When raising children there is so much to do with so little time it’s hard to keep up with daily chores. As I see it you have three options for accomplishing chores: hire someone; do it yourself; or my preferred choice – delegate! Ease factor falls in line with the order listed. Overall and over time, though, you will get the best ROI (return on investment) if you will train your children in the way they should go and delegate, even though it’s not the easiest option.
Years ago I was struggling with the whole chore thing and trying to get my kids motivated. Friends in the same season of life had created elaborate chore charts I admired but couldn’t duplicate due to my lack of creativity. Plus, I knew I needed a flexible system. Our life had too many variables to count on doing certain chores on the same day each week. I needed to be able to randomly choose chores according to what most needed accomplishing.
One day in frustration from nagging my children to accomplish household jobs, I came up with a brilliant invention. I was angry at their lack of motivation and was driven to destroy something, plus I realized I needed some type of pocket system to hold index cards on which I could write the delegated chores. No more nagging and begging! What has pockets? Pants have pockets! So I went to the closet and found a perfectly good pair of little boy jeans – with pockets just the right size for index cards. I started at the hem and slowly cut up the legs until I had Chore Shorts…aha! I then nailed them to the wall in the blessings from the Lord’s bedroom and explained my system to them: the right-handed child would find their daily chores in the right pocket. The left-handed child’s would be in the left. No picture cards for me – if they couldn’t read it they could ask an older sibling. A daily time was set to accomplish the chores. For every 15 minutes delay they would gain one of my own chores in addition. It worked beautifully and I rarely got any reprieve from my chores. When I heard the “you treat me like a slave” speech, I reminded them they were actually meeting their own needs.
Delegating didn’t come naturally for me. It was easier and faster to just do it myself. But we wanted our children to be equipped to care for a home and to have a good work ethic. Delegating and training taught me patience and flexibility. I learned to accept an adjustable standard and I discovered I could live with a little less perfection. We tried to make it fun and age-appropriate. Even a preschool child can sort clothes…making light/dark piles; dust the top of a table; windex a glass door. The possibilities are endless.
For those days when nothing gets done and you feel overwhelmed, I leave you with encouragement from a treasured poem below. Oh, and our empty nest is indeed well-kept and tidy – but not nearly as fun.
This is a Home Where Children Live
You may not find things all in place,
Friend, when you enter here.
But we’re a home where children live,
We hold them very dear.
And you may find small fingerprints
And smudges on the wall.
When the kids are gone, we’ll clean them up,
Right now we’re playing ball.
For there’s one thing of which we’re sure,
These children are on loan.
One day they’re always underfoot,
Next thing you know, they’re gone.
That’s when we’ll have a well-kept house,
When they’re off on their own.
Right now, this is where children live,
A loved and lived-in home.
~ Judith Bond @1986