Share the Work – Delegate

Share the Work – Delegate

by Donna Vail

We can have the best laid plan, be well organized and suddenly it seems as though our children change up everything. There are many phases a child grows through. As they develop, we can support them in the stage we know they are in but there will be times when your child is growing and changing, making the clear cut lines of the development chart gray and vague. Some children develop faster than others, some are quieter than others, and maybe you have all studious children with one creative who is always on the out-side-of-the-box. At times it feels like getting through your day is even more difficult. After all you’re busy  tending to your own work, preparing meals, parenting as well as educating your children. I know you want to live meaningful and not let everything be reduced to a have-to or deadline to meet.

Children thrive on a schedule and using a well organized plan however they also need freedom to explore, contemplate, experiment and be super active or just plain lazy. They are filled with energy and while most of their things can fill their day, there’s always room to contribute to the family by doing household services. This is what we call chores. I decided to call it that years ago when my oldest was beginning to walk and able to start contributing. Instead of calling it the dreaded chores I thought of it more like a service each of us do to contribute to our family functioning and flowing.

As children learn to help out with all that must be done daily to keep a family running, they are also learning important life skills that will touch all their other areas of life; even their academics. That’s because doing household services can sometimes be a challenge and at other times it can require critical thinking skills, while at other times just be something mundane that has to get done.

Here’s what I have my children doing lately. 

Aaron who is 16 years-old does the dishes and cleans counter tops 4 times a week teamed with his sister Lauren. On the other days they work as a team to put away leftover food, clean the tables and floors. He also makes sure his room is clean, manages his laundry and is in charge of the upstairs boys bathroom. He’s our computer, tech, and Internet guru, so he’s always helping with questions, how to’s when we want to do something new and he’s the one who has designed and programmed all you see here at An Inspired

Lauren who is 14 years-old does the dishes and cleans the counter tops 4 times a week teamed with her brother Aaron. On the other days they work as a team to put away leftover food, clean the tables and floors. She is also in charge of making sure her room (which is shared with her 4 year-old sister) is clean and neat. They manage their laundry and Lauren sees to it that the living room, stairway and girls bathroom is always neat and tidy. She’s also very good at managing things when I can’t be here, helps with cooking meals and prepares delicious desserts. She is my right hand at the drop of a hat. She is her 4 year-old sister’s keeper, helping her with dressing or basic needs. She also does personal assistant work for me in An Inspired Education.

Jonathan is 11 years old and he does the dishes and cleans the counter tops 3 times a week teamed with his younger brother Joseph. On the other days they work as a team and put away the leftover food and clean tables and floors. He keeps his room clean, manages his laundry and see’s to it that the upstairs living area is tidy. He’s also a main caretaker for our puppy making sure he’s well fed, walked, brushed and played with. Since he’s a puppy this means extra work for Jonathan with training and being sure the puppy doesn’t eat the furniture or house. Jonathan is also assisting me each morning with hand watering our back yard garden.

Joseph who is 9 years-old does the dishes and cleans the counter tops 3 times a week teamed with his older brother Jonathan. On the other days they work as a team and put away leftover food and clean tables and floors. Can you see everyone working together on this as teams? Aaron and Lauren work together and alternate tasks with Jonathan and Joseph. Joseph is in charge of keeping his part of the room clean since he shares a room with Jonathan. He also manages his laundry and is in charge of keeping the front living room and dining room tidy. Currently he is training with me in the kitchen learning how to cook. He also helps a lot with the puppy and is in charge of evening hand watering in our back yard garden.

Zoe who is 4 years-old has started helping Joseph with unloading the dishwasher. She likes to help me in the kitchen with mixing  or putting things on pans to bake. She also carries her laundry upstairs and puts away everything except for what has to be hung because she can’t reach it. She’s also good at cleaning up and putting away her toys and likes to straighten shelves and drawers. She’s a big help when we need to wipe things or do simple cleaning. She will continue to move into more responsibilities as she gets older and more capable.

All of my children know how to clean the house. I’ve partnered with them showing them just how to sweep, clean a bathroom or kitchen and the boys are often working alongside my husband with outside work or guy stuff. Also, the boys make sure all our trash cans are emptied regularly and all trash is out to the road on trash day.

Keep in mind as you are delegating to your children their ability and availability. Older children may be more capable but be sure they are not over loaded by taking in consideration their academic load and if they are old enough, their responsibility to a job outside the home.

