The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Se7en Chores and Life Skills We Do…

August 28th, 2009 · 15 Comments

For the last couple of weeks I have been posting on chores. It began with what seemed like an idle question and grew into a couple of posts. Here they are:

And the question that remains is what chores do our kids actually do, and so many of you asked this!!! I mentioned before that I prefer to think of chores as a long list of life-skills I would like my children to acquire before they leave home. As their circle of life expands so do our demands on them. I guess life skills begin with:



  1. Personal Hygiene and Appearance:
    • Teeth cleaning, hair washing, showering and so on: I supervise this to make sure it gets done properly, but I don’t do it, except for teeth cleaning. I think little people need all the help they can get with their teeth, even if they feel “so” competent. I do expect them to carry on without me should I get called away. First person to arrive at the toothbrushes gets to put a dab of paste on everyones brush and if I don’t get to clean their teeth then I can tell straight away who hasn’t.
    • Dressing: What is appropriate for home and going out (putting shoes on is still something I have to remind everyone to do when we go out – this is cultural – shoes are not big in South Africa!). It is more like you cannot wear track pants with holes in them out of the house.
      As soon as they are able I expect them to dress themselves. And I expect the sibling next up the line to help those who might need help. While our girls tend to dress more appropriately their clothes need more help – zippers up the back of dresses, tights in winter are awkward and for some mad reason knickers in this country don’t have labels in the back so it takes forever to figure out which holes are for legs. Now I just put a marker mark in the back and leave them to it. I don’t choose their clothes either, they do, if it is too weird I do a product recall but mostly its livable. By the time they are three my kids are able to dress themselves. They start to learn as soon as they can undress – about 18 months.


  2. Their Personal Space:
    • Their bed: All of our kids can straighten a pillow and a duvet – I have never taught this I just assumed that they knew how and they do! On the day we wash sheets I expect them to get their sheets off their beds and to the washer before I even think about it. It has to be done bright and early to get them dry in time to make their beds before the end of the day rush.
    • Their stuff: Most toys and books are universally owned in our home but everyone has their own special goodies. I expect them to keep these neat and decluttered. Because most stuff is communal they only have a small amount of stuff to maintain.


  3. Their time:
    • Chore time: We have a routine for chores, before every meal we have about half an hour of chores and after each meal about fifteen minutes. Things have to be done on a schedule to ensure that the house runs smoothly. Household jobs need to be done so that meals follow (very important!). For myself I know as I get closer and closer to Hood 8’s due date I take so much longer to get anything done – bedtime stretches later and consequently so does the morning. But this should spring back to normal in a couple of weeks!
    • School time: This is possibly the hardest area in our home at the moment and we are all working on it at the moment. You cannot daydream the morning away when you should be doing schoolwork because lunch has to follow and certain people (like the mother person!) insist on a rest straight after lunch. Also if their work isn’t done then the rest of us can’t dash to the beach for a play or something fun. I know I need to add a bit more supervision to the mix… I am devising a plan!

    The Household:

  4. Daily Tasks:


    • Meal preparation: Everyone is always milling around at meal times. To save time and decision making when we should really be preparing we do a certain amount of meal planning in advance. I also pre-prepare our vegetables the day the vegi-box comes: carrots are peeled, broccoli is bagged and so on, so we just have to grab them out of the fridge and we are good to go. There are a lot of little tasks that can be achieved apart from chopping and peeling. There is getting plates and utensils out, making sure everyone has a drink ready. Help with cooking… rolling out a flat bread, stirring a pot. Also to avoid chaos at serving-up time we appoint one waiter and everyone else has to sit at the table until they are served. And as for snacks, I expect some older person to help someone younger to get some fruit or a drink whenever they need it.
    • Meal clean up: Mostly I clean up as I prepare and by the time we get to the table it is only the plates that we are eating with that need to be attended to. Once a meal is done and everyone is finished eating then everyone puts their dishes into the dishwasher – everyone! Except cups, which are placed in a row on the counter and are always ready for refills. When I do a load on the dishwasher then I put fresh cups out on the counter. In the morning a certain hood (age 8) empties the dishwasher onto the table. Another hood (age 6) packs the cutlary away, except the sharp knives which I sneak away the night before (the able-ego is at stake here!). And another Hood (age 10) packs away the unbreakables and finally the tallest Hood has to pack away the breakable dishes. Then we are ready for the day.
    • Housecleaning: I have one hood that is very good at sweeping and he does the giants share. However he is trailed by a number of folk and wherever he leaves a pile of sweepings they get gathered into the dustpan and broom. I have only one Hood prepared to clean the toilet, and he does that once a day or if a guest arrives at the gate, there is just enough time between the gate and the front door to do a quick spray and wipe of the bathroom! The rest of the the Hoods do general tidying and a mass pick up before each meal.
    • Laundry: Well we do this daily, and it is divided into lots of small tasks that are all quite achievable by most folk. Even the youngest person can get her washing to the washer – maybe not into it quite yet. I also don’t get them to hang the washing – I like it just so!!! But everything else is up to them.
    • Odd Jobs: Gathering post, putting compost into the key-hole garden and so on are all achievable from about age three and up. My little ones do these odd jobs in the morning when the big guys are busy with school. also my oldest three (age 8 and up) can all help to change a nappy or assist someone shorter on the toilet. Getting things into the rubbish or recycling and at least getting things back to the room they belong in so that a bigger person can put it away. Getting garbage into the outside bin and then when the bin is full storing the bags in the garage until collection day.
  5. DSC04923

