The Proverbs 31 woman cares for and meets the needs of her household, which includes overseeing their work for the day. “She rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and tasks for her maidens” (Proverbs 31: 15).
In her efforts to bring order within her family and home, she provides structure and organization to her own tasks and also for those of her household. “Like the sun rising in the heights of the Lord, so is the beauty of a good wife in her well-ordered home” (Sirach 26: 16).
I’ve always believed in the importance of having the children involved in regular household chores. And not just having them do the spur-of-the-moment tasks that you ask of them sporadically throughout the day, but actually giving them regularly assigned work to be done every day of the week.
In our home, we have a chore chart for the kids. Within one week, various chores that have to be done every day are assigned on rotation for each child. The rotation provides two main benefits: boredom will not set in from doing the same chore everyday, and more importantly, that each child will learn and be trained into various skills involved in home keeping. Mommy and Daddy’s chores are excluded from the list mainly because I wanted to fit as much as I could that involved kids’ chores within a letter-sized chart.
Intertwined with our homeschool curricula is learning the basic tasks necessary for running a household. For the older children, more advanced ways to help in the kitchen as well as responsibilities in yardwork and care for younger siblings are encouraged. For the younger ones, they take delight in being assigned the “bigger” kids’ jobs, like washing dishes (start with plastic ware), wiping the table after dinner, and even handling the vacuum once in a while.
If you haven’t tried assigning chores to pre-schoolers and toddlers, then you have un-tapped potential energy waiting to go kinetic.
Do not underestimate the innate desire of little ones to be of service to Mommy by helping to load the laundry (just sort out the red shirt from the white after he’s done), sweep the floor (even if half the crumbs are left behind), and toss the salad (even when you expect some of the leaves to land on the floor, next to the crumbs that were left behind). And it goes without saying, always be generous with thank you’s and hugs, for “when she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule for everything she says” (Proverbs 31: 26).
Lastly, consider the exercise of making a family chore list as an opportunity to teach the children about doing chores as a way of loving and serving each other within the family. Even the simplest, smallest tasks done by the younger ones should be given a role of importance within the big picture of service for the family. After all, even good things done without love, are meaningless, according to 1 Corinthians 13. Even Saint Therese of Lisieux and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta encourage us not to focus on doing great things, but rather on doing small things for God with great love.