Chores: Nagging vs. Training

by Allie Olsen

homeschool Manager Chores & Homeschooling

You were supposed to have your chores done an hour ago!
I asked you to clean off the table after breakfast so we can do school…
I know I told you to clean your room before you turned on the tv!

Life is so much more pleasant without whining… our kids’ or our own! Sure, if our children cooperate and do what we ask the first time life is easier. Moms have extra time and brain space for fun and the family can get out the door on time when tasks are accomplished efficiently instead of after 3 asks, 2 pleas and a “don’t make me tell you again”.

Let’s be honest though- nagging may eventually convince the kids to pick up. But does it accomplish our ultimate desire for peace and unity in our families? While moving at the speed of life, we operate under the false assumption that nagging is easier than training and so we keep doing what never really worked.

We desire a God-honoring home where the kids cheerfully work together. Instead, this is what family life looks like at chore time:

  • Mom issues orders and demands the children help. The children don’t. Mom gets frustrated. Nagging commences.
  • Mom wishes children would help but does not train the children because it is too much hassle or because she tells kids what to do all day when teaching and doesn’t want to continue at chore time. Mom nags or whine hoping to convince children to help (this sounds a lot like manipulation to me!)
  • Mom decides it’s easier to clean without back talk and sends the kids outside or to the game console and just cleans by herself.

In an article for Homeschooling Today, Marilyn Rocket says, “In my fantasies, I picture a magic formula that produces cooperative children, makes chores run smoothly, and lightens the workload. Alas, no magic formula exists, but intentional planning and parenting plus setting a few guidelines can help us as we train our children.”

“First, as parents, we must ourselves have an appropriate attitude toward chores. We may try to divide our day into learning time and family life when, in reality, they are components of a whole; children learn during “school time” and they also learn from working. If we dislike home chores & voice their pointlessness, might our attitudes influence our children?”

Second, I’ve found it helpful to create a specific plan to teach good work habits. I plan these goals out just like I plan which science material to cover or which English curricula to order. To spark next year’s plans for your own family, read through these ideas:

  • Assign age-appropriate chores to each child. Even toddlers can do some chores. We always give jobs to the littlest able to do them.
  • Choose one skill to focus on at a time. Cleaning and organization, like any other skill, takes practice. Work alongside your child and teach them many times before expecting them to do the chore well.
  • Teamwork makes the dream work. In our home, everyone works better if we’re all doing chores at once. It’s hard to to stay focused when a sibling is doing something fun instead of chores!
  • Create a clean routine. Decide what works for your family and work it into your routine regularly. Morning quick clean up? Laundry at lunchtime? Daily tidy before Dad gets home? Making it routine removes the sting of stopping fun stuff to do chores.
  • Communicate what you expect clearly. You can use Homeschool Manager to assign and manage your family’s chores so there is no confusion on who is expected to do which chores!

Third, check their work and praise liberally! I’ve heard it said that you cannot expect what you do not inspect. As you establish new routines, inspect and encourage or do teamwork to improve.

Experiment to find what works for you! Again from HST: “Helpful tools & ideas alone do not do the job; your interaction trains your children. Of course we desire good work habits for our children as they grow into adulthood. Teaching chores empowers them with working knowledge about caring for their future households.” We have 2 adult children now and I can tell you from experience that soon enough your training will have accomplished its intended purpose and you’ll have the privilege of watching them leave your nest and soar!

Read the article that inspired this post in Homeschooling Today Magazine

Published by Allie Olsen