Chores and homeschooling. Talk about some hot button topics right there! Talk to anyone you like and you’ll get a little different opinion about how you should homeschool and how your should – or shouldn’t – have your children do chores.
But what’s the connection between the two? How are chores a part of homeschooling? And how does homeschooling play into chores?
So often, there’s this idea that homeschooling is just the book lessons you teach your children. It’s nothing more than presenting the material and having your children learn it. And while working through lessons and learning the material is a very important aspect of homeschooling, there’s also another very important part:
Homeschooling is teaching your children about life.
And chores are a way you can tangibly teach ambiguous concepts. Concepts like responsibility, taking ownership, and consistency.
The Importance of Chores
At first glance, chores might not seem all that important. And, let’s face it, on a scale of 1 to 10 how important is it that the living room gets vacuumed? Well, when you stack it up against your science lesson or intentionally spending time with your children, it probably won’t rank very high, right?
And yet, having clean dishes to cook with and eat off of, having clean bathrooms to use, and picking up the clutter from the floor so no one gets hurt is important.
In the grand scheme of things, chores may seem like they’re not all that important. Sometimes it seems like the chores are there simply to taunt the children and mock momma, right?
But you need to understand something very important: It’s not just about the chore itself.
It’s so easy to get hung up on the fact that there are chores and the chores need to be done. But don’t miss the bigger picture! You see, chores are really teaching responsibility. Chores are teaching your children to take ownership in the place where they live. Chores are teaching consistency and how to care for things.
Chores and Homeschooling
Be honest: When you hear the word chores, do you immediately connect it with homeschooling? Probably not! The word chores tends to bring up images of a vacuum cleaner, cleaning supplies, and unloading the dishwasher. While the word homeschooling tends to bring up images of books, paper, pencils, and a desk or table, right?
And yet, they go together!
Think about it for a moment: In homeschooling, you want to teach your children about life, right? You want to teach them not only how to add and subtract, how to read and how to spell, but you want to teach them how to become a responsible adult. You want to teach them how to be a person who’s able to make a positive impact on the world around them.
Did you know making a positive impact on the world doesn’t have to wait until you graduate high school? It doesn’t even have to wait until you reach age 16 or even age 10! Your children can start making a positive impact on the world around them right here and right now, no matter what age they are.
They can do this by learning how to take responsibility for their actions. They can learn how to follow through on something they say they will do (or are asked to do). They can learn skills that will serve them in life as they continue to grow. They can learn to take ownership for their belongings.
How can they do all this? Through chores.
Yup. Chores are a way to help enhance your homeschool. They are a hands-on way to teach ambiguous concepts.
Let’s face it: It’s hard to teach responsibility with a worksheet. right? But when you have a chore – a physical, tangible, hands-on, visible chore – to demonstrate what responsibility looks like, explaining this concept to your children becomes so much easier!
Chores and Organizing
At first glance, this one might seem a little far-fetched. Having your children do chores is organizing? Really?
It’s true! But here’s the interesting part: Having your children help with chores IS organizing, it is TEACHING them how to organize, and it NEEDS a little organizing.
You see, when your children are doing their chores: Things like putting their toys back where they belong, picking up the clutter in the house, and even helping with the dishes, they are helping keep up the organizational systems you’ve created. This IS organizing.
Chores TEACH how to organize through figuring out where things belong. For example: Let’s say you have bins in your child’s room to hold their toys. You even have one bin for the dinosaurs, one bin for the play kitchen stuff, one bin for the stuffed animas…you get the picture. Every time your child puts their toys back into the correct bin they are not only cleaning up, but you’re teaching them how to sort their toys into categories and how to organize their toys.
You also NEED a little organization when it comes to chores because you need to know what’s getting done. If you don’t know which chores are getting done, the living room might get vacuumed 5 times in a week while the bathroom goes uncleaned for 3 weeks!
In other words, you need to know which child is doing what chore and making sure that each chore is getting done in turn.
When it comes to chores, there’s usually not a line up of kids begging to do them, right?
