One thing that makes it much easier for children to learn chores and household upkeep is for the children to work with you on developing systems. We as moms have a tendency to create the systems that we like in freezers, refrigerators, pantries, toy shelves, bookcases, kitchen cupboards, and more. And then when somebody comes in to do a chore or unload groceries or put something away, it is not done correctly. And we wonder why people keep messing up our systems!
In reality, rather than simply telling children where things go or how you would like things done, a lot of stress is eliminated when you include the children in developing the system. When I was about to reorganize the pantry, I would have at least one child working with me, if not more. As we organized the pantry, sometimes using ideas from the child, whoever was helping me was learning the system from the ground up. When it was time for the child to help put away groceries, it was easier to handle that job correctly. Also, the child learns valuable organizational skills including prioritizing space, utilizing areas to their fullest, considering sizes and stack- ability of products, and more.
When it was time to work on toy shelves, the entire crew and I would sit down and get busy. We would label the shelves together. We would discuss how the Legos will be stored. We made tubs of things together. And the next thing we knew, we had a workable system that the children could maintain. Thus, whenever the chore to “organize the toy shelves” was given, all of the children knew how to do that.
The systems can extend to the kitchen as well. If you always make biscuits and gravy or you always make pancakes, initiate a system for doing those jobs. Type the recipes up clearly. Always have ingredients on hand. Teach the children from start to finish how to handle those jobs thoroughly, and by involving the child in the system, is ready to take it on himself.
We have a tendency to think in the here and now. It would be easier for me to make the pancakes—and much faster—than for me to have a child help me. Or it would take more time to do it with the kids. However, we are not thinking long term when we think like this. We are not thinking of how much family unity and family efficiency we could have by chore training. We are not thinking of our children’s futures—and how we can equip them right here and now, beginning with three year olds putting their room time toys away.
I believed in this from day one with my kids (thanks to thorough training from Dr. Raymond Moore and Gregg Harris), and my kids are all reaping the benefits of this approach today as they (seventeen through thirty-three) excel in their jobs, homes, marriages, and school. Skill-building, and life-skill-building specifically, is a huge part of parenting—and one that we should take seriously as we teach our kids to become diligent workers in home and school.