Day 7: The Challenge of Chores

Summer mornings usually mean sleeping in and lazing around. Most mornings we have no set schedule or deadline to be somewhere.

Without a schedule, my girls’ tend to get lax on doing their chores. Around here, the girls have chores they have to do because they’re part of the family and chores they do to get paid. During the school year, those chores simply become a matter of routine. They have certain times of the day that they do their chores, but when summer rolls around all that structure goes out the window and somehow chores get lost in the process.

Chores are important for our kids. They teach them responsiblity. They teach them life skills. They help them understand what it is to be part of a family.¬†Cleaning up the house becomes a manageable chore when everyone does their part. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says “Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor.” Chores help our kids work with the rest of the family to accomplish something good.

So, how do we keep getting the chores done without a lot of nagging and scolding in the summer? The last thing I want to do every day in the summer is harp on my kids to do their chores. This summer, we’re going to be working on a token system. My girls will earn a token for every day they complete their chore list. The tokens will be good for TV, video games or computer time. No chores, no electronics. And if chores aren’t completed by a certain time, it will cost them a token.

Most kids are motivated by rewards. If electronics time doesn’t motivate your kids, figure out what will — an extra helping of dessert, an extra 15 minutes of family read-aloud, a trip to the park. Tie your tokens to those things. You could even have a rewards list where they are saving up their tokens to earn different rewards.

It’s a rule in our house that chores must be done without grumbling or complaining. If complaints are heard, then the child doesn’t get a token and doesn’t get paid. Philippians 2:14-16 says “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Make this verse the mantra of doing chores. No grumbling or complaining. It teaches your kids that unpleasant things are part of life and grumbling and complaining about them doesn’t make the task any easier and just makes them feel worse.

Print off your chore list and tokens and get the chore monster under control in your home this summer. It will go a long way toward making this The Best Summer Ever.

Download your own chore list and chore tokens on our free printables page. And it’s not too late to enter the drawing for the $10 Target gift card to help you bust the summer boredom blues.

Linking up today with Women Living Well , A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and Word Filled Wednesday.

Friday Introduction: Chore Resources

Earlier this week, we talked about the value of chores. Today, I want to give you some resources to help you set up your own chore system for your kids.

We’ve had several chore systems in our house over the years. Some have worked well. Some have not. There’s no one perfect chore system that works for every household. I know families who pay for chores in tickets and tokens. Those tickets or tokens can then be turned in to gain special privileges like watching TV or playing video games. I know other families who pay their kids for all of their chores and still others that pay for none. Whatever system works for you is the one you should use.

But how do you go about choosing that system? If you’re just starting chores with your young kids, where do you start? If your system isn’t working, how should you change it?

Setting up a chore system isn’t difficult. Finding the right one for your family may take some trial and error. Luckily, there are plenty of great resources available to help.

  • Ask friends and family how they deal with chores in their homes. Someone you know may have a fantastic idea that you didn’t know about. Sometimes the best advice comes from our own circle of influence.
  • Check out the list of age-appropriate chores at Focus on the Family. This list is a great starting point if you’re trying to figure out what chores your kids are capable of doing.
  • Create a chore chart of some kind. Our chore chart right now is simply a dry-erase board with each girls’ list of chores. This works especially well for us because I can create a new list every day. There are lots of chore chart resources available, but I like the variety of printable charts available at Free Chore Charts.
  • If you’re looking for a system that’s already set up and all you have to do is implement it, check out Accountable Kids. This is more than a chore system. It uses chores and privileges to create an accountability system for your kids. I have a friend who uses this system and loves it.
  • Use your system, and change it if it’s not working. Your chore system is only useful if it’s teaching your kids responsibility and you are able to manage it. Don’t stick with something that’s not working just because you’ve always done it that way. If it’s not working, change it.

Chores are an important tool for teaching our kids responsibility. Use the start of the new year as a time to get a fresh start on getting the jobs done around your house because when everyone chips in, the work goes a lot faster. Like the Bible says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). Use these resources to get your family working, and get a good return for your labor as you work together.

Sibling Love

Some days, I think my girls would rather eat nails than spend time with one another. Like any siblings, they argue over silly things, get jealous of each other and do what they can to annoy one another. But, other days, they love each other, stand up for each other and help each other. It’s sometimes like living with Jekyll and Hyde.

Yesterday, my youngest came home with a paper that she had written at school. The question was “If you could spend the afternoon with any member of your extended family, who would it be?” This is what my youngest wrote:

I would spend the time with my sister because she loves me and without her I would be super bored.
She cheers me up when I am sad.
When I am hurt she gets my mom and she’s always there for me.

When I read it, I had to smile. Despite the way my girls act sometimes, they really get it. They understand that their sister is going to be there for them. Both girls know that when the chips are down her sister will be standing there beside her.

I want my girls to be friends as well as sisters — the kind of friends who will drop everything for the other one. John 15:13 says “Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” That’s the kind of friends I want my girls to be.

Siblings go through phases where they often seem not to like each other. But, if we foster an atmosphere of working together and always supporting each other in our families, our kids will get it.

  • Make supporting each other a priority in your family. In our house, unless the weather is beyond miserable or the other child has her own event, we all go to every game or concert. We tell our girls that it’s part of being a family. If we’re at a game, the sibling not playing is expected to sit, watch and cheer while the game is going on — no going off to play on the playground or run around with the other younger siblings. The reason we’re all there is to support the child playing, and we expect the non-participating sibling to be supporting her sister as well.
  • Foster cooperation. While the temptation is often to separate our kids when they’re arguing, forcing them to work together to accomplish a task makes them work through their issues. If my girls are at each others’ throats, I’ll often give them a chore to complete together. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” Usually by the time my girls are done with their chore, they’ve forgotten what they were arguing about in the first place.
  • Don’t tolerate words that tear each other down. When your kids start to say mean things to each other, send them outside to sit on the front step — no matter the weather. Calmly explain that you don’t allow that kind of talk in your house and send them out the door. Tell them they can come back in when they have tamed their tongues and apologized to each other.
  • Don’t compare. Each of your children is unique. They are not going to react the same way or accomplish the same things. No matter how great the temptation, avoid comparing your children. This sets up competition and resentment. There’s enough natural competition between siblings. We, as parents, don’t need to add to it.

I was reminded by my daughter’s paper yesterday that my girls really do get it. They love each other and know the other one has their back. I let my older daughter read the paper. She didn’t say much, but the smile on her face told me she felt special. Help your kids understand that family is about drawing close and circling the wagons when someone in the family is having a tough time.

Family should be an extension of God’s love here on earth. The arms of your family members should be the tangible arms of God’s love. Help your children be those arms to their siblings, so that atmosphere of love will last even when you’re no longer around to encourage it.