Chores

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How to Teach Responsibility & Life Skills Through Chores

**Coming soon a printable age appropriate chore chart**

I’ve heard it said that “necessity is the mother of invention” & today I’ll be sharing with you the circumstantial necessity that compelled me to share household management responsibilities with my children. In order to do that, I’d like to invite you to travel back in time with me to the year 2006.

We were a family of six and I was in the midst of a difficult pregnancy that would end with the still birth of our daughter Shiloh during the second trimester. With four children( ages 9,7,6 & 1), limited mobility and my husband traveling extensively; it was no mystery that I was going to need help. I had no idea, however, how to move from needing help to getting help nor did I conceive that the answer to my dilemma would be found in my children!

One afternoon while resting on the couch and perusing a family magazine called Above Rubies my eyes fell on a photo of a large bi-racial family of eleven (four of the children had been adopted from Africa). I was a little put off by the title “ The Life of a Queen” as I felt far from royalty, quite frankly I felt exhausted and overwhelmed! But compelled by curiosity ,I read on. In the article, Candy Zackey shared how she enlisted her children in doing the necessary tasks of maintaining a home and caring for a family. She mentioned a few catchy titles for the chores: Lord of the lunches, chief dishwasher, & headmaid of the bathrooms.

Well, that was the spark that lit the fire in teaching our children life skills. My battle plan consisted of three areas:

1) Lord of the laundry & lunch – learn to sort, fold and transfer laundry to dryer

2) Chief Germbuster- responsible for cleaning bathroom counters, sink, sweeping floor and trash removal. (I continued to clean the toilets).

3) Captain of the Kitchen– set the table for meals, help me unload dishwasher

***A few years later this progressed to each child in the kitchen with me learning how to measure, read a recipe, and eventually prepare a meal on their own.

I pondered the strengths/weaknesses of each child & started them out with a job that suited their strengths. Then with great enthusiasm I announced & explained to them our new chore system and how they were going to help.

 Next, I set up a day to show each child how to do their new job, established when it was to be done and the consequences for failing to do or complete the job. (In retrospect, it would have been helpful for me to make a list for one child in particular in order to aid them in remembering what they were supposed to do.

Once/If each child mastered the job given them, I would switch the jobs assigned to give them an opportunity to learn a new skill

 Here’s a couple of Do’s:

  • Do re-evaluate often— last year I realized our then 13 year old son did not know how to operate the washing machine!
  •  Realize the intent and progression—For our family it was for our children to eventually do the chore on their own and help care for the household and each other without direct supervision.

Now what I found was that teaching responsibility did not have to be relegated to chores alone. As we were blessed with more arrows in our quiver, each Big was paired with a Little to assist them with: getting dressed, fixing their plates during meals, putting on shoes, toothpaste on toothbrushes and even changing diapers and bath time.

To God be the glory for the fruit

   After eight years the fruit of that seed of obedient necessity is sweet!

  •  Children who know what Scriptures say about work & serving
  • Children who can manage the house, (cook, clean & care for younger siblings) without my direct supervision or in my absence
  • Children who take the initiative to serve their family.  My oldest daughter for example, took up the task of cooking dinner six days a week! Talk about a blessing!

 Training their hearts not just their hands

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 I would be remiss if I did not mention the importance of the Scriptures in this facet of training our children. His infallible Word abounds in wisdom and truths for us to glean from and direct our children to ( 2Tim 3:16).

 Here are a few of our favorites: 

  • Combat complainingDo all things without murmurings and disputings. (Philp 2:14)
  •  Whose the Boss of MeAnd whatever you do, do it diligently unto the Lord, not unto men for you are serving the Lord. (Col 3: 23-24 )

 As we are obedient to plant the Word, we can trust the Father to bring forth the fruit. For it is God who works in you both to will (desire) and to work (action) for his good pleasure.

So friends, in the words of William Wilberforce: “Our motto must continue to be perseverance. And ultimately I trust the Almighty will crown our efforts with success.” May we draw strength from the Scriptures as we teach our children these necessary skills.

So what about you? What is a life skill that you’ve taught your children?

 

Comments

  1. I feel this is an area of great struggle, even though my kids are able to do many chores around the house. I guess I wish there was heart in the doing. I think there is much work here. And I think just applying more verses and speaking truth would help greatly in this area. Thank you for some more ideas.
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