishes.  Dry the dishes.  Vacuum the carpets.  Clean your room.  Ugh!  We hated those lists.  But, if I'm being honest, without those chores during my childhood, I probably would live in a pigsty today!  Having chores helped teach me responsibility, hard work, and just general life skills. 

My husband and I desire to teach our boys those same ideals.  We want them each to have a good work ethic, to understand that you have to work for the things you want in life and that you can't just have things handed to you because you feel you deserve them.  We want them to learn to take pride in a job well done and feel the growth of self-worth and self-respect that comes with accomplishment.

We feel that these types of lessons will also teach them to respect other people and property.  When you work hard for something you want and finally reach your goal, you will appreciate it more than if someone simply handed it to you.  You will treat it better.  You will take care of it.  And you will realize that the things other people have are also important to them, because they, likewise, worked hard to earn them.  Therefore, you will respect their property in the same way you respect your own.

And, of course, we want them to learn to take care of themselves in the future.  They won't always have us around to cook their meals, wash their clothes, or take out the trash for them, so they need to learn now how to do those things on their own.  And, let's face it, some day we're going to be old and decrepit, and the boys will have to take care of US!

When we felt they each were old enough, we implemented chores for our boys to complete each day.  We don't have them do all the house work while we sit around and eat bon bons all day.  They're not our slaves.  But we do expect them to pitch in and take part in this thing called family.  There's no reason that all the tough stuff should be left up to just one person (namely, me!)

This mom stated quite succinctly in her blog the major benefits of having children do chores.

So we chose a few chores we knew they could handle.  Some simple.  Some a bit more challenging.  Twelve of each.  Then, at the beginning of each week, the chores are split evenly between the boys.  Six chores each that get completed each morning before we begin school.

We tried, at first, having the chores written on slips of paper that they drew from a basket, but inevitably, one boy would end up with the majority of the hard chores and the other would get the easy ones.  Then, tears and tantrums would follow. 

The pictures below show the solution I came up with for that problem.  Each boy gets 3 easy and 3 hard chores, so it's even, and there are no more tears.  Plus, they don't have to do the same chores every week.  With the flick of the spinner, they can get a brand new set for the new week, which helps keep them from getting bored and feeling overwhelmed.  Take a look:

Do you have your children do chores?  If not, I'd love to hear your reasons why.  Let me know in the comments.


  1. This is a really good idea. I spoiled my girls and getting them to do anything is like pulling teeth. I'm "torturing" my 15 year old when I ask her about (1x a week) to do the dishes. I just end up doing everything myself. I end up telling myself that her "job" is school and as long as she's doing well I wont bug her to much about chores.

    I guess another issue is my kids are such different ages that my little one, Jayda, age 8 cant do the things that Kayla is capable of doing. This method could make it fun. I should try it!

    1. I'm glad you found it helpful. With two different ages, you could use the more difficult chores spinner for the older child, and have her spin for, say, 3 out of 6 each week, so she will get different ones each week. Same for your youngest, but with the easy chores spinner. Kids of all ages will always complain about having to do chores, and they'll do everything they can to break us, the parents, and make us give in and let them get away with not doing anything. But, in the long run, allowing them to be lazy isn't in their best interest, even if it's easier for us to just do it all ourselves. Also, my apologies for such a late response. My "reply" button has been missing in action for quite some time, and I just today figured out how to get it back.