Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why Kids Need Chores

It saddens me to hear of young men and women who leave home without knowing the basics of how to care for themselves. Perhaps their parents thought it an act of sacrificial service to carry out the duties of home maintenance alone. Or perhaps they felt guilty requiring the child to take on any of "their" responsibilities. In some cases, they may not have even had the time (or skills) required to train their child in the duties of the home. Whatever the reason, these young people enter life seriously handicapped, simply because they never learned as children how to work.

Children need to learn how to work while they are young. They need to see a direct link between their labor and the provisions which they receive. Parents who hand everything to their children without expecting anything in return are doing their children a great disservice. They are giving them a false impression of life and setting them up for failure. These children grow up without learning the skills necessary to survive on their own. They are always expecting more, and never satisfied with what they get. Their parents, who work themselves to the bone just to provide for these ungrateful creatures, may come to resent them. But chores are more than just a way that a child can help their parents, they are vital to the child's preparation for the future.

One of the great things about having nine kids is being treated like a superhero everywhere you go. Mothers of one or two express amazement at my energy and ability to maintain my sanity. Fellow restaurant patrons stop by our table to compliment the children's good behavior, make offers to babysit, or suggest we write a book on child training. Grocery clerks ask me for nutritional advice and recipe ideas. And everyone wants to know, "How DO you do it all?"

While I'd like to maintain the "superwoman" illusion, the truth is that I don't do it all. My children contribute to the smooth operation of our household. All of them, even the littlest, have chores which they do on a daily basis. Raising nine kids is not a "one man" job. But raising one child ought not to be either. I certainly could run the household without their help, but this would not be good for me or them!

In the education of [children] today we've lost the importance of work as the most effective tutor. What is the good of knowing how to read or write if a young [person] doesn't have the heart to work, to produce, and to create? [Children] are often forced to sit for hours, year after year, in front of books. Modern child-labor laws hinder and even prevent them learning to enjoy strenuous work. Then, after twelve to sixteen years of inactivity, folks wonder why all their teenager wants to do is sit on the couch playing games."
~Bob Schultz, Created For Work

Although this book is written to young boys, I recommend it as a must read for all young folks . . . and their parents. Bob Schultz packs a lot of wisdom into every word he writes. This is solid biblical advice on how to please God in everything you do.

I sometimes get the impression that parents are waiting for their children to walk up to them and offer to help out. But in reality, kids aren't really very excited about the prospect of having to work. That's why it is important that they learn early on that doing chores is something that is expected of them, whether they like it or not.

Even a very young child can be given simple tasks to help around the house. A toddler can be shown how to throw their own diapers in the garbage or take their dirty laundry to the laundry hamper. They can help mother put the silverware in the drawer, or take the dry clothes out of the dryer. At first, this may require more work than simply doing it yourself, but by training your children to do these simple chores, and by training them to do them properly, you will save yourself much time in the end. More importantly, you will be equipping your children to live successfully in the real world.

* Above is a chore chart we have used in the past, color coded according to child. (Follow the link for a free blank printable  version of this chart.)

If you want your children to learn how to work, the best way is to show them. Working alongside your children allows you to show them how a job ought to be properly completed. It is a great opportunity for bonding and can actually be a lot of fun for everyone involved. Don't despair that you didn't start soon enough. It is never too late for a child to learn how to work.

If you want to know EXACTLY how to get your children started on doing chores, you have to read this blog series at Our Busy Homeschool. It is the best information I have ever read on the subject.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. ~Colossians 3:23-24

Before learning how to fold laundry (as seen above), this little girl helped load the dryer.

Examples of Chore Lists
Although chores will vary from family to family, it sometimes helps to see what others have done.

Chore charts For Large Families {free printable}
Chore List  
Chores For Every Age
Blissfully Domestic
Age Appropriate Chores
Chore Chart For Multiple Children
An organized classy chore chart is headed your way. Can you even imagine what this chore chart for multiple children is made out of??? Yep, 2x4's.
Toddler Chores
age-appropriate toddler chores

* This post contains affiliate links.


  1. can you send me a copy of this so i can read what your chores are? great idea here and i have done similar ideas but like this. thanks melissa:)

    1. Amy, that list was from a couple years ago. I'm not sure if I can locate the exact list, but I may have the file on a disk somewhere. I'll see if I can dig it up. Otherwise, I will try to come up with a list for you. :)


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