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Children and Chores: Part 3 - Plan for Success!

Prioritize and plan or others will plan for you.

Dr. Denmark always emphasized the importance of a sensible, consistent household routine. "If you were building an important business, you'd have a system, and building a human being is the most critical thing on earth...Without a system, no home or life can function well. Keeping house is a wonderful school in which to teach the child that there is a time and a place for everything..."

Every successful business begins with brainstorming, prioritizing and planning. The "business" of homemaking is no exception.

Hi, I’m Madia. I have eleven children and one of the greatest privileges of my life was to know Dr. Leila Denmark. She practiced pediatrics for over 75 years and was my mentor for 32 years.

I can hardly express how much she helped me, both with the children’s medical issues and family life challenges. I would love to share what she taught me with you.


As a young mother, I learned that if we didn't take time to prioritize and plan for our family, life quickly became chaotic and we would find ourselves driven along by the priorities of others. "Plan your work and work your plan". Plan your work by praying for guidance and creativity.


Mind Your Qs and Ps

Ask yourself questions: What is most important in family life? What are our goals for our family? What should be our time priorities?

On a practical level: What would we like to see accomplished around the house on a daily basis? What needs to be done weekly? monthly? yearly? Are my expectations realistic considering the ages of my children? There should be a balance between structure and flexibility. Am I achieving that balance?

Some priorities might be:

- Kitchen floor swept daily

- Den straightened before dinner

- Bathrooms cleaned weekly

- Basement mopped monthly

Delegate Duties

The principle of delegation is vital to any good management, including home management. Delegate as many chores as you can to your children, considering their maturity levels and time commitments. In most cases, mothers underestimate the abilities of their children. Designate at what time those chores are to be done. When our children were young, we kept a pin-chart for their daily chores, specifying which were assigned for the morning and which in the evening. Weekly chores were to be done Friday afternoon. We also had a big "clean-up day" (it usually happened every six weeks) where everyone pitched in to do monthly chores. When clean-up was complete, we celebrated with a movie and popcorn for the older kids. This was a rare treat and so much fun!

Tweak Your Chore Schedule

Don't give up if your work schedule doesn't seem to be working well immediately. Be persistent and don't hesitate to tweak the routine if you find it is not realistic or you have left out something important. Anything new will take some time for your family to adjust to. Typically, in a few weeks, things begin to run more smoothly. No schedule or system works perfectly because we live in an imperfect world. Be patient, but firm and consistent. Keep a sense of humor and provide accountability as best as you can. Our chore lists and especially our pin-charts helped tremendously with the accountability. (refer to Part 4 of "chore" series)

From Madia:

"When I look back at notes which I made as a young mother, I find the following words, ' The highest priority for our family should be to honor and glorify Christ. This means that prayer, Bible study, worship and discipleship must be a focal part of our schedule.... You are the God of love, but also a God of order. A loving, orderly Christian home honors You. Show me the way, Lord Jesus.'"

From Dr. Denmark:

"'Six days thou shalt labor and do all thy work.' 'Shalt' means compulsion. ..If this commandment were kept, there would be no want on earth and no occasion to teach our children they cannot expect to get free lunches. They must be taught that everything we have, somebody had to work for and that it is a sin not to work. They must be taught that nobody owes them a living, that they must work for what they get, that they cannot ride through life on a boat built by someone else, but they must make their own."


For more of Dr. Denmark's insights, read Dr. Denmark Said It!

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