Why my Children Do Chores… But Only Sometimes

chores collage


Once upon a time, my children had regular chores. 

{And all of our lives were completely miserable.} 

I know, I know. I have heard all the arguments:

→ that children must have chores or they will never grow up into productive and responsible adults who can tend to their homes and persons. 

→that my future sons and daughters in-laws will despise us for not making our children do regular chores. 

→that chores are character building and develop a good work ethic in children. 

To all of these, I say “Hogwash!”

We have done it all: charts, funny stick moving apparatus, stickers, chore packs, guilt trips, yelling, screaming… you name it, we have tried it. We’ve spent hours upon hours attempting to teach our children the ‘proper’ way to do housework and contribute to the household. None of it worked, and it left me frustrated, my husband aggravated, and my children in tears… and we still had a messy house. 

Then my husband and I realized what we were doing the children, and we hated what we’d become: 

Our kids hated helping around the house with a passion. Even the off-handed mention of chore time was full of with groans of despair and desperation. 

Our kids were not learning responsibility, they were learning sneakiness. By forcing them to complete chores that interfered with their own interests and natural inclinations, we weren’t teaching them a work ethic or responsibility… we were teaching them to rush through the drudgery to get to the ‘good parts’ of life. 

I couldn’t image one of my children voluntarily completing any chore, now or when they were adults. 

That’s when we stopped assigning chores, and just started living our lives. If I ended up having to pick up dirty clothes off the bathroom floor for the millionth time that day, so what? It’s something that takes me 10 seconds to do, but would turn into a 15 minute battle to get the assigned child to get the clothes off the floor and into the hamper. 

You see, I changed my thinking about chores, and it changed our home.

I discovered that it is more important for a child to know how to do the chore properly, because they want to learn, than forcing them to do it perfectly because I’ll punish them if they don’t. Think about it: how many day-to-day chores do you dread because your parents forced you to do them on a regular basis when you had much more important things to do? Our house still gets cleaned, and my children still learn how to tend house, but their primary business? Yeah, that’s just being a kid. What’s more, my children want to help around the house now, and work hard to do their best because they want to, not because I’m threatening them with dire consequences if they don’t. They are happier, I am happier, and my home is much more peaceful! 

To quote Charlotte Mason, “Self education is the only possible education. The rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of the child’s nature.” 


One thought on “Why my Children Do Chores… But Only Sometimes

  1. Pingback: An Almost Domesticated Week in Review {May 25, 2013} | My Almost Domesticated Life

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