Chores for Children: How We’re Establishing Routines in our House

Recently, a team of specialists was employed to visit my husband’s work and instruct the plant in Workplace Efficiency. He brought home a folder outlining the basics of what had been presented, and I had a chance to look them over. Interestingly, some of the points can be applied perfectly to Household Efficiency, as well! Let me tell you a little about it…

One system that was presented as a template for workplace efficiency is called the “5S System.” This system includes five strategies:

  1. Sort
  2. Set in order
  3. Shine
  4. Standardize
  5. Sustain

Here is the System Definition:

“5S is a system that ensures that only needed items, when needed, in the required quantities, are in the correct area. 5S sustains itself because it creates routines to make sure that unneeded or excess items do not accumulate in an area.”

Philosophy Definition:

“5S is a philosophy that stresses order, simplicity, and discipline in the workplace. It is a sustained effort to keep work areas clean, orderly and simple.”

This is how this translates for each of the five points in the system:

  1. Sort: Get rid of stuff you don’t need (declutter).
  2. Set in order: Organize the stuff that you decide to keep so that you can find it easily.
  3. Shine: Keep things clean.
  4. Standardize: Make sure things get done by making sure everyone knows what their task is (create cleaning charts, for example).
  5. Sustain: Establish the discipline necessary to make sure the previous 4 points happen. This usually requires rewards and recognition for a job well done.

I can see how this system could work perfectly for managing the house, too! In fact, if children were taught from an early age to be orderly and disciplined in the home, they probably wouldn’t need to be taught by a team of specialists how to be orderly and disciplined when they get older!

As I set in place a strategy for keeping our household decluttered, organized, and clean, my children are not only helping to make our house a nice place to live in NOW, but are ALSO learning the skills they will need to be either 1)good workers at their jobs (boys), or 2)good house managers (girls), later on!

So no, I DO NOT feel bad at all about making my children do chores. I am preparing them for life. For REAL life.

Example: My children have Morning Chores, and Afternoon Chores. When creating chore charts, I look at what needs to be done every day in order to keep our house from becoming a complete wreck, and those most urgent items are assigned to different children.

Kitchen Cleanup (part of Morning Chores):

  • My older son washes the dirty dishes (or puts them in the dishwasher), wipes down the counter and stove, takes out the trash, and sweeps the kitchen.
  • My older daughter puts the clean dishes away, helps clear the table to get it ready for cleaning, sweeps the dining floor under the table, and puts the table back in order (with a new tablecloth).
  • My younger daughter puts the silverware away, and gets the little trashes from the bathrooms for older brother; then, she puts the empty trash cans back.
  • My younger son wipes down the table mats, and holds the dustpan while older sister sweeps; he also helps clear the table and put it back in order along with older sister (this includes moving all the chairs for sweeping).

There’s more to it than that, such as Bathroom Cleanup, which is actually part of Morning Chores, too, and Afternoon Chores, which includes cleaning the living room and play room, and folding clothes, but I just want to give you a quick example. I have the older, more capable children do the more detailed chores, while the younger children have much simpler tasks. Also, their jobs are the same every day. This may sound boring, but it gives them a chance to get really good at their jobs, and they always know what to do, since they memorize their tasks. Next year, I will re-evaluate our chore charts, and perhaps shift some duties to different children, to give them the chance to learn something new, and be challenged at the same time.

I’m also working on decluttering (always a work in progress), organizing things better, and establishing a rewards system. Currently, my children earn a dime each for morning chores, a dime each for afternoon chores, and a dime each for doing their school work without playing or complaining (however, we do not pay them for EVERYTHING, since there are times when they just need to obey, and  be happy with a simple, “Thank you for doing that job for me”). My husband and I have agreed to not buy them treats, and instead allow them to buy treats for themselves with the money they earn: another lesson perfectly applicable to real life!

I get my ideas from different blogs, and from just needing to figure out what would work to keep our house tidy and clean. I’m still in the process of figuring out how to do things even better, though, so I’m open to suggestions! Please, do share, if you have found a routine that works well for your own house and children!



6 thoughts on “Chores for Children: How We’re Establishing Routines in our House

  1. <In fact, if children were taught from an early age to be orderly and disciplined in the home, they probably wouldn’t need to be taught by a team of specialists how to be orderly and disciplined when they get older!

    Dear Jessica, this is really true! And I am impressed by the management ability and philosophy to help your children share the housework from their early age. I was not taught in that way unfortunately and I am still struggling to do basic house management! (My grandmother was an unfornate child who was all alone in her childhood and she could not learn about the house management from her biological mother. And so, she could not teach it her daughter (=meaning my mother).And so, this bad circle continued from one generation to another).

    Jessica, it means, that what you are teaching to children will affect several (or even more) generations!! Isn't it awesome?

    Dear Jessica, I wish you a joyful merry Christmas and a Happy new year!


    1. Yes, I agree, Kinuko, that what we teach our children will affect several (or more) generations–and that IS awesome!
      And by the way, even though I’m TRYING to be organized and a good manager of the home, I still have so much to learn! Sometimes I read other lady’s blogs about how they organize their homes, and I feel like I’m not making any progress at all! But, even little steps amount to somethings, don’t they.
      Thanks, and I hope you had a nice Christmas!


  2. Dear Jessica, I am chuckling on the inside while reading this because my sons work in a factory that implemented the 5S plan.:-) I never knew what they were talking about when they said they were 5S-ing today. What a great idea to use these techniques in our homes especially heading into the New Year!
    I need to work in this area. We all come together as a team when deep cleaning needs to be done, (when company is coming) but we struggle with the day to day routine of staying on a schedule. I do know that I feel much better about my home and myself when it’s a clean environment. It’s far easier to prepare meals when you’re not fighting dirty dishes 🙂
    Thankyou for some great ideas! It has encouraged me to get my chore chart updated 🙂
    Love, Ruthie


    1. Oh, I can totally relate: “I feel much better about my home and myself when it’s a clean environment.” And, like you, I also struggle with the day to day routine of staying on a schedule-it’s a work in progress!
      It was so interesting to hear that your sons are also familiar with the 5S system! How neat!
      Thanks for the encouraging comment, Ruthie!


  3. When my mother let me help her in my childhood,sometimes I felt it uninteresting compaired with reading books,studying.

    Many Japanese mothers do not let kids help her,say them to study more,I knew.So sometimes I felt complained ‘How come my mother says to me to help her? Many girls do not!’. My granma let my mother help her also.

    I confess that I have to thank her now.In many points,I could imitate her way to manage house after marriage.Though I was not aware of it,I learned a lot from her way.

    Thank you for sharing,this article is also so practical.
    I guess that someday your kids will thank you more to notice what you share.

    Happy new year to you and your family!


    1. Thank you for your comment, Sanae!
      It is so true, isn’t it, that like you shared, as children we often don’t appreciate what our parents try to teach us, but as adults, we are able to look back and say “thank you” for the work they made us do that we didn’t want to do at the time! When I was a kid, I didn’t want to do chores, either; but now, I’m glad my parents made me do them, just like you told us about with your mom.
      Happy New Year to you and your family, too!


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