Household chores don’t have to fall on the shoulders of one parent. While it might seem easier to do everything on your own, in the long run you’re doing yourself and your kids a disservice.
But the question remains, how can you motivate kids to get involved with chores around the house? There’s no single answer, but there are a few ways to make laundry, vacuuming, and everything else go a lot smoother.
Teach Lessons Through Household Chores
Kids learn from watching parents, and from handling chores on their own. But they don’t just learn how to complete a task. WebMD explains that doing chores helps them learn how the world works.
Cleaning up a mess teaches responsibility for the home and for personal belongings. Cleaning a mess with the help of a parent or sibling teaches teamwork. When visiting relatives in South Africa, my nieces and nephews did nothing because there were servants. When my nephew Conrad dropped a candy wrapper on the floor, it took 20 minutes before he picked it up. My niece Nina knocked over a 10 lb bag of flour and that took us about 2 hours to clean up … and her parents were amazed. So who's folding the laundry at your house?
They’ll also learn fundamental skills that they’ll need later in life. Your children won’t graduate from high school and head off to college without knowing how to use a washer and dryer … because they've graduated to doing their own laundry at home.
Keep a Household Chores Routine
Keeping a regular schedule of household chores can serve multiple purposes. Learning to follow a routine consistently helps kids develop good habits early. If laundry day is every Saturday, that’s a habit that could stay with them into adulthood. (Read: House Rules for Extended Families)
Also, predictability can lead to fewer arguments about working around the house. WebMD suggests that a regular schedule lets kids know chores are not really negotiable. Vacuuming happens on a certain day, at a certain time, and that’s just how it goes.
Also, knowing that the whole family is involved can reduce chore battles. When everyone pitches in at a set time, nobody feels unduly burdened with work. This works well for family meals too where each child has a role from setting or clearing the table, to washing pots and pans.
Make Chores Age Appropriate
You can start teaching a very young child how to wash dishes. But be sure household chores are appropriate for the age of the kids doing the work. If your dishes are valuable, it might not be the best idea to ask a 6-year-old to load and unload the dishwasher.
Pre-teen and young teens can handle jobs such as raking and running the vacuum. But save the lawnmower for teenagers who are bigger, stronger, and have a better understanding of safety.
Keeping chores appropriate for their ages also helps reduce frustration. A very young boy or girl can gain a lot of satisfaction from tidying a stack of magazines and putting away clothes and toys. But those same kids might become frustrated when they can’t clean a window without leaving it dirtier than when they started.
Chores are a part of life. There’s no escaping them, so it’s best to start teaching those lessons early.
Instead of having all of their hours at home free, kids can learn what it takes to maintain a home and also learn about responsibility. Those skills are valuable now, and well into adulthood.
Do your kids help out around the house? What chores do they do and how have you motivated them?