Home & Family

Chores – It’s time.

Let me begin by being up front about my chore experience as a child. None. Zip. Nada. My friend’s father taught me to sweep when I was 14 (very rewarding). My husband taught me to fold laundry (again, scarily enjoyable). I actually did have two responsibilities I can remember. I had to vacuum the stairs each week with a huge, heavy upright vacuum. Don’t ask me why it was only the stairs and not other rooms in the house, but that was the assignment. My other chore was emptying the dishwasher – a long time friend and I were talking the other day and she actually remembers me complaining about this task. My room was a disaster and I knew my mother had had it with the moldy soda cans (I am not holding back here) and the clothes hanging out of the drawers when she actually dumped out my drawers into the middle of my bedroom floor. I barely noticed amid the clutter.

I had friends with families who had rotating chore charts posted on the refrigerator with each family member taking turns on dishes, taking out the garbage, laundry, etc. Now that I am a mother, this concept sounds appealing, but a lot of times it is easier to do it yourself. I was at a friend’s house over the summer and she had a very cool circle chart posted in her kitchen divided into pie shapes with each family member’s name; underneath was a larger pie with chores – the concept being you would turn the chart each week to switch up each person’s chores. I emailed her the other day to ask if I could take a picture of the chart for the blog because I thought it was such a great idea. She threw it away because no one paid attention and she is back to doing all the chores herself. No surprise.

Trust me, I know chores are important so each family member – from large to small – takes part in the upkeep of a home and contributes to the house running smoothly, Yes, chores should be assigned starting when the kids are very young – even the youngest child can help set the table. Have I done this? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. However, I am tired of doing the lionshare of chores in my house (particularly PICKING UP – picking up socks from places they should not be, picking up books, picking up Polly Pocket shoes, picking up granola bar wrappers, etc.) and am not at the dumping the clothes drawers upside down point, but sometimes close to that point.

I have talked a big game with my kids from time to time, but I am now finally going to put it into practice. I am going to start small – each child (ages 3, 5,  and 7) will have the following responsibilities:

1) Make your bed each day (I actually have done away with top sheets so the kids just have a down comforter to wrangle with)

2) Pick up your room before bed (they all have big baskets they can toss everything into – we are not looking for perfection, just visible floor)

3) Be responsible for your things (ie, know where your soccer uniform is and keep it in a place you will remember)

4) Set the table (if applicable)

5) Clear your plate when you are excused

I will add to this list – I think – but am going to see how this goes for now.

I have a list for my husband too (not sure how well this will go over):

1) Put your shoes away

2) Hang up your coat.

The other issue is allowance. Should allowance be tied into the successful completion of chores, or handed out regardless? I am inclined to see allowance as a reward for appropriate behavior and something very reasonable to withhold should the kids not hold up their end of the bargain. However, I have heard many parents say it is important to have chores and allowance separate – chores are a requirement in the household and allowance is given each week regardless of how the week has gone. (My kids do not even get allowance at this point – another topic, another blog).

Are your children responsible for certain chores?

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