Table Chores

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Our dining room table

About five years ago, we instituted something called Table Chores.ย  Although it has been 5 long years of training, I am finally seeing fruit of my diligence and wanted to share this integral part of our mealtime with you.

At the time, our 1st and 2nd born children were 7 and 4 respectively.ย  Everyone else was under the age of one or not here yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  I had read about the concept of Table Chores from other moms-of-many (another one of those large family mentality things) and thought it sounded like a grand idea.

Here are the basics of what I began with:

The children are responsible for the following things:

  • removing everything from the table
  • wiping down the table
  • sweeping the floor

This was done after every single meal.ย  My job for the next 5 years was to stand over them and make sure it got done.ย  I had not expected it to take that long!

This past year, I finally began to see fruit!ย  They finally began to do Table Chores without being told!

Recently, we added a few items to the list and added a few more children to help out.ย  Here’s what our longer list entails:

  • remove everything from the table
  • put away leftovers
  • wipe down table
  • wipe down chairs
  • sweep floor
  • wash mealtime dishes
  • dry mealtime dishes
  • put away mealtime dishes
  • wipe down counters in kitchen

So perhaps you are curious as to who does what and what ages they are.ย  Here’s the breakdown:

12 year old
-remove things from table
-put leftovers away
-wash and/or dry and put away

9 year old
-remove things from table
-wash and/or dry and put away
-wipe down counters

5 year old
-remove things from table
-wipe down table
-sometimes sweep

4 year old
-sometimes remove things from table
-wipe down chairs

-sometimes pitches in to dry dishes or wipe the table or sweep.

It all takes around 15 minutes to complete and ends up being a lifesaver!

So, who does Table Chores around your house?

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32 Comments on Table Chores

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32 thoughts on “Table Chores

  1. Our evenings are the busiest part of the day….with church,sports,scouts and volunteer work (so four days a week)to get off too after dinner.

    I will have to get my summer meal plans/chores plan in order…..much different than Sept.- Mid June.
    Things here slow down a great deal over summer! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Great post!

    Peace and Blessings,
    .-= Fruitful Harvest´s last blog ..Our Broccoli Harvest! =-.

  2. Excellent! Our “helpers” are only 3,2 & 1 but the oldest two work with daddy after the meal to achieve the things on your shorter list which frees mommy up to do the washing and leftovers. I am still in the kitchen longer than the rest of the family but not nearly as long as I used to be! We really enjoy getting mommy out of the kitchen sooner and being able to have more family time in the evening!
    It’s hard to believe that someday, Lord willing, I will have big enough helpers to do your long list all on their own! Amazing ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I just wanted to say that I enjoy your blog so much! I linked you under my favorite sites on my own blog, and I hope others will visit you and gain encouragement. I am cleaning out the kitchen cabinets today! Thanks for the inspiration to organize/downsize!
    .-= CIndy´s last blog ..Menu Plan Monday =-.

  4. When Chicklet turned 3 she started clearing her dishes after meals on her own. She saw me doing mine when I got done I guess so she just started following suit. Now I ask her to clear her little brother’s dishes too if they get done eating at the same time, which is rare. She loves to wash the table after meals and play-doh sessions too. She is 3 years and 9 months old now and can finally put away the clean silverware from the dishwasher without me standing over her propting her to put the right utensil in the right place. :) Sometimes if she’s faster at the silverware than I am at the rest of the dishwasher she will come stack the clean bowls or cups for me to put away or she’ll put the cookware in the drawer by the stove and the pot/pan lids under the oven. She didn’t do any chores at all before 2 years old though, and Buggie is 1 year and 10 months old so I don’t make him do any chores yet either. He is starting to notice that everyone else puts their empty dishes in the sink when done eating though and has a couple times put his spoon/fork in the sink without any prompting.

    When I was growing up, most chores were typically something we were required to do and got in trouble when we didn’t, as is the nature of chores. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The one chore I actually liked and STILL like though is the one we did together. Mom would bring out the laundry basket and declare, “Laundry Party!” We’d grumble and mumble a bit sometimes, but I secretly liked it. Not because of the chore, but because it was one of the very few things we all did together! And somehow through that I came to love doing laundry so much that it’s now my favorite chore as an adult, and if I’m truthful it’s the only one I actually like. Since starting to teach my daughter how to do the silverware in the dishwasher though, we do the dishes together at least once most days. I used to hate dishes the most. I would let them pile up for 2 weeks just procrastinating doing them and would finally give in when they smelled so rank I couldn’t go in the kitchen without gagging. When I got pregnant this time though I knew I’d never be able to stand gagging smells whith Hyperemisis Gravidarium… That would be a very very bad combo indeed. I started teaching Chicklet to do the silverware in hopes she’d think it fun and would remind me to do the dishes. I hoped that I could feed off her beautiful toddler enthusiasm to stay on top of the dishes when I felt more like staying on top of my bed all day. And it actually, surprisingly, worked better than I thought. I really kind of laughed at myself thinking I would be able to start keeping up with something while pregnant this time that I have not kep up with in years, pregnant or not. I had to laugh at myself for a different reason last night when after dinner, Chicklet and I were both disappointed that there were not enough dirty dishes yet to do the dishwasher. :)

    I guess where I was going with that is that I think table chores are great because they get the whole family working together, and there may be grumbling or stalling but deep inside I know that the fellowship is a great memory that everyone involved gets to take with them for the rest of their life.
    .-= Mama Mirage´s last blog ..Recipe: Banana Bread =-.

