On average, women spend over 2 hours per day on household activities. Considering that we already have a full day being a professional and mom, how can we possibly find the time to handle chores like cooking, cleaning, taking care of the pets, and gardening? We have to get our kids (and husbands!) more involved.
This isn’t just beneficial for us since it helps with time management, it’s also great for our children.
“Chores are magical!” says Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a family physician, author, and parenting expert, in her popular TEDx talk “The Expectation Gap.”Dr. Gilboa is a supporter of assigning children chores because they teach kids about gratitude and letting kids know that they are valued, important members of the family.
“By requiring work that makes your home run, [kids] know they’re crucial to the smooth operation of your world, and their confidence will increase as they realize they’re needed and not just wanted,” she says.
Chores also teach kids about responsibility, discipline, autonomy, and teamwork. Chores also can give them a sense of accomplishment. They can even be a family bonding experience. And, according to science, kids who do chores become more successful adults.
Unfortunately, your children may not be that enthastisactic about helping you out with these chores — I remember as a child not wanting to get up on a Saturday morning to help my mom with household chores. But, if you give these seven strategies a try, you may be able to successfully get your children to help with chores without much drama.
1. Change your thinking about chores.
If you complain about how boring or dreadful chores are, what will your children think about these chores when asked to do them? They’ll be just as likely to avoid them as much as you do. Remember, our kids are always watching us and processing the signals we send. If we don’t want to do chores and constantly complain about them, so will our little ones.
Instead, start approaching chores as essential tasks that have to be done in order to keep your home running smoothly. Add in a little humor and fun to chores not seem as boring or seen as a burden. It’s also suggested that when you discuss chores with your children you emphasize “we,” as opposed to “me.”
2. Clearly communicate the consequences.
Your children also need to be aware of the fact that chores are non-negotiable. For example, if boys didn’t clean their bedroom, and it bothered me so much that I eventually cleaned it, they’ll expect that to be the norm. When it comes to chores, you need to be consistent.
You also need to communicate the consequences — both good and bad. When chores are completed in my home, that’s when go to the beach or trampoline park or play Fortnite. If chores aren’t completed, then they can’t do these things. Just remember that consequences aren’t always a type of punishment.
One tactic that’s both useful and good for your community is giving your kids a time limit to pick-up their toys. If not, those toys will be donated to less fortunate children who will appreciate the amazing toys you took for granted.
3. Let them have a little fun.
Yes. Chores can also be fun. I’ve always enjoyed listening to music when cleaning. Singing and dancing makes even the most minial of tasks fly-by. Do the same with your kids. Let them listen to their favorite songs so that everyone can sing or dance. Have them write their own songs about chores.
Other ways to make chores more fun would be to have them create their own informicial or YouTube video where they can talk about their favorite cleaning products or techniques. Another simple idea would to make-up a game, like seeing how many toys they can put or quickly they can clean their rooms. There’s apps like ChoreMonster where kids earn points for completing chores.
4. Tap into their natural, intrinsic drive.
You can do this by explaining how completing chores contributes to the greater good of the family. It’s a simple and effective way to make you kids feel like they’re a part of something bigger, which will inspire them to lend a hand.
“Here’s why household chores are good for kids,” writes Dan Pink, author of Drive. “Chores show kids that families are built on mutual obligations and that family members need to help each other.”
5. Make chores a little more challenging.
As your children do the same chores over and over again, they’re going to become more familiar with them. This means that they’ll get bored with these chores. So, when they’re ready, make them more challenging. For example, instead of just asking them to pull weeds, ask them to help you plant flowers and haul dirt away with a wheelbarrow.
6. Vary chores.
Mix-up the mundane by varying chores. Maybe for one week one child washes the dishes, while the other folds the laundry. Those rules would then change next week. You can also add in some new chords to shake things up, such as walking and bathing the dog, changing vacuum the filter, or helping you prep meals.
7. Don’t overwhelm them.
Finally, don’t assign your kids 10 different chores. Introduce on manageable chore for them at a time based on their abilities and age. Work side-by-side with your child until they understand how to complete the chore. Also, instead of saying something broad like “clean your room,” break that down into smaller chunks that only take a couple of minutes, like make your bed, vacuum, and put your clothes away.