“How do you do chores?” or “Do you have a system for chores?” is often asked in the Mommy Boards – there seems to be an idea that children should be working around the house – or a fear of having your children seen as “lazy” – but how do you start?
I feel very blessed to have been introduced to the Foster’s at Doorposts.com while the boys were at a young age. They have a poster called the Service Opportunities Chart . Unlike “Chores” that are generally distinguished from the principal work of the day – they are lifted as a Character Training Opportunity for Service. A way to spontaneously perform something for another’s benefit.
I’m a word gal – and sometimes a word like Chore or Service Opportunity changes how I see a task. But how do you train your children to volunteer for work that most children would make them selves scarce for? How do you train Your Heart to lovingly want to volunteer for those Home Keeping jobs around the house?
Let’s start with The Word – –
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
She look well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness. – Proverbs 31:27
And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men. Colossians 3:23
If “Chore Time” elicits groans, murmurings and complaining – I would question if a “System” is what you are looking for, or a “Character Heart Change” – are you and your children Working willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. (Col 3:23)
This is where the Service Opportunities Chart changed our home.
We posted the chart when the boys were tiny – 2 and 5ish? I cut the banner off of the top of the poster, laminated the stickers, and then cut them into little squares. We had a small white board – and I assembled the tasks that I wanted to help train the boys on. (Back in the day, the chart was a huge poster, I think they make them in smaller sizes now.) Little things around the house, like shake a rug, wash a window, feed a chicken, fold the laundry we posted on the board.
We talked as a family about sharing the needs of our home keeping, explaining that there are certain tasks that needed done. That I, as the Mother, am responsible to see that those tasks are done, and am ultimately responsible for doing them. Many of our friends at the time had household help, or a weekly maid service. It gave them “free time” to meet at parks and such. Simply showing them, what they could do to create more of that “free time” to pursue their interest sparked their joy when they were younger and to this day. We did assign points to each task – which, after a tally done by the child, could earn rewards. The idea being, that if I hired a servant to complete the tasks, they would be paid. (Making your points also serve to learn addition or multiplications sets is fun too.)
We also talked about the joy of doing something for someone, when they don’t expect it. The discipline of training your eye to see work that needs to be done – and doing it.
Helping the boys come along side and learn how to shake a rug, sweep a porch, change the chicken water, swish out a potty, clean a window – at an early age, without the threat of punishment if the task is not completed – gave joy and peace in the training. The end goal was not in getting it done, but learning how to do it, and spending the time together during the day.
Now, the boys have taken the volunteer idea to a whole new level. They enjoy and seek out jobs for neighbors, mowing lawns, pulling weeds, stacking wood. Nate is volunteering this summer at the Library to help set up for their weekly program and they both volunteer at the food bank during the month.
We are quite used to puzzled comments – My favorite was this week – at a dinner – “You Christians are always looking for something to do for others.” It was directed at a friend and I, including a conversation with the boys – and in a puzzled way of wondering how to repay, or trying to seek out the why of what we do. Yes, We followers of Christ – who want to serve as He served – are always looking for things to do to help others – to lift their Spirit – to ease their burden – to come along side and help.
Thank you for staying with my long post – I’d like to share a few word definitions to wrap it up –
Chore, in America, this word denotes small work of a domestic kind, as distinguished from the principal work of the day. It is generally used in the plural, chores, which includes the daily or occasional business of feeding cattle and other animals, preparing fuel, sweeping the house, cleaning furniture. See Char. (Webster’s 1828)
Interesting that it came from Char –
CHAR, n. In England, work done by the day; a single job, or task. In New England, it is pronounced chore, which see. I know not the origin of the word.
CHAR, v.t. To perform a business.
CHAR, v.i. To work at others houses by the day, without being a hired servant; to do small jobs.
SERV’ICE, n. [From L. servitium.] 1. In a general sense, labor of body or of body and mind, performed at the command of a superior, or the pursuance of duty, or for the benefit of another. Service is voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary service is that of hired servants, or of contract, or of persons who spontaneously perform something for another’s benefit. Involuntary service is that of slaves, who work by compulsion. (Websters 1828 Service)
Next week – I’d like to share how we get our home keeping duties done in the morning using – Zone Cleaning for Kids – Trigger Memory System .
This article was was submitted to The Christian Home issue 19.