    • I am sure my kiddos are making memories. We sing, play word association games, etc. It truly is a time of fellowship! Thanks for sharing. :)

  5. I think that is a great idea to do! We don’t eat at the table very often, I know bad habit, but we only have 3 of us in our family. Mostly crafts and school work happen at our kitchen table. If I had more kiddos I sure would implement this. I know we did a lot of the same things when I had older foster kids a few years back but that wasn’t for very long. =)

    I am stopping by from Monday Mingle. I hope that you have a great week. I am now a new follower!
    .-= Cherees´s last blog ..You cant get Oranges from a Lemon Tree =-.

  6. wow that is amazing Good job :-)

    Our little blessing are 3 years old, 18 months and 8 days old, we have table duty over here too even at that young age!

    Our 3 years old will set the table (I put the plates, utensils and glasses on one corner on the table and she will place them for each person) She is also responsible to put the dishes in the dishwasher after meals (with help she fill it up and empty it) I’m so proud of her and she thinks it’s a game so I encourage her to do it and even if not done perfectly she is helping.

    Our 18 months old as the duty to eat the left overs LOL (she is very good at that!!! She is just starting to understand the concept of wiping the table so soon that will be her job.

    our 8 days old little one as the job to be cute as a newborn can be hehe!

    I thinks it’s never to early to teach and train little one. BTW our 3 blessing are all girls so this is part of their homemaking skill training :-)
    .-= Renee´s last blog ..My little sister =-.

  7. Amy,

    Ours are a bit different but we enjoy the joy of sharing in the chores with our kids although the person who does the cooking gets the rest of the night off while the remainder of us, put the kitchen back in order. Seems fair right?

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat
    .-= Kat´s last blog ..A Hopeful Heart =-.

  8. Thanks for the reminder that I NEED to get this going. My oldest makes a BIG mess at the table every single meal, as does my 20 month old now that she’s eating at the table. Maybe having the oldest wipe the table down will help her to NOT make such a big mess each meal :-)
    .-= Brandy´s last blog ..Hannahรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs Birth Story =-.

  9. That’s great! Thanks for sharing :) I once read an article about a Mum of nine who had the rule that when something needed to be done, she would assign it to the youngest child capable of doing it or learning to do it. So I do that too with my kids (3 so far, ages 3 1/2, 18 months and 9 weeks).
    My 18 month old is my “gopher” (go-for)- she fetches and carries, takes things to the wastepaper bin or washing basket, gets me new nappies and can pack away items into their appropriate place- books into the book box, blocks into the block bag, toys into the toy box, etc.
    My oldest, 3 and a half, used to do those things, he now does more complicated things- he can get me a wet face-washer, a cup of water, empty the washing basket into the machine, put away his own clothes, sort the washing (with supervision) etc.
    It’s work to train them, but I know I’m doing both them, and future me, a favour! Plus I just love seeing the adorable pride on their faces as they learn to do things to help Mummy!
    I’ve learnt patience, time, and a lot of verbal praise is essential!
    .-= Anita´s last blog ..Remain in Him =-.

    • Anita,
      That’s a great thought…having the youngest one capable be the one to do it! I’ll have to remember that!

      • Yes, the lady who wrote the article was saying that’s important to make sure the youngest don’t end up lazy and untrained and the older children don’t end up resentful because they’ve had to do everything. :) I so enjoy your articles, I’m storing the homeschool related ones away for later!!

  10. Table chores is something I have been having my children do too. It was when my oldest daughter was about 5 I realized she could help me clean off the table and wow, did that ever help me! Since then the list has gotten longer, but I have more children to help with it too!

  11. I needed this. I’ve been *diligently* working on this for the past month, although we basically do these things daily for the past 3 years. I still have to stand over them and make sure they do it. I guess lazy is just the default. It actually encouraged me to hear it took you 5 years.

  12. Thank you very much for this delineation of the table chores. I am good at showing all the steps to a chore, sticking with them until they are trained, and then leaving it to them. However, when I sit to write out those steps, I have a mind block. So then my kids get frustrated when they missed a part because they still need the list, and I feel like a nag because I am inept at writing it and can only give it verbally. Anyway, so if you have any more chores written down in steps like this, it would be wonderful to see for those of us who are brain dead when we sit to write things out.

  13. We have split it up differently at our house, I have a 5-year-old, 3 and a half-year-old and nearly 2-year-old. Mr. 5 puts away all the things that are breakable/spillable and puts leftovers in the fridge or the chicken food container, Miss 3 and Mr. nearly 2 put cutlery in the sink and stack dishes next to the sink and put away the rest of the items (non-breakable/spillable) and put the tablecloth in the wash. Mr. 5 puts a new tablecloth on. Then I get them to all dry double their age in dishes :) (ie, 10 items for Mr. 5, 4 items for Mr. nearly 2, etc) Of course the jobs aren’t getting done at my standard yet, but it’s practice and willingness :)

  14. this was encouraging to read- helped me realize that, hey, my boys do help out a lot! My 5, 4 and 2 year old all help bring things to and from the table- 2 year old especially loves to do this. Both 5 and 4 yo return their own dishes to the table. Then the 4 and 5 yo alternate weeks for table wiping and “putting up cold” stuff. I have been too chicken so far to let them help with dishes, but am easing into it with the 2 year old. And now with another baby in the house we really need to vacuum after every meal- so he doesn’t eat “snacks” off the floor! Sounds like 5 year old is getting a new job on Monday! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. I just stumbled across your blog while doing a google search for age appropriate chores – thank you! :) I look forward to reading more of your blog!

  16. The training is so tedious, but we are starting to see some great progress being made! Thanks for the encouragement to keep on – now it’s the 4 1/2 year olds’ turn to learn how to wipe down the table ๐Ÿ˜€