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?
- 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).
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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?
When I was a kid, growing up with both an older and younger brother, we all did chores on a regular basis. My brothers did much the same sorts of things that your boys are doing now. We’re all in our ’40’s now and all my friends are always impressed when I tell them that both my brothers are meticulously clean and tidy: they shop and cook like professional chefs. One brother works from home and has a 3 year old who is already setting the table and “helping” to fold laundry. He stops work every Friday at 2 pm and spends the next three hours cleaning the house from top to bottom. His philosophy for cleaning the bathroom is “disinfect all surfaces.” My other brother is the same and I’m pretty sure he even irons his jeans (he likes the crease in the front.) Anyhow, I’m sure they would have liked it better when they were younger if al had been done for them, but my mom insisted that they know how to take care of themselves and their household, just as she expected of me, her daughter. If that’s anything to learn from, then all your efforts now will surely pay off!
when my oldest was 2, i realized he wanted to help and that it was rewarding for him to do so. the chore chart became one of his favorite parts of the day. i was challenged to come up with enough chores to make his day challenging. i can’t remember what all they were, but cleaning up his own toys and getting dressed and napping were on there. as he grew, he demanded more and more challenging chores. he is 6 1/2 now, and has a magnetic chore list that he LOVES- he lets the dog out in the morning and oversees her dog bowl. he clears the table when i ask, and sets it as well (we’re pretty casual). and also helps take out the compost. he can help carry laundry up and down the stairs, and can also collect it to bring downstairs.
his sister wasn’t interested in chore charts at all, stickers, rewards, all for nil. but she decided that she likes to help in the kitchen (when she got an apron for a present) and so took on flipping pancakes in the morning. she’s only 4 1/2 and for about 6 months now, she will stand on a little stool, and oversee the pancakes, and when they’re done she gets them out of the pan onto a plate and i pour on more batter. she is also helpful with folding laundry. she’s more patient, and enjoys the more detail oriented slow tasks that he has no focus for.
at this point, adding in chores at a certain age has been something our kids take great pride in. my baby (16ish months) will help her siblings out with great joy and clap for herself when she completes a simple task. i think as a family, we find more joy together when we all appreciate what it takes to make our home a place where we all work and rest together in a healthy rhythm. i know i’m unique among young mothers/mothers w/young kids, in that i don’t clean up more for my kids, or do more things for them, but i also feel blessed that i enjoy working alongside my kids, and have the freedom to take them out and do more with them without feeling overwhelmed or worried that i have to do everything for them. because they have responsibility from a young age, they have a great confidence in their place in the home, in other’s homes, and in public. this leads to not perfect, but very well-behaved kids that others like to have around and that enjoy being around others very much.
I love reading about how your family works. My oldest is just 3.5 and I just made her first little chore chart. She is thrilled to move magnets from the to do section to the done section. She opens and closes our shades, puts her own clothes in the laundry room, takes her breakfast dishes from the dining room to kitchen and uses a little broom to sweep up any mess on the floor.
It’s fun to see how excited she gets to do her chores and I think as long as we keep it positive, she will co to or enjoying her contribution to our family.
Olivia@ OmNom Love says
I’m actually in the 7th grade now and school started on August 6th. :( I’ve been in the school groove for a month now.
I don’t like chores at all. Period. Though I do help out around the kitchen a lot because I cannot stand a dirty kitchen. I cook dinner, I make my lunch, do the dishes, empty & load the dish washer, take out the trash, dust, and clean my room. That just about sums it up.
Marcee ..... ILLINOIS says
Way to go Cindy. You will be a much better gal in learning how to take care of yourself, of your room and all of the things that make life wonderful.
Keep up the good work sweetie!
Marcee ..... ILLINOIS says
Ooops …. my boo-boo …. s/b Olivia!
Olivia@ OmNom Love says
Thanks! Like I said, can’t stand a messy house, but hate to clean it up. ;P
Hi there, love the blog and the natural way of your lives…i have
one question and hoping that someone out there sees this and perhaps
they might have some input…..Here goes; does anyone know how to
make jalapeno olive oil? it is so addictive and what a wonderful
addition to any dish. Infusing does not work, it opens up a very
possible botu poison, a scary thing….so does anyone have a better
idea? thanks, Sel
Dear Sel: Sounds delicious, but I don’t know how to make it either. Please let me know at above email if you find a safe recipe. (I’m not accomplished on the computer.) Thanks Joan
I have been a single mom since my boys were 3 and 8. They are now 19 and 23. The oldest is acting in Los Angeles and the youngest has chosen to serve in the Marine Corps before becoming a high school history teacher.
He leaves for boot camp in 18 days.
