Afternoon or Morning Chores?

Yesterday I mentioned that, thanks to Large Family Logistics, we switched our regular chore time from the morning to the afternoon and that it had made a very positive change in our home.  A couple of readers asked why that was so.

If you remember that I’m a complete morning person, you may be even more surprised that I’m singing the praises of afternoon chore time.

Here are a few of the benefits that we’ve noticed:

  • The house looks beautiful when daddy walks in the door. No more stepping over school books, toys and games. Afternoon chore time forces us to stop what we’re doing and prepare for Mark’s home coming.  Now when he walks in the door the table is set, music is playing and candles are lit.
  • Since everything is tidy when Mark walks in the door, I’m more relaxed and able to enjoy the evening.
  • The house looks lovely for the rest of the evening and into the next morning. We no longer do chores in the morning, not even a quick tidy.  The house simply doesn’t require it.
  • Since we no longer have chore time in the morning we are able to finish school earlier which means play time starts earlier.
  • The table gets set for dinner before daddy gets home.
  • It’s much easier to check the chores! Since morning chore time immediately preceded school time, checking a child who was slow with their tasks required me to stop listening to a reading lesson or playing with the preschoolers. In the afternoon my whole focus is preparing for a nice family evening and so getting the house tidy and dinner on the table is what I’m focusing on.

We generally start afternoon chores around 4-4:30.  It’s honestly a very pleasant time.  We light a few candles, put on a Jamie Soles CD and move fast. (More about how it works later.)

A WARNING for those with all little children: As I comforted and then fed little, miss, grumpy yesterday during afternoon chore time (’cause ya know I’m spoiled now and have big kids who can do all the chores), I realized that this may not work for those of you with only young children. I remember when I ALWAYS had dinner cooking in the crock-pot by lunch time because there was no way I wanted to have to make dinner with four fussy preschoolers clinging to my legs and a fussy baby in my arms.

The hour or so before dinner can be a time when little ones need mom the most and you don’t want to have the stress of needing to do all of your daily chores right then. Perhaps an early afternoon or during nap, chore time would work.  If you don’t have a lot of school aged children then perhaps doing chores in the morning may be the best solution.

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42 Responses to Afternoon or Morning Chores?
  1. Anita Chamblee
    January 19, 2011 | 7:59 am

    Good morning! I am working on drawing up new routine and chore charts right now. The afternoons may work better, but I have one less big kid at home then!! Every year is a new challenge! Morning routines, evening routines and bedroom routines are typed up. Still have bathroom routines and our new A, B and C chores which the 14, 11, and 6 year olds will rotate weekly. The 22 and 18 yo will pitch in whenever they are available. Oh, and I might help out a little!

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  2. Blair
    January 19, 2011 | 8:01 am

    This is great. I am about to have my fourth child and my oldest is six. I really think the afternoon thing will work better for my family even though they are young. Maybe because I require a lot out of my 6 and 4 year olds as far as chores are concerned. I can see this creating less battles for me in the morning while we are trying to do school as well as all the ‘getting ready for Daddy’ stuff as you mentioned.

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  3. Jama
    January 19, 2011 | 8:05 am

    I agree with afternoon chores working well, especially for moms with only young children. We do the bulk of our chores/cleaning after lunch. Then before Daddy comes home we do our “5:30″ chores. Each of the children are assigned an area of the house to do a quick pick up. Question: How do you do candles with toddlers around?

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    Jenn Reply:

    Your young children can pick up a whole area of the house on their own!? Wow! That is a blessing -how young are they?
    Having all littles myself(4 kids, 4 & under) I find afternoon chore time much more difficult than doing it in the morning or throughout the day. But I like the idea of afternoon chores. Any tips?

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    Jama Reply:

    Clarification: I no longer have only young children. Mine are roughly the ages of Kimberly’s. My 3 year old assists an older child. All of the others are 5 or older. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. I was only agreeing as a mom who understands what it is like to have lots of young children that afternoons might not be best. Sorry for the confusion.

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    Jenn Reply:

    LOL -that makes sense :) I was totally in awe at that even being possible! Guess it’s not ;) oh well, Lord willing my “littles” will be “bigs” someday! :)

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    Karolee Reply:

    Jenn,
    Just a word of encouragement; it DOES get easier as they grow, and grow they will! Four kids under four is a challenging situation, but temporary. I will never forget the person who gave me that bit of encouragement when my kids were four kids five and under.

