There are many ways we as a family work to live simply. Our 18 year old did not get a cell phone till she could afford to purchase one at 18. Our 13 year old does not have a phone and has to earn his time on any gaming system/electronic device (he doesn’t own his own) he borrows in the house. I make home cooked meals with produce from my local wholesaler/farmers market and DH and I are always on the look out to refurbish anything we think we might need to throw away.
Although our kids are teenagers we work hard to keep a routine of spending time together during and after dinner most nights during the week. Eating up in one’s room is not allowed. We work to foster a feeling of togetherness through meals, prayer times and even chores. Of course, as the mom the chore one is my favorite.
Chores aren’t fun for kids. In fact chores aren’t fun for us adults but if you can find ways to make it quick and fun the time doing them together is not wasted and can even be meaningful.
One way to help this process along is to make chores apart of the child’s daily routine.
Ever since the kids were little we laid out chores for them. At age 2 it was putting your own dish in the sink. At five it was helping to fold laundry. At 8 it was learning to wash a dish or two and so on. Appropriate chores for appropriate ages.
Create a reward system.
When they were very young we could use stars on a board. As they got older it went to quarters in a jar and now hang out time with friends. There should always be an incentive. Don’t get me wrong there were some years there that the response was “but why do I have to do chores?” Our response to that was always simple and didn’t waver “everyone who lives in this house is required to help keep up the house and do their part. You can do it without grumbling and get your star/quarter/hang out with friends or you can complain and you’ll still have to do it with no reward for doing it. It’s up to you.”
When the kids got older we had to get flexible with chores. Daily chores didn’t always fit into the long nights of swim meets, homework and church so we pushed chores to Saturday. This is actually when things became more enjoyable. While the kids and DH slept I’d wake up and make a big breakfast for everyone. As they got up we’d eat, talk about the day and lay out the plan. Then we’d blast the music while everyone did their part. By noon the house was cleaned and everyone could move on the things they really wanted to do that day.
While the kids were young I was a stay at home mom till my oldest went into 6th grade. Then I worked part time and was home every day by the time both kids got home from school. With this schedule I was able to do the majority of the house cleaning but teaching the kids to live in a community where their part matters was an important character trait we wanted to instill in them. It taught them that they matter, they can contribute to their situation around them and they can help others and feel good about it.
I hope this inspires you to encourage your children in a chore routine. As my kids are 13 and 18 now I see the benefits of starting young and the rewards that have come from instilling in them a sense of responsibility and love for their family, through chores.