  6. Weekly or Monthly Tasks:
    • The Monthly Shop: The big guys push the trollies, the medium ones help gather and pack and the little ones sit in the trolley and direct everybody! They all carry the parcels up from the car: Obviously the littlest carries things like toilet rolls and the biggest ones carry glass jars and so on. Everybody unpacks what they brought up and moves it along in the direction in which it belongs. Most of them can put away what they brought up and what can’t be done they leave on the table for and adult to do.
    • House Maintenance: Help with repairs and general fixing. Washing windows, decluttering round the house – things like the post pile. Doing a quick clothes sort through their clothes and making sure that things they have outgrown get passed down and so on, from about six they can do this without supervision… younger than that and you could be in for a couple of surprises!!!
    • Garden Maintenance: Our garden maintenance involves mostly tidying and from time to time we have a garden blitz. I don’t let anyone chop hedges yet but they can all gather leaves and sticks and generally clean up. Sometimes it is just boring maintenance, sweeping leaves and so on but if they do it together they generally manage to get it done quickly.
    • Car Maintenance: Every time we go on an outing they have to clear out anything that was brought into the car… books, clutter and any garbage has to go out. The older guys are quite capable of vacuuming and wiping the inside surfaces. Everyone likes to help with washing and scrubbing! Other car maintenance like checking the oil and water is done by the bigger guys.

    The Big Wide World:


  7. Friendships: I expect them to maintain their friendships and our kids have accumulated a couple of adult friendships. I want them to keep contact without relying on the adults to do all the work. They write letters and email friends and make arrangements and I leave them to it. I also expect them to remember their friends birthdays and do something about them… organize a gift or a card or whatever. I guess this comes with help and practice but certainly once they can read and write they are up to it. Also I expect them to be hospitable to guests and to be engaging when we have all types of visitors.
  8. DSC04308

  9. Associates: Are really folk that aren’t family or friends but they meet daily or weekly. The man in the post-office, the lady at the store. Neighbors that we don’t know well but walk past daily and greet them. Folk on the beach that they meet and play with for an afternoon. I guess this is one of those social life-skills that they learn by observation and practice. Also whatever activity they are involved in be it sport or music I expect them to be polite and eager, not to mention keep all their stuff ready and prepared for the next time they need it… I really don’t do “being late.” At the moment our three older ones are involved in serving in church: one is on the reading roster, one helps with the projector equipment and one helps with the book table. And they do it eagerly. I expect them to want to serve others and so far my expectations have been spot on… This could all change of course!!!

Anyway, that’s our basic chore outline for now. The more I think the more I come up with!!! There are plenty of life-skills that I could add to the list: sewing, money matters and so on… but they are still on the learning curve so I will leave them off the list for now. So I will stop all ready before you think I am a mad slave driver. Otherwise our kids all start helping as soon as they are able and their are plenty of little errands that even the tiniest people can do. And yes, not all jobs are done with measurable enthusiasm but really we are all works in progress! If you still have questions ask away and I will endeavor to answer!

I popped this post onto the Works For Me Wednesday Site – go and have a look there for all sorts of tips on absolutely anything.

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Tags: Organizing Se7en

15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tammy // Aug 30, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Amazing post I just love it. Thank you for sharing your life with us. It is such a blessing to me.
    Please can you tell me what you do about “wetting the bed at night” with boys…..HELP!
    Also on a daily basis how much prep for school/crafts do you do in the evening? I am tired at the moment in the evenings and slacking off on prep for the next day, but have also been extreme in this area….trying to understand what is a good balance!
    Love T.

  • 2 se7en // Aug 30, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Hi T, I will have to answer this better later, my internet connection is really well flimsy and driving me totally nuts!!! I will answer you fuller when our connection is up… Have a good week!

  • 3 Paula@Organizing Tips 4 Moms // Sep 9, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Another great post on chores! Thanks for sharing. I love the pictures of you children! Awesome.

  • 4 wanda // Sep 9, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Impressive! You guys are like a well oiled machine!
    That takes a smart mama to get that disciplined and organized!
    Kuddos to you!


  • 5 Cheryl@SomewhatCrunchy // Sep 9, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Wow, it looks like you have it all together. I hope to be there one day. I used to be obsessive about all the wrong things (like closets and cupboards) and my house was a perpetual mess. I’ve gotten a lot better, but I need to find a bit more balance.

  • 6 se7en // Sep 9, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Hay P, Glad you liked it!!! I think we are done with chore posts for the while! Have a great week!

  • 7 se7en // Sep 9, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Hi W, Welcome to our blog! Sometimes our machine is actually quite creaky!!! But yea it is unfortunately all about discipline… and mine rather than theirs!!! Have a great day!

  • 8 se7en // Sep 9, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Hi there C, Appearances can be deceiving!!! And I am totally obsessing about everything at the moment but that might be due to a great nesting frenzy… I think a bit of balance and a stroll on the beach os exactly what we all need! Really if you keep the surfaces clear daily and do a monthly wander through closets and drawers it is amazing how everything stays pretty sane! You have a good week!

  • 9 Kelly // Mar 4, 2010 at 4:25 am

    This is fantastic. We aren’t as organized as you, but I’ll be keeping this in mind as we delegate more to the kids.

  • 10 se7en // Mar 4, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Hi K, Your kids looked like they were having such fun with the vacuum!!! I just had to share!!! Have a great day!!!

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