Things I am learning: My children don’t do much around my house.
I have always struggled with delegating chores to my children. While on the one hand I know I do a lot around the house, on the other hand I don’t really know what they should do. They don’t seem to know how to do things as well as I do and it just seems faster and easier to do it all myself while they just sit around watching TV or playing with friends.
Recently I read that, “Chores are not something we do TO our children but someting we do FOR our children.” Facinating. Profound.
Often, getting kids to help around the house does feel like we are punishing them. And frankly, it feels like we are punishing ourselves. But the reality is that teaching them the skills and discipline required to care for a home is a gift. It is a foundation on which to build. Plus, all our children will at some point, God willing, move out of our house. And I for one would like to feel confident on that day they can take care of themselves and the new space they call home.
Now that I am working it is more important than ever that I get a little help around the house. When I was at home I had the time to just take care of everything myself and sort of hoped my kids were paying attention. Now that I am working it is very clear what I am getting done and what I am not getting done.
You know those old jokes where the husband comes home and the house is a disaster, kids running wild and his wife calming laying on the couch reading a book. He asks what happened, “well you asked me what I do all day so I thought today I would show you by not doing any of it.” Going back to work is sort of like that joke playing out in real life! Suddenly nothing is getting done and you realize how much you were doing. Which is why it is so important to enlist your families help.
Teaching your kids to do chores and getting them to do them regularly can be yet another job, another thing to do in an already overwhelming new schedule. But taking some time to train your children to do a few chores will be worth the effort in the long run. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Don’t dump a whole list of chores on your kids. You are all transitioning, decide on a couple things that are most important and let the rest go for now. If your kids haven’t been doing any chores to this point you will all be frustrated if you suddenly announce that they now have to make their bed, empty the dishwasher, sweep the kitchen floor and wipe out the bathroom sink daily plus sort and wash their own laundry. One or two things is a good place to start. Make whatever you add managable both for them and for you. Remember, whatever you ask them to do will require you to teach, follow-up and supervise.
Make it age appropriate.
There are many lists online to help you determine this. A great place to go is the working mom site.
Growing up my parents were enthusiastic about chores, charts and rewarding our good and helpful behavior. For about 2 weeks. Then we got bored, they got bored and the whole plan went out the window. My siblings and I laugh today about the number of charts and allowance schedules we had growing up, but also know we all struggle in the same way with our kids. Changing that habit has been about realizing that if we get off track for a day or two, or week or month, we can just re-focus and keep going. The key isn’t the chart or the plan, it is the consistency. And I have found this to be easiest when we keep the plan simple and build on it.
Praise and Reward.
There are so many opinions on allowances and rewards that I am not even going to begin to weigh in on how to go about doing so. What I will say is that kids love to be praised and appreciated. Just as I never wanted to be taken for granted when I was a homemaker, I don’t want my kids to feel they aren’t appreciated for their contribution to keeping our home running smoothly and our families success.
What is your best tip for establishing a chore schedule?