There are few things I loathed more when I was growing up than my mom's attempt at child-deprecating humor, especially when it revolved around putting us to work. We'd say, "you need to buy a dishwasher." She'd respond, "Why? I already have three" while wagging her eyebrows at us and smirking. We'd ask her why she didn't clean the house instead of making us do it and she'd say, "Ha! That's why I had kids."

Seriously. Loathed it. Body-shaking,-teeth-gritting lock-yourself-in-the-bathroom-to-feign-tummy-issues, scream-at-each-other-to-avoid-it loathed it. Which is why it gives me such tremendous pleasure to now do it to my children. The mountain man and I have our chores ... and Javi and Bella (or the Miller Maids, as I love to call them) have theirs.
I cook, load the dishwasher, clean the kitchen and dining area, sweep, mop, clean the downstairs bathroom (as well as the upstairs toilet), and change sheets. Billy does the (effing) laundry (as in, wash, fold, and put away), yard work, and takes out the recycling. Javi sets and cleans off the table, unloads the dishwasher, cleans the upstairs bathroom, cleans his room, vacuums (as dad points out spots he's missed), and takes out the trash. Bella dusts, cleans her room, and keeps her toys picked up downstairs.
The system works. No kid does more than he (or she) should, and the adults don't wind up slaves to the little people's dirty natures. Also, by having chores (and we started Javi around age 2, as well) from an early age, the kids do a better job of keeping things clean both at home and away. It's not fool-proof, and they are still dirty little kids, but it could definitely be worse.
My favorite part of chores? Not paying for them. We do not pay an allowance for chores. If Javi wants to earn extra money, he has to either meet a need not covered by chores or take on someone else's duties. I paid him $2 to clean Bella's room and load the dishwasher. That makes for a rate of $1 per extra work. Miller Maids are much more budget-friendly than any housekeeper.
Oh, and watching the big one do his chores makes the little want to help him. She is so excited for the day to finally arrive when she gets to do the vacuuming all by herself. If that isn't a ringing endorsement of chores, I don't know what is.

**This post is part of the 30-minute challenge, Works for Me Wednesday, and Wordful Wednesday.


  • amber_mtmc

    OK. The first thing I thought when I read this is how CUTE Bella is! Cleaning in her underwear? Priceless!!


    I get excited whenever I think about my kids growing up and handling chores. Things might actually get done!

  • Kim & Dave

    Great points!!! I made the mistake of doing most everything for my oldest-& now I regret it!

    She is only 8, though, so we are trying to fix this now!

  • Kelly Miller

    @Amber - She picked that outfit out on her own, including the toboggan and boots. Those bloomers are size 18 months and go with a red corduroy dress that is too small now. Notice those bloomers still look huge on her. This is where dressing a child gets frustrating.

    @Kim - I have a 14 year old nephew who never had to do chores and have seen several friends make that mistake, as well. The kids revolt when all of a sudden you want them to do stuff, so I tried to blend it into their lives.

    Of course, the downside is that the house is never clean-clean because little people are involved and I'm not the one to go behind them. So there's definitely a trade off.

  • RamblingMother

    Of course the Miller Maids (at least one of them) looks adorable in the hat and boots, much better than other maids, heh.

  • Amy

    Love the photos.

  • Lori

    YES!!!! Another family that A: believes in chores for kids and B: not paying them to do their chores!!! I'm not paid to cook, clean, bathe the kids, etc so the kids shouldn't have to be paid to do their share of chores!!!!
    Katy's chores are to pick up her toys, put her dirty laundry in the hamper, and to feed the puppy... (the last one, she decided was HER chore, LOL) Chores are GREAT for kids and the whole "I'd never make MY kids do that when I have kids" thing is a thing of the past!!!! It's so much fun to tell the kids "you know what?? I hates doing XYZ as much as you do, that's why I'm making you do it!" or something similar.... ;0)

  • Amy

    I loved showing this post to my ten yr old daughter, showing her pics of your son and saying "see! there are other kids out there that work hard and are responsible!!" tell your son thank you for being such a great example, and thank you for this post. I found you at the 30 minute blog challenge...my post is on homemade gel paints, which cutie bella may just love, but...it may also mess up your wonderfully cleaned house!!:)

  • Cheryl

    LOL! I love that one of your Miller Maids comes to work in a "uniform." Hubby and I have decided we need to adopt a teenager so that we can have some help shoveling the snow. ;)

  • Marianne

    My oldest one has always had to pick up her own toys and help when asked, but I have a hard time giving her chores. She usually helps with laundry, dusting, setting the table and cleaning it off, feeding the animals and so on. She has never been paid to do any of it, but we set of a set amount ever month for her to be used on activities she wants to do. My 8 month old is in training to pick up her own toys now.

  • Night Owl Mama

    Woo whoo work em hard! lol on your dd outfit too funny

  • Amy @ Never-True Tales

    I love, love, love the underwear/boots get-up! And we don't pay allowances either. I told the kids it was due to the economy; they were downsized.

  • se7en

    I am all for chores!!! Great post, great photographs!!! We have been working on lots of garden chores lately )fresh air and all that!!!). Here is a post on the chores our kids get up to: http://www.se7en.org.za/2009/08/28/se7en-chores-and-life-skills-we-do

    Have a good week!!!

  • XmasDolly

    Hmmm - That's one well organized, oiled machine there, and it works for you. That's good! Plus the children learn a sense of responsibility. I'm all for that.

  • Draft Queen

    No way, Jose will I pay the kids to do chores. (Because boy do they stink at it!) They live there, they make messes, they pitch in to clean it up.

    And ohmygoodness Bella's cleaning outfit is adorable.

  • Anonymous

    This is a great post...love the pics! I have our cleaning list and their chore charts on my blog that can be printed off. We do chores every day, but then we have 'list cleaning' days. Your little one is def. rockin' the pink boots! Awesome! Love the hubby pointing out the spot he missed. Classic..= )

  • Carma Sez

    you've got a great system going here - my son at 14 -- let's just say he doesn't do much housework; I should have trained him younger for sure!!

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