I know what you’re thinking: “Why did I even click on this post? We parents love bearing the entire load in our home while our children watch Netflix and whine about every flippin’ bit of food we put before them. I don’t even want them to help out with chores, no matter what age!”
I hear you. Unfortunately, though, some other parents aren’t as spiritually servant-hearted as you, so consider this as an educational post to better disciple those less mature than you in the faith.
All kidding aside (ha–I’m nowhere near done with the snark!), most of us know that the earlier you begin to implement things with your children, the easier it gets with age. This has been true of the Bells with chores for sure. In fact, we believe so much in the power of young teaching that when I’m breast-feeding those teeny nuggets, I often sing them a little lullaby:
Mommy’s milk tastes warm and sweet
You nurse and out it pours.
If in a year you want to eat
You’ll always do your chores.
The bonding time is precious.
My firstborn was a bit unmotivated to try anything on his own. When my second was born, she was a totally different person (she’s a little ticked at us that she wasn’t born first). One day I was changing the third’s diaper. Number two (the daughter, not the content of said diaper), runs in to proudly proclaim she’d poured everyone’s milk. She wasn’t even two years old. Though I expected to see a miniature, white, Niagara Falls pouring from my table, there were only a few small drops spilled. My world opened in that moment, and I Niagara Falled some tears as I realized my children were capable to help a bit.
Ever since then we’ve shown no mercy (yes, Sensei!). Around the time our kids can toddle, they begin contributing to Mommy’s get-my-life-back plan.
Training Ages with Grace
There’s so much I could say here about the importance of chores, payment vs. non-payment, along with more detail about how to train your children in this area (we’ll get to these in future posts!), but what I find most helpful in the beginning is simply a list of age-appropriate chores to begin to implement. We have a list we’ve made through the years that work for our home, and we’d love to share it with you!
One note about training your children no matter the age: It’s training. Though the task may seem simple to you, it’s new to them, and they need the same grace you need when learning something new. There’s a difference between mistakes and rebellion.
How Does This Look?
I’ll give an example in our home of what training looks like for a daily chore. For the first week or two, we walk alongside our children each step of the way, giving them clear instruction as to what we expect. Then for the next week or two, we let them do it on their own while we observe, giving reminders where needed. Somewhere around Weeks 3-5 (or even longer depending on age or individual child’s needs), we let them complete the task without supervision.
As we check their chore, we encourage them in the areas they did good work. If they missed something, we usually just give instruction the first time. If they continue to miss it, we begin to ask questions to determine if they need more time to learn or if they’re being careless or lazy (or something else entirely!). All that’s to say, our little people need our support and grace if they’re going to learn to like working. Our kids will frequently need heart correction when it comes to chores, but if doing a task makes them feel as though they’ll never please us, every little thing they’re asked to do will be dreaded instead of enjoyed (yes, it’s possible to enjoy work!). And if you’ll put this effort in now, you’ll be well on your way to having all the younger ones in your home serving you relentlessly. Success!
What additional chores do you have your little people do in your home?