How do you keep your kids involved with chores?
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My two year old absolutely loves cleaning and participating in chores, so I capitalize on his interest, incorporate it into his routine, and make it fun or use it as a teaching moment. In many ways, we try to emulate some of the Montessori philosophies he learns at preschool so we continue to encourage his independence. And I don't stress if he doesn't do the chore perfectly and instead thank him for his contribution because I'm more concerned with helping him develop a sense of team work and familial responsibility than expecting Martha Stewart-like cleaning talent at his age.
Chores have to be incorporated into the daily routine of the household. When the kids are old enough we sit as a family and talk briefly about how everyone must help in order to make this a nice place to live. For the younger kids we used a picture graph of the chores they are responsible for so it serves as a physical reminder of what needs to be done. For kids that can read you can put the chores in a list form. And for preteens and teens there are many apps that you can share as a family so that they can see their "to-do" list. Something I have come to recognize is that when I am actively cleaning or picking up as well, that is the perfect time for them to do their chores also.
Like the Little Red Hen, my kids know that if I'm baking, they need to pitch in so they can sample some of the results (no utensil licking unless they help). While it's a constant battle to get them to do even the minimum, they have to pick up their rooms, put their clean clothes away, set or clear the table, etc. Making it fun for them (i.e. letting them get creative by folding the napkins a fancy way) makes it more enjoyable for everyone.
It’s part of our routine, so it has become a habit. My kids are almost 5 & 7 years old, so they can help out with a few things now.
I keep a Swivel Sweeper in the kitchen right by the table. After they spill four thousand crumbs per meal, they know to stroll on over to the SS and get to work.
They know to clear their spots on the table after meals. It’s automatic now. Also? It increases their chances of getting dessert.
I act like it’s A Big Deal to help me fold towels, so the kids practically fight each other to get to me first for a pile to fold. Jedi Mind trick? Maybe. But it works.
Each time they pick up a new task, I let them settle into it, get used to it, so they don’t even think about the fact that they’re doing it, before I add something new.
I’m just looking forward to the day they’re old enough to do all the laundry. Oh, that’ll be AWESOME.
Money. I am serious, the only way is money! The only reason why anyone does anywork is for money & kids are no different. Pay them to mow the lawn, pay them to weed the garden, etc. There are certain chores that my girls have to do & they do not get paid as it is part of being a family. Such as unpacking the dishwasher, feeding the dog, cleaning up after themsleves, etc but all the other jobs should be paid according to ages & how long it takes to do each job.
Kids react well to routine! 5 minutes before every mealtime is a good opportunity to do a clean up. If you keep at it everyday, at the same time, then it becomes natural. When things were especially out of hand, I'd also set the timer for 15 minutes, put on some really upbeat music, and yell "Who can pick up the most things and put them away before the timer goes off?" The music helps make things fun!
Finally, cut down on the number of toys and the number of clothes, shoes, and coats your kids have. The more stuff you have, the more you have to clean, and the more places you have to find to store things. Keep high quality stuff that you love, and toss the rest!
My Little Miss 3.5 is going through that stage of being clingy to Mum all over again. This can be lovely and drive me insane all at once! It also means that if I ask her to do something such as put toys away in her bedroom it's a battle to get her to do it if I'm not in there too.
So I normally set her a task to do in a room that I am working on at the time - so she can put her toys away while I am putting away her clothes for example. Yesterday I was cleaning the bathroom and she came in and asked what I was doing, and that she wanted to help. So I have her a cloth to clean down the sink while I cleaned the bath.
Short tasks that will fit into their attention spans work well, and nothing too difficult that is going to cause frustration.
We also did a post a whole back about free printables that you can use for morning routines where you can incorporate a few chores and they have a visual reminder...
I keep my kids involved with helping with doing chores by making sure that we have more free time to do things "we want to do" when they help out with doing every day chores. I wrote about this a while back. I also included some links that may be helpful for some parents.
We have created a chart for the children, with different activities that they do, with the days they are supposed to do each chore in white, and the others in grey. Then they put a check when they do the chore. This allows for flexibility, sometimes they do laundry or empty the dishwasher on a day they were not assigned, but they can still have credit for it.
Also, we like to make sure the chores include good things that we want them to learn about, like hanging the laundry out to dry, watering the garden, weeding the garden or taking out the recycling. We include even the youngest in these activities too. The blog post attach includes a video of teaching our toddler to recycle!