One question that we've been asked many times is in regards to children and chores. Questions such as:
-How do you get your children to work?
-How do you get them to work cheerfully?
-How young before they begin to work?
-Do they do the same chores each day or do you rotate?
-How do you keep track of who is suppose to do what? How do you make sure they did what they are suppose to do?
-How do you get them to do a job well?
*Work is Good!
During our family Bible time a year or two ago, Daniel pointed out something that I'd never thought of before (he likes to do that a lot...he's good at it :) ). He was telling the children that before Adam and Eve ever sinned, when everything was still "good", God placed them in the garden and...
...they just laid on some lush grass in the shade of a beautiful tree sipping on coconut milk and fresh fruit salad prepared for them by some angels, right? :)
No, he placed them in the garden and gave them a job...work to do. Genesis 3:15- And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."
Work was never the curse. Now when Adam and Eve fell, the Lord told Adam that the ground was cursed, it would bring forth thorns and thistles and he would eat bread by the sweat of his face. But Adam worked before the curse.
He went on to ask the children what they thought we will be doing in heaven. You see drawings of people with angel wings floating on white fluffy clouds; or I remember being little and thinking that we would be singing praises to God forever and I use hope it wouldn't ever get boring :). Daniel told the children that the Lord will have a job in His kingdom for each of them to do and what a wonderful job it will be.
That devotional that night encouraged me to daily remind myself and my children the blessing we have of being able to work.
That being said, these are a few of the things we have seen that have encouraged our children in doing chores:
*The Blessings of Diligence
The Bible is of full of verses and stories showing us this truth. I try to talk about these regularly with my children as well has help them see these blessings in their own lives as they choose to be diligent. Here are some of my favorites:
-Prov. 12:24 "The hand of the diligent shall rule" As the children are faithful in small things, they are given even greater responsibilities and the privileges that accompany them.
-Ec. 5:12- "The sleep of a laboring man is sweet" How good it feels to have accomplished a hard days work, rest your head on the pillow at night, and enjoy sweet sleep.
-Proverbs 31:28- "Her husband...praiseth her". While this is talking about the virtuous woman, I always try to praise the children for helping with the work of the home and for doing a job well.
Praise goes such a long way! How a child wants to make mommy and daddy proud! Even if a job isn't done perfect but I know the child did his/her best, I love telling them how proud I am of them. I am truly thankful for their help! When Daddy comes home in the evening, I love to tell him out loud how this child or that one was so helpful or did such a good job on a task. Their faces light up and they just grin ear to ear :).
We do not give allowances for their regular chores as that is what is expected of them as being part of the family. But we do have rewards for doing good on their regular chores and I always have a list of extra things that need to be done where they can earn money.
*Working with the children
Do you remember being a child and working along side your mom or dad? I do! How important I felt! And so Daniel and I rarely do a job without one to ten helpers along side us. It is so much more fun to work with someone. There are several benefits to working with my children:
-It gives them an opportunity to learn a new task or practice and learn more of one they already know.
-It gives me another opportunity to talk with and listen to them as they chatter along working beside me.
-It helps get the job done faster or at least makes it more fun :)
And I'm sure there are many more!
*Teaching them how to do each chore
One of the problems we use to have was that the chores were not being done right. It finally dawned on me that it wasn't a matter of laziness or disobedience in many of the cases but rather a lack of knowing how to do the job.
During the summer, as I have time to dedicate to other things since we are not doing school as much, I work on chore training. This is done on either an individual or group basis depending on what I am teaching.
For example, I will take one Saturday after all the sheets have been washed to teach the children how to properly make their bed, what things they are allowed to keep in their beds (as in NO food, No live animals, No cups filled with dirt...only pillows, blankets, stuffed animals/dolls, back packs with whatever they can fit in there, and a couple other things).
Other group sessions include folding/hanging clothes, clearing table, brushing teeth and the clean up afterwards, etc...
Then I will individually go over each of the assigned chores for the year with the person responsible for them. I will show them how to do it, then I will work along side them, and then watch them do it by themselves so I know they understand how to do it well.
*Consequences for Not Doing Chores
Overall, our children do their chores faithfully with little complaining. The times that we've had where jobs were not getting done or we were struggling with good attitudes were always the times that I had gotten lazy in checking thier work and carrying out the consequences for uncompleted or poorly done work.
I want to be faithful to my word and faithful in helping my children develop godly character and good work habits. It is difficult for me with all I am doing each day to remember all the different chores and what should be done if they are not completed.
Daniel sat down with me this summer and we worked on our "Consequence Sheet". This is a sheet we make each year which contains 3 columns and several rows. The first columns lists the different things the children may struggle with day to day.
A few things on our list this year are:
-Not doing morning chores on time or done poorly
-Not completing daily school assignments
-Disturbing another during school time
-Leaving socks our shoes outside
The second column was Daniel's idea...here we list the cause behind the sin of the first column. This helped us in finding an appropriate consequence. For example-
The third column lists the consequence. For example,
-Extra work sheet in school
-Loss of privilege
We try to make sure the "pleasure" of the sin is not worth the weight of the consequence. For example, if a child doesn't do his part of breakfast clean up(which is a 5 to 15 minute job) they will have to work for 30 minutes during their free time.
When I am faithful to be attentive to the children in these areas and faithful to firmly but lovingly give them the consequence listed, every one is happier! :)
-Our children begin assigned chores when they are 5. Before that, they are given little jobs here and there as they LOVE to help out like their big siblings and they are responsible for cleaning up their toys, putting their shoes back, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, clearing their plate after a meal etc... Usually, as soon as they can walk, I love giving them a spray bottle with water and a rag and tell them over and over again what big helpers they are as they joyfully clean a wall. It is a very special day when the year they turn 5 and get to have their name along side the others on the chore sheet. How proud they are! :)
-Our children keep the same chores for the school year. During the summer, when I plan our new school schedule, I will re-evaluate the chores as well and make changes as necessary.
-I make a chore chart each year with all the chores listed which we hang on the wall next to our schedule. The children do not have to look at it though (it's more for my benefit) as they all know what to do and when to do it. I remind the younger ones time to time until they are able to remember on their own.
Many hands make light work and make it so much fun!