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Love them or hate them – still gotta do them

What is it about chores that makes them so hard to do, so easy to put off?

First, let’s talk about the word – chore.

Where does the word ‘chore’ come from?

According to etymology: chore is written in the New Oxford American Dictionary as “(originally dialect and U.S.): variant of obsolete char or chare (see charwoman)”, which the same pronunciation as the modern verb char. It ultimately comes from Middle English cherre (odd job).

Essentially, the word ‘chore’ is linked to doing a job. Usually, a job around the house like cleaning, taking out the garbage, making the bed, doing the laundry, emptying the dishwasher – I could go on and on.

Did you do chores as a child?

I did. But, some I only did when specifically told by my mother to do it, or else! And we all know what that means…

The chores I did routinely, without even giving them a second thought were: making my bed, doing the dishes, emptying the dishwasher and setting the table.

Chores I hated to do were dusting, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms and taking out the trash.

What’s the reason?

Do you have dogs? Do they shed? If they do, what do you do about all that hair?

I have two dogs and I routinely vacuum everyday because they both shed, and I really dislike having lots of dog hair floating around my home. That’s my motivation for vacuuming.

If you know the reason you’re doing something it can be easier to tackle. Find the reason for doing chores.

Wiping the kitchen counter at night keeps the counter clean for the next day of food prep.

Doing laundry regularly keeps the task reasonable. If you wait until you have no more clean clothes you may be doing laundry all day!

Chores and Routines

Many of my clients do not have a routine for doing chores. Consequently, chores are rarely accomplished.

When you can make doing a chore part of your daily or weekly routine it becomes less of a drag on your time and more simply a part of what happens on that day or at that time.

Like once a week, change your sheets. Put the dirty ones in the wash. Then be sure to do that load of laundry so you have clean sheets for the next week. Here’s a link to an article that talks about why you should change your sheets once a week.


Giving age appropriate chores to children is a way to teach responsibility – not only to the home (keeping it looking nice) but also to the family (no one member of a family should take care of all the chores!).

My 18-month-old grand-daughter goes to daycare. She is being taught to pick up and put away toys at the daycare. Her parents were told to continue that at home. Have her put away toys and books when she is finished with them. Of course, she is not doing this by herself. She’s too young for that right now but, she is learning to take responsibility for her belongings.

Here is a link to an article to guide you in selecting age appropriate chores for children.

Make Chores Fun!

You can play music. Sing and dance along as you run the vacuum. Create a chores play list.

Set a timer – see how many toys can be picked up or clothes put away before the timer runs out.

As Mary Poppins says “In every job that must be done, have an element of fun and SNAP the job’s a game”.

Good Enough

Remember to praise your children when they do their chores, even if it is not done as perfectly as you would do it yourself.

You are teaching a learned skill. Practice makes perfect – let your child keep on trying.

If you criticize the way in which the chore was done, you may end up with a child who resents even trying because they fear it won’t be good enough.

This is true for you, too. If you live alone or are sharing your home with a partner or roommate accept ‘good enough’ as the result of a chore being done.


When you grow up doing chores, chores are no longer a dreaded activity, or an intrusion upon your day.  They are simply part of what you do. Most likely there will be days when you don’t want to do the assigned chore – so don’t do it. That’s ok because there are other days when you do the chore routinely. Skipping a day or a chore every now and then is not the end of the world.

How do you feel about doing chores? Do you do them with a grumble because you must? Or, are they part of your routine, a part of life, a part of what makes your home operate smoothly?

Please share your opinion!

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, ICD Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people challenged by ADD, Hoarding, and Chronic Disorganization.


  • Julie Stobbe says:

    One summer I had a list on the fridge of chores that needed to be done. Whenever one of my children said I’m bored or they started fighting I said ” pick something off the list you would like to do.” It worked so well that my children were never bored and didn’t fight but not much gone done off the list. I always rotated chores for the children so they learned how to do everything and then after a number of years I let them pick the chore they liked doing. Everything got done and no one was unhappy.

  • Seana Turner says:

    I believe everyone on the team (i.e. in the family) should do what they can. I found my children had more time for chores when they were young. Once they were teenagers, their schedules and responsibilities were so great that I required less from them around the house. There are some chores I wish I had been more forceful about instilling, but I have found that they come back to me now as adults with questions about the things they never learned. I don’t mind most chores in my home. I tend to listen to music or books to help pass the time.

  • My new saying for my kids who are 17 1/2 and 19 1/2 when I have to show them something new that involves a chore is “You can do this. You are adulting now. Great job!”

  • Good advice on chores. I suggest to my clients to share the household chores as much as possible with their kids. Even the youngest ones, as you said, can do chores. That way no one is overwhelmed and with group participation you can make it fun by making it a competition.

  • Chores are a funny thing. Not all, but most of them I enjoy doing. I get into the zen of a certain amount of order in my life. And those chores seem to be the base from which some of that order stems- like doing laundry, washing dishes, clearing off the counters, cleaning, or grocery shopping. For the most part, the chores are ingrained in my habits. The ones I like least are emptying the dishwasher and mopping the floors.

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