Let’s face it, sometimes when it comes time to get kids to do their chores, it’s more like trying to get a mule to walk somewhere it doesn’t want to go – the mule doesn’t want to move!
So why should you bother trying to get your kids to do their chores? Why should you spend your time saying things over and over and over again just to be frustrated? Isn’t it easier to do it yourself and get it done?
Well, at first glance, it might seem easier to simply do the chores yourself and be done with it. It’s faster, you don’t have to nag anyone or remind anyone 18 times to do a simple thing, and you know it’ll be done the exact way you want it to be done.
But on the flip side, you have to realize a few things:
You’re their mom, not their servant.
First, you’re not serving your children well by doing everything for them. Your job is to be your children’s mother, not their servant.
If you constantly pick up after your children and don’t teach them the responsibility of cleaning and picking up after themselves, you’re teaching them they can simply sit back and allow everyone else to do the work. You’re setting up their future spouse – your future son- or daughter-in-law – for extreme frustration and even failure because you’re training your child that everyone else will do the work for them.
In short, when you do everything for your child, you’re training them that it’s okay to be lazy.
You only have so much time, energy and capacity.
Second, you only have so much capacity. You only have so much time, so much energy, so much bandwidth. You can only do so much!
One of the biggest struggles as a homeschooling momma is how to get all the things done, right? How do you manage to homeschool, take care of the children, address all the behavior issues that come up, cook dinner, feed everyone, and still get the house clean, the laundry done, and…
The answer is simple: Get help! Oh, I’m not talking about hiring someone to come and clean your house or hiring a personal chef (although, there are times in life where this is the right call). I’m talking about having the people in your family work together to keep up the house. When everyone works together, so much more gets accomplished in such a shorter amount of time!
When you’re trying to do it all, you’re not able to do it all and you end up frustrated and discouraged and with not enough time to give everywhere you need to give it. You have a finite container. – emotionally, physically, hourly – and you need to choose how you use that capacity, that bandwidth you have. Are you using it in the place where it has the most impact?
Eases Your Workload
One of the immediate benefits of having your children help you with chores is that is eases your workload. Instead of spending 1 hour vacuuming the entire house, you can have your children vacuum. And you can use that hour on another task that only you are capable of doing.
Remember the phrase ‘Many hands make light work?’ It’s cliche. It’s simple. But it’s profoundly true!
You’re not the only one making messes!
Third, you’re not the only one who made the mess! So you shouldn’t be the only one picking it up! You are not Cinderella! If your children helped create the mess, or created it all on their own, then they can and need to pick it up!
Take dishes, for example. My guess is you’re not the only person in your house who eats. And whenever anyone prepares food or eats it, they create dirty dishes. So, why should you be the only person in your house making those dirty dishes clean? It just doesn’t make sense!
The Benefits of Chores
Chores, as challenging as they might seem, come with a lot of benefits – both short-term and long-term. In the short term, you get some help right away with picking up and cleaning your house. You also free up some of your time.
But there are some really amazing long term benefits when it comes to chores. Benefits that aren’t as obvious as the immediate help of having a clean bathroom to use!
You need to play the long game when it comes to chores! Don’t just think about the here and now. Think about how chores can be used to help teach your children and shape their character.
Chores are teaching responsibility. They build on the concept: ‘If a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat.’ It’s showing your children in a very real and tangible way how they can take responsibility.
They can help take care of the place where they live. They can take responsibility for their actions when they make a mess. In other words, they can pick up after themselves. They can learn to be responsible for their own things.
Teaching your children how to do different chores teaches them lifelong skills. Oh, they might not use them every day, but knowing how to run the vacuum cleaner or clean the bathroom or do their own laundry is a practical skill they can use throughout their entire life.
When you have your children help you make dinner, you start teaching them how to cook and how to use the kitchen. When you teach them how to clean, you show them very tangibly how much people have to clean up after them.