When my oldest was 12 he became responsible for his laundry and his little brother did the same when he became 12. They were both responsible for poop patrol to clean up after the dog. At 13 my oldest took over cleaning up after dinner later the boys did this together. On Saturdays we all did yard work together. They learned to cook, run a vacuum, and dust. I told myself I was raising future husbands. We had so many fun times.
What amazed me was that my boys were the only kids and teens who had household responsibilities. I often questioned myself thinking they may be better off with more carefree lives; but the boys told me even though they did not always enjoy chores they were learning about responsibilities and they felt good contributing.
One thing I learned was to give up my expectation of how things should be done and realize that everyone has their own way of doing things. At first I would redo their work if it was not exactly what I wanted. I realized I was creating more work for myself and robbing them of feeling good about what they did. We worked together as a family to find a balance between my idea of what was good with theirs. Over time their own expectations for themselves grew. It was wonderful to watch.
Chores, meal planning, shopping, and cooking can be a wonderful way to share time together as a family while providing children with self confidence.
I just want to say thank you for sharing this! We have 3 children who participate in daily chores, without allowance. We want them to be contributing members of our family. I tell my 14.5 year old son his wife will thank me someday! He takes out the compost, garbage and recycling, mows and waters the lawn, rotates laundry, makes his bed, helps cook and loads the dishwasher and does his homework. My daughters (ages 8 and 11) unload the dishwasher, help prepare meals, sweep the floors, fold and put away laundry, make their beds and do their homework. They all play instruments so they also practice/play music daily. Each child has a clipboard and they mark off what they have done. For example they all have 5 boxes for laundry, 5 boxes for dishes, 5 boxes for sweeping on room in the house, 5 boxes for playing their instrument, 5 boxes for homework, etc. When they complete a task, they mark and “X” on the box. At the end of the week it helps us say “thank you for helping the family”. When I was diagnosed almost 2 years ago with Leukemia (AML), the kids really had to start doing tasks on their own and helping around the house. They used to make their own lunches, but now that I am well again I do make their lunches and enjoy it. It helps when three times per week they make their own breakfast -mainly on the weekends so I can sleep in. I find that my kids really do like to help and it makes them feel a sense of responsibility to each other and our family. Again, thank you for sharing your ideas…I think I am going to add setting the table and putting left over food away on their lists. You are a blessing as always!
Sina @ the kosher spoon says
My daughter is 3 and starting preschool soon. I think it’s a great idea to teach her how to pack her lunch.
Chores in general are something I have to think about as she starts getting older. Nice to hear your experience.
I have 2 boys, age 14 and 17. We are the opposite of your schedule, during the summer, they have lots of chores. During the school year, they are so busy with school sports, so they don’t have time to do chores during the week, just a few chores on the weekend.
So in the summer, there are 2 weekly chore charts, and they switch with each other each week. One list includes vacuuming the whole house including stairs, cleaning a vehicle, and cleaning a bathroom. The other list includes sweeping the whole house including the garage, dusting, and washing the front of appliances. Both are required to clean up after themselves when eating, put away their own laundry, clean their room, and make dinner once a week.
During the school year, they simply vacuum and dust, or sweep and clean a bathroom, just on the weekend. They are still required to clean up after eating, clean their room, and put away their laundry.
In addition, they also help with family chores, cutting, splitting and stacking firewood, weed control and fence maintenance on our property. They are very self sufficient about making their own breakfast and lunch, if I don’t do it for them.
I think my boys do more chores than most of their friends, but we try to make it a positive family value. I think it is important in life to have a strong work ethic, and to know how to do basic things around the house. We also pay them for their chores, and that is their motivation, because, as teenagers, there are many “extras” that they want to buy.
You’ve just inspired me. It’s time to being my boys on chores! Oh, I am excited.
When my kids are contributing around the house, I think about what great spouses they will be! My oldest son is married, and it’s true–he really helps his wife. My younger son does the floors: mopping, vacuuming, etc. It’s not his favorite activity, but he does it. He’s very good at it. He’s also good at cooking; he doesn’t enjoy it, though. My daughter loves to make desserts and has become really proficient in the kitchen. She pitches in all around the house. I think it’s so good for them.
Marcee ..... ILLINOIS says
Whoa …. fantastic.
I love reading “chore” stories. Way to go mommies!
Growing up my sisters were verrrrry lazy. Just terrible. I did almost everything to help mama. Laundry, folding, putting things away, etc.
After our nightly dinners together, my daddy would help clear the table w/me. I would start washing the dishes, put things away. Mom would be watching TV in the living room. The siblings were no where to be found. Hiding somewhere most likely. This went on for years and years.
Early household chores taught me how to run a home. I appreciate it.