Last Updated on March 11, 2024

If you sing these words to the Jason Mraz song “I’m Yours,” you will see a glimpse into the Hawkins home — well, actually more like a glimpse into my husband’s brain:

” I found something under your bed
I smelt it…
An old bologna  sandwich with some cheese
That had melted…
Fell right through the cracks,
And the smell is getting bad…

It’s time to fumigate your bedroom floor…
It cannot wait, Good Lord!
Go get a paper towel and some Febreeze.
Open up a window, man that stinks.
Get down on your knees and clean that rug-rug-rug!”

This exposes chores gone awry. It’s when we find the bologna sandwich that we react and question our housekeeping and parenting skills, all in one thought. We find ourselves furiously revamping our chore charts and diagrams to ensure this never happens again.

  • When you live in our home, the discovery of an old bologna sandwich merits a Hawkins Town Meeting. At the mention of such a meeting, there is some hasty eye rolling going on. The meeting opens up with a friendly reminder of the Hawkins’ Home standard for doing chores: “Do them, all the way, in a happy way. And remember kids: ‘A half-done job is an undone job.'” Now they are mouthing the phrases with me. To which I respond with a, “Now that’s the spirit.”
  • I remind myself that when it comes to our home, I need to be grateful, keep a proper perspective, and remember who this home is for. Whenever we moved around, I maintained an attitude of gratefulness for such a beautiful home. No matter how small or old it may have been. If you have ever been to a third world country, it is easy to keep this in mind. Proper perspective of my home is something I learned from my friend, Michelle. She invites people over but reminds them that her family is living life, so come on over and start folding laundry. Some woman find their identities in how well their home is maintained. They have forgotten who and what the home is for.

Our homes are given for God’s ministry. It should be where everyone is welcomed regardless of its condition. It is a place of refreshment and sanctuary.

The idea of chores, when used properly, encompasses a vast sea of character building: It builds a sense of responsibility, creates humbleness, unselfishness, and teaches them to be hard workers. When we are consistent, it is shows them how to be persistent and teachable.

In our home we have used a few steps to get to the point we are now.

  1. I choose age-appropriate jobs and start training them at three years old.They always think it’s fun to do things that make them feel apart of the family.
  2. Slowly add more chores as they get older. Be sure they have perfected one job before you add a second job.
  3. Take the time to show them how it should be done. But don’t expect them to do it perfectly. Even satisfactory work can take two years. Remind yourselves that they are in training.
  4. Be sure to give them guidelines. I have always written out a little chart to follow. I started with pictures. Now the list consists of a friendly reminder to “get your Saturday chores done before noon,” or “please pick up your zone before you go snowboarding.”
  5. The last and most important thing is to be consistent. This is the key. If your kids know that you won’t insist they do the good job, then they won’t. Whenever my kids don’t do a good job, they know that they won’t be given any privileges during the week. It’s a given that if their Saturday chores are left undone, they won’t be going anywhere and will also lose all screen time. It’s simple yet effective.

I break their chores up into to three categories: “Daily Zones,” “Dinner Clean Up,” and “Saturday Chores.”

Daily Zones

Weekly chores consist of maintaining their assigned “Daily Zones.” My oldest oversees the media room, playroom, and downstairs bathroom. My daughter oversees the entryway, front room, and main bathroom. My 10-year-old takes responsibility of the dining room tables and hearth room, and our four-year’s dominion is simply the floor. He needs to see that everything is off the floor before bedtime.

However, whenever he is asked to do it, he laments about his formative years and tells me how he wishes he were still my little baby. Just when I think this is a sweet and endearing moment he continues, “‘Cause then I wouldn’t have any chores to do.” He’s still in training.

Dinner Clean Up

This can be assigning each kid a certain night, instilling team work by working together, assigning each kid a job for the night. We make it work depending on what the meal plan is, or who needs to be learning which chore.

Saturday Chores

My kids are given a list of four-to-six “Saturday Chores,” and they are to deep-clean their respective “Daily Zones” and their bedrooms.

This system has been effective for us for five years now.   Yet, there is still that occasional bologna sandwich, and then it’s back to the drawing board.


There’s always the idea of turning chores into a game.  Check out another idea on getting kids to do chores!

{Editor’s Note: Heather shared these creative ideas with our readers back in March of 2011, due to their amazing helpfulness we wanted to repost her brilliance, to make sure you benefit from the Hawkins Household Anti-Crazy Wisdom! You’re welcome!}

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  1. Love your zone and Sat chores ideas!

    Would love for you to write a post about days when hubby is gone vs hubby's days at home. My husband doesn't travel nearly as much as yours, but I sometimes have a hard time taking off my "CEO of the house" hat when he's here.

    Thanks for your wisdom. 🙂

    1. Hi Caroline,

      That’s a good idea regarding living at home with a husband out of town. I haven’t figured it out myself…however my very wise comedian friend gave me some advise,”Hey look, the Proverbs woman was not doing it all by herself, get yourself some help.” This has made all the difference. I actually have fun with my kids again.


  2. Two years Clear of Breast Cancer… PRAISE THE LORD!!! He obviously still has lots of things for you to accomplish. Your children are blessed to still have you in thier lives. Thanks for sharing. I really like your zone chore ideas.

    Many Blessings to You!

    1. Belinda thank you for your kind note. I really appreciate it. Heather<