Doing chores helps build a sense of responsibility and pride that can’t really be taught without firsthand experience. It can help give children structure and be a good stepping stone into the “real world”. And most importantly, having your children do some work around the house can help reduce your workload which is most likely overloaded way more than it should be after years of parenting.
Starting a chore system with your kids doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, if you include your children in the process, it can actually be a pleasant experience and make the word ‘work’ seem like much less of a four-letter word.
Start by sitting down with your kids, some writing utensils, and paper. Ask your kids to write down some chores they think they could feasibly accomplish in a day or week. At the same time, write down your own list of expectations. When you have all completed your lists, compare them. You may be surprised to see what your kids come up with. In some cases, you may find you are on the same page. For example, you and your 12 year-old may both have “Do the breakfast dishes” on your lists. In those cases, agree to a time limit and a reward system for completing the tasks and let your kids have at it!
But in other cases, you may be so far apart on ideas you will need to reel them in a bit closer together. Your 6 year-old may have ideas of grandeur that he can do everyone’s laundry each week. But the truth is he probably does not realize how much that actually entails. Tone it down to putting away his own laundry whenever he receives it on your laundry day.
If your list contains more chores than your children’s lists, add the additional chores at age appropriate levels for each child. (If you are unclear of what chores are appropriate for your children, here is a list of age appropriate chores for kids and here are some free printable chore charts.) Set boundaries and do not be afraid to add disciplinary actions if the chores are not completed to your satisfaction. But do remember that your kids may do things differently than you do.
The hardest part about passing the chore torch to your children may be letting go of the control you previously had over certain things in the house. You might be so used to folding your towels a certain way or loading the dishwasher in a particular order that seeing everything done differently may make you cringe. Realizing that ‘different’ doesn’t always mean ‘wrong’ will really set you free. Let your kids do their thing without micromanaging their every more. You will be teaching them that there is more than one way to complete a task while also teaching yourself the same valuable lesson.
Once you have established a set of chores for each child, make a chore chart to clearly indicate what is to be done and when. There are many different ways to make a chore chart, so find one that works best for your family. For some fun and easy ideas, check out this link!