When my children were 7, 4 and 2-years-old (back when I only had three kids!) I read a book that stated, “A seven-year-old is capable of running a household.” It shocked me. But I bit into it…. with my jaws wide open… similar to my first bite of a Krispy Kreme donut. That night, as I laid in bed with my eyes wide open, I dreamed of training my 7-year-old to take over all the menial tasks that I dreaded as a mother and keeper of the home. I envisioned my next two offspring also reaching the ripe old age of seven…. and helping their older sister do EVERYTHING! Oh, sweet baby Jesus, this was the answer I needed … my ticket to sanity… the train bound for the hot bubbly bath surrounded by candles …. and TIME to read a good book without interruptions.
The chore chart was born that night and materialized the next day. It worked like a gem. I taught each kid a single chore, one at a time, year by year, that they could master at my cleaning expectations. Oh, would my future daughters-in-law sing praises to my name!
You may be asking yourself what I would do with all my new-found free time…. well, I’m a homeschool mom. BAM! (Homeschool mom = no free time.)
Reflecting back, after 12 long years in the saddle (and 9 to go, but who’s counting?), I have come to see the harm the chore chart did to my children. Yes, it’s true. And I am admitting it here for all the world to read. (Well, that is…. the 80% of those in the world over the age 15 who are literate… according to a 2002 statistic.) (Homeschool moms are experts at finding statistics to prove their point.)
As the teen years encompassed our home, I realized that my sweet chillin’s wouldn’t lift a finger for any chore that did not have their name next to it on that particular day. “WHAAAAT? Is that how we brought you up??? To be selfish and petty?” Made my blood boil. (That only happens at 212 degrees F…. and I was THERE, baby!)
Discussions revolving around teens and the spirit of helping, a willingness to serve, desiring to be like Jesus, etc. etc. etc. were had by yours truly and many others in my life. Since then, we have regrouped and are trying something new and improved… it’s called being nice. Being thankful. Not feeling entitled. An announcement was made at the dinner table not long ago…. it went something like this: “We are a family. We help each other. We serve each other. If someone cared enough to plan your meals, go grocery shopping, cook for you and set the table….. then you need to stick around until the whole kitchen is cleaned up and the food is put away.” BAM! It has worked beautifully for three nights now. I will keep you posted on the success of trying to teach my children to be helpful without their name written on a chart. Pray for me.
Now, those who have great faith in my chore chart abilities, do not fear. Only the kitchen tasks have been removed. Their names are still next to chores that include wiping toilets, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning windows, collecting trash, etc. etc. etc. Some things just need routine. Ok, I just need routine…. and a long bubbly bath surrounded by candles.