We’ve added additional help by bringing in a wonderful lady and her sister-in-law who come once a week to make the house shine. They work hard to help keep us in tip-top order and their hard work makes our life more peaceful enabling me to focus on our home education, family goals as well as my business which includes you (grin).

The key to bringing this all together is working together and sharing the load. We don’t hand over everything to our kids to do while we sit on the couch eating bon bons. We are in there working together with them as a team. I like to say, “Many hands make work light.” When we have everyone helping, what could take an hour is reduced down to 15-20 minutes. As we are working together the children know that we are willing to do the work and we are able to guide them when necessary. It’s also very important to include much gratitude for others as they work together always grateful for each persons contribution making a big difference.

Don’t feel as though you can’t get outside help. If you want to hire a housekeeper or assistant you can always start out with a few hours or once a month and then increase the help up as you can. If finances are tight there are other options such as trading with another mother or the help of family or a friend. Before you step out though, take a look at home and see what you can delegate to your children and how you and your spouse can share the responsibilities. Once you do this you will see how much, if any, outside help you really need.

Whatever you do make sure it’s right for you and the long-term goal of your family. Be sure it’s supportive and contributes to each of you being your best and living freely.

Parents Inspired to Action:

  • Make a list of all the tasks you need to do that no one else can do.
  • Make a list of all the tasks that need to be done that you don’t have to do, the tasks you could hand to someone else to do.
  • Go over that list and find the tasks that would be age appropriate for each of your children. Break down the work into manageable pieces. You can divide your house into sections or room by room and have each child responsible for a room or two.
  • Now review the list and determine what you and your spouse could split between the two of you.
  • Finally, if there’s anything left you can consider getting a mama’s helper, trading time with another mother, help from a friend or family and lastly, if necessary, hire outside help.


What do you think about your children helping? Are you ready to work together? What will you begin implementing from today’s share? Please leave a comment below.

© copyright 2012 Donna Vail  All rights reserved.


About Donna Vail

Donna Vail is an education-parenting specialist, coach, mompreneur, homeschooling mother of six children, author and founder of An Inspired Education. She helps families create a lifestyle of true freedom by balancing education, work and life through self-education, entrepreneurship and inspiration. She is a highly sought after consultant for her successful guidance and resources that enable parents to let go of traditional parenting and education models, creating a lifestyle of learning where the whole family flourishes. You can find more of her resources at

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  1. Mary Ann says:

    As a child I was told I had to do chores as that’s what you did as being a member of the family. I remember taking care of my younger sisters too. I like doing neither. I felt like that’s what I had to do to get my parent’s love and attention. If I’m a good girl, they’ll like me. I was in the middle of nine kids. Had a childhood where I was pleasing others, still do that to some extent even today.

    I don’t believe chores are for kids, they’re for adults. Yes, there are learning experiences but at the price of what the kid’s desire. You can spin it whatever way the adult wants but I’d rather have a child who does what they want to do instead of doing something on a checklist. Maybe at times the child does want to clean but it must be what the child chooses and there must be no consequences if the child chooses not to clean the counters for several days in a row.

    I also believe that children shouldn’t be cared for by older siblings for any length of time. Every child needs and desires parent time. It burdens both the younger and older child and creates an unnatural dynamic.

    I do agree that if a child has a particular interest to support that interest – i.e. baking, and not have it be a chore.


    • Hi Mary Ann,
      Thanks for sharing your experience growing up in the middle of nine kids. You bring up many great points and it’s very important that we find the balance that works best for each of our families. Sometimes what works for one family won’t work for another or maybe ideas from one family will inspired new and better ways. We definitely do not want to make doing chores as a way to secure a parent’s love or approval. Parents must make it clear through their words and actions that they love their children unconditionally. And as parents we have to be very sensitive to the needs of the children and not expect too much of them according to their abilities however, children must also be challenged because growth only occurs on the border of support and challenge. As with everything, balance is the key.

      We’ve organized our chores at our home into what we call household services. Once I’ve made my lists we meet together as a family and determine how to split specific work. When we can get something done in 20 minutes opposed to one person working for an hour or more, it only makes sense for everyone to pitch in and have more time for play when the work is done. Besides, this gives us time to work together too. Another key in addition to balance is togetherness.

      Remember, we are all in it together and in no way should children have to carry the majority of the load or be responsible to full care of a sibling. Children need our time, our presence and our touch to grow healthy, strong and well-balanced.

      Stay inspired! Donna

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