For those new to my blog, let me tell you a little about a plan I use for our household. It’s found in a duet of books written by the parents of a large homeschooling family. Their beliefs very much match mine: that education is not just about math, reading, or writing. It should include household responsibilities, and that is true whether or not the child goes to public or private school, or is home schooled.
What I do feel should be different for a home schooled child is that (s)he should take on more household chores than a child schooled outside of the home and for two reasons:
1. The home schooled child is home more of the day to make messes which someone will need to clean and;
2. The home schooled child’s mother is busy for many hours a day instructing her children, therefore the load should be spread out among family members.
The authors, Steve and Teri Maxwell, have written two books that have revolutionized my daily life. Managers of their Homes and Managers of their Chores. I read both of these books in December of 2011 and have utilized their methods for the past two years. My first blog post on the topic can be found here: MOTH 1 (MOTH stands for Managers of their Homes and I use the title interchangeably for both books.)
You can also find any post I’ve written about this topic by clicking the category MOTH on the right-hand side of any of my blog posts or by typing MOTH in the search feature.
My chore philosophy in a nutshell:
- Children should help out around the house because they are part of the family and need to contribute to it. Some chores they should not be paid for.
- Children can learn the value of money and hard work by earning money for some of the chores they do. If they show good work ethic, they get paid. If not, they do not get paid.
- Children need to learn all the household chores. Chores are not gender-specific. The boys leaving my home will have experience in washing dishes, cleaning toilets, and washing laundry.
- Children age 6 and up are perfectly capable of washing their own laundry.
- We keep chores for a year at a time. Rotating chores between the children is a lot of work as I have to spend a great deal of time in training my children when they get new assignments. By the six-month mark, they’re fairly competent in the chores and that gives me six months to enjoy the fruits of all of our labor!
- Childrens should learn that chores are not a punishment, nor are they something to be avoided. People have to work and should take great pride in the quality of work they produce, whether they’re working on chores, raising a family, teaching in a classroom, volunteering at a homeless shelter, defending their nation, preaching in a church, or flipping burgers. The work one does should be done with pride. (I would like to reference P.J. Jonas of Goat Milk Stuff for three fantastic podcasts on this topic.)
And now to our updates!
Yesterday I sat with the boys and reminded them of why we do the chores. I listed some of the points I wrote in my “nutshell of a philosophy” but also added that I was proud of them for their hard work in 2013. I told them that I often hear other moms complaining about the workload they carry: the laundry, dishes, dirty floors, never-ending piles of toys. While our house is never 100% spotless and we do have our fair share of dust and grass accumulate inside, I can honestly say that I do not feel the burden of caring for our house all by myself. The burden I do feel is to teach them these jobs and to instill in them a work ethic; a desire to do these jobs well and to do them well the first time. (That takes much training and is something we work on year round. They have yet to do all of their chores perfectly every single day without any reminding on my part.)
Yesterday, after the boys picked out their chores for the upcoming year, I had them list the responsibilities that I have, so that they wouldn’t feel like I was forcing them to do all the labor. Once they saw that my list was still more than triple the length of theirs, they saw that we were all pitching in to help around the house.
Here are the steps I took to create this year’s chore assignment:
1. Based on the information I read in Managers of their Chores I listed all the chores I wanted my kids to do. We prefer to do chores twice a day: once before school starts and once just after lunch. (This year I am increasing the difficulty level of the chores as well as adding one chore per child for Saturdays.)
The morning chores my kids do are the same every single morning. They are paid for these chores. The afternoon chores are jobs that need to be done only once or twice a week. This year, each of the bigs gets a third category of chores. I call these chores “as needed chores.” One will take the trash out, one will load the dishwasher, and one will sweep the downstairs, all as needed. These are chores that Matt or I have handled through out the day but with Matt leaving, the boys are going to step up and take on a little more. This is perfectly fine as they are older and are more capable of doing these chores whenever I point out that they need to be done.
2. Once the chores were listed out, I wrote the morning chores in pink, the afternoon chores in green, and the “as needed” chores in purple. (Because I loaned my Managers of their Chores book to someone and never got it back, I had to reinvent the wheel with this. I wish I could remember where my book is!)
3a. I created labels for “Morning” as well as one for each day of the week that they’ll be doing afternoon chores. I had four piles of chores that the boys had each accumulated while we were sorting through them as a family. I put all the morning chores under the appropriate name under the “Morning” heading.
4. Once I was happy with the days of the week that the weekly chores would be done on, I wrote them on the backs of last year’s chore pack pages. (I wrote them on the back of last year’s because I don’t want to waste good card stock for a rough draft, which this most certainly is. We’ll work through a few weeks of our chores and then make any changes necessary before I go through the effort of printing them out to look nice.) For Parker’s chores I googled images that matched his chores since he’s not a reader yet.We have used these strings as long as we’ve been doing MOTH. The difference is that now Parker has an afternoon chore pack! (He doesn’t have a morning chore pack. I don’t have a good reason for why… he just naturally keeps his room clean and brushes his teeth. I think he’s going to be a very neat individual without me ever having to train him!)
6. I printed out what the chores are on two sheets of paper so that I can glance at them from the kitchen sink (where I spend a lot of my day). This keeps me from having to go over and pull out all the chore packs if I can’t remember who does a certain chore that I’ve noticed is incomplete or not to standard. (I’m posting these in a more legible form below for your benefit.)So, here is our 2014 chore list. There may be some changes that need to be made once we put these into practice.
My kids are the following ages: H=12; C=almost 11; B=almost 10; P=almost 4.
Hayden: sweep – take care of floors
Carson: empty the trash cans
Bailey: load the dishwasher; lunch table and dinner table
- Sweep by laundry room, kitchen and dining room.
- Clean living room
- Clean the downstairs bathroom
- Brush teeth
- Empty dishwasher before breakfast*
- Clean room
- Clean the breakfast table
- Brush teeth
- Clean room
- Clean BOTH upstairs bathrooms
- Brush teeth
H: mop kitchen & dining room
B: sweep upstairs/empty both recycle bin
P: Living Room & Kitchen baseboards
H: vac stairs and upstairs
C: sweep downstairs bath and laundry
B: deep clean sink
P: mini vac Kitchen & Dining Room
H: wash P clothes
C: vac couches & cushions
B: microwave and cabinets
P: stove & fridge fronts
H: cans to curb & garage
C: clean out car
B: empty all trash cans and both recycling bins
P: clean cabinet fronts
H: cans in from curb & clean front porch and back yard
C: wash/dry/fold towels
B: pencil sharpener
P: Living Room & Kitchen baseboards
H: vacuum Living room
C: mop Living Room and office (hardwood)
B: under china & black cabinets
P: minivac Kitchen & Dining Room
To read the previous installments in the MOTH series see these links:
MOTH Update – 2014 - You are here