Sunday, January 11, 2015

Readin’, Writin’, ‘Rythmatic, and… Chores?

It’s the beginning of the year and whether you make New Year’s Resolutions or not, you’ve probably got some plans for the year in mind. Especially for your homeschooling!  PLANS! Lesson plans, day plans, field trip plans – planning is the most euphoric time of school work because anything seems possible when we make a plan for it!

Perhaps your Perfect Day Plan looks something like this:

7:00 am – wake children and eat breakfast
8:00 am – everyone recites the Pledge of Allegiance and sings “My Country Tis of Thee”
9:00 am – all children peacefully seated at the table, doing book work
12: 00 pm – lunch break
1:00 pm – the afternoon free for field trips and science projects
6:00 pm – dinner with daddy
9:00 pm – children in bed

Doesn’t that look so possible and doable and ideal?  There’s only one problem, my friends (aside from the fact that Utopia will not be attained in this world).  A very key activity is missing from the above schedule.


Yes, indeed!  Those of you who opt for realism over optimism were probably picturing the problem as you read the schedule.  “Not in MY house would that happen!  The kids wouldn’t be able to find their books, I wouldn’t be able to find the kitchen table and my husband wouldn’t be able to find us!”  That’s because chores need to be included in this list! 

“Aw, shucks,” you might say.  “They’re just kids.  Why should they have to do chores?  I want them to have a fun childhood!”  If that is true, then why are you bothering to educate them?  They would probably rather be playing in the yard anyway. 

Of course, you are educating them for the same reason you should have them do chores – it prepares them for adulthood and Real Life.  It is actually a kindness to teach your children the basics of cleaning a house and preparing a meal.  Here are both the short and long term benefits.

Short Term
If you start your day with a one hour cleanup time, then the rest of the day will be less confusing and chaotic.  The kitchen table will be cleared, there will be room to sit on the couch and everybody will hopefully know where their books are.  (If not, check under the bed!)  Tidying the house every day minimizes such problems as lost library books, dog hair in the sandwiches, forgotten commitments, overlooked mail and lost keys.

Long Term
By teaching your children how to run a house, you are teaching them to survive on their own some day.  How many of you mothers wish your mother had passed on her homemaking skills to you?  How many of you fathers ate out a LOT before you got married?  Raquelle and I are constantly amazed at our friends in their 20s and 30s who don’t even know the basics about cooking a meal, washing their clothes or vacuuming the floor.  Their parents have done them a great disservice by allowing them to skip household chores.

How To Do It
These chores don’t have to be onerous or majorly time consuming.  For instance, in our family, Raquelle and I were each responsible every morning to make our beds, tidy one of the bathrooms and tidy the living room and school room.  In the kitchen, we helped with meal prep and took turns washing the counters and vacuuming the floor.  Once or twice a week we had an extra chore like folding laundry or scrubbing a bathtub.  Usually, our whole chore time lasted about 1 hour.

It was worth it.  The rest of the day flowed much more smoothly as everything was generally in its place and we had room to work.  Meal prep and cleanup went much more quickly. Colds and other contagious ailments were not automatically passed to everyone in the family since the bathrooms were cleaned every day.  Unexpected company was not the Disaster of the Century.  In fact, our whole family continues to reap the benefits of Raquelle and I being able to help run the house. 

So this year, as you make your day plans, think about adding some chores to teach your kids Real Life Skills.  You will love the ultimate benefits of a tidy house and responsible children!

Written by Heather Sheen, a Chore Expert

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