Chores, A Tradition? Part Two

Today’s post is a follow-up to the previous post, Chores, A Tradition?  Part One.

I mentioned that we have started and stopped many different chore systems in our home.  We have used chore charts, we have used online chore sites, we have used the index card system.  You name it, we have likely tried it.  Each system seems to work great for a time, then gradually fades away until we are back to me doing the bulk of the work.  I also mentioned that one reason our systems didn’t last long had to do with the fact that we assigned chores that would go unnoticed if not completed.  Or they were so small, I would just do it myself rather than call the boys back to complete the job.  No one wins this way.  The kids weren’t being trained to do a job completely, their work ethic was not being developed the way we would hope, and quite frankly, I found myself bitterly muttering, “Why am I constantly cleaning up after everyone in this house?”

Raise your hand if you like a nagging wife or mom?  That is what I thought.  Who wants to be around someone like that?  I didn’t like to hear myself sound like that.  Nagging is not known to create family harmony.

So here is what we came up with:

  1. Using library card style envelopes, I labeled each one with a child’s name.
  2. Next I tacked them to our organization wall, aka family command center.
  3. Using popsicle sticks, we labeled chores to each one.  (My crafty friends are cringing right now.  I’m more about efficiency and getting the job done than how things look.  That’s why there is chocolate and vanilla, right?  If you prefer a more crafty look, these chore craft sticks are all over Pinterest.  Some very elaborate ones that I just didn’t have time to create.  Ours seem to get the job done just fine.)  We have actually added more chores to these sticks, which do not include their personal hygiene chores.
  4. Taking turns the boys chose their chore stick until all chores were assigned.
  5. Once they had all their sticks, they placed them in their assigned envelopes (just in case they forgot throughout the week whose chore belonged to who)

For now, it works.  Let’s see if we can make this one last!

Chores, A Tradition? Part One

Chores, a tradition?  I don’t think so!  That is what your kids would be thinking of this post.

Ok, so maybe chores aren’t actually a tradition, per se.  But they do accomplish some of the same goals that traditions accomplish.  Though chores might not create the warm, fuzzy experiences that say eating chocolate chip cookies every afternoon while rocking on the front porch may create,  they do produce unity, feelings of belonging, and stability in our homes.  Not to mention it helps mom from feeling like a 24 hour servant!  And let’s face it, when mama has help, the home is a happier place.  When mama isn’t exhausted, mama can spend more time creating those special moments, memories, experiences, and traditions.  Bottom line, when mama is happy, everyone is happy.  Amen?

Honestly, I wish that I had realized the importance of giving kids responsibilities earlier on.  Until recently, we have started and stopped so many different chore systems I could write 10 posts on each system and why it was great in the beginning then lost its steam.  I believe part of the reason we weren’t very good at sticking to it had to do with the fact that I assigned incredibly easy chores to the kids.  I assigned things that honestly would go unnoticed if they weren’t completed.  Or I would just do them myself if it didn’t get done.

Last summer we had the pleasure of having my niece and nephews from out-of-state stay with us for a few days.  I was so impressed with their willingness to help without being asked to help.  If there was a need, one of those kids was sure to meet it.  Quite the impression was left on me.  One would think I would have begun to crack down on some responsibility assignments around the house.  Not so.  Simply because it was just easier for me to do it myself.  It would get done the way I wanted it done if I just did it myself.  I made excuses for myself and my kids.

I have come to my senses.

I realized that:

  1. My boys need to be trained to be servants.  Servants of Christ.
  2. My boys need to not think I’m their servant, rather I’m a servant of Christ.
  3. My boys need to learn to be responsible for something
  4. My boys need to learn that life isn’t just fun and games and it doesn’t revolve around them
  5. My boys need to feel the pride of doing a job well
  6. My boys need to feel they are an important contributor to the family
  7. My boys need to pitch in so I can have more time to enjoy the moments with them
  8. My boys need to be trained to identify where they can help and offer it without being asked
  9. My boys need to learn to help without complaining or rolling eyes.
  10. My boys simply need to be trained.  Period.

I also realized that:

  1. I was doing them a disservice by doing everything around the house
  2. I was failing to provide training and life skills
  3. I could potentially create self-centered monsters
  4. I was exhausting myself
  5. I needed to be okay with okay.  Chores didn’t have to be done my way.  Other ways may actually exist.
  6. I needed to be okay with a different timetable than I prefer for when chores are completed.
  7. My boys would feel important and a part of Team Robinson if the ball were passed to them more often.
  8. My boys would feel stability and unity with the family if given appropriate jobs
  9. My boys could actually do MUCH more than I realized they could do
  10. My boys are eager to learn, help, contribute, and be trained.  Period.

The results so far?  Well, my house is staying much cleaner.  We all have more time together.  Oh yeah, and I’m less tired and grumpy.

Long term results?  My prayer is that God would use these training sessions to grow and develop boys who have servant hearts, desire to help others, see the needs of others before their own needs, and feel strongly connected to our family, feeling secure and bonded to our family unit.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will post the systems we’ve tried and the system we are currently using.

P.S. I won’t mention any names, but one of my sons liked to grumble when asked to do a chore.  Now that he realizes that attitude affects everything, we often find him having a grand time in the midst of completing his tasks.  Here he was singing with a spatula.

He also realized fun can be had in most situations, even the dishes.  He made sure to show me his castle creation before completing the job.

 Who knew working together to accomplish the same goal could be so much fun?