Think of this like Home Ec class without the classroom. It’s real life! It’s simply learning how to become a responsible human. Remember, one of the big goals of parenting is not to have children in adult-size bodies, but to raise children into adults. And that takes being intentional and teaching them how to do things like clean the bathroom and vacuum the carpet and pick up after themselves.
Yes, this might take a little extra time in the beginning because you have to take the time to show your child how to do the chore if you’ve never taught them before. But once they learn how to do the chore, things get much easier. And they develop a skill that will serve them for their entire life.
As you begin giving your children more and more responsibility in their chores, you teach them the importance of working together as a family. No one can make it in life completely on their own. We as humans were created and designed to help each other.
In giving your children chores that serve your whole family, you start to build an awareness in them that they need other people. You start to show them in a real and tangible way that the things they do effect other people.
For example: Let’s say your children are playing with LEGOs in the living room and leave the LEGO pieces all over the floor. Then you come along and step on a few LEGOs, resulting in a very painful foot! While a painful example, this shows very clearly that the action your children took (choosing not to clean up the LEGOs) had a direct result on you (your now throbbing foot).
On the other hand, let’s say one of your children wants to bake a batch of brownies and walks into the kitchen to find the counters cleaned off and the dishes cleaned and put away. This means they can bake their brownie without having to clean the tools they will use first. In this case, the action that one of your children took (cleaning up the kitchen) had a direct positive impact on their sibling, resulting in brownies for everyone to enjoy.
Making your children aware of how doing their chores can have a positive effect on their family teaches them the power of teamwork.
If you own something, will you take good care of it? Chances are pretty high that you will! When you know something belongs to you, you want to take better care of it so it doesn’t break or fall into disrepair.
It’s the same concept with children. Giving them responsibilities like cleaning their room and doing their own laundry teaches them to take ownership for the things they have.
Let’s face it: When you clean the bathroom, it doesn’t stay clean forever, does it? No! It gets used. Water splashes on the mirror and creates spots. Toothpaste doesn’t get washed down the drain and sticks to the sink. The bathroom needs to be cleaned again.
In this way, chores help teach consistency. They show in a very real and tangible way that there are some things in life that need to be addressed over and over again.
How do You Do It?
Okay, so chores are a good thing to have your children do. Chores are playing the long game and not just getting the immediate help to pick up the toys in the living room. But how do you do it? On a practical level, how do you make sure the chores get done?
This question has much more than a 5-word answer! In fact, the more I started writing about the different, practical ways to get chores done, the more I realized how many ways you could approach this!
So, I wrote another blog post all about practical ways to make sure chores get done. In other words, how do you take these big concepts we’ve been talking about here and turn them into reality in your everyday life.
We’ll talk about thinks like chore charts, what chores your children can handle, and whether allowance or paying your children for chores is a better choice for you. And I’ll even give you an in-depth look into our chore system. Trust me, this is one post you won’t want to miss!
Is It Worth It?
Let’s be honest: Very few kids jump out of bed in the morning happy, excited, and fired up to get their chores done. If you have a kid like that, enjoy it!
Most kids hate having to do chores. And think about it: When you were their age, you probably hated having to do your chores, too! So many times, it’s easier to give up. To sigh in frustration and do your child’s chores yourself.
Don’t take away the responsibility once you’ve given it to them. Yes, it will be challenging – especially at first. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, you will repeat yourself many times. But the long term benefits you’re teaching your child through the seemingly mundane act of chores are completely worth it!
Don’t sabotage yourself by taking back the chores from your child once you hand them over. Remember, even though you’re getting some short-term benefits in these chores like getting the dishes done and the carpet vacuumed, you’re also playing the long game. You’re teaching your child responsibility, life skills, follow-through, and a good work ethic.
Don’t trade in the long term benefits just to get the carpet vacuumed the exact way you want it!
- Practical Ways To Make Chores Happen In Your House
- How To Conquer Your Laundry Pile
- 5 Easy Steps to Pick Up Your Room Quickly
- Using Bins, Baskets, and Buckets to Contain the Toy Explosion
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.