    Smiles!
    Karolee

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  4. Tristan
    January 19, 2011 | 8:30 am

    I’m actually working on some afternoon chores for the kids and I too, just trying to decide how to work it with the little ones. ;) Makayla is 9, Joseph 6, Emma 5, so they’re pretty good in the late afternoon, but the 3 younger boys may not do so well with it (they’re 3, 1, and 2 mos). Hmm. Off to reread Managers of Their Chores and Large Family Logistics!

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  5. Allison
    January 19, 2011 | 8:38 am

    Thank you for sharing this – so helpful (and I have the littles!)

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  6. Pam
    January 19, 2011 | 8:59 am

    Awesome tip!!! I’m ready to give the idea a practice run.

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  7. brenda
    January 19, 2011 | 9:16 am

    You know, when you said that yesterday I had an ephiphany! It had NEVER occured to me to NOT have morning chores. So yesterday I told the girls to only do the morning chores that pertained to their body (brush teeth, hair, get dressed, etc.) And then we started school. Just like that! MUCH earlier.

    In the afternoon, I had them do their room chores and you would not believe how much quicker they were able to accomplish this in the afternoon. (Especially when I said that anyone who planned on eating supper needed to have a clean, picked-up room.) It was crazy! We’ve always done a 4:00 pick up of the rest of the house so adding their rooms to it is no big deal.

    Thanks for this tip. I think we may be on to something good!

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  8. Jenn
    January 19, 2011 | 10:03 am

    I suppose this is probably a silly question, but honestly, how on earth do you keep the house neat and tidy all the way from before dinner through breakfast the next day? My kids can make my house look like a bulldozer went through within just a few minutes of the last tidying up time. And we do make them put their toys away — but of course they always pull out more.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    It’s not a silly question. Remember our kids have an early bedtime, between 7 or 7:30pm.

    We are finishing afternoon chores immediately before daddy gets home. Then we sit down and eat, have family worship and do table chores (clean up the kitchen from dinner). By that time the children get ready for bed and then perhaps daddy will read aloud or we play a game. Whatever activity we do, everyone picks up after we’re finished. So the house is still neat when it’s time for bed. Does that make sense?

    Oh, and yes it only takes seconds for our house to turn into a disaster. Even though our chores are done in the afternoon we still work hard to get everyone to pick up after themselves all the time (and it does take a lot of work).

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  9. Jessi @ Quirky Cookery
    January 19, 2011 | 10:43 am

    I come from a smaller family and we use public schools (and growing up, so did I), but afternoon chores have always been our most productive time, too. Homework is done immediately after school and then chores are done right after that, sometimes while I get started on supper if we’re running late for any reason.

    Here’s the only hangup we sometimes run into: Do you do the dishes right after supper? Or do they get done the following afternoon as part of chores?

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    We do the dishes from each meal immediately after the meal. Each child is assigned table chores and they do those every time that we eat. It generally takes less than 10 minutes to get the dining room and kitchen completely cleaned after a meal.

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  10. Emily M.
    January 19, 2011 | 10:45 am

    Thank you for answering this Kimberly! It is always nice to find something that “works!”

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  11. Leslie Blair
    January 19, 2011 | 11:32 am

    Thanks for the WARNING to us moms of littles only… I feel like chore “time” is spread out all throughout the day! ;) Thanks again and always for sharing your wisdom and growth as a mom!

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  12. Jenn
    January 19, 2011 | 12:09 pm

    I with Leslie on agreeing with the “WARNING”! With my kiddos 4,2,1 & 6wks old chore time happens through out the day. To stay on top of their messes & squabbles we pretty much do everything together all day -no matter the activity. A concentrated chore time with this method is too much for them so we tackle one chore at a time through out the day in between our other activities.
    I am also very blessed to have a husband that understands life with only littles and isn’t phased by walking into a less than perfect home @6:30pm or needing to help get dinner on the table -he’s the BEST!!!

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  13. Michelle
    January 19, 2011 | 1:04 pm

    Thank you for adding those last two paragraphs! From 4-5P I’m usually doing dinner after naps. And doing dinner with littles is not always easy as you said. Especially when the phone rings, the neighbor comes, you’re trying some new recipe…and honestly, I use their naptime for my own reading and napping myself.

    So, I spend my mornings doing chores. Sometimes more than I wished. I would love to not feel that so much needed to be tidied all the time!

