Let’s talk about chores for kids.
More specifically getting our children to do chores.
There are those who believe that giving kids chores takes away from them enjoying childhood, but there seems to be more adults these days who don’t want to grow up and take responsibility than in previous generations. Could this be contributing to the dilemma? Quite possibly.
Personally, I think it is our job and privilege to teach and include our children in helping out around the house.
Do they always want to? No, not usually.
Is it easier to do the task without them? Absolutely.
But it’s for their benefit…and ours that they do.
When our children do chores around the house, they are contributing to the family and they are learning life skills that will be important for running their own homes someday. It’s part of life and growing up.
Not only does this set them up for the future, but it can also take things off your plate, which frees up some of your time to do other things you need to do. Because let’s be honest, a mother’s work is never done ;)
It’s our jobs as parents to make sure when they leave home, they know how to run a home, how to cook, pay bills and work hard at a job…just to name a few.
It’s not easy
I like getting things done quickly and efficiently, I enjoy cleaning, and love having a clean house.
Having my kids help hasn’t always been easy for me. At least to start with.
There was a time where I did the majority of the household chores and I was proud of it. I liked keeping a clean, organized home, but with each little blessing added to our family and eventually starting homeschooling, it got to be too much for one person.
I have been teaching my kids to do chores from when they were little, but it can still be frustrating to get them moving at times.
Too often I have had to nag to get them to do their job and then they would do a sloppy job.
I called a family meeting. I told my family how much I needed and appreciated their help. That we are a team, working together.
They understood that we are a team and some of them even enjoy helping, but it turns out it wasn’t their fault I was getting frustrated, it was mine.
As they had gotten older, I had forgotten that I still needed to teach them how to do different tasks. Their tasks had gotten more complicated, but I hadn’t taught them how or what my expectations were.
Once they got it, I needed to be the one with the follow thru to make sure they did it, and well. If not, they would have to go back and do it again.
Lack of being consistent
I was nagging instead of giving them an instruction and expecting them to listen. If there was attitude or someone ignoring my instruction, instead of nagging, there should’ve been a loss of privileges.
Teaching our children what is expected of them and how to do different tasks takes a lot of time…and patience on our part ;)
Once they have it down, you simply have to say, “go do _____” and they do it. It gets to be so much easier, but it doesn’t happen without work on our part.
Now that my children are older and I have taught them what’s expected and how to do things, it frees me up to work on Plum Cheeky Solutions/Lovin This Mom Life. I would never have been able to do this, if I was the one carrying the entire load around the house.
I grew up the oldest of 6 children and the only girl. My mom taught all of us how to clean our home. Let me just say, even if you teach your children how to clean, it doesn’t mean they will as adults…ahem…bachelors ;) but at least they will know how when they’re living under your roof. ;)
Change the mindset
I know chores can be seen as a negative thing, but they really aren’t. It’s an opportunity for everyone to contribute and help out in the family. It gives a sense of accomplishment and team effort. Working together is a great way to bring people closer together.
Take pride in your home and keeping it well. If we see keeping our home as negative, then our children will reflect that attitude too.
Of course, they would much rather play or read, but when we all work together it lightens the load for everyone, so everyone can enjoy downtime and all the work isn’t falling to one person.
How to start
When my children were little I started giving them little tasks to do and had them help me with jobs, so they could watch and learn. Usually when they’re little they want to help and be involved. Let them.
Here’s the thing, if our children (especially the older ones) are NOT doing chores, and are capable, it’s usually our fault for one or more reasons.
We haven’t taught them how to do the chore/task
It’s hard to know how to start or how to do a job if no one has taken the time to show us. Just saying “go wash the dishes” doesn’t mean a child is going to know what to do.
Take the time with each new task you introduce, to have them watch you do it and explain what you are doing. The following time have them do it with you watching, so you can let them know if they need to go back and do it again or if they missed something. Do this a couple times until you’re sure they can do it themselves. Then have them do the task on their own, with you checking over the job once it’s complete.
We haven’t communicated our expectations
“Go do your chores” is open for interpretation if we haven’t communicated what we expect each child to do and how we want the job done. I find having a chore chart for each child is a visual reminder as to what is expected of them.
Get your free chore chart here (for a limited time).
It’s too difficult for them
If we tell a 4-year-old to go clean the bathroom, that’s going to be overwhelming for them as it’s too big of a job for them. They could help mom wipe counters, change out hand towels or toilet paper, but to expect them to do the whole job themselves is too much.
We need to make sure the job we assign them is age appropriate. See printable chart for ideas.
Lack of consequences
Nagging rarely gets anything done and at the end of it, both parties are frustrated. In our home, chores come before privileges, such as playing and watching a show or movie.
If there is complaining or jobs badly done they will end up losing a privilege, doing more work, taking that job on every day of the week or having to go back and redo it.
Our expectations are too high
There were two things I had to let go of when I had kids. First was the standard of clean and tidy in my home. I like things spotless and in order, but that isn’t possible when you live there…especially with children ;)
The next thing I let go of when I had my kids start taking on more responsibility around the home, was my expectations. Even though they are capable of doing chores, it doesn’t mean they can do it to the standard that I do things. That comes with practice and years of experience.
It is hard for anyone to do tasks around the house when they are never home. One of the secrets to maintaining a home is to be home. That goes for mom and kids. If our kids are loaded with extra-curricular activities and always away from home, it’s pretty hard for them to find time to do chores; and when they are home, they’re so exhausted all they want to do is rest.
Here are my tips for getting your children help with household duties.
Delegate age appropriate chores
Teach, explain and show how to do each task
Create a chore routine or schedule
Having our children take on household chores is going to take work on your part mama, but it will be worth it! Don’t wait until they’re older to teach them, start when they’re little and eager to help, so that when they’re older it will already be a part of life for them.
Here is an excellent link regarding the benefits that chores have on a child’s life.
Looking for a list of age appropriate chores or a free printable chore chart? Get your copy here.
What has been your experience with getting your children to help out around the house? Leave your comments below.