-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Meet Michele from Family, Faith, and Fridays. She is a military wife and homeschooling mom to four, ages 6, 11, 15 and 19. She blogs about schooling, family, adoption, modesty, cooking, savings and everything in between. You can read more about her and her family at http://www.familyfaithandfridays.blogspot.com/.
Being a helper is not necessarily a natural born talent. In our family, we believe that it takes time and training to encourage children to be helpers. They all want to please, they just don't all want to help.
The answer for us- chores, starting at a pretty young age. Not to get money. Not to be a punishment.
But simply because you are a part of the team and you are expected to learn to help others.
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:16
Chores and how we tackle them change often around here, usually in tandem with our moves. It always seems about that time some children have aged up and out of certain things and need to be taught others. Sometimes changes just need to be made to keep things fresh. This move has been no exception. It was time for the newly turned 6 year old to go from just his personal chores to ones that benefited the whole family.
Because chores have never been negotiable here adding and switching around does not rock our kiddos worlds. We treat it as a right of passage..."look what you are big enough to do now" and they usually embrace the challenge.
The hardest part usually comes on our side- the training. You cannot just give a child a job and expect that they will know how to do it. Just like anything you want done well, you must teach them how to do it and then allow them to practice. And sometimes practice some more. Make it fun though and you will be surprised at how well this goes. The first few times may take more parental involvement, but in the end, the results are worth it.
So for your six year old...
Helping to empty the dishwasher. I would like to say this is not daily, but with a family our size, it often is. He does the silverware as well as small fruit size bowls that we use for snacks and fruit. I made sure that the bowls were in a bottom drawer that was easy for him to pull out and place them in. Minimal worry of breakage!
Cleaning off the front and back doors weekly. Why? One, because he is the one that puts most of the fingerprints on both. (despite asking him to keep his fingers off the glass.) Plus, because we use normally use homemade cleaning products there is no risk in him poisoning himself. As for the Windex bottle this time, well, you can always tell when my Mom has been visiting. And hey, if she wants to help clean she can use whatever she wants!
Vacuuming the kitchen floor. This he does twice a week. Again, most of the crumbs come from him. Go figure! ;) We have a small lightweight vacuum that he loves using, so this is not a biggie. The kid likes to vacuum. Is it always perfect? No way. But it gets done, he gets thanked, and it blesses our family.
Bring your clothes up from the laundry room once a week and put them away. It did take a few times to get this to not be a throw-them-all-in-the-first-drawer-you-find thing, but I think we have it now!
Daily morning chores. These are the same every morning. Make your bed, get dressed, brush your teeth. Easy. When he was younger I laid out an outfit for him at night so he would know what to put on. Now that he is six, he chooses from his drawer. His outfits are in a few stacks and the only rule is you have to choose one from the top. No digging in to find one you like best. Keeps the mess to a minimum AND keeps us from seeing the same 7 outfits over and over again!
Nightly chores. These are the same every night. 10 minute tidy your bedroom. Brush teeth and take vitamins. Easy.
And how do we remember it all? And not seem like a nagging mom?
A chart of course! (you knew that was coming, right friends?)
This chart hangs in our kitchen where everyone can see it. Each morning the kids check the chart to see what they need to that day and then plan accordingly. No need to remind them. No need to nag, no need to have to remember it all myself. Easy!
I will say that when we first start teaching chores at a young age we used a system by the Maxwell Family at Titus 2 called Chore Packs. We printed out the chores on cards, put them into a name badge and then the child could wear that badge. When they finished the chore on the card it went to the back of the pile and they did the next one. At young ages you just use a picture of that chore and no reading is necessary. It was great and allowed them to feel big and responsible. The girls still have fond memories of those chore pacts. Now that the kids are all older, the chart works as well. Another resource I highly recommend is one I reviewed this past year called The Everyday Family Chore System . It has some great ideas you can implement as well as lists of age appropriate chores.
Again, our reason for chores is not to be lazy parents whose kids do all the work. It is to raise responsible children who know how to help, WANT to help and know what responsibility and teamwork are all about. Isn't that the kind of child YOU want to raise?