every member of the home {a positive look at ‘child labor’}

These early years of babies and playgrounds and travels and projects and scrambling about in the morning have been grand! But as babes grow into boys, studies into shiftwork, and huts into houses, I am witnessing a need to strengthen the foundation of my home and family rhythm. Within that realization is the fact that I could (maybe, if I ever get accepted into midwifery) be away from the home for several months during the clinical requirements. If I choose to step away, I want to do it knowing that I have left a solid foundation of right attitudes, actions, and structure, so that whoever steps in to help will simply flow into the rhythm.

With this in mind, I have come to see the next eight months as my “strengthen the foundation!” season. I am re-evaluating my own levels of fitness and nutrition {I’m not getting any younger!}. I am taking an {honest} look at my weakness within certain aspects of home making. And {the primary focus of this post} I am inviting the boys to be more involved as contributing members of the household.


There are countless views on children and chores. Between the pendulum of “Children can do everything!” and “Kids can do stuff?!” lays the shifting territory of children learning to be responsible with practical tasks within the home.


In our family, when it comes to chores and responsibilities, we have come to the following conclusions:
– We are a family
– God has given us each other
– God has given us a home
– Clean as you go
– Everything is a gift
– Be thankful
– Be generous
– Ask for help, help others
– Finish your job
– Celebrate work accomplished


With these thoughts in mind, I decided that it was time to bring the two oldest wildlings into a regular chore chart. They were presenting an eagerness to help. They were showing physical abilities {strength, grasp, coordination} which would make simple chores possible. They were increasingly messy, destructive, and active.

I am pleased to say that they have risen to the tasks!


Every morning, after oatmeal and reading and getting dressed, they bellow, “What’s my chore today, Mama!” We check the chart, turn on some music, and get to work! The tasks take about ten times longer than if I were to just do them myself, but that’s not the point. The purpose of the whole exercise is that they will learn:
– There is joy within their duties
– They can sing while scrubbing
– They are trusted within the home
– It takes work to keep a home tidy
– Their mama is working with them
– They are becoming big boys


We work and sing and check on each other’s progress. At some point, they’re each sure that life is over and they just can’t go on and everything is entirely hopeless. But then…they pick themselves up, finish their task, ask “Mama, is there anything else I can do to help?” and then endure loads of hugs and loves.

Do they get paid for their work? No, not really.
However, at the end of the week, completing their chores does play into whether or not they receive their allowance {also new this season!}. On Saturday, we sit at the table and review tasks, attitudes, and events from the week. Then, their jars are brought out {saving, giving, spending}, their coins are given {four quarters for Jeremiah, four nickles for Knightley}, and the week’s chalk board is wiped clean.

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It’s not about me getting more help around the house, though I’m sure there will be evidence of that in the years to come.
It’s not about them “working for” their allowance.
It’s not about keeping them busy.

It’s about intentionally setting a rhythm to the home.

As each member contributes, each member receives. As we all look outwards, with hearts of gratitude and not entitlement, the home becomes a place of sanctuary and pleasure. It is my hope that, as this baseline of daily motions and interior motivation becomes established, changes such as a switch in shifts at work or another sibling or a new school will bring a note of harmony to the rhythm instead of discord.


2 Responses to “every member of the home {a positive look at ‘child labor’}”
  1. Marissa says:

    I thought of you while we cleaned up the kitchen after breakfast, the five of us. Then again as Aneliese sorted, loaded and turned on the washing machine while Cecily sorted a load of clean laundry. It really does turn destructive, messy energy into happy purpose and I love seeing glimpses of the helpful, capable people they will become.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] With these tough facts in mind, I set out to invite my big boys, ages five and three, to participate in keeping the home. {I shared more about the motivation and application of that choice here}. […]

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