Your kids can do a lot more chores than you think they can. They can also learn to do them by themselves, or with a chore buddy. Though I didn’t learn this secret until I spent almost 2 years as a Girl Scout leader leading Daisies and Brownies. Never mind that I’ve been parenting for almost 18 years with 5 kids. Yes, sometimes you need to do something a little different to realize how much your kids can do.
Not that I ever coddle my kids. Any time my kids offered to do something, I usually said yes. I also gave them jobs to do. We didn’t introduce a formal chore chart until last fall. I wish I had started sooner. It just seemed a bit overwhelming with 5 kids. Now I have tons of help!
Start with Your Daily Cleaning Tasks
The key is to start with your list of daily cleaning tasks. You’re going to delegate to your kids the jobs you’re already doing. You’re not making up jobs to give them something to do. You’re including them in the real work of running a household.
My Daily List
My kids do 90% of the chores on my daily list. Laundry is the only area where I do most of the work. My teenager helps me with taking down the laundry from the clothesline and bringing it back inside. All my kids are responsible for bringing their dirty clothes down to the laundry area daily.
Most of these chores are taken care of in the morning before their electronic time. No electronic time until the chores are done. If one of the kids gets up late, lollygags around, and isn’t ready by electronic time, they usually miss their electronic time. I don’t do make up time later in the day. Call me a mean mom!
- Wipe Kitchen and Bathroom counters after breakfast
- Wipe toilet and area around it (Boys! – need I say more?)
- Swiffer kitchen floor
- Empty Dishwasher
- Load Dishwasher
- Empty recycling can
- Laundry – bring down baskets, run a load, hang up to dry, take down when dry, sort and fold, put away
- School lunch
Make a Schedule and Post It
Last fall, I printed out a weekly chore calendar from ListPlanIt which had enough rows for 5 kids. I filled the jobs in with a pencil, and made sure that each kid had a different job each day. For some jobs, I assigned 2 younger kids.
Our schedule is posted on the fridge in the kitchen. I often see my kids checking the schedule to see what their assigned job is for the day. I’ve also gotten grief if I switch jobs because one kid is sick. My kids know what their jobs are.
If you have younger kids who can’t read (my youngest is 6), you’ll need to use pictures to symbolize their jobs. You’ll also need to remind them about doing the jobs. If you can associate the chore time with a trigger like do the chore after breakfast, your child is more likely to remember to do it himself. Or, if you do electronic time in the morning, then tell your kids they’ll have their time after they finish their chores.
Consistently check whether a chore is done. It’s best to check after chore time, though I’ve been known to check during electronic time. If my kids haven’t done their chores, they stop what they’re doing and go do the chores. Usually this is incentive enough for them. My distracted child needs an extra reminder before he starts his electronic time.
Sure, you won’t remember to check every day. I’m not perfect either. I get distracted, or I need to handle a mess or an issue. As long as you are consistent about checking chores, your kids will continue to do them. If you get out of the usual routine because of sickness or a vacation, be prepared to spend a day or 2 reminding your kids until they fall back into their routine.
Always Delegate Tasks to the Closest Child
Any time I need to do something for the home, like grab a box of a new box of kleenex, I hand the job off to the nearest child. If I need to fetch something, I ask the closest responsible child. This isn’t always age-related. It’s a running joke in our home that the youngest child, my 6 year old son, knows where everything is. He’s pretty good about getting stuff and not getting distracted unlike his older 8 year old brother.
Teach Your Teen/Tween to Do Their Own Laundry
Ho, ho, ho! Older kids can do their own laundry especially if it’s almost all dark colors. It’s really hard to mess up a load of dark colors washed in cold water. My almost 18 year old son does his laundry at night since he’s a bit of a night owl. Yes, he does use the dryer to dry his clothes. I figure what I spend in electricity I gain back in time, plus he needs this skill when he’s out of the house.