Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs #17: Chores

This week's Homeschool Memoir asks for how we do chores at our house: "how you order your day with school and getting housework done. How do you decide which chores should be done by which child, of which age?"

We've tried various approaches through the years. While we don't do this consciously, I would say that we use the phrase "family responsibilities" rather than "chores." My kids have had the kind of thorough immersion in historical fiction that when hear the word "chores," they think of milking cows and sweeping the hearth. They also know that "chores" is supposed to bring about a batch of grumbling. It's all a matter of semantics, really; however, our goal is to foster the idea that we all have to work together to make our home run smoothly. Thus, the term family responsibility.

Our kids have certain responsibilities—cleaning their rooms, making their beds, setting the table, etc.— that are directly tied to their allowances. Here is a post about our allowance system that really explains the whole process. For other jobs, I just ask, and they do it. Perhaps I should rephrase that. I don't "ask" them: "Hey, would you kids like to pick up the living room?" Rather, I tell them: "It is time to pick up the living room." Sometimes I'll make jobs fun by playing a game of I Spy ("I spy something brown and bumpy that belongs to Duncan") or picking up color-by-color or by having each pick up a certain number of things ("Everyone pick up 22 things, even if they're not yours.").

Something that I used to do frequently when the kids were younger was called "15/15." For this, I would set the timer for 15 minutes, and we would all clean. When the timer when off, we'd stop and play. They absolutely loved this system, and I have no idea why I don't employ it more regularly. Perhaps today I'll start it again!

Our house goes through various phases of cleanliness and clutter. If we have a particularly busy week, we'll have piles of stuff everywhere. I would be fairly horrified for anyone to walk in my house right now. But then we'll have weeks like this one, when activities are at a minimum and we can attack the chaos. I do daily maintenance, of course. I was a Flylady follower years ago, and she taught me the basics of managing one's home: shine your sink, get dressed, put on shoes, declutter for a few minutes at a time, etc. I am still fairly consistent with all of those things.

Basically, we've trained our kids from toddlerhood that they are a part of this family, and that in order for our home to run smoothly, they must help. They know that they can't watch TV or get on the computer, etc., unless they have done what I've asked them to. As they get older, their responsibilities and expectations increase. I have been really happy in the past year to see that our 15-year-old regularly cleans his room, including vacuuming, without ever being asked. I can't remember the last time that I reminded him to get his room clean. I think it all comes down to years of training, consistency, and, well, a kid who likes a clean room.

* Guess what? I'm hosting the next Carnival of Homeschooling here at SmallWorld! I've been an avid reader of the Carnival for a couple of years, and I'm excited to have a chance to host finally. Any blog post you write that has to do with homeschooling can be submitted by using the form here. If you've never submitted, just look back over your past posts and find one you especially liked, and send it in!


  1. Great post! We do give the older boys an allowance, but we don't tie it in to "chores." We too have taught them that the work is all part of being in this family. :) Good luck hosting the carnival.

  2. I'm going to come back and read your allowance post! I love that some days your house is in a state of chaos. I go through that ebb & flow, too. You would be a bit horrified to come in right now.

  3. Hello admin, nice site ! Good content, beautiful design, thanks !

  4. I like the term family responsibilities far better than chores. Chores sounds like pure drudgery.


  5. COOL! sounds like a fuin topic. This month there are no assigned wortk it's just I pick the closest kid and tell them to do whatever it is....LOL.
    I'll have to read your allowance post. we don't do an allowance here. it's always interesting to read what others do and how it works for them.

  6. Family responsibilities. I like that.

  7. I agree very much with the family responsibilities. We've always taught our kids that we all have responsibilities in the family.
    I don't have much hope though that my oldest will clean her room without being told by the time she's 15! Perhaps her brother would, but she's definitely a "messy."! LOL

  8. Ahh, I remember playing some of those games with my boys when they were younger. Anything to make cleaning fun. :) We also teach the kids that they help out because it is their family responsibility.


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