Chores - Every Family Member's Responsibility
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (more parenting articles are available)
(listen to article read by the author)
Running a household involves plenty of work. How are your kids helping out? If they are preschool age or older they should have age-appropriate responsibilities.
Chores are a way for your children contribute to your family. It’s important for your kids to learn that being part of a family means helping with household tasks. You do not want your children growing up viewing you as their personal servant!
One parent wrote their biggest challenge is “keeping the house clean when the kids destroy it”. When kids make a mess they should be helping clean it up. Likewise, children who destroy something need to help replace or fix it.
Starting Chores Early
Start chores when your children are young and enthusiastic. Although preschoolers are not very good at chores, they are often eager to help. When you give your preschoolers simple chores, they are on the road to being significant contributors to your family.
Young children can handle tasks like picking up their toys, bringing in the mail and putting napkins and silverware on the table. You will need to teach your children how to do each task and help them out until they can do it on their own.
One mom said she is teaching her 5-year-old twins how to do the laundry. Although she still needs to provide some guidance, the boys are so proud they know what buttons to push and how to do a load of laundry!
Mastering new household skills builds self-confidence in children. It also builds appreciation for what needs to be done to keep the household running.
When my son was in elementary school one of his chores was washing the kitchen floor. We typically take our shoes off in the house but one day I kept my shoes on while carrying in some groceries. He asked me to take my shoes off because he had just finished cleaning the floor. Now that was music to my ears!
Begin by writing down all the tasks that need to be done to keep your family going. Include things like going to work to earn money, paying bills and providing rides. This list of chore ideas
can help you get started.
Next, sit down with your kids to discuss how to divide up these tasks. You may want to sign up for all the tasks that you need to do like pay the internet bill. Once they see how many tasks you are doing for the family, they’ll be primed to take on their fair share.
Some families choose to have daily chores to cover all the household tasks. Other families save larger tasks for the weekend. They might divvy up those tasks by letting kids choose slips of paper with tasks from a hat.
Whichever way you decide to handle chores, it’s important for each person to understand their chores and when they need to be done. You may want to post a chore list
in the kitchen or some other public area.
Tracking Completed Chores
It is your children’s responsibility to remember to do their chores. How will they keep track of when their chores are done? They may want to have a chore chart where they check off their chores once they are completed. Another approach is to have a calendar where they write their initials once their chores are done.
Some parents have their kids tell them when they are done with their chores. The parents may check to make sure the chores were done well. Some change the wifi password daily and give it to their kids after the chores are completed.
What if your child wants to postpone a chore? You may want to allow your kids to do two chores the following day. Be careful not to allow postponing multiple days of chores or it will become too difficult for them to make up.
You may decide to help your child out with a chore occasionally. You’ll know they appreciate it if they thank you for helping them out. You may also decide to allow your child to skip chores on special occasions.
Paying for Extra Chores
One way to allow your children to earn money is to pay them for doing extra chores in addition to their normal ones. It's a great way to get work done and for your children to earn money for special things.
One summer our then 12-year-old son learned to pressure wash the deck. He was happy to take on this new task especially since it involved getting wet and getting paid! My husband taught him how to use the pressure washer including all the safety information. It took many hours to get the job done but he stuck with it and we enjoyed a clean deck!
Your kids can also use extra chores to earn something they want. Our children earned a trampoline by each doing 100 extra chores. It took them almost a year to accomplish this. They were proud when they finished earning the trampoline!
Doing chores are a part of life. When you expect your kids to help around the house, it builds their competence and sense of responsibility. These are skills which will help them out in school and later in life!