I am the mother of three sons…three sons that I did NOT want to grow up dependant on a woman, whether it be a mother or future wife, to cook and clean for them. I was a stay-at-home mom, but that shouldn’t make a difference in teaching kids responsibility. So at a fairly young age, I had them learn various life lessons for themselves. They made their own breakfast, did their own laundry, learned to sew on a button, and had basic cooking lessons. At age 15, they got their own checking account and learned just how fast money can disappear, or accumulate, depending on their spending habits. And of course, they all had required chores to help around the house.
Chores help instill pride in your work, good work habits, responsibility, and a sense of belonging to a family…at least that’s what I told them! Kidding aside, it did instill all of those things and more, and certainly helped me maintain a house of rambunctious boys. My guys are now college-aged, and they thank me for teaching them valuable skills that they can see their friends lacking.
Here are some suggestions that I used, and some that I found on the internet from other savvy people, to get your kids to help with chores. I especially like the last idea of tickets; it reminds me of my time in Vacation Bible School where you got to spend your tickets at the end of the week. That was the best! With the new year upon us, this would be a perfect time to start a New Year’s resolution to begin a similar program. Let me know how it goes!
Using A Chore Calendar and Other Tidbits
In our family, we used a whiteboard chore calendar. We would have basic weekly assignments such as picking up their rooms, and rotate other standard chores such as collecting the garbage, cleaning the litterbox, and helping make dinner. It all was written on the whiteboard with a checkbox that they marked when completed. Even the youngest of kids feel a sense of pride when they pick up that marker and check that box…DONE! With 3 boys, they only needed to rotate these chores once every three weeks, so not too bad for them. As they grew older, they helped with more complex tasks such as snow shoveling, sweeping out the garage, and vacuuming.
From an early age, I cleaned out one of the bottom drawers in the kitchen and put the kids’ plastic dishes in there. They had cereal bowls, cups, plastic wear, and plates, all easy to locate and get on their own. In the pantry was their cereal, kept low for easy reach, and in easy-to-pour containers or portion-controlled baggies. I put milk in small, kid-friendly containers so I wouldn’t find a mess to clean up in the morning.
This worked well for our family, but here are other great ideas that I found.
Use A Job Jar For Chores
As a working parent of 6 kids (the oldest 4 are in a 5 1/2 year age span), the kids helping with chores was a given. Our system was the job jar. All household chores were written down and put into a job jar. Pink paper for the under 6 set, and yellow paper for those school age and above. Every Friday, we all sat down and everyone, including parents, drew their jobs for the following week. We had a chart hanging on the wall that had everyone’s name, their jobs for the week, and a space for Mom (or Mamaw) to sign off when the job was done satisfactorily (without more than one reminder) and finished each day of the week.
On Saturday, anyone that had their assigned chores done at least 6 out of the 7 days participated in a “treat day”. We took turns choosing the treat for the week, from a list provided by Mom (depended on time and money available). The treat might be a picnic, a trip to the pool, a movie, a trip to the zoo, or a Baskin Robbins ice cream treat, etc. Anyone not completing their assigned chores was left at home with grandmother, with no TV or phone privileges for the weekend.
We do not give our kids enough credit. Even a 2-year-old can empty a waste paper basket or pick up toys, and put them away. It is not just a case of helping out Mom. Everyone lives there, eats the food, and wears the clothing. Everyone needs to feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for their home. When we don’t teach our kids to clean their homes, wash their clothes, cook a decent meal, manage their time, manage their money, and accept their responsibilities, we do them a grave disservice because someday they are going to have their own homes and families to manage. You can’t teach those things by starting the week before they leave for college.
Tickets for Chores
When my kids (and fosters) were young, I bought a roll of tickets (like those at a carnival). They are available at places like Walmart. I made lists of chores, age-appropriate for each child. Each chore was assessed as to how many tickets it was worth. (I also included personal hygiene things like brushing teeth, etc.). Some of the chores were really simple – hanging up your towel or putting clothes away. I watched clearance racks for prizes, such as: toys, stuffed animals, fancy pencils, new notebooks, art supplies, and so on. Other prizes might be things like 1:1 time with mom for an evening or choice of video for family night. Each prize was assessed an amount of tickets. Then as the kids accumulated tickets, they could “buy” their prizes. Some kids couldn’t wait to spend their tickets, and would buy the trinket prizes, but soon realized that by saving them, they could get better prizes.
So, chores got done and the kids learned the lessons of earning and saving. This tends to work best with younger kids from little to maybe age 10 or so.