kids’ chores and responsibilities

photo credit: Eva L. Kirkpatrick

We had a couple over for dinner last week, and after the meal, us ladies came into the kitchen to see how the meal clean-up was going. Just then, she noticed the “responsibilities list” on the wall next to the slate chalk board. She quickly took a picture of it and seemed equally amused and intrigued by our little list. It’s a humble note paper cut to a square and taped to the wall with washi tape (I love washi tape – I can finally display all the children’s drawings!). I’ve seen many a fancy bordered chart ,or better yet, chalk-art-decorated board for displaying the assignments. Ours is simple, folks!

I have a friend who makes a very valid case for calling the children’s job’s for the family home assignments, because chores has the connotation of burden or drudgery. Whatever the semantics, our family’s been trying to clean up messes for 15 years : ) The mess is not peaceful for me. I feel calmer, happier and can think much clearer when the spaces are orderly and tidy. I think it is this way even for children.

Our family’s chore list is for the year. At the beginning of the school year, we sit down and discuss all the old chores and how they are changing hands. Everyone is usaually happy to switch it up and understands, so the only purpose of the paper chore list is mostly for reference (in the case that Nathan or I forget or there’s a need to switch it up for a day). The children don’t really look at it, because they’re doing it all the time.

I read a quote years ago from an older mom who said, “Life is messy, so clean it up.” I couldn’t agree more. Have grace to allow the mess, and be adamant about cleaning it up. Even though tidying up is agreeably necessary, each household has a cleaning routine. If it is part of the family’s regular rhythm, it hardly is much effort to have visitors. This has proven true for us many, many times! When the children were younger and schooling was less rigorous, we cleaned before the weekend in efforts to enjoy all the time with Daddy when he was home. I always knew I’d have to forgo this little luxury when schooldays grew longer and our days got fuller. So here we are, a few years into the routine of cleaning a little everyday and a little more on Saturday morning : )

Cleaning the family home for us is divided into two categories: Daily and Weekly Responsibilities

photo credit: Eva L. Kirkpatrick


  • collect laundry and wash (first thing in the morning), flip, fold, and put away (by dinnertime)
  • wipe bathrooms, change hand towel (morning)
  • empty trash bins (morning)
  • feed the animals (morning and evening)
  • wash dishes, dry and put away, wipe counters (after each meal)
  • wipe table/chairs, vacuum kitchen and dinning room (after each meal)


  • vacuum stairs
  • clean mirrors and spot clean windows
  • dust
  • vacuum all floors
  • mop all floors
  • scrub bathtub, sinks and toilets
photo credit: Eva L. Kirkpatrick

A few things that we try to remember:

  • Involving the children in cleaning and taking care of the family home takes time and patience both for the children and the parents.
  • Always look for age-appropriate tasks.
  • Try to find a home for everything. It is too overwhelming for a child to tidy up if there is no specific place for things.
  • Remind little ones to clean up one activity before moving on to the next activity. Small habits make a big difference!
  • Set a regular tidy-up time. Before lunch or naps, before supper and before bedtime may be a natural rhythm.
  • Work along side them even if it isn’t on the same assignment.
  • Take a break and then keep going.
  • Encourage and praise them profusely during the task and when they’re done. Celebrate small victories together. A little reward like a high-five and reading aloud one picture book can feel special.
photo credit: Eva L. Kirkpatrick

It is a joy to take responsibility in the care of the possessions God has entrusted us with. We all enjoy the sense of accomplishment and equally appreciate the reward for our efforts when we can use the tidied up spaces.

 with love, Damaris

4 Easy Steps to Drastically Change A Room

Outer order contributes to inner calm. -Gretchen Rubin

Having spent more time at home during the cold winter months, we’ve accumulated and now feel overwhelmed by the “extra stuff”. Maybe simplifying was one of your new year’s goals too, and January and February were trial months : )

Though ideally you may want to purge all drawers and closets, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the mess, I’d suggest to start by clearing off just one surface! Clearing off surfaces can drastically change the entire room. Cluttered tables and counters feel disorganized, and it affects how you use that space. Streamlining surfaces is a manageable and tangible goal that can give you a sense of accomplishment right away. I always aim to maintain an atmosphere of peace and hospitality in our home, and with cleared surfaces, our home most often looks clean. Less stuff means less mess- always.

The first step to streamlining surfaces is to communicate with your family how the problem affects everyone, and how the solution will improve the flow and use of the surface and really the whole room. Identify your clutter-free zones and state it as that. Remember that it’s a work in progress because each family member needs to learn to manage their own things and their own habits.

The second step to clearing surfaces is to find/create a home for things. Over the years, I’ve noticed that I usually keep more papers than I will ever do something with (the orthodontist’s card, the window replacement ad, department store sale flyer). If you’re hesitant about the excess paper, put it away for now. Add them all to a paper bag, a shoe box, a folder and look through it while you’re watching a show. Sometimes putting it away for a couple of weeks allows me to be more subjective and realistic about the clutter (mailers/catalogs/flyers/ads).

The third step to decluttering surfaces is to take a look at your most problematic area (kitchen island, dinning room table, etc.) and identify the things that don’t belong: bills to pay, incoming mail, magazines, homework that’s waiting to be graded. Paper-clutter bogs us down like no other kind of clutter, so group the same things and find them a home!

The fourth step is to use what you have for storage or organization. Going to the store and buying an all new storage system maybe counter-productive. Sometimes decluttering and purging opens up bins or storage boxes that can now find a new use. A huge clutter problem for most readers that I hear from is kids’ papers/crafts/art. This hanging line has been a life-saver for all of the art that the children wish to see displayed. It gets it off the table and provides a perfect spot for everyone to enjoy. When they make new pictures and paintings, we have this sturdy container where I file only the favorites. Each child has a folder, and the papers all have name and date on the backside, which simplifies the filing and brings us all so much joy when we pull them out years later.

Less stuff means less mess, but understanding that there is an amount of material belongings that are bottom-line necessary when having a large family and schooling in the home is something Nathan reminds me of often. Be encouraged and embrace this season of life! We’re always creating new ways and systems to make our homes comfortable, welcoming, and peaceful.

I’ve experienced that streamlining one surface often gets the ball rolling for more decluttering. Even so, if one surface is enough for the day, then at least you’ll be pleased to have one spot where your eyes can rest.

Better blogs for simplifying and organizing:

with love. Damaris