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Monday Q&A | Family Worship and Children’s Chores

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

Note: Usually I answer 3 questions in a Q&A post, but these two got sort of long, so I thought I should stop with just 2! Also, my apologies to those of you who aren’t parents, as today’s questions will probably not interest you. I promise a non-parenting post tomorrow!

I’m curious about what you do and what materials you use during your family worship time. Growing up as an missionary kid, we had family devotions and prayer every morning, but I just haven’t been able to form the habit with my own family. My husband and I have three girls (4, 2, and nearly 2 months – incidentally, the middle one’s name is Zoe Elise!), and I try to read a Bible story/devo to them every night before bed, but I’m not consistent with it.

So, anyway, what format do you follow and what books, etc do you use/did you use when your kids were younger and closer to my kids’ ages? Thanks!!!


Well, we try to keep things simple (you know how I love simple!). There are four main things we do during our family worship times.

Bible Reading

Mr. FG or I read a short-ish section from the Bible (we work through a book at a time), and then we talk a little bit about what the passage means. When our kids were younger, we tried to pick books of the Bible that were easy to understand (like the Gospels or Genesis), but we’ve now worked through some of the minor prophets and the Epistles.


After we read our passage, one of us prays…we cycle through the family, and since there are six of us, it usually works out that we each pray once a week (we don’t usually do family worship on Sunday nights). Sonia and Zoe need a little help from me or Mr. FG, but they take turns too.


Depending on how much time we have and what’s going on with music at church that week, we sometimes have a singing time before we read the Bible. If Mr. FG and I need to play something together at church that week, he plays his guitar, I play the piano, and the kids and I sing the song. Sometimes we let them pick out some other songs to sing (we did this a lot with Christmas songs in December!).

Story Time

Also, something we started recently is some fiction reading after our prayer time. We’ve been working our way through Christian books for kids, like Dangerous Journey (a Pilgrim’s Progress book), and our kids love, love, love this new tradition.

Since your kids are so young, though, I’d recommend keeping it short and sweet. I’d read a short passage from the Bible or a good children’s devotional book, talk about it, have a short prayer time, and be done. If you make it too complicated and long, you’ll lose their attention and you’ll be much more likely to do family worship inconsistently.

(I should add that family worship is not the only spiritual teaching we do with our kids…among other things, Joshua and Lisey read their Bibles before school, I read missionary stories to the kids at lunchtime, and I read Bible stories to Sonia and Zoe during our school time. And of course, we listen to Seeds CDs too!)

I had a rough morning today and I realize that the kids are taking advantage of me. I also have 4 kids and I have started a system of earning marbles for doing chores. It is a good incentive for them, however some days they are not motivated and I feel like I am constantly nagging at them to pick up after themselves or to do a chore that was forgotten. Do you have a system that motivates your kids? I know consistency will pay off when they are older.

Maybe I just need to make the stakes higher and give them a few marbles for a job instead of just one. Or if they tell me they did a job, instead of me finding it need to be done. I think I am just exhausted and worn out! I need my own break! or a day off.


First, virtual hugs to you! I understand the frustration of children that can’t seem to remember to get their chores done. And I too struggle to be consistent…I think it’ll be a battle for all of my parenting years.

That said, here are a few suggestions that have helped me.

Start small and build from there.

If you’ve been sort of lax about chores and responsibilities, start with a small number of chores for each kid. If you keep it simple, you’ll be much more likely to keep on top of it. And wouldn’t you rather have a small number of chores done consistently than a huge number done randomly, or not done at all?

Find a consequence/reminder for forgetful children.

Joshua and Lisey are supposed to alternate sweeping the floor and wiping the table after dinner and lunch. If one of them forgets to do their chore, they then have to do both chores at the next meal. Since we instituted this policy, they are much less prone to running off after dinner to do other things!

Children do forget things, and a lot of times, it’s not a malicious, disobedient sort of forgetfulness. The problem is simply that the chore in question wasn’t important enough to them (would they forget to have ice cream after dinner? Nope, because it’s important to them!).

So, getting extra chores for forgetting is a way for us to help their brains to file chores under “important!”.

On the reminder end of things, Joshua tends to forget to take the trash out, so he’s got automatic reminders that pop up in his email inbox. That way I don’t have to remind him myself.

(could I say “remind” a little more?? Remind, remind, remind. There.)

Work first, play later.

At our house, my children need to get their schoolwork done, piano practiced, and their rooms cleaned up before they can spend time playing.

Also, before they eat breakfast, they’re supposed to make their beds, get themselves dressed, and hang up their pjs. If they try to shuffle out in their pjs and sit down at the table, I send them right back. 😉 Unless, of course, it’s a day where a shower is happening after breakfast!

Of course, there are days where things go all wonky and this work first/play later things doesn’t happen, but on the days where we manage to follow this pattern, life is so much better.

Don’t get too hung up on a system.

There are a million and one chore charts and systems and graphs and checklists out there for children, but ultimately, they’re only as good as you are consistent. Keep your system and plan simple so that you can have a prayer of staying on top of it.

Do rest and take a break!

I’ll say more about this later in the week, but I definitely think that moms need to get sufficient rest and refreshment in order to function optimally. In some phases of life, this just isn’t possible, of course, but if you can manage it, I think you should rest. Get yourself to bed at an hour that works for you, and consider taking a day off once a week. I personally don’t do any unnecessary work on Sundays… for example, I do dishes and help children brush their teeth, but I don’t do laundry or wash the floor. This leaves me with time to do fun things by myself and with my family, and that’s refreshing to me.


Readers, do you have any family worship or chore tips to share with these two readers?

Today’s 365 post: Could lunch get any better?

