Tip #4 – Chores are your friend
Growing up a city girl, I thought chores were things one did on a farm, like Laura Ingalls. Milking the cow, raking out the barn, pitching hay (whatever THAT means), getting water from the creek. I did grow up doing work around the house, we just called it by the task and not the general idea of chores. Both of my parents worked for many years and we were responsible for laundry, making suppers, doing dishes, dusting along with taking care of our own bedrooms.
It has been amazing to me how many moms wear themselves out by doing all the work around their house. Most families with many children have learned to share the work around but there are still quite a number of young moms stressing out over all there is to do in keeping a house functioning and clean. They cook and clean and almost make themselves slaves to their children. I’ve seen it over and over again.
There is a better way; here is Tip #4 in my Tips for Mom series.
I figure, the children MAKE most of the mess, so it’s up to them to CLEAN most of the mess!
Very early on in my parenting I read the book 401 Ways to Get Your Kids To Work at Home by Bonnie McCullough. Now I have not read the book for many years but the part that I really liked was the list of age appropriate chores for children – starting with 2 year olds!
Yes, your 2 year old can clear their place from the table.
Yes, your 2 year old can help you fold wash cloths.
Yes, your 2 year old can put the cups and plates (plastic) on the table to set it.
Teaching our children to do chores helps everyone. It teaches them responsibility for their own things (toys, bed, etc.), it lets them understand that they are part of a family and helping out is part of family life. It also teaches them that they are not the center of the universe (a hard thing for infants and toddlers to grasp). It also helps them learn to work together (this was a biggie in our home). Don’t forget, God created Adam to work — He created Adam with responsibilities ready for him: to tend The Garden. So, work is actually a part of God’s plan. It is a good thing for us to instill knowing how to work hard and work completely in our children’s lives. This is something they will need for the rest of their lives.
Some things I did that helped our little ones.
- I got plastic Tupperware plates and cups for our every day use (so no fear of injury from breaking glass or ceramic)
- I put the dishes and cups in a bottom cabinet so that little ones can reach to set the table and clear the dish drainer
- I made sure to fold batches that had items little ones could fold after their nap time (so they could focus)
- I rearranged much of our home to put things down low for little ones to reach for fetching and putting away
- I set up chores (with their corresponding charts) in a room so that everyone had something to do
- i.e. living room: 8 year old vacuumed, 6 year old dusted, 4 year old collected what was under the furniture and put away, 2 year old put all toys in a bucket
Would it have been easier for me to do it all? ABSOLUTELY! At least in the beginning. Training for work/chores is a lot of work. And the chores never quite get done to Mom’s standards. But that isn’t really the point. The point is the long range character we are training into our children’s lives. The point is helping them learn the joy of being fully part of the family. The point is to share the load so Mom isn’t running herself ragged while the children grow more and more self-centered and lazy. The point is giving Glory to God as we step into His design for us to embrace work.
We are now at a completely different stage of life with numerous adult children at home and working (even non-adult children working) and schedules are constantly changing. We are always re-working chores and how to divvy up the workload, but it never falls entirely on my shoulders, NEVER.
So, look at your day. Are you frazzled from all the housework? Are you the only one cleaning or doing dishes? Are your children learning to be helpers around the house?