The last time I shared anything about having the children do chores was in 2018, and, honestly, not too much had changed until recently. I’ll admit that back then, I had high (and somewhat unrealistic) hopes of delegating household tasks to my then 10 and 6 year old sons, which was very, very, very (did I say very?) FOOLISH of me. Between those lists of “age-appropriate” chores on Pinterest and the barrage of “perfect” parents online who have their children cleaning the house by age 5 — an exaggeration, but y’all know I’m not too far off — it’s so easy to compare yourself to other parents and that, my friends, will make you crazy every.single.time. UGH. On top of that, while growing up, I remember how washing the dishes caused many arguments. If it wasn’t determining whose week it was, it was something else that caused chaos to ensue. I know that type of experience is neither unique to my upbringing nor is it different than what’s happening in many homes now. Maybe even yours.
Taking care of the house is something that has to be done, and how we go about it with our children will either cause us to become a collective or create unnecessary chaos. Since I’m sure that being a collective is what we’re all working towards, the best way to do it is to tap into our innate wisdom of meeting everyone’s needs as best we can, and from that space we can make taking care of our homes more doable. Here’s how I’m doing it in my home.
I’m all about creating a routine for our days, so the first thing I did was to think about what needed to be done on a daily and weekly basis. From there, I created, printed, and laminated daily responsibility lists for each child that are developmentally-appropriate and take into account factors like attention to detail, patience level, ability to follow directions, physical coordination, and more. I don’t believe that age determines skill level, so I chose tasks based on where each child is developmentally, instead. The only way to make this thing work was if I met them where they were and give them a chance to “level-up” as they gain more confidence and ability to take on more responsibilities. Doing this also gives them a chance to master certain tasks before moving onto new ones. I got that idea from my friend, Sarah from A Tribe of Many.
Here’s what each child is responsible for throughout the week. I’ll add in more tasks as needed, but these are working for us right now.
We’ve been at it for a few weeks now, and it’s been working great! As homeschoolers, you know that our houses can get more dirty and messy during the day because we’re home more often than most (pre-‘Rona, that is.) So, having a plan for household tasks has been a good idea for us. Additionally, the skills that it’s teaching, e.g. personal responsibility, homemaking, being clean and tidy, are some of the reasons why we homeschool. These are skills they wouldn’t have learned in school and might have been too busy to learn at home. Sadly, that’s the case for many families nowadays.
If you’re having trouble getting your children on board, I ask you to consider adding your intuition to the mix when choosing how, when, and to whom to delegate household tasks instead of simply going by age, what you did as a child, or what others do. Since I have, I’ve been more patient, insightful, consistent (this is a big one!) and very considerate of what my children can actually individually handle, so the transition to doing more household tasks has been pretty easy. Plus, if they don’t stay on top of their tasks, especially bathrooms (gasp!), they’ll put in more time and effort making up for it in the long run. Natural consequences for the win!
Over the years, I’ve learned that I can use outside influences as a reference point, but, ultimately, my intuition and honoring where my children’s capabilities lie are an important part of knowing what responsibilities they should have and when. Giving them too much or too little responsibility can wreck havoc on the energy of your household, and even worse, create a strain on your relationships with your children. We want to build them up, not break them down, Mamas.
Using this equation just makes more sense: Intuition + Developmentally-appropriate tasks + Team work = A home that’s clean, tidy, calm, and thriving
It can be done, friends. The transition may take a little while, but everything works out in the end. They’ll learn skills that’ll last a lifetime, and you’ll have more time to yourself and a clean home to boot. Sounds like a plan to me.
Love and light,
P.S. I created step-by-step, room-by-room cleaning lists for my home that I’m sharing with you. You can download them here.