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Cricket @ Thrifty Texas Penny

Friday 11th of February 2011

We "gave" our older kids an allowance based on their age (Age-4) So when they turned 5 they started out with $1. The kids had to pay for extras with this money. They also had to pay their maid. By maid, I mean me. They each were given 2 chores that were their responsibility each day. If they weren't completed by lunchtime, I did them and the kids had to pay me. One of their chores was always to pull the covers up on their bed. We set it up so that even if they had to pay the maid every day they would still have a little bit of money, but not much. This way the kids realized that money doesn't grow on trees and it took most of the hassle out of those two chores. When they didn't do the chore they would usually come to me with the money because they were making the choice to not work that day. They were usually willing to pitch in and help with other chores when needed, and sometimes we would offer to pay them for an extra chore if we felt it was above and beyond the responsibility for their age.

I love your idea of sort of setting the kids against each other if they forget to do their chore. I think that would have worked wonderfully for our boys too. They would never want to give the other a chore free day :-)


Tuesday 8th of February 2011

I'm not parent so I don't lead devotions at home, but I do have them with my school class each morning. One resource I have enjoyed using for teaching Bible stories is Egermeir's Bible Story book. It does an excellent job of giving lots of interesting details, but in a way that is not too graphic. I find it excellent for holding the attention of 7-10 year olds. Another resource my parents used when we were very young was The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth Taylor. Another great resource for application of Biblical truth is Keys for Kids from CBH Ministries. You can get a bi-monthly booklet mailed to your house, or you can also find them on-line where the stories and verses are in a searchable database--very handy if you are trying to target a specific subject or Scripture passage.


Tuesday 8th of February 2011

For devotions, our family usually reads the Bible (or the Lion's Children's Bible) after dinner, then have a time of prayer, followed by singing a song or two, followed by our eldest (4) doing a memory verse. Her sister will join when she can talk -- we start with something simple like "Who made you" and she answers with "God". Our daughter loves the routine and will remind us when we do something out of order! The whole routine rarely takes more than 10-15 minutes so it's not hard for our kids to stay focussed.

As for chores, I can't give advice from years of experience, but I do know that if you're consistent and say what you mean and mean what you say in all areas of life with your kids, they will hopefully know you mean business when you ask them to do a chore. Our 4 year old only does little jobs like tidying up her toys at the moment, but she knows that when I say she can't have a story (or whatever else she's keen to do or have) until she's picked up all the toys that is the way it is. I try to model the same thing in what I do -- I don't sit down and read a book when the laundry is piled high and the sink is full of dishes! It's also good to know your child's frame and if I can see she's having a tough day focussing on a job, I get down next to her and help her. It encourages me no end when someone does that for me, so I try to return the favour sometimes. :-)

My 4 year old just loves to be involved in 'helping' me with whatever I'm doing, and I indulge her. If I'm dusting, I give her a rag, or I let her wash some plastic dishes, or let her help me bake or let her help me sweep. Sure, I have to go over most of it again when she's not looking, but she's learning, and seeing me do it so that it is not strange to her --chores don't just magically happen!

Virginia Dare

Tuesday 8th of February 2011

I came from a home where my mother basically just refused to do housework. I have no memory of ever seeing her wash a dish or clean a bathroom. The only thing she did was laundry. I did the majority of the housework, including weekly mopping of the kitchen, cleaning the bathroom, and washing the dishes. My father did vacuuming and some other heavy duties. Our home was dusty and messy all the time. My and my sister's bedrooms were disasters nearly all the time.

I'm not a mother, yet, but because of this I feel like I have already lived a lifetime as a "do-it-all" mom, in a way! LOL Moreover, it is clear to me that one person--be it a child, the mother, or the father--cannot do all the housework without coming to resent it and (possibly) the other people in the home. As several other people have stated here, the whole family benefits from the home, and the whole family should contribute in some way. Tidying up after yourself is a simple straightforward concept that is one of the best things children can learn. The degree to which they do so can be determined by age, ability, etc. I have seen this applied even in a family I worked for where there was a full-time housekeeper/nanny. The kids still had responsibilities--clearing their own places at the table, putting their laundry in the hamper, making their beds, feeding the pets, etc.--and so even though they had luxuries they were not spoiled brats. When they needed to be corrected, the admonition was, "That's not _____'s job, that's your job." When you tidy up after yourself, you're not helping out mom/dad/whomever to do *their* job, you're doing *your* job.


Monday 7th of February 2011

Good idea but, how do you get them to be better with money?


Tuesday 8th of February 2011

In our household we taught money management by the "10-10-80 plan." Ten percent was tithe, ten percent for savings, eighty percent to spend. The tithe was given in the offering at church; the savings was placed into a piggy bank; the eighty percent was the child's to spend as they wished. We trained them that the tithe was the Lord's; the savings was to be set aside for a specific, long-term purpose (such as a new toy they wanted); the eighty percent was for their personal spending, from one "paycheck" to the next "paycheck" (allowance day). They were not allowed to "borrow" on next week's allowance. Their spending money had to last or they did without.

As our children became teens we gave them responsibility over clothing purchases. We told them how much was allotted for clothing for the year. Use it as you choose, but remember, this must cover all your needs. We will provide no more.

It was interesting to observe the way in which each child worked with these principles of money management. Our oldest took her money and squeezed every thing she could out of it. Example: She bought material and learned how to sew rather than buying new clothing. Our second daughter would spend most of her money on one or two items. Our son, the youngest, chose classic clothing that would last. In the end, each learned to manage, but each had to come from a different starting point. Our job was to "lay down the rules and stick to our guns." And by the way, each in their own way lives by the "10-10-80 plan" today.

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