Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Encouraging Children to do Chores

I'm a firm believer in kids having chores, regardless of age (within reason, of course). Goodness knows mommy can't do it all, definitely not in my household. I work full-time, spend an hour (usually more) on the blog after the kids go to bed, plus spend time cooking, being with my kids, and with my husband. Most days, nearly every minute of myday is planned out.

Hubs helps when he can, but he grew up in a household where his mom did all the household chores--literally, ALL of them. He was never taught how to clean a bathroom, sweep & mop floors, dust, etc. Thankfully, he recognizes that, and he has worked to overcome his fears of a dish rag and toilet brush. But even then, things still pile up.

So every little bit of help I can get with household chores is an absolute blessing.

I finally created a chore chart for both kids recently. They like to help around the house, and so I thought it was time to actually put things in writing as an incentive. For my son, I included things we want him to do, like eat his meals without help. He's 5 and will "regress" if I help his 2 1/2 yr-old sister eat. We also included things he wants to do, like vacuum.

The vacuuming thing started when he had his 5th birthday. We ate cake in the living room, and needless to say the crumbs ended up on the floor. So I went to get the vacuum and clean the mess up. My son, however, surprised us all by saying that he wanted to vacuum the cake crumbs. We humored him, letting him clean the area rug, and sure enough, he did a fabulous job! He vacuumed a few times after that, all because he asked to do it.
So when creating his chore chart, I added vacuuming. One, because I knew it was an activity he enjoyed doing. And two, because it would help keep my house clean!

For my daughter, I also added things that we want her to do, like have her bowel movements in the toilet, not in her panties. She can stay dry all day and all night, but when it comes to a b.m., well, I probably shouldn't get too descritive. Anyhow, we're trying to reward her for when she uses the toilet, not her panties, and so that was added to the chore chart. Also added are chores that she has shown an interest in, such as helping me empty the dishwasher and sweeping. Not that she's any good at sweeping, but it's an opportunity to teach her the value of work, and one day she'll get the hang of it.

Both kids have different chores, and yet they share some of the same chores, even if it's not on their chore chart. When my son vacuums, my daughter will pull out her toy vacuum to help out.
She has also learned how to dust, after watching her daddy dust off the entertainment center the other day. Again, this was a chore that she wanted to do, and who am I to argue? If it's gonna help my house stay clean, and she's not going to hurt herself, then I'm all for it!

I'd like to say that we reward our kids with an allowance, but unfortunately, our finances are very stretched, and we're not at the stage yet where we can reward them monetarily. We do, however, reward them with activities that they enjoy doing, such as watching a movie, or playing a video game. And they both will remind us to a check mark on their chore chart for things they've accomplished during the day. Do they ever remind us!
I can't say this is a fail-proof method that will work for everyone. But it certainly works for our family. I do the best I can by setting a good example and doing my own fair share of chores, and working with my children on some of their chores so they're not just "chores" but a fun family activity.
And did I mention, it helps my house stay clean?!!


  1. When children see that the family is working together toward a goal, or working together to make life better for one or more members, they are much better able to understand that doing the work of the household is a form of power. They see that their work contributes to the good of all, that they are appreciated, and that they make life better when they pitch in.

    *BluePixo Entertainment - A place for mom and dad to share topics about parenthood*

  2. Ditto, BluePixo! I completely agree. I can see the pride in their eyes (the good kind of pride) when they feel like they've accomplished a "job well done." They take ownership for their chores and are very eager to please.


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