Working Hard or Hardly Working?

We often enter adulthood with the perspective that doing chores at home is something to avoid.

We dread the simple tasks of cleaning or straightening the home. We put it off. We think of it as punishment or as menial.

That point of view is directly tied to a lack of gratitude for what God has given to each of us. Remember when you got your first car - you kept it washed and clean, you were so excited to have it. But after a while you take it for granted and washing is neglected.

First, I start with the attitude that I have the privilege of living in a home. I get to clean the bathroom because I have indoor plumbing and hot water. I am thankful for what God has provided! Cleaning isn’t a drudgery; it’s a joy!

But what if I am doing all of the household chores and no one else does anything? 

Second, my spouse and/or children (see more about children and chores below)  all come to an agreement that it is a home for all of us and it’s not one person’s responsibility. 

So, they aren’t “helping” me, they are being part of the family where we all take part in the tasks of a home. 

Third, be flexible about the criteria for what it means to run a household. I may think that vacuuming once a month is ample, my spouse may believe that it should be done weekly. Negotiate an acceptable level of cleanliness for both people. 

Realize that during the lifetime of a family, the responsibilities will change with different life situations. One may have a heavier work load outside the home. Another may be limited by physical abilities.

Finally, be appreciative to everyone whenever they complete their part of the tasks!

The Gift of Work……
We have become so engrossed in the work of the Lord that we have forgotten the Lord of the work. A.W. Tozer

God designed humans to work from the very beginning. Before the fall, God gave man a job, Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. [Genesis 2:15]

Whether it is a job that I go to everyday or if it is a task that I do at home, God gave me the ability to work. In that work, God wants me to glorify Him.

As I do the work, I can be a testimony to a loving, faithful God. I can show His joy and His peace in whatever realm that I operate. I can show my gratitude for having clothes to wash, food to cook, and a home to clean!

The work I do is a gift from God!

Divisions of Labor ....
Each couple, no matter their culture or socio-economic class, had this in common: They worked together as a team. There was no my work or your work. It's our home, so it's our work. Fawn Weaver (after interviewing couples around the world, who have been happily married for more than 25 years)

The goal is to agree on what needs to be done, how often, and who is going to do it.

This division of labor is not for the wife to say, “I need more help.” The division of labor is for both spouses to sit down and talk about their life together - from work hours to taking care of the kids, cooking, laundry, cleaning, yard work, car maintenance, etc.

Even if one spouse does not work outside the home, one person is not capable or should be 100% responsible for all of the above, BOTH spouses do some of it. More than anything, we need to see it as a team effort (including children). Depending on our stage in life, our roles and responsibilities will change.

For us, in our first seven years of marriage, we did not have kids yet and we both worked full time. Whoever got home from work first started dinner. We did dishes together. On Saturday mornings, we both cleaned house until it was done.

After we had children, Donna was a stay-at-home mom for several years. She took on more responsibility for cleaning. She cooked. Ed cleaned up. Donna bathed the kids. We both put them to bed.

As they started school, Donna started working part-time while they were in school. Ed and the kids cleaned more.

And now, kids are gone. We work together all day. Donna carries more of the work load at Living Well. Ed does all the cooking and cleaning. Donna does the laundry. When we see something that needs to be done, we do it - “it’s not my job” is not an option. We serve each other.

Also, every couple/family needs to see what each person is good at, what they hate doing, and what they enjoy. If both people hate doing it, consider outsourcing it or alternating who does it.

The whole process should be a negotiation - not an argument or dictation. We both thank the other for tasks completed - even if it’s their “job.”

Children and Chores ....
Research from a 75-year Harvard study examined what variables from earlier in life predict health and well-being later in life. Researchers found that children who were given chores became more independent adults. 

We are always amazed about how much Zambian children help to clean at home and at school. They don’t resent it, they enjoy it. When you ask them what they enjoy, they will say, “helping at home.”

One of the keys for involving children with chores at home is to start young. Toddlers want to help, but often make more of a mess than help. Give them a part, like moving chairs while you mop or adding ingredients when you cook; they learn how to do each one better and better. They enjoy it because you are together!

Even as children get older, make it a family time. It’s not work, it’s what we do as a family to take care of our home.

Another key is to be specific, not “clean your room,” but “put your toys away, make your bed.”

Making a checklist for them takes a lot of the nagging out of the process. They can see what still needs to be done, you don’t have to keep telling them.

Chores are not punishment; they are training for life.