"Can you come play?" (neighbor kid)
"Not yet, I have to do my chores." (my kid)
"Chores? Are you in trouble? What did you do this time?" (neighbor kid)
"Nothing, I just have to do some stuff before I can play." (my kid)
"Wow, that's not fair. When can you come out? (neighbor kid)
You get the idea.
Before we moved to town, my kids never thought of chores as "not fair". They just thought it was what you did. Everyone did chores. Now that we live in a neighborhood they have found out that not everyone has to do chores everyday. It is frustrating as a mom.
Work is a part of our daily life, even for our kids. They will work when they leave our home, so now is the time to teach them how to work. It matters. The parent who holds the opinion their children have plenty of time to learn to work, let them be kids will have adult children who do not know how to work.
In our home we call them "chores" or "responsibilities". Everyone has them, even the youngest in the family. Everyone has jobs that are appropriate for their age.
The four year old helps me with laundry, unloading dishwasher, picking up toys, making the bed, etc... He will soon have his own list of chores to do on his own when he turns five. I don't ask the 4 year old to do what the 15 year can do, nor do I ask the 15 year old to do what the 4 year old can do.
Here is a website that has chores divided by age range.
We have some very basic rules in our house when it comes to chores.
1. Work without complaining. Philippians 2:14 tells us to do all things without grumbling or complaining. If you complain about doing your chores you get more chores to do until you stop complaining.
Funny story...one of my boys was doing a lot of complaining about having to sweep the kitchen floor everyday. so, for the rest of the week he had extra chores and could not play with friends. He did all kinds of lovely chores everyday like; cleaning toilets, scooping dog poop in the yard, matching my bottomless basket of socks, baseboards, blinds, and the list goes on. by the fourth day he gave up. He lasted longer than I thought he would.
"OK, OK I hate doing all of this. I will never complain about sweeping the floor again!"
And he hasn't. :o)
2. If you make a mess, clean it up. This sounds simple, but my problem is finding out who made the mess. My little ones are the worst at making the mess and then trying to cover it up so they don't get in trouble.
Example: Yesterday Sam was eating chips and salsa on the couch. A huge No-No! his bowl of salsa spilled on the couch. He tried to wipe it up & then cover it with a blanket. Thankfully I can take the cover off of the cushion & throw it in the washer. He knew he was not to eat on the couch & knew he would get in trouble, but I let him know he is in worse trouble for not being honest about what he did & punishment was given.
My big kids are good about this and they are trying to help the little kids learn it too. Advantages to having a large family.
3. Don't step over it, pick it up. I would love to say we have this one mastered. But that would be a lie. But we keep working towards it. I like the rule, it is simple & one of these day we will have it mastered!
Benefits of Chores
We teach our kids to work from the time they are old enough to make a mess. I like how this has paid off for us. Our older kids are beginning to work outside of the home and they are highly respected because of their work ethic. They are trusted by those they work for because their employers have learned that the job will not only get done, but get done very well.
We learned early on that by assigning various chores to our children it helped to give them purpose in our home. They don't get bored near as often (though they still get bored) and they have more to do in their day than keep the couch warm and the TV on. There is purpose to their day.
When they do their jobs, they are to do for the Lord, not for man. Yes, it makes me very happy when they do their chores, but it pleases the Lord even more.
Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
If you start when your children are small, teaching them to work for the Lord, by the time they are older they will have developed an attitude towards work very different from others around them. They will stand out in the workforce. More than that, they will know who they are really working for, which will make it possible to work for those who are hard to work for.