Children and Chores

I've discovered a few things over the years about my large family and chore-doing. Namely, keep it simple and work together.

For a long time when my kids were younger I was on the search for the perfect system of organizing chores. Perfect as defined by an eternally spotless house, and cheerful children that did all jobs flawlessly and without reminders. Sort of like human Roombas.

I think I also visualized better drapes and antique carpets whenever I devised a new chore system- but I have a vivid imagination that defies logic.

To get to Perfect I'd often draw up complicated schedules, rotating work for fairness and excitement. It would generally involve an equally complicated system of keeping track of whether or not the work was done- as if I could ascertain bathroom cleanliness only from a peg turned to "Clean".

What I've found that works for our family is working together 3 times a day in concentrated bursts: after breakfast, before lunch and before dinner. Three times a day we put in music and dance around doing general clean-up and chores with me as a participating Mistress of Novices. It is amazing how clean we can get the house in about 20 minutes with everyone (even the babies) dancing about picking-up, putting away, sweeping, and vacuuming all at the same time. It's loud but effective. Sometimes fun, sometimes utilitarian.

As for individual chores, like bathrooms and dishes and laundry, etc. I split those up and only change assignments every 3- 6 months. Why change out every week? It makes it hard to remember whose turn is up. It means no one does anything long enough to have ownership of their work- or to really learn to do anything well.

We have generous escape clauses too. If someone really hates a chore- but is doing a good job at it, I'll switch things around. The beauty of an uncomplicated system is that as your children get older and busier out of the home, everyone is used to adjusting. It's a mindset of, "we work together because we are a family", not the mindset of, "I don't have to do that because it's not on my chart."

Right now, this is what works for us. Next year? My lawn-mowing son goes to college; we'll see.



  1. I grew up doing chores to Alvin and Chipmunks.
    Now we clean house with Disney. there is nothing like dusting our house to the tune of 'Be our Guest'
    I am doing an end of the week round up based on chores. I think this post is one that might be of interest to my readers. may I publish a link with your permission?

  2. Teaching Money- I'd be honored for you to put a link. - Btw, we enjoy cleaning to the cleaning song from Enchanted:)