Monday, August 04, 2008

"Chore" is NOT a dirty word

We have 6 days to go until our "official" 2008-2009 school year begins, and in preparation I reinstated and developed new morning/evening routine and daily chore charts for the children.

(Morning Routine Chart)

(Evening Routine Chart)

(We also have daily AM and PM chores, like kitchen duty, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, etc., but I didn't get a photo of it).

I am a big believer in chores. My kids definitely do more chores than other kids we know, although I would hardly say we are pushing child labor laws. In discussions with other parents, I am continually amazed by what little value others see in chores.

Here are some reasons why I think chores are valuable:

-Chores teach personal responsibility.

-Through chores, children begin to recognize the amount of work it takes to run a household.

-Chores create a "team work" mentality among family members, thus drawing us closer.

-They help keep the house clean and orderly.

-Housework and personal care tasks will be nothing out of the ordinary to my children when they are young adults.

-Teaching kids "work before play" helps them avoid the vice of procrastination in their adulthood.

-"Idle hands do the devil's work." If you don't believe this, think about how much more your kids fight with each other when they are "bored." An instant correction to sibling fights in our house is household projects (aka 'chores'). I don't make it sound like a punishment; I remain upbeat and excited, and that attitude typically spreads. "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down."

-Enforces the concept of taking pride in one's work, no matter how menial or dirty the task.

Recently I was read the Riot Act for my children's chores while at a parent meeting. The subject of chores came up, and a friend of mine was very quick to point out at "how many" chores my kids do: "They even have to do their own laundry!" she emphatically stated.

Now, this is coming from a women whose children do nothing around the house. And in my opinion, they are not particularly well-behaved children and their house is incredibly chaotic. So I wasn't too devastated over her shocked opinion on the matter (it actually gives me great peace of mind in the fact that I'm doing at least something right.)

However, I was floored when the other women (I'm sure some fathers share these opinions as well, there just happened to be none there), began bashing kids doing their own laundry. "I think we need to let kids just be kids. Give them a childhood," they said.

I whole-heartedly agree with that statement. Let kids be kids! That's why I don't have cable; I refuse to buy them I-pods and cell phones and personal computers;I avoid the early childhood exposure to sexuality that is running rampant in our pop culture; I make my kids play outside; I don't care if they make an arts-and-crafts mess in the kitchen, etc. But yet being responsible for one's OWN laundry ONE DAY A WEEK is somehow stealing away their childhood?!? Good grief!

Chores are part of the whole childhood-to-adulthood bargain. How else do they grow up into responsible adults?

I remember those kids in college who came from homes where they didn't have to lift a finger. Laundry was an unnecessary burden to them; sheets didn't get washed for months; having to participate in a Common Area Clean Up was a violation of their human rights.


I sometimes hear women comment that they don't let their children clean their rooms, make their beds, etc. because they don't "do it right." If they don't "do it right" in college, are you going to show up at their dorm room each morning and make their beds (because they'll probably expect you to!) Why let your desire for catalog-perfect rooms develop a child's internal monologue to say, "Why bother trying, I'll never do it right. Let Mom do it." These parents need to get over themselves! They only have these children a precious 18 years. They should take comfort that they can have the rest of their empty nest years to delight in perfectly made beds.

I also hear the argument that it takes too much work to assign chores, or they are home so little they hate to make their kids do things around the house. How about assigning a chore list that never changes, so that the kids know what is expected of them week after week. And if you are home so little that your kids don't have time to take care of the basic necessities of household life, than maybe the schedule needs to be re-evaluated.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but for now I'll jump of my soapbox. This morning when I gave Atticus his morning and evening chore routines, placed in a plastic sheet cover, his excitement was tangible because he now has some "big kid" jobs. Pride radiated from his little face as he used his new erasable marker to cross out each job as he finished. Call me a chore Nazi or whatever you will, one look at my little boy's face tells me that being given the responsibility of a chore is not a bad thing at all.


Melanie said...

Amen Sister. I wholeheartly I just have to get on the stick and make those cute little beats constantly reminding them every morning/night!

And, I have to say, my mother in law made her children do their own laundry and now, I have a husband who is perfectly fine doing his own me a mean wife...but a happy wife!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the child/childhood thing. In fact, they shouldn't get driving licenses because they deserve limos with drivers. We shouldn't let them hold silverware because we can spoon feed them ourselves. I would call it abuse if we let them wipe their butts by themselves- we know they don't do a good job and all of these personal responsibilities take up time they can use to be kids. After all, there's no training needed- you unleash them at 18 and they have all the skills necessary to operate without you holding your hands. Of course they don't need to do a thing- they learn by watching things on tv and playing with toys (which they don't pick up after they are done playing).
-Concerned and coddling parent.

Melanie said...

super cute chore charts at - fill in (and they have suggestions) and print!

I'm on my way to be like Sarah!

Aves @ Call of the Phoebe said...

I agree in chores as well. I grew up doing chores and I already ask Tuks to do age appropriate things around the house. Chore Nazi here as well...


blessedfamily said...

I am right there with you... know if this chart works also works for HUBBY, I'll be golden!! If daddy doesn't do it, it's hard to get boy wonder to do it! UGH!

Janet said...

All my kids have always done chores! Including TNT and they fight over who is going to do the chore first! They love all the praise that comes with an accomplishment. I guess I am a chore nazi here to.

Beau said...

Just like I tell my kids...this family is a team and we need to work together! Once when Mikah was complaining about scooping dog doo-doo with a shovel in the backyard (telling me how gross it was), I reminded him that I changed his diaper and wiped his bottom for years and that wasn't very pleasant either. He got the picture. When my kids say they are "bored" that is like a dirty word in our house...believe me - I can ALWAYS find work for you to do! The great thing about having your kids help from an early age a couple of years it IS actually helpful. Plus they enjoy the sense of accomplishment over helping the "family team!" Bella is a wonderful garden helper and she loves it! She calls us "the gardening girls" and it is adorable! They also have been making their beds since age 2, helping fold and put away laundry and sweep and vacuum. I guess I'm mean too!
Rock on sister!

A Blessed Life said...

Bravo! We are on the same page, my dear!
It gives them a sense of accomplishment, independence and pride. We are a family who prays, plays, and cleans together!

Sawatzky Kids said...

I love, love, love the chore system in our home as well! It does give the kids a sense of pride to know they had a hand in the keeping up with our home!
Chore on Cruz Crew!