We all know that being a mom is a full-time job. I once told my hubby that moms are on a shift schedule too, just like factory workers...but we work all the shifts ourselves! However, doing all the work ourselves is also doing a disservice to our kiddos. If they are in the habit of having things done for them, then by the time they need to do for themselves, it will be too late to teach them! I have seen this play out several times in others lives. I think moms get so caught up in serving the family, that they forget to teach the principle of serving to their kids.
One of the biggest ways to teach serving to your kids is requiring them to WORK. Yep, you know it...good old-fashioned CHORES. It seems like a lot of people have a fear of making their kids work, thinking that they are robbing them of their childhood in some way. Actually, all they are doing is raising up a group of self-involved people who have no idea how to work for themselves or anyone else. I grew up having responsibilities that I had to accomplish before I was able to pursue my own leisure activities. Of course, in the moment, I thought that the my parents were torturing me, but I am grateful for the experience now, because I know how to do things, and do them right.
So, we have implemented chores from a fairly young age in our house. Of course, with the first kid, you sometimes don't think about these things early enough, so our oldest got some time off early in his life! He was introduced to chores at a later date than his brothers were! Which chores you assign & at what ages are going to be dependent on your kids and their relative maturities. As of right now, our 6 year old is responsible for making his bed, cleaning up toys, wiping the table after meal times, sweeping the floor with the dustpan, and taking out the trash. Our 4 year old must also make his bed and clean up toys, but he is also responsible for feeding our cat, straightening the living room, and helping mommy empty the dishwasher. However, because our 2 year old doesn't like being left out, he often helps with feeding the cat & emptying the dishwasher! I also have them put away their own laundry and set the table for meals.
I didn't grow up with an allowance, so I wasn't sure how I wanted to handle this aspect of chore time with the boys. So, our fearless leader :) came up with this plan: any chore that the boys do that is to help someone else with their job will earn allowance. Therefore, the chores they do to help mommy (feeding the cat, trash, & the kitchen chores etc.), they will earn a nickel for each job each day. the chores that they do for themselves (making bed, picking up toys, etc.) do not earn money. This reinforces the principle of personal responsibility for yourself, but also teaches the principle of working for someone else and receiving a wage that depends on that work. We have a chore chart (Melissa & Doug magnetic one) that helps us keep up with who does what, on what day. Payday is usually Sunday morning before church. They divide their money in their banks labeled "Save" "Spend" and "Give". (This helps teach that we give some of our money to God...thanks to their Sunday-School teacher for those!) This system seems to work well for us, and as the boys get older, their chores will change and grow with them.
My biggest struggle with this is simply the fact that I can do it faster myself, and so I do! Once again our fearless leader helped me with this! He is much more willing to give the boys challenging jobs, and expect them to carry them out! A funny example of this principle in action happened the other day. Stitch, our 2 year old, (so named by his brothers after they watched the movie "Lilo & Stitch", because he 'likes to yell and break stuff'!) caught his shirt on a small nail that was poking out of one of our cabinets. He left, and a few minutes later, came back with his plastic hammer, and proceeded to hammer the nail back in! His plastic tool wasn't very effective, so I got the 'big' hammer out, and helped him fix the nails in the cabinet. The fact that he thought to fix the problem himself, rather than ask for help made me realize that maybe, just maybe, our hard work is paying off! :)