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  14. shannon
    January 19, 2011 | 1:16 pm

    We (six children ages 16-6wks)do both. I love it.Most of the morning jobs are hygene and laundry related and the afternoon is picking up.Makes for a much more relaxed mommy.We use the managers of thier chores but I used many ideas for the types of chores from LFL.We pay 2cents a chore. It is working out very well.Now I just need to make a mommy chore pack!

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  15. Jessica
    January 19, 2011 | 1:57 pm

    I am constantly on the hunt for a better system. I have 3 children (5,4,2) and we homeschool. But the biggest challenge for us is that my husband works nights and leaves about 3:30pm and gets home about 4am. So from 11am-3:30pm, we try and spend that time as a family with daddy. And it seems that school gets pushed back if the chores are taking longer which usually happens. But I want most of school done before daddy gets up.

    I am stressed because I am trying to get everything done and chores end up being the last on the list.

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  16. Michelle
    January 19, 2011 | 3:44 pm

    I’ve been revamping our chore lists and procedures and I’ve read your chore posts :-) and they’ve been very helpful!! A couple of questions…Do you give allowances, or are your children paid for chores? What about the child who requires constant reminding about chores they’ve been doing for months? Is there a penalty incurred? How do you post the chores so everyone knows what they are responsible for? How do YOU keep track? We have 7 kids 10 and under. They have chores, but it seems like for all except my oldest (who works very well w/ a check-off list), it’s a constant battle of reminders, nagging, re-directing kids who are constantly distracted, etc. It’s exhausting!! My husband wants to pay them for their chores (insstead of allowances) and deduct if I have to remind, or it’s not done satisfactorily, etc…my concern is…HOW would I stay on top of that?

    Anyway, I’d love to hear how you do it all :-)

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    We do not give allowances and we do not pay our children for doing their chores. (We do have a list of extra chores that can be done for pay if they wish and our son cleans out and vacuums both of the cars each week in exchange for guinea pig food.)

    I recently posted about training children to work. We do enforce penalties for failure to adequately complete a task that they know how to do. Sometimes it’s as simple as coming back and re-doing it over and over. If we feel that the child is showing rebellion by continuing to disobey us, we deal with that accordingly.

    I hope to post our current chore assignments in the near future, but it’s fairly simple. I have two children assigned to each area of our home. I also have a master list of all the tasks that need to be done in each of those areas. So I only need to keep track of who is responsible for which area and then we all look at the list of tasks to make certain that they were all accomplished. (Does that make sense?)

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  17. Celee
    January 19, 2011 | 4:12 pm

    What about making beds? And I know this shouldn’t be considered a chore, but for my kids brushing their teeth seems to be hard to remember if not included in morning “chore” time.

    I’ve actually been using this afternoon clean-up time pretty effectively, too. My 9 and 7 yr old daughters always want to play with their friend across the street when she gets home from school. This provides a great incintive for them to tidy up their room and bathroom. Thanks for sharing. I need to get the book!

    Celee

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    When the children get up in the morning they still do their before breakfast routine. This includes making beds, putting clothes away, brushing teeth, Bible reading and one additional task to get the house going in the morning. (Nicholas empties the bathroom trash cans, a couple kids empty the dishwasher, the animals get fed and breakfast is put on the table.)

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    Janice Reply:

    For teeth brushing issues, we remove all sweets for a whole week. Hubby likes it when I do this as I have to try to have a sweet after the evening meal a couple of times during the week so the full effect of the punishment can be felt by the child. No sweets would also include any occasions that might arise outside the home, also.

    Some children learn slower than others, so this exercise has been repeated before by a second offender.

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  18. Crystal
    January 19, 2011 | 4:45 pm

    Great post! I have a 5, 4, 3, 18 month old and one on the way. How did you do crock-pot meals every night when you had littles? I can’t seem to find enough recipes to spread out so that we aren’t eating the same thing every 5 days. Thanks!!

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    Allie Reply:

    Check out http://crockpot365.blogspot.com, there’s definitely enough on her site to fill an entire month’s menu!

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Crystal,
    I have a whole recipe book of crock-pot meals, Fix-It and Forget-It. Another thing I did is to make the meal in the morning and then just put it in the oven when the time came. Anything to alleviate that dinner time melt-down.

    Thanks for the link Allie. I love crock-pot recipes and am always looking for more.

