I thought it might be helpful to write out what chores each of my children are currently doing, and how often. A lot of times, we parents underestimate the type of work our children are capable of performing.
If you start your children out at a young age and make chores fun, but also non-negotiable, you will have an easier time of it.
Constantly shoot for excellence, while not being nit-picky. It’s a strange kind of balance. You want your children to master their current level of chores before you move them up to the next level.
If you want your children to get to the point where they are executing their chores at a high level, then “you must inspect what you expect”. I heard that term from another mom years ago, and it has stuck..
It’s so true, though. If you want your children to learn to complete their chores correctly, then you need to take the time to go inspect their work. And you need to make them re-do it as many times as necessary to do it right.
Never get frustrated or angry for work that isn’t quite up to snuff. Just be very matter-of-fact about it. They have to come back and re-do any work that isn’t done properly. Point out where they fell short (nicely), and ask them to fix it.
The first few times, you can expect to have to instruct several times before it’s good enough to be finished. As your child begins to understand exactly what you expect and your standard, he will be able to get it right the first time.
You will still need to inspect the work occasionally, even after your child has gotten it right several times in a row. A once a week spot check should do the trick.
14 yr old—My 14-year-old has just recently graduated from dish duty altogether. He couldn’t be happier! He currently helps set the table for dinner, cleans out and vacuums the van once per week, vacuums the living room twice per week, cleans the showers/tubs twice a month, vacuums the upstairs and the stairs once per week, and wipes down the upper cabinets twice per month.
12 yr old—My 12-year old does the breakfast dishes, helps set the dinner table, vacuums the living room twice per week, sweeps and mops the kitchen, dining room, foyer, and bathrooms once per week.
10 yr old—My 10-year-old does the dinner dishes, vacuums the living room twice per week, cleans all of the toilets daily, and wipes down the bathroom countertops daily.
8 yr old—My 8-year-old unloads the dishwasher in the morning, and does the lunch dishes, she also helps me keep the kitchen swept.
7 yr old—My 7-year-old unloads the dishwasher in the afternoon, and is in charge of wiping off the dining room table after each meal, she also helps keep the kitchen swept.
5 yr old—My 5-year-old sweeps the dining room after each meal, and helps clear off the dishes after each meal. He also keeps the shoes in the sunroom organized, and the room vacuumed once per week.
3 yr old—My 3-year-old empties all of the little trash cans around the house daily (in each bathroom, and in my room).
We all work together to keep the house picked up, and I’ve trained several of the children in how to help me keep the laundry running. I do all of the folding and pre-treating. They all put their own laundry away after it has been folded/sorted.
In the summertime, the three oldest boys work together to get the mowing and edging done. With a riding lawn mower, a push mower, and a weed-whacker, they make pretty quick work of it!
We do pay the children for their chores, but I deduct money for bad attitudes and shoddy work (not during the instruction period, but for obvious laziness). All weekly work must be completed by Saturday at noon to count. For the older children, I do not offer reminders. It’s either done on time for pay, or it isn’t done on time which means I don’t pay, and they still have to complete the chore.
This system has worked really well for us for over a year now. The children are thrilled that they get to make money, I’m thrilled to not have to do the work myself.