The boys went back to school a week or so ago, and now that September is upon us, we have resumed our routine in earnest. That means chores, lots of them, and no slacking off whatsoever.

During the summer our life is free form –the entire neighborhood congregates at my house, probably because of the abundance of food. Even teenage boys want their cupcakes. And when it comes to chores, the boys are so busy hanging out with their friends, that every now and then I’ll empty the dishwasher myself instead of interrupting their play.

Not so when school is back in session. Forget to do your chores and you are grounded the next day. Worse, if you are seriously slacking off? You may be handed your brother’s tasks on top of your own. For a week. That is the ultimate consequence –double chore duty.

What chores do my boys perform?

My 13 year old takes care of the following each night:
  • Sets table with silverware, napkins and water
  • Clears table
  • Washes table
  • Puts all food away in glass jars
  • Wipes down kitchen counters
  • Wipes out kitchen sink with Bon Ami, rinses and dries sink ’til it sparkles
  • Takes dirty rags and cloth napkins to hamper in laundry room

He also pitches in by taking charge of these twice per week responsibilities:

  • Sorts dirty clothes into three categories: regular, delicate, rags
  • Runs clothes through washer and dryer

My 12 year old does the following daily duties (with great reticence):

  • Runs dishwasher
  • Unloads dishwasher
  • Takes out recycling
  • Takes out compost

The work that the boys do is a significant contribution. They further help me with any additional tasks I ask them to do. That might mean helping me chop up veggies for dinner, or sweeping the floor. I love being in the kitchen with my children and always have (though I probably can’t say the same for them).

The boys started pitching in when they were very little. My older son used to pull herbs off their stems for me when he was just two years old. He became responsible for setting the table when he was around four years old, about the time he started preschool. At that time I had my children take on the responsibility of packing their lunches. I made sure they did this the night before as to avoid adding stress to our mornings.

My favorite chore that the boys now partake in is picking kale from our front yard (I tore out the flower beds to make room for veggies). I love watching them go out there with a big bowl and little scissors. My younger son makes a mean version of my Raw Kale Salad –I will feature his recipe on here soon. He is truly a wonderful and discerning little chef.

My older son has said this about the younger:

“My brother is a better overall chef –but my specialty is desserts.”

That about sums up my happy little family. What about yours? What do you think of chores? What do your children do and how do you persuade them to take action around the house?


31 responses to “Chores”

  1. Dear Elana,
    i am following your blog for a while now and love it. i live in Lesotho Southern Africa and raise twin toddlers.
    I wanted to ask you how concern are you with your kids and their consumption of Phytic Acid in the almond flour.
    i finally got my kids eating baked goods from almond flour and now i read that it might not be so good as well.
    i also see that you are using more coconut flour for the past year, in your view is it more recommended?

    thanks much and Shana Tova,

  2. I have mixed feelings about children doing chores. For instance do you expect they will clean the family bathroom? Perhaps if one is wealthy enough that each child has his/her own bathroom, or should they take turns? I think who is responsible for the bathroom defines how responsible for family order and cleanliness is each family member.

  3. Oh, you are so much better at handling chores as a parent than I am!! My children (18 and 16) have always had chores and performed them reasonably well and within a reasonable time frame – when requested. I felt we were always fighting the schedule, trying to make things happen. I was dxd with a chronic disease about five years ago. Now, I lazily encourage my children to help because if I can do it myself, it’s a sign of strength and help. But I have spoiled them and that is a hard one. My husband assures me that he never cleaned up after himself while growing up, but once on his own he instinctually needed cleanliness and order. I hope that gets handed down to our teens from his side. I really am enjoying not being too organized right now!:)

  4. I am sooo happy to hear that other people have their children help out with chores!!! I have four children (15, 13, 7, 5) and have always had them help out with chores around the house, just because they are part of the family!! I have started my kiddos off as early as 1 1/2 taking full trash bags from the little trash cans around the house to the big trash can. It is great fun watching them learn to put a new bag in the little trash cans when they are so young!!! We add things as they can do them until they know how to do every chore in the house proficiently.

    The best parenting advice I ever received was from a woman who told me that I was not raising children, but that I was raising adults!!! That does not mean that they can’t play and be children, but that as they are growing up my job is to prepare them to be responsible adults! One of my goals for each of my children is to train them to be able to run a household efficiently. My older children have done their own laundry since they were eight and are capable of cooking complete meals on their own. They also know how to do every job in our home!

    I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2008 and was blessed as I was too weak to cook or clean or even to feed the babies and my older two children were able to help out enough that as a team we got everybody fed and clothed and kept the house pretty clean. As they get older and move out on their own, I know that they are prepared for the everyday responsibilities of running a household. Since I was not prepared for that when I married and had my own home for the first time, I think it is a very important thing to teach.

    Thank you for your post!!

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