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  19. Vickie
    January 19, 2011 | 4:54 pm

    We have morning indoor chores and afternoon outdoor chores. Indoor chores are typically done while I’m preparing breakfast and during breakfast clean up. Afternoon chores are about 4-4:30 and school “should” be done by then but it isn’t always.

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  20. Christine
    January 19, 2011 | 7:13 pm

    Sounds like afternoon chores is something to try out. Thanks for the idea!

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  21. Stephanie
    January 19, 2011 | 9:13 pm

    Sounds like a great idea :)

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  22. Karolee
    January 19, 2011 | 9:13 pm

    I have to find a way to incorporate it into my afternoons. I teach piano 4 days a week from 3:30 to 5:15ish, after which it’s time to make dinner. And that is the worst time of day for me anyway, I”m always so TIRED! Though I have to say, since starting T-Tapp that fatigue has been dissipating. :)

    Thanks for your posts! I love your blog!

    Smiles,
    Karolee

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I also love T-Tapp.

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  23. Valerie
    January 19, 2011 | 9:50 pm

    I think I’ve learned more from this post and comments than any other blog post!

    About keeping toys picked up and staying on top of them dragging more out, I’ve been thinking about an idea…

    I’ve got most toys in plastic storage bins in our ‘homeschool’ closet, so they’re in one area where I am nearby most of the time. They pay me one dollar to get a set/game/puzzle/bin/whatever out, and when they’re done and start to drag more messes out, they have to give me their previous set/mess and do the dollar exchange again to retrain their brains. I know, I’m ambitious, but many systems that work in our home started as an off-the-wall idea that was just crazy enough to start a new habit! Just a thought…

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  24. Laura
    January 20, 2011 | 9:41 am

    Thank you for saying that littles take most of your time in the evenings but that it gets better! I had four in five years and our evenings are insane, with school pick up and activities. Of course, the baby is whiney and wants to nurse… my Ergo helps with dinner prep! I can hold him and throw dinner together fast!

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  25. Harmony
    January 20, 2011 | 11:21 am

    Thanks for the warning for those of us with little ones! And you’re right – that’s the exact time that Pearl seems to want me the most.

    We’ve recently implemented a chore time right before we head to bed. The whole family cleans up the house for about 15 minutes right before we get ready for bed. And you know what, it really works for us! My husband helps, everyone’s in a good mood with full bellies and not quiet so tired that we have melt-downs. Our house is cleaner than it’s been in months!

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  26. Catherine
    January 21, 2011 | 9:08 am

    I have 4 children 6 years to 8 months, and while we I do most things during nap time (oldest two help somewhat), we also do the big clean up right before Dad gets home, and its do-able in almost all cases. They know that after a certain time, we pick up everything downstairs and no more toys are allowed to be taken out – they have to play upstairs or outside. A side benefit of this is that my husband knows he can always spontaneously invite coworkers home – there are several single guys he works with who are always up for home cooking – and I won’t freak out over having people in my messy house. :)

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  27. Kimarie
    January 21, 2011 | 10:14 am

    I have 9 children, LOVE this book and posted about it if you want some more encouragement to get it…

    http://thecardamomspod.com/2010/10/large-family-management-help/

    http://thecardamomspod.com/2010/11/large-family-logistics-its-here-and-its-big/

    It’s worth it!!!

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  28. Amy R
    January 29, 2011 | 7:59 am

    We only have two children right now, expecting our third in March, but they are very young; 2.5 and 11 months. My hubby got me the Large Family Logistics book for Christmas and since the beginning of the year, we’ve been doing Afternoon Chore Time. I find it to be just as easy to do it then as I did in the mornings, and it’s really nice for my hubby to come home to a tidy house. What I’ve found to be useful is to do a snack and something very active/outdoors immediately after they wake up from their naps followed by cuddling on the couch and reading a story. They get fed, they let off steam, they get some snuggle time, and then they are far more accepting of me not being able to hold them or play for a bit while I do my chores. The 2.5 year old helps with chores quite a bit already and fulfilling her needs beforehand usually makes it easier for her to focus on helping rather than hindering.

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  29. Tracy
    July 7, 2011 | 11:30 am

    This book is on my wish list!! Right now my biggest struggle is simplifying as we prepare for an upcoming move. I need to throw stuff away–but I might need that… Need I say more?!

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  30. Christin @ Joyful Mothering
    July 7, 2011 | 7:34 pm

    Definitely worth considering! Thank you so much!!

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