The truth about kids and chores.

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I love chores.

No, no, no… i don’t think you heard me. I love them. It’s weird, As I type, it is 7:00 am and I have already made breakfast and lunch for my man, kissed his sweet face and sent him on his way. I’ve swept, mopped, done dishes, stirred lunch, done one load of laundry and taken out the trash.

It’s bad.

If you come to my home mid-afternoon {when and if} there is nothing to do… I’ll have created something to do. I will be cleaning baseboards, closets, raking leaves, mowing the grass, or maybe even starting a new paining project. It is something I have to surrender every.single.day,

being busy.

My kids? Hmmm, for some reason, they can find other things to do; sometimes that gets on my nerves. I mean come on, they make most of the mess, don’t they care?

I remember one day this past winter when we were doing chores around the house before school. I had just configured a new chore chart and it was going to be a history maker. This was going to solve all our chore problems. My kids were going to love doing simple chores and they were going to do them really well. I mean come on, we always have the music turned up loud during chores, we’re all happy here, right?

Well, this momma walked into the bathroom after my little Jordi was sent to clean it and it was not done well. Immediately, frustration took over me.

Look at this, she doesn’t even care.

Look how lazy.

Uh, she didn’t even look behind the door.

Now, before you start feeling all sad for her– honestly, she has swept the floor enough times to know you remove the trash can and sweep behind it and you get the yuckies from behind the door. BUT, on this day, the lesson wasn’t for her, it was for me.

The truth spoken to my heart that day was simply this,

Chores are not given to replace mommas job, but rather build character.

Oh man, I had to re-sweep the floor.

Now, there are days when my kiddos halfheartedly do their work and I have to kindly remind them to give their best, encouraging them they can do better. But for the most part, I usually need to manage my expectations. My goodness, the war of expectations.

Here is the way it works in our home. You probably have a better way, I am sure. I’m sure your children’s names are America, Liberty, Justice, and Peace. In fact, I bet they all say Yes, Ma’am every time you ask them to do something. Yup! I can imagine it now: they are probably only eight and ten and make dinner for your whole family while quoting whole books of the Bible. Actually, if that is you, could you please email me some advice?

For the other one percent of you who are like me and need a bit of encouragement from time to time on the matter,  here are my countless two cents =)

In the morning after breakfast, we do check lists. I have gone back and forth over the years with this method, trying to move past it. However, the truth is– it just works and it works well, for us.

Now, when my children were all young, the reward for finishing your list was just a kiss from mom. However, as they get older, I have added incentive in the form of a quarter. This works good for them because they all put their quarters into the family fun jar which helps us go on fun trips. We don’t have allowance in our home, if our kiddos need money, they ask for jobs but as far as a weekly payment for contributing to the family? We don’t go that route.

little hands checklist
bigger hands checklist

You will notice it says, today’s daily chore. This is based on the child’s individual abilities. I usually try to have these on the board in the morning. Otherwise the children are coming to me asking me what their daily chore is and I have to think of one real quick.

Some days, the chores are a bit harder and I have to get smart. =) For instance, the other day Jordan’s chore was to scrub some spots out of the carpet. For my oldest daughter, this wouldn’t be an issue. She is so type A, she wouldn’t have just cleaned that area, she would have continued throughout the whole house. (not a good thing, mind you–being type A like me =( poor girl) As for Jordan, she just likes to get the job done. So, with a job like this, we make it a game.

I say, “Go outside and knock at the door; we will pretend you are a carpet cleaner”

Anything imagination gets Jordan.

“Ok, Mom, my name is Mrs. Courtney.”

So she comes in the house and explains to me what she is going to do. She then asks, “Are these your children? Meaning Judah and and Emmyn. To which I reply, “Yes” She then tells me, “Well, they are welcome to help me if they would like.”

Of course they wanted to play the game.

Jordan getting Judah’s carpet cleaning belt all ready =)

I know what some of you are thinking, you want your children to enjoy doing chores without a game. You are worried if you make it a game they are not going to have a good worth ethic when they grow up, you fear they won’t ever take initiative. Well, here are our choices right now mommas:

Joy or Hatefulness

One choice is happy, makes it fun. The other yells and makes them work hard.

One child is more likely to love chores when they are older. The other hates them and does everything for their kids because their mom was always so mean.

Think of it this way, it’s a Mary Poppins approach.

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap!  The job’s a game.” -Mary Poppins

Right now, little Judah gets a chocolate chip for each check on his list to keep him focused. The big girls have to write their beginning and end time on their list. Tomorrow, it will be something totally different to keep them going. But for the most part? We’re happily working together to get the job done.

Joyfully managing expectations right there beside you,

Kati

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