A couple of weeks ago, I did a Periscope about my kids and what they do for chores. (If you aren’t on Periscope yet, you should totally look into it…it’s so fun!) I have received a lot of questions about that Scope and I wanted to lay it out with words right here for you.
I think the thing that we moms need to remember is that as our kids get older, they are more and more available to be our little assistants. There’s no reason for us mamas to be breaking our backs to get it all done, clean, made, cooked, accomplished, and checked off while our little darlings are crunching saltine crackers on the couch and watching ridiculous cartoons. (Why are cartoons SO stupid and WHY do my kids like saltine crackers so much!?!?!) Anyway, they can help. They totally can. And they totally should. We’re not just teaching them to tie their shoes and write their letters, we are training them to be good, functioning humans! Your kid should know how to scrub a toilet, make a smooth bed, put their schtuff away, and properly load a dishwasher.
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The come-to-Jesus-meeting that started it all
A couple of years ago, I realized my mishaps at trying to start good chore routines were just silly. The bottom line was this:
Zone chores in their bedrooms
Meal chores and
Taking care of and putting away their own personal property
Here’s what my kids do each morning:
- self care
- make beds
- take out garbage in their bathroom and bedrooms (Noah)
- wipe the bathroom sink (Jack)
- take the dirty clothes to the laundry (Sophia)
So those last three things are individual chores. That means the kid listed does that chore every. single. day. We don’t do charts. We don’t rotate. We don’t skip days.
I have found that when we try to do that, it just gets too confusing. My kids like repetition. They do better with having a set plan that doesn’t waiver.
I love this bit of our chore life–the ZONES! Yes, these are awesome. Our kids pretty much have one “zone”–their rooms. And they share, so it’s even easier for them. I got most of these ideas from flylady.net, so you can read more about it on her site, but the just of it is this: our kids need to now exactly how to clean their rooms. If we say, “go clean your room,” to them that could mean shoving everything under the bed. Hey it looks cleaner, right? But the truth is, they need more instruction than that. So our zones look like this:
These chores have been so good to do daily–right after their morning chore. I feel like I’m no longer angry at them for letting their rooms get too grimy. And it’s only about a 5 minute chore per day, which is perfect.
At mealtime, my kids have known for life that you clear your place from the table. You just do. If you don’t you may get turned into a pillar of salt. Maybe. Don’t chance it. Breakfast and lunch seem to be quick meals and we all help to pick up afterwards, those go pretty fast. Dinner we usually make a bigger deal of. Jarrod’s home, I usually have cooked something, and it’s pretty important for us to sit down around the table together. For dinner, everyone also has their one chore that they do over and over and over.
- Set the table (Sophia)
- Fill drinks (Noah)
- Put out the extras–like salt and pepper, condiments, etc.(Jack)
- Clear the table (everybody)
- Load the dishwasher and hand wash extras (Noah)
- Sweep floors (Jack)
- Wipe down surfaces (Sophia)
- Dry dishes (Jack and Sophia when their other tasks are finished)
I try to teach the kids to focus on three main areas when you clean up after meals: dishes, floors, and surfaces. If they know that one of those three things is pretty much their responsibility, they can really focus on that one thing without a lot of bickering about who’s doing what.
To give allowance or to not give allowance
This is a hot topic and everyone has their opinions. We have gone back and fourth on this, but we’ve settled here for a while now:
Our kids don’t get allowance for any of the things I’ve listed above.
Our reasoning is this: are we really supposed to pay our kids for cleaning their rooms? For taking their dirty clothes to the laundry room? For putting away the things that we’ve bought for them? It just seems a little backwards in our view. We feel like if you are all living under one roof, you all contribute in your way.
I make meals, manage things, do laundry, clean main areas of the house, conduct school, run a blog that contributes financially to our family, do yardwork, fix-up projects, and an array of other things.
Jarrod goes to work everyday so our family can do things like eat, not be homeless, and have birthday gifts. As far as home responsibilities go, he also is the handyman, the bookkeeper, he cooks on some weekends, works in the yard, and does anything gross I don’t want to do–like clean out garbage cans or pick up dead rabbits from the yard.
My kids have their own responsibilities in addition to the ones listed above, like to work hard at their schoolwork, and help us in the yard with raking or picking up sticks or sweeping the driveway.
There’s a good chance our kids will always live with other people. It’s good to know how to hold up your corner of the roof of where you live. Everyone must play a role. Because if you’re not holding it up, you’re draggin’ it down. No one wants a roomie that won’t clean up after themselves.
On the flipside, we do pay our kids for big jobs that they don’t normally do. For instance, a few weekends ago, my boys and I painted the garage. This was a BIG job and it was messy and sweaty and very fumy. I paid them each by the hour–they got $8/hour and made about $40, which in their world–where they pay for pretty much nothing–that is like Trump-money. Jarrod and I both grew up in a small down where most of our dads did really hard work. This is important for us to instill in our boys–you work hard for the money! Building life skills is also invaluable for your boys and girls.
I will occasionally have Noah (13) babysit for Vera (2) and I will pay him for this as well. He loves her and would totally do it for free, but I don’t ever want to make him feel like I’m using him to be responsible for her and not giving him anything in return–she is a handful!!
So that’s the lowdown on chore life in our home. I’d love to know what you do too!
BONUS! Listen to the details of our kids + chores routine on the podcast HERE!