This post was submitted by Nicole Robinson.
Many of us buy into the idea that chores are good for kids. It teaches them responsibility, teamwork, and practical skills, not to mention, a little help might free you up to finish a book, a meal, or even a sentence. If chores are so fabulous, why do so few children do them? I’ll tell you why. Chores are a pain in the butt. Even if you extract a load of laundry from your child, the conflict can make you wonder if it was worth it.
Below you’ll find 21 tips to end the drama and get the help you need around the house.
21 Ways to Win the Chore Wars
1. Don’t obsess about gender equality. If your son enjoys yard work, and your daughter appreciates the Zen of dusting, let them have at it.
2. Schedule regular family meetings to develop a chore schedule.
3. Give each child a voice and a choice.
5. Have your child pick out fun cleaning supplies (e.g. Dora rubber gloves, child-sized broom, etc.)
6. Admit that there are hard jobs and easy jobs. Let kids negotiate with you or their siblings until everyone has a comparable workload.
7. Make time for training. Don’t wait for a laundry disaster to teach your child how to check pockets. They’ll feel bad. You’ll feel frustrated.
8. Give specific instructions. “Clean the family room” is vague and kids need specific directions. Vacuum the floor and polish the end tables are clear instructions that kids will understand.
9. Embrace the imperfection of a child’s work.
10. Try not to redo your child’s work. Instead, play up the positive.
11. Avoid using chores as a punishment. How will your kids appreciate the value of work if chores are used as a weapon? Instead of punishing your child, introduce them to the law of natural consequences.
12. Stick to your guns. The natural consequence of not making it to the restroom is wet undergarments. The natural consequence of missing a homework assignment is a poor grade. If your child failed to clean the coat closet, as promised, you may fail to drive them to the baseball game.
13. When possible, let your child choose the time that they complete their chores. They may want to wake up a half hour early to get the job done. Bonus: while they’re busy, you score some extra alone time in the morning.
14. Turn off the television. Without the distraction, kids will maximize cleaning time. They’ll likely work faster to get the boob tube back on.
15. Rock out to your child’s favorite songs while cleaning. Opt for motivational, upbeat music.
16. Place storage bins around the house. Teach kids to toss in runaway toys, clothes and other items. A few minutes of tidying up could cut down on larger scale cleaning jobs.
17. Make a game of it. Try setting a timer for 15 minutes to see who can get their room clean. Don’t do the “timer” game with washing dishes. You’ll find last night’s spaghetti living in your cabinet.
18. Realize that you don’t have to handle chores the way your parents did.
19. Let your kids know how much their work has helped you. Everyone wants to feel appreciated.
20. Give your child a few “get out chores” passes each year. They’ll feel like they are getting away with something. Those leaves can get raked tomorrow.
21. Be flexible. You are not enslaved to the chore chart. If things aren’t working out, call an emergency family meeting.