We finally gave Ada some official chores this week, now that she is grown-up and in kindergarten (they’re pretty lame chores, but you have to start somewhere). Which means I now have to print the chore chart on legal sized paper to fit everybody on it. It took me two hours to rearrange chores depending on kids’ schedules (and to download some cute fonts). It’s not for the faint of heart, but it pays off every day.
I happen to think chores are more important than just about anything kids can do. I am appalled by how many kids are so overscheduled that they don’t have time to pitch in around the house. Last time I checked, learning how to do laundry seemed to be a lot more vital than learning how to dribble a ball. Just about every family has a lawn care service where we live. I think that if you have a teenager, he/she needs to be doing that job instead. They are going to need to take care of a yard someday. They won’t learn how to do it without being taught!
Some parents get really upset about the substandard job kids do at chores, but there is no way they will learn to do something well if they haven’t had time to practice. Speaking of practicing, kids need to be shown how to do their chores properly at least three or four times. Just like starting any job, you have to be trained before you can do it well. You can’t just say “load the dishwasher” and expect them to know how to do it decently. You have to commit the time to showing them how it needs to be done.
Just to clarify because someone asks me this every time I talk about chores:
Help With Dinner includes setting the table, and helping with any food prep like grating cheese, browning ground beef or getting me a can of chicken broth. It all depends on the skill level of the helper.
After-Dinner Helper is responsible for clearing the table, putting away leftovers and cleaning up whatever I so desire. I do the nasty stuff, but they have to wipe down the counters usually.
Dirty Dishes are the responsiblity of the Dish Loader. Theoretically all the dishes should be put in the dishwasher immediately by the users but since I hate being the dish nazi it just never happens. I choose to go with what really works rather than some perfectionist ideal. This job also includes washing pots/pan/cookie sheets by hand.
Laundry means sorting, folding and delivering clean laundry. I have no trouble when it comes to starting the laundry. It’s just finishing it that gives me fits. India does her own laundry. York will probably start pretty soon but his tends to get jumbled up with Finn’s since they share a room and I can already imagine the fights about not wanting to do his brother’s laundry. Oh, the joy of siblings!
Empty Garbage is the two-person job (one person holding the bag, the other person dumping the can) of emptying all the garbage cans in the house. Not to be confused with York taking the big cans and recycling out to the corner.
Ada has the job of pushing in kitchen chairs–I hate having them not pushed in. It’s a pet peeve. And our sofa has lots of loose cushions which are always jumbled up or made into a fort. Now there is someone responsible for making them nice and tidy. I love having minions! Even though they create most of the messes to begin with.
Some things, like making beds, have been omitted due to the lack of space on the chore chart. But they get done regularly. Some things aren’t that big of a deal to me (like clean bedrooms. I have the kids clean them once every week or two. I just don’t care that much most of the time. I worry more about the public spaces.)
We also don’t give allowance for chores. Chores must be done because our children live in our family and that what happens when you live in a family. In my house growing up each chore was assigned a monetary value–the idea being that we would earn our allowance. A good idea in theory, but the way it panned out was that we kids would decide that we didn’t really need the money so we wouldn’t do the chores. I just like the idea of pitching in because it’s the right thing to do, not because you’re getting paid.
(But we do have separate chores that kids can do to earn money like matching stray socks, cleaning out the microwave, mowing the lawn, etc.)