In a busy household of twelve we make a lot of messes! Let me share with you how our chores system helps us get our work done quickly so we can move on to other things. It’s simple to set up and easy to customize for your home and family needs.
More children = More work
This is the equation that most people use when they offer me comments along the line of “Wow! You really have your hands full!”
While there is truth to their formula, of course, the part they are leaving out is:
More children = More hands to help with the work
One of the blessings that can come from being a child in a large family is that you come to know that you are truly needed. Our children are not just handed arbitrary chores to keep them busy. They are taught skills to benefit them in the future and given the understanding that their work matters. They are part of a family who needs them and appreciates them.
Our Chore Charts
Our chore system has changed multiple times over the years. It evolves as our family grows and the amount of daily work increases or changes. Currently our chore charts list the simple morning and evening jobs inside the house. There is also additional outdoor work of caring for the animals but the kids themselves have sorted out who will do what, and it doesn’t change very often. Individually these chores do not take much time to complete, but collectively we make a big impact on the work that must be done.
After years of having my children do the same job every day I have started alternating the chores weekly. They have enjoyed the change and the opportunity to try out different skills. The one challenge I’ve found to weekly rotation is that it can often take some kids a few days to settle in to completing a new task with out help or reminders, and by that time the week is half over! I have noticed, however, that the longer we have done this weekly chore rotation the easier it gets, so I believe it will sort itself out in time.
The Motivation Behind The *Why*
It’s true that many of these jobs might be much easier for me to complete myself then to go through the work of coaching someone else, but in this season of parenting my most important job is training my children in skills and competency so they can be more successful adults. This means that allowing a child to wash the dishes (even if I can do it better and faster) is actually working towards a larger and more important goal than just having the job done.
How Does It Work?
Our morning chart is completed after breakfast and morning learning time. This year we’ve been enjoying a slower start to our mornings. Instead of completing a morning checklist upon rising, we are gathering for breakfast and some family time. I read a short passage from the Bible then move on to our family learning time. This typically looks like doing the next section in one of our curriculums or reading a few chapters from the current read aloud book.
Once we’re done with our time together, kids move on to completing their chores. Dishes are washed and then put away, the house is swept and trash is taken out. Once person is the dedicated pan washer. Since we cook most everything from scratch we use a lot of pots and pans, so this person will wash breakfast pans as well as any that were left soaking from the evening before. Another child cleans the toilet and empties any full trash cans and takes the bags to the big can outside. I work on laundry while overseeing the household activity. I typically put a load in the washing machine before I go to bed so that I have one to move to the dryer right away in the morning. I do two or three loads in a morning’s time. I put away the younger kids clothes (and the parents of course! 🙂 and leave the rest in the laundry room for the older kids to grab their own and put away. The last job on the list is the “put away basket”. This is a basket in the main living space where I can toss any random out of place items throughout the day. During our morning chore time the assigned child makes sure they get put in the right place.
Bella is our designated cow milker. She is usually done with this before we have our morning time, then helps out with washing dishes after breakfast, or working on another task that needs to be completed.
After chores are complete everyone can have a little free time before doing their individual learning requirements of math and language arts, or choose to jump right in. Once those two requirements are complete they’re free to pursue their own interests for the rest of the day.
In the evening I often ask a child or two to help with dinner preparation. I try to wash the dinner prep dishes before we sit down to eat so there are less dishes to wash afterwards. Once we’re finished with our family meal we move straight into our evening chore time. I nurse the baby to sleep then Jason puts the younger kids to bed while I oversee the remaining evening work and help where needed. Kids complete their job on the chart as well as their outdoor farm chore, if they haven’t done it already.
We try to get through these tasks quickly because after everyone is done I read aloud from our evening chapter book to my age seven and older group. Once I’m done the middle kids are tucked in while the teens spend a little more time together or head to their beds to read or journal before going to sleep.
How to Make Your Own Chore System
To make your own chore system spend some time thinking about the basic daily needs of your home. Decide who is capable of completing each task (l often plan to work alongside younger kids until they become more competent).
I’ve been using Canva to design my charts this year. It’s free to use and so easy. Just find a design and click on the text to edit it. If you don’t want to complete your chore chart and then realize you have to pay a dollar to download it (I’m speaking from experience here! LOL) then avoid the designs labeled “pro” and stick with the free ones.
Design and hang up your chart, but consider it a trial run. As you spend the first weeks with this new system you’ll discover little changes that could be made to help it go more smoothly. Expect some resistance to this new system and don’t be discouraged by it. Keep a smile on your face as you explain to your child (again and again) that you are helping them to grow by learning new skills.
Remember The Big Picture
It is important to remember that your initial goal is helping your children learn faithfulness in the practice of completing their chore each day. Perfecting the skill can come later. Show them how you complete the job but then consider stepping back and to let them try to do it their own way. If you hover over your child (telling them how they are doing things wrong and insisting that they complete the work perfectly) they can quickly become discouraged. Give them some space to fail and learn from their mistakes. There are many different ways to complete a task; your child just might invent one that could be helpful to you!