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Foundation Truth, Number 5 (Spring/Summer 2001) | Timeless Truths Publications

Welcome to Wonderful Work Charts

Abigail Spinks

Clothes are strewn throughout the house from a dress-up parade, the sink is full of dishes from the children making cookies—the floor feels like it’s been given a coating of water, flour and sugar plus oil—the children think it’s great—a perfect skating plaza. Flour smears each face, the smell of burnt cookies permeates the air. Meanwhile, the toddler is happily playing with water from the toilet and the baby cries unceasingly for his dinner….

Do you ever feel like all you do is keep your children (hopefully, most of the time) out of (serious) trouble while your home resembles a bombing zone? You run after them, trying to keep things in reasonable order as they mess things up—and you feel tired all the time. Is there ever a breather in the race?

Well, I’m not married—nor do I have children of my “own,” as most people would say. But God has given me a love and burden for the neglected children in our life whose parents’ actions say they could care less how they turn out. It is our privilege to raise and train these precious children—as you have yours—and as all mothers, I want to do it right.

When we want to do it right—and dream of the perfectly managed home—why are our dreams shattered by bone-hard reality of the difficultness of the task? When we want our home to be an example of cleanliness, where have we failed when all that is accomplished is “getting through the day” to clean up after the children are in bed at night? (Except we’re too tired; so it doesn’t get done then either.) Well, I’m no expert by any means, but I thought I’d share something that has helped us in our home with the issue of house work. It is amazing how much calmer the household is when the home is clean and in order—it really does something to the atmosphere. So please don’t put your hand on your ears and say, “I just can’t manage one more thing because of all these children—talking about clean houses will just make me feel guilty!” We don’t propose to have a clean home in spite of your children, but with their help. There is a big difference.

Work Charts

The Work Chart system works well for us. It is a simple method that needs enforcing by Mom (children don’t come disciplined!) but which will catch the children’s interest and enthusiasm. To construct one, you will need:

  • 1 foot square piece of cardboard per child
  • Various large pieces of wall paper, wrapping paper or plain white paper
  • markers / crayons
  • stapler
  • tape
  • index cards

Cover your cardboard with paper (wall paper works best because of the thickness)—write at the top, “My Hard Work Chart.” You could also include a scripture about diligence, such as Nehemiah 4:6: “For the people had a mind to work.” Or you could write a favorite poem relating to work. One of ours is the “ ‘I Can’t’ is a Sluggard” poem. If there’s anything a child doesn’t want to be, it is a sluggard—somehow it is not their idea of a happy life.

Anyway, back to the Work Charts. Once you’ve labeled it, cut out two identical pockets of wall paper and label them, “To Do” and “Done!” (or something more creative if you wish). Staple and tape to bottom half of chart. Make sure index cards can be inserted easily. Children love to make and decorate—personalize their charts—so while they’re busy with this, you sit down and make a list of all the things that need to be done each day, and each week. For instance, do your children have pets that you instruct to feed 2,764 times before the job is accomplished each day? Mark some cards “Daily,” and write “feed ____, water ____.” Other “every-days” might include “hang-up clothes” or “make bed,” or you could include school subjects. Initialing your child’s name on each card if you have several children makes things a bit easier. Also, for your young ones that can’t read, have them draw pictures for a reminder after you explain what the job is. (Be sure to have the written words above so you don’t forget!)

As for all the other jobs, divide them up according to age and size and ability. For these non-daily jobs, mark as, “Wednesday: vacuum bedroom floor,” and so on. An older child (eight or nine) can easily mop, while a five or six-year-old can dust even the highest shelves with a chair. Beating rugs, sweeping, shining mirrors, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning cobwebs, moping, scrubbing tubs (even a very young child can do this one!), cleaning sinks—the list is endless!

My mother taught me a fun and interesting way for children to dust—with socks! Daddy’s socks (or anklets) work best. Spray with dusting formula and slip one onto each of the child’s hands. Also, because my six-year-old still has some trouble with recognizing alphabet letters, we spray the dusting formula in the shape of a letter—which shows on dark socks. She loves this and it has become a favorite job. Intermixing work with school and play makes the jobs more pleasant while still getting a clean home. Children really can do a lot—and have fun at it, too! Although some of the jobs may not be done to my perfection—for instance when a ten-year-old forgets the soap in a load of clothes and they must be done over—they are learning, and if they are doing their best, the job is satisfactory.

Once they’ve completed their jobs, they can move the cards from the “To Do” pocket to “Done!” pocket. All daily cards at the end of the day are moved back, of course, and at the beginning of the week, the cycle starts over.

We’ve really enjoyed this way of doing work—as long as I stay on top of it and remind them to check their charts, things go smoothly. Of course, as with everything, this will get old after awhile—but it does help to discipline them to regular, consistent, responsible work. Another incentive for mine is if they finish their Friday work on Thursday, we will spend the afternoon at the library on Friday—a definite favorite place!

Well, I hope this can be of use to someone. Now it’s your turn. Write and tell me what has made your life easier as a mother. So much can be handed down to the benefit of others if we just open up and share a little. We’re all busy—we all have excuses, but if someone hadn’t shared this idea with me, I wouldn’t be able to pass it on. Thank you, Mother!

Recommended Reading: Betty’s Secret and other Stories by Grandmother Lois, is a delightful book for young children. Perfect for devotional reading or before nap time. The stories are applicable to childhood and filled with lessons they need to learn. Write: Rod and Staff Publishers, Inc., PO Box 3, Hwy. 172, Crockett, Kentucky 41413; (606) 522-4348 for your free catalog.

We’d like to feature a theme on “Mothers” and need your help. What is your best advice to new mothers? What has helped you and proven a blessing throughout the years? On homemaking or spiritual aspects of motherhood, we welcome your letters, articles, notes for Heart of Her Husband.