Sometimes it seems like the household chores are never-ending. But before you get too overwhelmed, consider: who said all those chores had to be done by Mom? There are quite a few items on that to-do list that can and should be delegated – and in fact, delegating is beneficial to your kids in the long run.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6, KJV
I believe this verse is talking just as much about work ethic as it is about the belief system and I'm not really sure you can separate the two of those anyway. So when delegating, we are, in fact, training our children for the future. Here are some ideas of things you can do to delegate around your house.
Delegating for Moms
In the Kitchen
First, consider what your youngest children are capable of doing around the house. Young children often love setting the table and learning where to place the knife, fork, spoon, napkin, plate, and cup. They also like to help with cooking – let them break the spaghetti, stir the soup, or sprinkle the cheese on top. And don't forget to let them lick the beaters! Some of the greatest chefs of the world get their start cooking with mom!
The sense of contribution is so clear for them. Kids this age can help clear the table and rinse or wash the plates. Some people prefer to load the dishwasher themselves, but why not simply teach your child how to do it? It’s one less thing for you and many hands make a light load. Here in southern Mexico, we don't have dishwashers, so my girls both help with dishes daily. The three of us divide up the items and when each does a part it's not that hard, and doesn't take long for anyone.
With the Laundry
Small children can help sort laundry and carry it to the laundry room. It may be that you prefer to actually add the soap and select the settings so that those great summer white pants don’t turn pink. But someday your child will need to do their own laundry – why not learn at home? Folding laundry is something all children can do. Your youngest can begin with simple things like dish towels and socks and then move up to t-shirts, jeans and bed sheets. Our smallest ones help bring the laundry to the laundry room and sort by colors. We generally sort the clean laundry by room and then when it's all delivered to the rooms we work together to put it away. I teach them to sort into piles of shirts, pants/shorts, pjs & underwear, etc and then we tackle one pile at a time to put each item in it's proper closet or drawer.
With the Pets
Your children should also be able to care for the pets. They can ensure there is food and fresh water available, change the kitty litter, walk the dog, change the water in the fishbowl, and clean that hamster cage, etc. Though I must admit, with five children, I've been putting this one off. We had cats long ago when my oldest was small, but I'm thinking it's about time to introduce pets (and their responsibilities) to the family once again.
As your children get older, they can help with yard work. Smaller children make excellent weed pullers and are happy to learn the difference between a weed and a flower and “meet” the interesting insects in the garden. My little guy is enthralled by every worm or snail he finds! And almost any child can sweep the porch, rake leaves or shovel snow. Kids twelve and up enjoy big-kid jobs like pushing the lawn mower, doing mulch or handling a weed-eater. And what about washing or cleaning the family car? That kind of “work” soon becomes a full blown fun family water fight if you'll let them enjoy it.
Tasks to Delegate to Older Children
Older kids also love learning about cars: how to change the tire, how to change the oil, and so on. Mine have a fascination for heights and are ready to help out with ladder-oriented chores such as cleaning the gutters, small roof repairs, trimming branches (with close supervision) and even helping to build a bunk-bed or other needed item (again with supervision).
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31, KJV
The reason for delegating your work is two-fold: it helps both you and your children. Your job as a parent is to train them for their future job of parent. Think about it: You are training your grandchildren's parents!
Delegating household chores, teaching your children to do them well, and sharing the work load of the family amongst all will give your children a sense of responsibility, a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of being important for what they contribute. It will also teach them valuable lessons they will need for adulthood.
Teach your children work thoroughly and safely. Teach them that every task, regardless of size or who sees it done is to be done well for God's glory, as a testimony to the unsaved of who God is.
Teach them to be responsible now, and you will have responsible young adults, and adults.
But teach them to serve God now in their “little” responsibilities, and they are more likely to continue serving God as adults.
If you need some help in structuring your chore system, this resource from Good Old Days Farm could be a great resources for you. Visual, interactive and fun. It may be just what you need to organize your delegation.
May God bless you and give you joy today in the training of your children!