Parents, kids, and chores are a hot topic for parents. Everyone wants kids to help around the house, but not everyone is sure how to make it happen. Sometimes it feels easier to do the chore ourselves instead of having a kid do it. After all, they will do it imperfectly. Sometimes they won’t remember to do it.
Having kids do chores at home is valuable to their future adult selves. They feel more competent and have a greater self-esteem. Because they are held responsible for being part of a community, their family, they exhibit responsibility in other areas of their lives.
The 4 Keys
- Clear expectations
Kids and Chores In My Home
In my home, all the kids are required to do chores. 7 people = 2 loads of laundry everyday, dirt and crumbs on the floors, and lots of people using one bathroom. While I could do all the chores myself, I’ve learned over 18 years to delegate the basic daily chores to my kids. I handle the specialized chores like deep cleaning, decluttering, and the twice yearly seasonal clothing switch.
Even though my kids are doing more chores these days, I continue to supervise, delegate, and inspect the chores being done.
Make Expectations Clear
My kids don’t see the toothpaste on the bathroom counter just like your kids. Sometimes 3 kids are in the bathroom brushing their teeth, and possibly horsing around at the same time. A dropped sock on the floor is a dropped sock to my kids, not something they think to pick up.
I tailor my expectations to the age and abilities of my kids. I can be guilty of underestimating them. My 18 year old son is able to wash his own laundry, or clean the bathroom. My 11 year old son can cook most of a meal now. While my 9 year old son could wipe down the kitchen cabinets, my 6 year old son needs myself or a chore buddy to help him do the task.
When I give my kids a chore, I tell them exactly what I need them to do. Making the expectation clear at the beginning makes it easier to inspect the chore when it’s finished.
Reasonable Delegation of Chores
I give a chore to the youngest kid who can do it with relative ease, or I assign a chore buddy. With 5 kids, I can assign the 11 year old to help the 6 year old with bigger chores, and vice versa. If the 11 year old is making cupcakes for school, the 6 year old can help him by putting liners in the muffin pans, getting out the ingredients, and measuring some of the ingredients.
Don’t be afraid to challenge your younger kids. They usually step up to the responsibility because they like being seen as old enough to do something. Be their chore buddy and have them take the lead on doing the chore. They will learn valuable lessons in working with others and taking care of your family’s home.
When it’s chore time in the morning, I focus on supervising the kids and nothing else. This is not the time for me to check my email or Facebook. If the kids see me on the computer instead of doing my own chores, they think they can slack off on doing their chores. My physical presence, constantly checking on their progress, ensures the kids stay focused on their tasks. I can also jump in and help them if they get stuck on something.
After the kids finish their chores, I walk around and inspect most of the chores. Usually I don’t need to check the wastebaskets to make sure they were emptied. What I need to inspect are the more complicated chores like tidying a bedroom.
When I find a chore is incomplete like tidying a bedroom, I tell my child exactly what they need to do to meet my expectation. Since I’ve been doing this for awhile, my kids know my expectations. If you’re new to kids and chores, make a list of your expectations for each chore and post it where the chore happens. Tailor your language to the reading ability of your child to prevent them from feeling overwhelmed.
Chores and Kids Are a Marathon, Not an Overnight Success
Expect resistance from your kids about doing chores, especially if you haven’t given them chores to do before. This is normal kid behavior. They are testing the boundaries to see if you will stick to the new behavior.
Involve your kids in the chore process. Sit down and talk about what needs to be done and who will do it. If no one offers to take on a chore, write them down on a piece of paper, put the papers in a hat, and have your kids pick out the chores. Repeat again in an agreed upon period of time.
Listen to your kids about doing the chores. Yes, as the parent, you are in charge. Sometimes you can agree to have your child do a chore at a different time, or they can switch with a sibling. Perhaps your child has figured out a better way to do a chore. We all love to hear better ways to do routine tasks!
Make chores as fun as they can be. Not every chore is going to be fun. Using a timer for a set amount of time, putting on fun music while doing chores, or talking about chores with a funny accent can bring an element of fun into the necessary work of taking care of the family home.
Get a Copy of My Free Printable Weekly Chore Chart for Kids
Chores for Kids
- Chores for Kids
- Chore List for Kids by Age
- Chore Charts for Kids: Little Ones’ Jobs on a Helping Hand
- Hiring Help: Hire Your Kids for Projects Around the House
- 10 Cleaning Tips for the Home
Shared at Home Matters