Chores were an every day expectation of me and my siblings growing up. I remember doing my laundry in middle school. I remember cleaning the mirrors, the toilet, you name it in elementary school. But I had one particular chore I enjoyed the most: mopping the floor. I think I enjoyed it so much, because well it was darn fun.
I remember putting my hair in braids or pigtails, tying some sponges to my knees and mopping “Pippi Longstocking” style. My friend would come over, and we would dump an entire buckets worth of soap and water onto the floor, put on some play clothes, slosh around and shout all the songs from “Pippi”. We would take a running start and slide from one end of the kitchen to the other, crashing into the island cupboard. It was hilarious, idiotic and good clean fun. (Pun intended, haha).
When I was little, I always wondered why my mom allowed this nonsense to continue. (Where was the impending time-out? Where was the lecture?) As an adult, and a mother of young kids myself, I totally get why my mom never reprimanded us for this. Now it’s pretty obvious:
1.) I was doing a chore by choice
2.) I was having fun doing a chore
…My mother was a genius. (Good job Mom!).
Today, in my little family unit, my husband and I strongly value teaching our kids chores. The question for us was always…well at what age is it okay for them to do ____? (fill-in-the-blank). I mean…come on we have kids so they can be our free labor right?
I love this comic…It is so accurate! This is definitely what I experience when I am trying to clean on my own.
So…When can we have kids start chores? I think, personally the answer is simple: Start when they can walk and start when it’s fun.
SO here are my little helpful hints for getting a child to do chores. (Tested by me, and my Mom and many other parents I am certain.)
- Start young. I am of the camp that the younger the kid is the easier it is for them to accept chores as a normal part of their lives.
- Let them choose. Now granted, some things are not up for choice. In our house we clean our room. We pick up our toys. No choice involved, it is just a requirement. But, the first “chore” my daughter ever stared was washing tables and chairs. Why? Cause that’s what she wanted to do. One day I was cleaning the table after a meal and she said, “mommy my do it?” and I said, “SURE..let me get you a washcloth”. I am pretty sure she was a little over one at the time. She continued to want to wash the tables, and has now progressed into wanting to dust the wood of our house. So that block in the comic that says “Mommy were helping you!” and a chaotic disaster is the result…well at this stage my advice is to let it happen.
- Start gradual; begin with an introduction to the concept. When my little helper Izzy started, she was not very shall we say “accurate” with her cleaning. But as she became more familiar with the chore, I would add little incentives to what she was doing to teach her more skills…(“Oh…you washed the chair legs great job, can you wipe the whole seat too? Let’s see!”).
- Slowly add on. My son is two, and his favorite chores are to feed our dog, and “help” me load/unload the dishwasher. We’ve now begun to have him pick up the room and he helps to empty garbage.
- Be Patient and keep your expectations and chores developmentally appropriate. Can my two year old son be expected to clean his room independently? make his bed all tidy? No, but my 5 year old daughter can.
- Lead by example. I can not stress this enough. I am super guilty of this. When I started to have my daughter clean her room, it was a daunting task for her. She would see her toys scattered, her clothes thrown everywhere, her bed unmade and just freeze up. At first it was fun, I helped, we made a game of it etc; but eventually it became work. And once it was work, she easily said; “well mom…I like my room messy, just like yours!”….ahh crap! To remedy this Hubby & I decided to be good role models. (darn, do I have to? WELL if I am trying to teach a value…) Therefore each evening we have 20 minutes of family clean-up. Everyone is assigned a specific room to be in charge of. We all work at the same time together and clean. My kids LOVE this. Why? I have no clue! Maybe it is a family bonding moment for them? All I know is it is working and I am not silly enough to question what works for me. Andrea at jandaandco gave this suggestion on her blog. I tried it out for my family, and well the rest is history.
- Praise the little buggars. I do not care if they did a shabby job or a spot on one. They are doing a chore, for the family, and enjoying it. (in other words they are embracing a family value open armed). Praise them for their efforts! If you want to give feedback, (and trust me you do other wise kids will think chores is equal to a “Pippi Longstocking” video and the house ends up looking worse then it started) provide the feedback while they are doing the chore in a positive manner. “Wow I see you are wiping the windows! Looks great! See those marks? I am going to show you a secret way to get rid of them…”.
- Most importantly, make it fun! As me and my siblings grew and became teenagers, my parents modified their chore tactics with us a bit. They found that by working as a team we were most effective. So they dedicated a time each week for us to work together. They turned on Led Zepplin as loud as the radio could go. And let me tell you, we rocked that chore time. My dad would do this ridiculous dance while singing and pull my mom into it. Everyone was happy. Everyone was productive. and I have some great memories of my parents in love because of it.
So what about rewards? Honestly, I am a big fan of the “whatever works” for your family camp….But I personally feel that if something is a value, it doesn’t necessitate a reward long term. SO perhaps if you are looking to give your family a Chore Value Boot Camp, then I say put together a reward system. But I would avoid the reward being the end goal. After all, the value is about family togetherness, helping one another, working for a collective good, not a commercial value of ____ (Screen time, money, etc.).
Now let me be clear: my kids are rewarded with products and activities. But this is usually for behaviors we are trying to teach, and not necessarily a family value. Sometimes it is hard for kids to curb a behavior and a reward can be great for that. If you child HATES cleaning then this might be a requirement in your family. Again “WHATEVER WORKS” for you being the key:).
So there you have it…my top 8 tips for getting your kids to love chores. Here is my daughter’s newest chore that she just tried out yesterday: Vacuuming
35mm ISO 800 f/2.0 1/80 sec
See that hair in her mouth? (she does that all the time!)
35mm ISO 800 f/2.0 1/80
Here she is trying to move the cord out of her way…
35mm f/2.0 ISO 800 1/100sec
35mm. ISO 800 f/2.0 1/100sec
intense concentration happening here.
So now I want to know..what are your tips for helping your child love chores?
Thanks for stopping by!