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Who Does What?
Photo: Jyn Meyer
“Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Wednesday, Churn on Thursday…” This little ditty from pioneer days may be outdated in modern society, but the principle of organizing household chores still stands. As every family knows, getting the chores done is crucial. If you don’t, there’s so much disorder and chaos that the proverbial dove of family harmony flies right out the window!

But how do you decide who does what and when it must be done? First off, start your children young. Even toddlers can do something to help. If a child can walk, he can learn to pick up his toys and put them in a basket after play time. Yes, it would be faster for you to pick up the toys yourself. But that’s not the point. “Training the troops” so that each child learns to do his share of the work is what’s important. Then when your kids reach the double-digit ages they will be prepared to take on responsibilities that will save you a great deal of time and energy.

A good way to organize chores for pre-readers is to take a picture of the child doing each assigned job. Put a little magnetic tape on the back of the photo so it will stick to the refrigerator. Most preschoolers like to see pictures of themselves doing things -- dusting the furniture, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, etc. Each day display the required chores. When the child has completed the task he puts the photo in his own envelope (also attached to the fridge). This lets him know exactly what he has left to do and keeps the parent from repeatedly having to ask, “Did you do----?”

No Cleaning Fairy

In her excellent book “Raising Christians, Not Just Children”, Florence Littauer recommends calling a family meeting to list all the chores and how often each must be done. This helps children realize what it takes to keep the house in decent shape. Remind them that there is no “cleaning fairy” who swoops down and magically dispels clutter and dust. Then, to get performance from the little stars in your home show, be very specific in explaining how you want the jobs done and when you expect them to be completed.

Families with older children can use a chore chart. A very simple and convenient chart lists the names of family members in horizontal rows and all the weekly chores vertically. (Leave a spot to write in jobs that need to be done less frequently.)Try to assign jobs according to skill level. Then use a large, brightly colored paper clip attached to the left hand edge to show who does which job on that day. The paper clip can be moved down daily or weekly. (Or you can purchase ready-made charts at Christian bookstores.)

For things that only need to be done occasionally, such as leaf raking or deep-cleaning the garage, you might offer to pay the lowest bidder for the job. If no one bids remind them of the Bible text that reads, “he who does not work shall not eat.” Or try this type of approach: “We’ll all work on this job together until it’s done, then we’ll take a picnic to the lake.”

Don’t be a perfectionist, but don’t accept sloppy work. Expect each one to do his best; then give praise where it is due. The words of Solomon might be a fitting motto to go above your family chore chart: “Do you see those who are skillful in their work? They will serve kings; they will not serve common people” (Proverbs 22:29).

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION®.

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