A love-hate relationship with chores



Have you ever found yourself in a conflicted relationship with household chores? Some of us see them as a necessary evil and “tolerate” them, doing only what is necessary. Others find doing chores cathartic, enjoy them, and experience a sense of calm and satisfaction at the end. Most of us fall somewhere between these two extremes. For many, feelings around tasks can fluctuate depending on our schedule, other responsibilities, or emotional capacity that day.

If our relationship with chores is complicated, we can anticipate that our children will be very emotional and inconsistent when it comes to their own chores. So how might we approach chores differently with our children? Be positive about the tasks at hand. Model honesty if we encounter difficulties. Do not wait to do chores until the children are not there, because then we deprive them of a learning opportunity.

How do you reframe chores and not have a conflicted and complicated love-hate relationship with them?

As a family, make a list of family contributions (formerly called chores) for the day, week, and month.

Let each child choose tasks appropriate to their age and situation. Even the little ones select tasks because it gives them a sense of belonging.

Make sure the tasks are not “stereotyped”. Every child, regardless of gender, should have the opportunity to cook, clean, do yard work, clean cars, etc.

Allow children to take turns choosing tasks (younger ones get easier tasks). The parents subdivide the remaining tasks.

Resist the temptation to redo or “fix” the chores the kids have done! Provided they did their best, let it go and thank them for what they did. If we do chores again, children will learn that they can never be good enough for us, and soon they will stop doing chores or they will do them reluctantly.

There are no heroes, victims or martyrs. Only team players!

Family contributions must be completed before privileges. (Example: before game time, technological time or sports practice.

Model of positivity. May our children see us making our family contributions with a good attitude!

Model of honesty. Let our children see the challenges we face and how we deal with them positively.

If our children work hard consistently, offer them a helping hand regularly. However, when helping out, never work harder than the child and only attend periodically so that our help does not become an expectation of the child.

Soon our children will see us doing chores and they too will periodically offer to help!

Family contributions are an opportunity to work as a team, so that everyone feels a sense of belonging, to feel useful and appreciated. It also teaches teamwork, responsibility, courage, accountability, time management, and delayed gratification. These are all life skills our children will need to be successful in whatever career they choose.

It’s time to say goodbye to that love-hate relationship we have with chores. No more heroes, victims or martyrs. Welcome to the (our last name) team! Put on some music and have fun together. Celebrate a job well done.

Here are some comments from a local mom in response to the Q&A of “Live simply. Love deeply. Work with enthusiasm. Happy (school) year!” :

“The kids and I set up a ‘shop’ at home with all the supplies we had. After “shopping” at home, we went to the store and only bought what was still missing. During this time, we had a separate bag at the store which we filled with school supplies for children in need. They got the new supplies and our kids shopped among the ones we had at home. We learned from this and had several great conversations about it over dinner – and had fun in the process.

Questions? Please email Sarah and David at [email protected] We would be honored to lift you up in prayer and respond as well.


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