Delegating Responsibilities

Photo Credit to

Do you feel like you will never get it all done?  Are you afraid to give your children household work because you can do it better and faster?

As a young mom I always wondered why an older mother of many children I new could need to vacuum every day and still not have a spotless house.  With all those helpers, I thought it would be even easier to keep a clean house…

Now that I am the older mom, I have discovered that older children make bigger messes… and I have less energy than I used to have, meaning it is not as easy to keep the house clean as it used to be when my children were younger.  If only we could always step in other people’s shoes before we make assumptions. =)

So, how does a mother of many older children keep her house clean?  What is a good standard for clean?  What household jobs are appropriate for what ages?

Much of this is based on each family and each child specifically, but I can share what we have done in hopes that it will be helpful to you.

When my children were young, up to age 6 or maybe 8, I gave them small jobs, such as folding small laundry items, sweeping, caring for the dogs or cats, bringing the smaller garbage cans to me to be emptied, setting the table, watering the flowers…  and of course cleaning up after themselves and making their bed.  These jobs were instrumental in giving them a sense of working together as a family, learning to do a good job and feeling needed.  The most important things to look for at that age are the attitude toward helping, toward work and doing their best.  Perfection is not as important as having a good attitude and doing your best.  It is a fine balance between teaching them to do acceptable work and discouraging them by making them do it over too many times.

The next stage of cleaning included cleaning sinks, sweeping, and doing dishes.  When they are big enough and strong enough, vacuuming is added (we have a Kirby, which is a pretty heavy vacuum).

As the boys got older, I began to have them carry wood, chop wood, do minor household repairs, be in charge of the woods stove, etc.

This last stage is the one that, for us, includes cooking and baking.  The requirements vary according to their age and ability.  My goal is for them to understand meal planning which includes a well-balanced meal and having everything finished at the same time.

When we had goats and chickens, all of the older children helped with milking, gathering eggs, feeding and watering and cleaning out stalls.  When we had a garden, everyone helped with planting, watering, weeding and harvesting.

We all take turns doing laundry, which includes washing, hanging out, folding and putting away.

Each of us has a week doing dishes and the girls share a week since they are younger.

One of my sons cooks breakfast during the week, my daughters do breakfast for one day on the weekend, two sons and one daughter each cook one dinner each week and I take Thursday noon through Sunday noon..

I feel it’s very important that we all participate in housework since we all get to eat, wear clothes and have a roof over our head.  I also think work builds character.

In addition to organizing the house and schedules, supervising and inspecting all work to make sure it is done and done properly, overseeing the learning department and acting as referee when necessary.. I participate in some of the things listed above and there are a few chores left that I take part in:

  • most of the weeding
  • dusting and glass cleaning
  • keep the master bathroom and master bedroom clean
  • make soap and candles for the family and sometimes to sell
  • make yogurt and cheese
  • grocery shopping
  • cut the dogs hair and shampoo him
  • cut or trim the children’s hair
  • occasionally I step in and help someone with their job, usually in the kitchen or vacuuming
  • make bread
  • Quickbooks

At one point I used a book called Managers of Their Homes, which is a very detailed book for scheduling your home.  You can buy it used on Amazon.  There is also a new book out by the same author entitled Managers of Their Chores.