How Chores & a School Schedule Mix
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If your kids haven’t already, they will be starting school any day now. And with the start of the new school year come all kind of readjustments. And one of those new adjustments would include how to balance home responsibilities with school work and time to play.
There are a range of philosophies out there from “kids should clean more than they do” to “kids shouldn’t have any home responsibilities while they are in school.” Obviously, you’re going to have to determine your family’s place on the spectrum — and then stick to it.
As for our household, my kids typically have the same “chore load” during the summer as they do during the school year. The difference is that they don’t have as many “carrots” at the end of the day, i.e. screen time is more limited during the school year than during vacation. And as I type that sentence, I wonder how I can be more of an encourager to my kids this year in light of that.
As you figure it out for your family, consider these approaches to giving kids responsibilities at home:
1. Clean up after yourself.
Requiring that your kids clean up after themselves serves several purposes. First, it prevents you from being their (unpaid) servant. Second, it teaches them how to live and work well with others. Their future co-workers, roommates, and spouses will be so thankful to know them if they can take care of their own stuff.
2. If a man will not work, he will not eat.
Not only is the idea a biblical one, but it also contributes to the team spirit in your home if your kids all contribute to the workings of the household, especially at dinnertime. Assign each child a task for getting meals ready as well as for clean up afterwards. You’ll enjoy a meal together as well as the camaraderie that comes with preparing the meal as well as closing down the kitchen for the night.
3. Look for the bare necessities.
Perhaps your child does have a tough workload with school and extra curricular activities. I get that. But, that doesn’t mean he gets a pass to make all the messes he wants and let you pick up the tab. Communicate a bare minimum of chores, like these tasks that any child eight and above can do on his own:
- clean and vacuum bedroom
- change own bedding
- fold and put away own clothes
- wipe down the bathroom when done
- participate in kitchen chores (load or unload dishwasher, take out trash, etc)
Kids who learn basic household responsibilities know how to take care of themselves when they are grown. They are a pleasure to teach and to employ. And they’re more fun to be around than the bum who expects everyone else to wait on him hand and foot. Just saying. 😉
LifeasMOM sponsor, MyJobChart.com offers a free, online job chart that can encourage kids to keep track of their chores, earn rewards, and automatically notifies the parents when tasks have been completed. The chore charts are completely customizable, though this online work control system for kids offers suggestions if you’re not sure where to start. As the parent, you get to decide on the point system and what rewards your kids can earn. An innovative way to combine kids’ interests in technology with moms’ interests in getting the job done, MyJobChart.com is completely free to users.
Thanks for your practical tips! I found this page looking to tweak our chore zones. During the school year, we have three chore touchpoints during the day: Before school, after pick up, and before bed. Those times are already a little structured, so tacking on a 15 minute chore duty works beautifully. I tell them, “Do it fast, do it right, and get on with your life!” I’m sure that will be one of the cringy mom phrases they discuss as adults, but I want them to learn to do things right the first time and not waste a lot of time slugging around with chores.
I don’t do much in the way of chores with my son yet. He’s 5 and he is just now getting to where he can actually help instead of just making more work for me. But when I was a kid, we got up on Saturday mornings, I watched cartoons until my parents woke up and then by 10:30 or so we were all up doing chores. My mom’s job was laundry & groceries and my sis & I split all the other indoor stuff (dusting, mopping, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, etc) while my dad mowed, edged & watered the yard. We all (dad included) pitched in folding the laundry and putting it away, and cleaning the kitchen after dinner was a family affair as well 🙂
Thank you so much for the link! I think this will work wonderfully for our homeschool family. My son is very technology driven. Having access online at home by computer or out & about by iPhone is wonderful!
I love chores during the school year. The school year bring a sense of routine and order that our summer lacks. It’s a definite contrast to the lazy days where it seems nothing gets done. My 8 year old has 8 chores, which earn him an $8 allowance. He is not a natural helper. So, all of this motivates him to share family responsibility. School work, then chores, then play.
I’ve struggled a bit with the chore and schoolwork issue. When I only had my oldest for 7 years, it was so easy to do things myself. Now I’ve come to recognize that I need help, and that the kids need to help.
I don’t have a system per se, though we do have rotating table setting duty at dinnertime. Most of the time, I simply grab the nearest kid capable of handling the chore and give it to them. Most of the time my kids love to help in the kitchen, not so much with the other stuff.
We’re a work in progress.
Our kids chores are basically the same during the school year and summer. We homeschool, so we have more time at home.
The biggest thing for the kids is to pick up after themselves. My oldest doesn’t get a lot of toys out to play, so he usually has little or nothing to do when it’s time to pick up. We usually do this before school, after lunch or after school, and before bed.
In the morning, they each have a few extra things. And we all work together on laundry and kitchen clean-up.
They’re usually good about doing their jobs. They’re not working by themselves most of the time, so they have someone to talk to. When they complain, I remind them that we all work together to take care of our family. So far that has worked.
Great post! As a home schooling mom, I totally understand the need of balance. On top of it, I work a full time job.
If we did not have some sort of schedule, on which I still have to tweak, we would not get a THING done.
We transitioned from private school to public school this year with my 5 year old and now he has to catch the bus in the mornings for school 45 minutes earlier than what he is used to. I have found that a cute ladybug timer that he can set himself to the 15 minute mark keeps him motivated to get his morning routine done in a timely manner. So during that time he knows he needs to get dressed, brush his teeth, make his bed, feed his fish and be downstairs ready for breakfast. He has a blast “beating” the timer every morning. Much better than the hour in can take him if I just let him do his thing….he tends to stop and play!
I love that idea, my son likes to beat the timer too. One that he could set for himself would be perfect!!
We’ve been working on chores during the past two weeks, as we’re delaying the start of school til we move two weeks from now. My kids are 5, 3, and 1, and it can be exhausting trying to train them in some basic chores while getting done all the planning, cleaning, errands, etc. that I’m responsible for. For those with little ones like mine, I found a chore chart that is working well for us from Homeschool Creations. http://homeschoolcreations.blogspot.com/2010/08/our-chore-system-chore-chart-printables.html It has taking some training, but I’m hoping if the kids can put in some effort, my load won’t be so heavy. So far, the mornings go very well with this system, even for the 3 year old, but I struggle to maintain routine in the afternoon. Just wanted to share if those with littles are looking for something, too! 🙂