Chores are an important part of growing up. They teach kids important skills that they’ll need when they are adults. They help balance the workload. They fortify a kid with self esteem because they feel needed and have pride in a job well done. In a large family, training kids to do chores is especially important so that mom isn’t overwhelmed!
Some people believe in chores without any kind of compensation or payment. Others believe in a commission system (ala Dave Ramsey) to teach about hard work and the benefits thereof. I have written about this in another post…Should Kids Be Paid for Chores? My own personal preference is a hybrid of the two options. Regardless of payment for services or the expectation that everyone chips in, here are some guidelines to use when assigning chores.
Creating chore systems that work
* Gather as a family to create a chore chart. You might call a family meeting, or just have the kids individually tell you which chores they enjoy doing – or at least don’t mind doing as much as others!
* Print a chore chart online or create your own. Doing a search for “free printable chore chart” will turn up dozens of options. Keep it simple.
* Discuss the tasks involved with each chore. In order to avoid frustration, child and parent should agree on what “done” looks like. Creating a simple step by step visual aid can help younger kids. Try to keep it to no more than 3-5 steps.
* Place the chart in a central place for all to see. This helps keep everyone accountable.
I like this magnetic chore chart that can go on the fridge!
* Assign by age-appropriate duties. Toddlers can pick up their toys and help others. Preschoolers can help set the table, fold simple laundry items, wipe tables, and put things in their proper rooms. School aged kids can take care of pets, fold their own laundry, clean tables and countertops, and dust. Older kids can load the dishwasher and/or wash dishes, sweep/mop, take out trash, do laundry, clean bathrooms, vacuum, and eventually prepare meals and do other more detailed jobs.
* Decide on appropriate consequences for noncompliance. A child who doesn’t do his chores by a certain time each day may lose a privilege, for example.
* To help chores go more smoothly, you may want to create “cleaning kits” that contain everything the child needs to complete their chore. Use nontoxic products that are safe for kids. For example, the bathroom duty kit would contain microfiber cloths, a homemade or natural all purpose cleaner, baking soda, etc.
* Create fun job descriptions. Instead of “dishwasher”, how about “Kitchen Hygienist”, “Wardrobe Supervisor” or “Clothing Engineer” is the laundry helper. “Water Closet Aesthetician” has bathroom duty. Make it interesting!
* Modify as needed as time passes. Kids get bored with the same old routine. It may be helpful to alternate monthly or quarterly so that everyone learns to appreciate what others do, as well as have the opportunity to learn a new job.
* Deliver praise the right way. Instead of making blanket statements or going overboard with praise, a simple descriptive “You really put a shine on the sink today when you cleaned it” is more effective.
* Be consistent. Inspect work after it’s done, and expect it to be done properly. If you have a lasseiz-faire attitude, your kids won’t take their job seriously either. Train your children that any job, no matter how menial, is important and can be done with pride.
* Most importantly, lead by example. If you expect your kids to tidy their room each day but yours is a disaster, what message are you sending?