Every day at 2 o'clock I look around and think "not again". The house is a mess. Dishes piled high and every square inch of counter space is covered. We have been doing school all day and keeping up with house work just doesn't fit in. The floors need a good sweep and there's at least 3 loads of laundry waiting for me. The washer and dryer are both full and there are clothes piled up on the dining room table that have to be hung, folded and put away. There are toys in every room of the house and the kitchen table is covered in books, papers, pencils and other school paraphernalia. A mom could get crushed under the weight of the to-do's that await.
It's 2:30... the kitchen counters are cleaned, the dishwasher emptied and dishes reloaded, the breakfast table cleared of all the school supplies and the floors swept and now only sticky and needing a mop (another day). The washing machine is running with another load, the dryer has been emptied and two loads of clothes have been hung, folded and put away, the dining room table is bare. The school supplies put away, the trash taken out, the recycle box emptied, the living room straightened. The upstairs bedrooms have been cleaned and beds made, bathrooms spot checked and toys picked up and put away. Mom is sitting down at the computer and drinking some hot tea.
How much of that did I do? I helped here and there. I checked to make sure everything was done and that's it. As I watched them get all of those things done I thought about how much easier my life is now with 5 children than it was with 2. I thought about how teaching them to do chores has transformed my life. I thought about my friends who are in the trenches right now and I wanted to offer some encouragement. It will get better! It will get better! I promise it will get better!
Every Sunday morning my 12 year old daughter gets 2 little brothers ready for church because she enjoys dressing them up. I stay in my bathroom and peacefully shower, do my hair, put on make-up and dress and come out to a house full of children dressed and ready to go.
Every night after dinner I stand at the kitchen sink and wash dishes as all 5 children clean off the table, wipe down the counters, dry the dishes and put them away. The job gets done faster and I can relax along with the rest of the family... when we all pitch in.
Teaching my children to do chores has been a blessing for me but it's also been a blessing for them. Teaching them to do chores has been an effective way to teach them empathy. I will never forget the time that my 11 year son was folding a load of towels and he said, "How is there so much laundry, I just did this yesterday." or the times that my daughter has taken it upon herself to clean the kitchen when I have been sick and she says, "Mom, please get better quick, we can't do this without you."
The bible says that work is "good". We should teach our children at a young age to have a good attitude about working around the house. We should teach them that life is not about them and we are not their servants. It's not an easy job, but you will be glad you did. You will feel more appreciated and you will be happier in your home and as a mother if you teach you children to work around the home.
This post is in NO WAY trying to brag about my children or myself... It's a plea to my mommy friends to begin now to teach your children to do chores for your sake and theirs. It is a tremendous blessing when you look around and see all the work that they have done around the house.
So where do you start? How young and what jobs can each age group perform?
I will give a list of my children's daily chores according to age and the occasional chores I expect them to do when extra things need to be done, but you know what needs to be done in your home and what your children are capable of doing. I will say that my children are much more willing to do the work with a good attitude when mommy is consistent and it's a daily thing that is just a part of the routine.
My 3 yr old- helps unload the dishwasher and put silverware and other low things that he can reach away, he puts his clothes in the hamper and takes his folded clothes upstairs to his drawers, he helps pick up his toys and put them away (he needs encouragement to get the job done). He helps big brother clean up the bed room. He is also helpful at putting away groceries and taking out the recycle.
My 6 yr old- unloads one of the racks of the dishwasher, helps clean off the table, dries dishes and puts them away, he puts his folded and hang up clothes away, brings his laundry basket down to wash, picks up the upstairs and puts his toys away. His occasional chores are cleaning baseboards, the stair case.
My 8 yr old- unloads one of the rack of the dishwasher, helps clean up after dinner, puts dishes away, cleans his room, makes his bed, brings down his laundry basket/hangers, cleans the upstairs, putting away blankets and straightening pillows. Takes out trash and recycle, unload groceries, puts away his laundry. His occasional chores are anything mom or dad need him to do.
My 11 yr old- straightens up the downstairs, sweeps or vacuums the downstairs once or twice a week. He is responsible for washing, drying, and putting away one load of laundry a day as well as putting away his little brothers clothes. He helps do anything that needs to be done... trash, recycle, vacuum, dishes, laundry. His occasional chores are to help mom or dad with whatever is asked of him.
My 12 yr old- Anything that mom needs done. She is a little mom herself and anticipates things that need to be done. Her job is to help me not go crazy and she is really good at that. She helps clean the kitchen, do the laundry, get little boys dressed and ready to go places. She makes sure that everyone else gets their chores done... because she knows that I will ask her to do it if they don't.
The Bible says that children are a blessing from the Lord and for many years I would have argued with that. For a long time life was hard, a struggle and I felt like I was on a sinking ship. I did start teaching my children young to do chores, but even that was more work for me. I never dreamed that I would reap the blessings that the Bible talked about... but it's happening.
Today as I watched them transform this house in less than 30 minutes, I knew I had to encourage my mom friends who feel like they are drowning under the weight of raising small children. Children are a blessing from the Lord and my life is easier now with 5 children than when I had only 2. The key is teaching them work is a part of life. Teach them from little bitty to do small jobs and expect them to clean up after themselves. Be consistent and make chores a daily routine. You will not regret putting in the effort and in the end you will reap exponential rewards!!!