How to Get Kids to Help Out With Chores
Does your child hate to help out around the house? Mighty Mommy and the Domestic CEO have expert tips on getting your kids interested in doing household chores (with minimal whining).
When people learn that I have 8 kids, they can’t fathom what our grocery bill must be, never mind how I keep our house in order with so many people living in it! There certainly are days when I wish the housekeeping gods would take pity and deliver a permanent maid to my door. But that seems highly unlikely so I have had to resort to the old fashioned way—enlisting the help of my family with daily chores.
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So if you’ve struggled with getting your kids to help do chores around the house, you’re in luck. Amanda and I have some great ways to make your life easier, and more organized:
Introduce Age-Appropriate Family Chores
Whether you have pre-school aged children or teens, there are plenty of age-appropriate chores that kids can do. If you are just introducing the concept of chores to your kids, sit down with them and in a positive and upbeat manner explain to them that they will now be contributing to the upkeep of their home. Be very specific when explaining job duties. Don’t assume that your 4-year-old knows how to put away his toys in their proper places if he’s never had to do it before. Invest the time and some positive energy in teaching him about where things belong so he’ll not only learn to do it right and by himself, but he’ll ultimately learn about the benefits of organization for other aspects of his life as well.
Amanda, you have a handy tip for managing your toddler’s toys, right? Tell us about it.
A Domestic CEO Exclusive!
That’s right Cheryl. The first thing to do to manage the chaos of your child’s room is to get to their level. I mean literally get down on your knees, or even your belly, so you are nose to nose with your child. Now look around the space. At this level you can start to get a feel for how your child wants and needs her toys to be stored. If you want your child to be able to take out, and more importantly put away, her toys, you will want to make sure that she is physically able to do so. This means that the bins where you store Barbies should be a shelf no higher than her knees. That way, when she picks up the heavy bin, she can easily slide it onto the shelf without having to lift it any higher. Lifting a heavy bin above waist height can be difficult as well as dangerous for kids, so keep them safe and store the bins in a lower cubby.
Anything you store up high will require your child to ask for your help to get it down. This can be used to your advantage. Store games with small pieces on top of a tall shelf. When your child wants to play the game, teach him to ask politely, and then return the game in its box when he is finished. This is also a great trick for messy arts and crafts supplies. Keep items like glitter, paint, and scissors stored up high to prevent a glitter snow storm, a full-wall Picasso, or an accidental haircut.
Use the space that is above eye level up to the highest shelf your child can reach to store soft, light items like stuffed animals. This way, if he causes an avalanche while trying to get a toy off that almost-out-of-reach shelf, at least he won’t get hurt.
In addition, consider your child’s size and strength when picking out storage bins for the toy room. A giant tub may seem like a great idea for you, the adult who can easily lift 50 lbs. But for your 4-year-old (who doesn’t even weigh 50 lbs!), it’s just a gigantic black hole where toys disappear. Instead, pick bins that are big enough to store all the toys in the set, but small enough to make it easy for your child to lift and move. Baskets with handles are a great option because they are easier for your child to hold on to. Plastic bins with handles, or even rolled edges at the top, are good too because their little fingers can hold on to those edges while taking the bin across the room to play.
Fabric bins are cute, but oftentimes they are used in bookcases where the cubby is the exact size of the bin, which makes it especially hard for the kids to see what belongs in the bins.
Great ideas Amanda!
Now, what about your surly teens? Anyone with teens knows it can be a nightmare to enlist their help on a regular basis.
If you have teens that give you a hard time about helping around the house don’t give up! Set some time aside to share why it’s important that they start helping with chores such as laundry or loading the dishwasher properly. If you “show and tell” instead of nagging about how sick and tired you are of doing everything by yourself, you’ll have a much better chance of getting your teen on board.
In my house, I offer incentives such as movie money or gift cards when they help out willingly and without constant reminders. Don’t forget to praise your kids for at least trying. Kids want to please, so be genuinely appreciative when you see your child doing one of his chores and if he isn’t doing it correctly, use it as a “teaching moment” so he’ll learn constructively, not critically.
Make a Chore Chart
A picture is worth a thousand words and so is a visual chore chart. Create a chore chart and keep it in a central location where it’s highly visible, such as the kitchen or the mud room. There are many free templates available online. Here is one that my family uses because it can be customized. Or you can create your own. In our household, we have four main daily jobs: dishes, garbage, laundry, stock-up. We rotate these four main jobs amongst our kids, which works well because this way no one feels they are getting stuck with one job in particular.
No matter what the job is, I set firm expectations about what it entails. Dishes, for example mean rinsing the dishes and loading the dishwasher as well as unloading after dinner and on the weekends, all three meals. In addition to the four main daily chores, weekly tasks such as mowing the lawn and cleaning the bathrooms are rotated as well.
Remember: Your kids will probably never do the chore exactly as you would, but it’s so important for them to have the regular opportunity to try. Not only does it ease your daily burden, it teaches them responsibility as well as building your relationship as a family and a team.
The goal for family chores is not only to have your kids help out but to coach, teach, and support them in gaining independence so they can become dependable, responsible adults.
Thanks again to the Domestic CEO, Amanda Thomas, for her wonderful organizational tips. Tune into Amanda’s show for more on how to organize your kids’ rooms.
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Enjoy getting organized with your family and as always—Happy Parenting!
Household Chores image from Shutterstock