A lot of my parenting has been a series of trial and error, trying some things to see if they work and learning a better way. I haven’t always done things the easy way, and my first attempts at making changes haven’t always worked out.
One thing I tried and failed at a number of times was getting my children to do their chores at home. I had certain expectations of my children and what I thought they ought to be doing. I tried to institute a list of chores for them, and sometimes they got done and sometimes they didn’t. Let me share with you my journey for trying to get the kids to do chores and what ended up working for us.
I started off by writing down a list of chores each of my kids could do. I tried to keep things age appropriate, because I know their limits and what they’re capable of doing. At least I thought I did.
I thought my oldest kid could do the dishes, organize in some of the rooms, and occasionally supervised the other kids.
I thought the younger kids could do similar tasks like sweeping, wiping down counters, and staying on top of emptying the garbage.
What I found was that some of the jobs I thought would be easy enough for my kids turned out to be very challenging. My oldest didn’t take to doing dishes very well, and I constantly found dirty dishes after they were supposed to be cleaned. My kids often rushed through the chores and didn’t do them to my satisfaction. I ended up having to go back and do some of them myself.
Putting Rewards in Place
One thing that really helped in the early stages of getting the kids to do chores was to give them rewards for their work. So, I tried tying their allowance to whether they did their chores. This worked pretty well at first, but when the results I got were not up to my expectations, I ended up changing that a little bit. My tweak was to only give them a full allowance if they did a very good job with their chores.
The rewards were not always the same from week to week. It wasn’t always about getting the allowance. Sometimes, if I thought my kids did a really good job, I might reward them with a special treat. Maybe we would go out for ice cream or they could stay up late for a movie night. Sometimes I even would hire a cleaning service (such as New York Cleaners) to tidy up the house so they could have a break, just because my kids had done such a good job of cleaning the week before.
Adding to the Chore List
Once I was comfortable with how well my kids were doing some chores, I started to add some things to the small lists I had given them initially. I wanted to start off small and then build on that. For some kids, I was able to add quickly, as they pick things up well. Others took a long time and had to stay with the same list for a while.
What I found is that not all of them learned at the same level and had the same amount of responsibility. Some of them took the chores seriously and others rushed through them to get back to play time as quickly as they could.
One thing I found that really helped was that as I added chores and responsibilities to their list, I also increased the rewards. Sometimes, I would raise the allowance if I was adding new chores to my kids’ lists. There were special rewards I would offer as well new privileges I would give them if they showed responsibility in doing chores.
Keeping Things in Perspective
What I found is that giving your children chores is not just about getting the housework done. Some of them didn’t do a good job with the chores no matter how much training and patience I had with them. That doesn’t mean I let them get off with not doing any chores. I wanted them to learn responsibility and understand that they had to chip in and help with the duties of the home.
I kept reminding myself that having them do chores would help build character and make them more disciplined. I know that one day each of them will be working jobs, and I want them to succeed at those jobs, to make their employers proud, and to be recognized as good workers. I know that training for that starts in the home, so I was doing my part to raise good citizens and people who would take pride in their work.
Making Changes Where Necessary
One thing all parents have to learn at some point is that the rules they put in place may have to change from time to time. I’m not talking about letting your kids get away with bad behavior but rather not keeping things too strict all the time.
For example, you can’t expect your kids to keep up with all their chores when they don’t have as much time in their schedule. You may have to take on some of those charge yourself when it’s test time in school or when you’ve added extra activities to their calendar.
An example of that was when we spent a weekend camping. When we came back to the house, there were still a lot of chores to do, so I didn’t expect my kids to keep up with everything since they had a busy schedule. I cut back on some of their chores and did some of them myself simply because they didn’t have enough time to get them all done that week.
It’s possible to get your kids to help out with the chores, but you will find it’s a learning process. It’s not all going to go smoothly, but with some patience and perseverance, you’ll get them to pitch in.