My boys have some responsibilities around the house that they are fully in charge of doing.
My nine year old empties the compost bucket in the kitchen into the outdoor compost bin.
My twelve year old changes the five gallon spring water bottle for the water cooler.
Both kids do all the household laundry, all of the steps in the process.
They are learning that stuff builds up and things need maintenance on a regular basis regardless of what else is happening in real life or how busy they are.
This week both of them said things about them being busy so that should exempt them from doing the jobs, that in their personal busy-ness (which includes of course, optional fun stuff they do in their 'free time'), that my husband and I should pick up the slack.
We're teaching them that with these couple of jobs they do, they have to take responsiblity and do them. The food scraps don't stop buildling up so long as we're eating fresh fruits and veggies. The dirty clothes don't stop getting dirty because they played with a friend all day and were not available to do the laundry.
Many things in our family are give and take. We share and help each other all day long. But on these few tasks I'm drawing a line in the sand to teach them that they cannot shirk duties just because they're tired from playing a video game (!) or because they worked hard on their homeschooling lessons and feel mentally taxed.
It is our hope that this is part of teaching our kids a good work ethic.