Habit Training: Household Chores

“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.” – Charlotte Mason

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetOkay, so I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’ve arrived at smooth and easy. However, I have definitely seen the benefit of persistence in the area of daily chores, even through all the whining, the “I can’ts,” and the overwhelming temptation just to do it myself. As I write this post, my children are newly 4 and 5 and a half years old.

To start, I want to share my why. Why do I believe that it is important to make household chores a part of their daily routine? I have a couple of main reasons.

First of all, as a homeschool family, we spend the majority of the hours in our day at home. There is no dropping off the mess-makers at school while I come home and clean in peace. More time with children in the home equals more messes. I simply cannot carry the entire load of all of the household chores and still have time to create, teach, imagine, and be a peaceful mama. I need them to carry a piece, and the only way that that will happen is if I start small and come alongside in training them.

Secondly, training them to care for their environment, their belongings, and their family members is a value that my husband and I want to instill in them. When they put the baby’s clothes away in his dresser, they are loving him well. When they pick up their toys from the living room floor so they don’t get stepped on, we are teaching them to care for what they’ve been given. When they stand back and take pride in a shiny clean dining room table, we are giving them the gift of accomplishment and training them to seek beauty and order.

Please do not misunderstand me. If you know me in real life, you will know that I am a “creative type”. You know, the ones whose space looks like a bomb went off in the midst of the latest cooking endeavor or a crafting adventure. It usually stays that way long after the dust of the idea settles. Despite my greatest efforts, my laundry room/homeschool storage is atrocious, which is the exact reason I have never posted a photo of how I store and “organize” all the things. But I am getting better each day and as I train them, and I am hoping that I too will be trained.

We have been practicing “Morning Chores” in our home consistently for about a year. The first few months were the hardest, for me and for them. It was 75% me, 25% them. It looked like me talking and encouraging them through each step and literally at times holding their hands as they worked through the entire chore. Keep persisting! Make it routine and keep it positive. Now, a year later, I can honestly say its 5% me, 95% them!

Everyone needs to find their own system, but I wanted to share what has worked for us in hopes of inspiring you. I knew from the beginning that our routine needed to be simple and flexible. I made this simple chart and I print one out for each week. As you can see, we don’t do a structured chore time on the weekends. The longer we’ve been at this, the easier it is for me to ask them to jump in on the weekend and do a chore spontaneously without complaint.

Each morning after breakfast, the kids run off and play and I “survey the land”. Which chores need to be completed before we can start our day in peace? Is there a pile of clean laundry on the couch from the night before? Then I will choose “sort and put away clothes” as one of our chores. Are we going somewhere that needs a picnic lunch that day? Then I will write “help pack lunches” as a chore. I sometimes choose quicker chores if we have an outing we need to get to. After I do the morning’s dishes, start a load of laundry, and get dressed, I call the kids together to begin our Morning Chores.

Here is a list of some of the possible chores you may find on our chore chart on any given day. Remember that at first, I practically did the entire chore while they watched. It has been a slow transition of them doing more and more of each chore independently. There are still certain chores that they need a significant amount of help accomplishing.

  • Clean bedroom (this is primarily sorting toys into labeled bins)

  • Clean living room

  • Spray and wipe dining room table and chairs

  • Vacuum living room, bedroom, or downstairs rug

  • Load washer/ dryer

  • Clean out the van

  • Sweep kitchen and dining room

  • Help pack lunches

  • Make beds

  • Sort and put away clothes

  • Fold washcloths and towels

  • Gather library books to be returned (I print a list and they find them all over the house and check off the list)

  • Clean bathrooms (toilets, mirrors)

Each day I also write “get dressed” as one of their chores. We go through the list and the kids take turns choosing a chore to complete. We all complete them together. Whoever chose it gets to cross it off once it’s complete (believe me, this matters). Once all six are complete, they get to put a sticker on the chart and on their shirt.

That’s it! Our chore time takes between 30 minutes and an hour each day depending on which ones I choose. After Morning Chores are complete we are all dressed and have a clean and orderly space to sit down together, have a snack, and start morning school activities.

Here’s a post with more details about our Daily Rhythm.

To download a blank chore chart like the one show above, click here.

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