I was talking with some friends the other day about our children and their chores. You will often find me on the cheap and "old school" side of the tracks. I might not actually say the words, "in my day", but I sure do live by them.
So, on that note, let me say that my kids do their fair share of work around this house and they do not get paid a dime for it. I have always believed that our family is a team and that we all have to share in the work to get by. I enjoy letting my children know that families who grow up on farms start their day at the crack of dawn and work hard until sun down. The small amount of air-conditioned work that I ask of my children is mild in comparison (I can actually see them rolling their eyes now).
I believe the younger you start, the better. I started when my kids were under 1 year old. I didn't pick up the mess they made. When my kids made a mess, they had to clean it up (even if I had to stand there and tell them piece by piece what to pick up). I am not as consistent in this area with my younger ones now because they always have a big sister doing it for them. Hence, the laziness of my younger children. Anyway, for those who think their child is too young to understand, I say phooey. You underestimate the abilities of your child.
What kind of work do I make them do? Well, I'll tell you,
Laundry - Mondays are usually our laundry day. I come from the camp of 1 day a week of laundry instead of a little every day. So, on laundry day, we are up to our necks in clothes all day long. The girls know how to move clothes from the dryer to the laundry basket, move clothes from the washing machine to the dryer and how to sort, fold and put away their own clothes.
Dishes - All 4 kids help in this department. They all take their dirty dishes after a meal to the sink. They all can help unload the dishwasher (the younger do silverware, kids cups). The older children can load and put away clean dishes.
Vacuum - All girls know how to operate the vacuum cleaner and they vacuum their rooms by themselves. They also take turns vauuming the living room.
Sweep/mop - The older 2 know how to sweep the floor and my oldest knows how to use the mop. My 5 year old is just starting to learn how to sweep.
Trash - All 4 kids have learned how to take the trash out to the street and the girls know how to put a new bag in the can.
Bathroom - My 2 oldest have enjoyed adding this task to their chores. For some reason, a new chore is fun for a little while. They especially like being able to use the spray bottle and paper towels. They can clean about everything in the bathroom except the tub.
Glass Doors - We have 3 large glass doors and this seems to be every one's favorite chore. All 4 children participate and they all are allowed to spray the bottle, stand on a chair and wipe off with paper towels (they do use probably 10 times the amount I would of the cleaner and paper towels, but they enjoy cleaning - you can't beat that).
Cooking - Although this is not a chore they can do on their own, they love to help me cook and learn the recipe for themselves. My oldest does have the responsibility of fixing breakfast for the kids in the morning. She does a great job of pouring every one's cereal and milk. She also has become good at making PB & J's so she has made lunch a time or 2 as well.
The Car - They are the ones who make most of the mess here. They can trash a vehicle! The back seat and floor are always the worst because that is the part of the van I rarely see. So, on good hot days, they get to wash the car and get soaking wet. On nice cool days, they get to clean out the inside and vacuum it.
General Hygiene - They all take showers by themselves now (except the 3 year old). They brush their own teeth (and the oldest brushes the youngest). They fix their own hair (as long as we aren't going anywhere).
Yard Work - This is yet to come. They have helped us plant landscaping and water the plants though. Their daddy does most of the work outside and he will be teaching them what they can do to help very soon. I'm sure the oldest is ready for it.
So, do I sound like a slave driver or what? And I repeat yet again, they do not receive any allowance. We do plan to implement allowance into our budget (once we are able to) mostly for the purpose of training them how to use their money wisely and to teach about tithing.
If you know my children well, you've probably heard them say before that all they did all day was clean. They also use that excuse for why they didn't do other things they were asked to do. Hmmm... maybe that's a little true. Nah!! They spend hours and hours playing outside and creating the messes inside that have been the inspiration for the above list.