How I Get My Kids To Do Their Chores
Kids and chores…. *insert face palm here*
Because if you’ve ever spent 45 minutes staring at a pile of legos and race cars while listening to your child plea to spare his life and pick it up for him, because picking up his own mess would definitely kill him….you’re face palming right now too.
Can you really blame them sometimes? I mean, who’s never looked at last night’s dinner dishes cluttering up your kitchen and decided that going out for breakfast would be easier? Guilty as charged. I feel for them sometimes…I really do. But, the fact of the matter is, we’re not doing them any favors by letting the mess slide…their mess I mean, ’cause my kitchen disaster is totally justified.
I’ve tried it all….lists, sticker charts, chore packs, reward systems…bribery. Yea, everything. I decided a while ago that I’d had enough negotiating with my children to take care of their chores and struggling to keep up with systems that were more like another chore FOR ME. Hey, I don’t like my chores either, but responsibility is responsibility and the lesson in that right there…is EXACTLY what I’m aiming for.
So how do I accomplish this whole chore thing?
Here’s a few things I do to get things done:
Make It Part of Their Daily Routine.
Our morning routine consists of my husband getting ready for work, me getting my “mom time” in for the day and making breakfast, doing school and meal prep for that day, and kids rolling out of bed anywhere between 6 and 8am. I usually let them read, watch TV, play….whatever they want to do (within reason) while I’m busy with my chores.
Once my husband leaves, we start our day. That’s where we stick chores in. After breakfast and morning talks about the expectations of the day, we all head upstairs and make beds, get dressed, take care of hygiene chores, pick up any messes from the previous night, and get dirty laundry brought downstairs. After that, my middle boys (6 & 7)head outside to take care of their animal chores and my older son (12) starts a load of laundry. While they’re doing that, I’m taking 20 or so minutes one-on-one with my daughter (3) to get her ready for the day, and stand there and watch her while she makes her bed and picks up her toys…..she likes an audience…..and, let’s be real here, if I don’t stand right there with her, she’ll never do it and she’ll probably undo all the work her brothers had already done.
Well, I give one exception. Sickness. Aside from that, chores are expected to be done. Before anything, even school….Chores Get Done. Here’s why…if I let it slide and tell myself, “before we go to the library they have to do chores” or “before we go to the dentist, we have to get chores done”, then we inevitably get wrapped up in a science project or an awesome read aloud book, or maybe my sensory child is having a hard day and is requiring a LOT of help and things just aren’t going as planned…then chores end up happening…whenever. Read that as….Not. At. All. Messes compound, days run into each other, and before I know it, I’m knee high in monster trucks and dirty underwear while having to wash dishes to make room to cook! We’ve all been there…..
So yea, doing the chores first thing in the morning, as part of their routine…NO EXCEPTIONS…has been a huge deal around here.
Set Them Up For Success
Our boys’ bedroom is set up in a way that makes it easy for them to clean. They each have a section of the room with cube/cubby storage for toys, their bed, and a bookshelf. Under their beds are 3 plastic drawers that they use for socks/underwear, pants/shorts, and pjs. We also put a second bar in the closet lower down, so that our younger two boys can easily hang up their clothes. I found that setting up their room in a super simple basic way, made clean up easier and faster, and is a lot less stressful for me. Bonus!!!
Let THEM Have Control….Sometimes
Perhaps the biggest lesson for me in learning a good way to get everything done, was letting go of my expectations, and giving my kids a say in their own personal space, with their own personal things. This is especially true as my kids get older. As I said before, I have three boys in one room, and they have three different ways they like to keep their space.
My youngest son doesn’t like organization….At all.
He likes all 10,000 of his stuffed animals shoved in the 10″ space between his headboard, and the wall. That grinds my organizer brain’s nerves. But one night when I was putting him to bed, I realized that when he goes to sleep and puts one arm up over his head, he’s sticking his fingers in the slats and holding them. I watched for a couple nights and every night he holds different animals, taking turns between a few different ones each time. When I asked him about it, he said he keeps them there because he can snuggle with them all that way… *melt*…This is my sensory child who doesn’t like a lot of things on him. So this is his way of loving his “stufties.”
I believe my middle son is a minimalist at heart, because he doesn’t keep toys very long, and he organizes things in a way that makes me take notes. He does love his books and legos though, and he is very particular about how they’re kept as well.
My oldest son likes to keep everything. Everything that’s ever been given to him AND the package it came in. While I draw a firm line on storing garbage, I try to respect his nostalgic ways. So, I upgraded his cube/cubby storage system to one that has 8 cubbies, and we agreed on him keeping whatever he wants (minus the packages) until his cubbies are full. After that, he needs to purge. He feels like he has a say, I still don’t have to see mess everywhere…win/win.
My approach to kids and chores has varied greatly throughout the years, and I’m sure it will continue to change as the years march on. Right now, in this season of life, this system works well for us. I think the most important things to consider when tweaking your chore system, is if you accomplish these 3 things:
- Does it teach the lessons that you want your kids to learn?
- Is it something that YOU can easily implement consistently?
- Does it positively contribute to the family?
If your system can give you the answers you’re looking for to those questions, then you’re doing great!