We all know that keeping a household running (let alone neat & tidy!) is no small task. Which is why it’s important to teach your children to help out with chores from an early age. Here we outline ways to get your kids involved in daily household tasks.
ALLOCATE AGE APPROPRIATE TASKS
The most effective way to get kids to help out with household chores, is to give them age-appropriate tasks that they can accomplish and eventually master. Even simple jobs, such as packing up toys after use, teaches your littles that messes don’t magically clean themselves and that their contribution is important. Toddlers can help out by tidying play areas, including re-shelfing books and helping set the table for meals. Pre-schoolers can help prepare meals by helping out in the kitchen (supervised of course) and tidying up afterwards (washing or drying up). School-aged kids can help fold laundry, set the table each meal and assist with other chores such as feeding the family pet, watering house plants and making their bed each day.
STICK TO ROUTINE & CONSISTENCY
Routine and consistency are key to getting little helpers onboard for daily or weekly chores. If your kids are responsible for making their own beds, encourage them to do it as soon as they get up. If they’re responsible for feeding the family pet, get them to do it before dinner to remind them that the pet is hungry too. If they don’t like a task they’ve been allocated, get them to choose one instead. Then rotate tasks. This teaches them that we all have to do things we don’t necessarily enjoy sometimes. The most important thing is that their contribution is consistent. Like brushing their teeth or reading a bedtime story, chores should become a natural part of the family routine.
HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE
One of the big reasons for getting children to participate in household chores is to teach them responsibility and accountability. Consequently it’s important to outline why it’s important that certain tasks be completed in a timely manner (if the rubbish doesn’t get taken out it starts to smell etc.). Creating a check list or reward chart can be a good incentive to convince reluctant children to help mum with ‘boring’ house tasks. It’s also important to praise your children when they do a good job of the chores they’ve been designated. After all, they’re more likely to continue contributing if they know it pleases you.
DO CHORES WITH THEM
The best way to gets kids involved in housework is to do it with them. If you’re doing laundry, ask them to hand you pegs as you hang it on the line. If you’re washing up, hand them a tea towel and ask them to dry everything. If you’re vacuuming the floor, hand them a broom and ask them to sweep up alongside you. By completing tasks together, they can enjoy a sense of connection and achievement. Even if your child is too young to help you prepare meals in the kitchen, they can always stir a mixture, peel veggies, or wipe the table down before and after meals. Similarly, kids usually thrive when given a particular task, so asking them to help mama by carrying a small bag of groceries from the car to the house gives them a sense of purpose and helps build their confidence.
TEACH THEM CONSEQUENCES WHEN THEY DROP THE BALL
Since one of the reasons for allocating chores is to teach kids responsibility, it’s also important to teach them consequences if tasks aren’t completed. This doesn’t necessarily need to involve punishment, but it can certainly mean delayed gratification if they have been working towards a particular goal on a reward chart. It’s important to clearly communicate to your kids, ‘chores are not an option’. Everyone who lives in the house has certain chores that need completing each day, no negotiables. If your child forgets, or neglects, to do their chores it’s up to you to reinforce your expectations. If they know you will do their jobs for them when they forget, they’ll never learn to be autonomous.