Children and chores. What to do… One of my goals for living simply has been to cut down on the amount of cleaning and household work that needs to be done. But even with all my decluttering and minimizing, there are still chores that must be completed on a regular basis. Aside from that, I believe children need to be taught how to work and contribute to the household they are a part of, helping them build their sense of confidence and independence to take care of themselves.
Like many parents, I have gone through myriad forms of chore charts, sticker charts, reward jars, family ‘money’, and many other ways to try and get my children excited about doing chores. (see exhausting examples at the end of post) However, when it comes down to it, teaching children the responsibility of completing chores can be fairly simple without a lot of fluff and excitement. As with everything else, I’ve tried to ‘simplify’ the process of chores in our home, and found the following to be very helpful-
-Set clear expectations. There is nothing worse than asking your child to do some form of cleaning, then when they think they are done, you tell them they haven’t done it correctly and need to redo the whole thing. I avoid this scenario by making a list of clear steps for each job, whether it is dusting or cleaning the bathroom. That way we can go through the list together and make sure everything has been done.
-Don’t call them chores. Chores just sound horrible, boring and no fun. I like to refer to them as ‘contributing to our family’, or ‘doing our part to take care of our home’, etc. There are some days this helps, and others when it doesn’t, but I think looking at daily upkeep as a regular part of life overall helps in the long run.
-Give praise. Everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done, even if it is a mandatory job like a chore. When children do a very good job, especially on their own with a chore, give ample praise so it reinforces the quality of work they did as well as their confidence.
-Allow natural consequences. This is one area that is difficult for me, but it works! If my children don’t bring their laundry out and put it in the washer, it doesn’t get done and they wear dirty clothes and underwear. If my daughter didn’t clean the toilet seat when she was supposed to clean the bathroom, she still has to use it instead of using my bathroom. If they leave their toys out and our puppy gets a hold of it as a chew toy, I don’t rescue it. I know, I’m a mean Mom.
One of the great things about living simply is that chores are a natural teaching tool and promoter of the simple lifestyle. My daughter has purged her clothing several times because she has gotten tired of doing so much laundry, especially when quite a few of the clothes in the basket she had just tried on and taken off and thrown on her floor. My youngest son has also willingly given away toys that weren’t worth picking up to him anymore. If children grow up feeling comfortable with the idea of parting with items they just aren’t using, it makes for easier chore times because they are taking care of things they value and use.
Here are some things my husband and I have tried in the past…
What we are using currently-