Do your kids do chores? I’ve had my kids doing chores since they were one! I even got my son a broom set for his first birthday, ha ha. Granted, he’s totally a neat freak by nature so nurturing a child who is already inclined to clean is much easier. But part of our family motto is doing things “as a team” (post on our family mission statement coming) so I had intended from the start to nurture/to teach the heart behind chores from the beginning.
There was recently an article circulating on fb, “Science Says Parents of Successful Kids Have These Things in Common” – #1…THEY MAKE THEIR KIDS DO CHORES!
So how do you teach your kids the heart behind chores? For us, it started with always including my kids in the daily things I did: cooking, tidying, vacuuming, sweeping, making the bed, wiping down the toilet, dishes, etc. My husband and I had already established that we were a team – it wasn’t just one of us carrying the burden of home. It was mostly me doing the cleaning bc I was a SAHM, but dad wasn’t exempt from cooking or cleaning.
My son dumped the toy bin all over the living room floor, and emptied the book bin like most kids (evidence above) but we sang a lot of Barney’s clean-up song and I would get on the floor and model the HOW and the HEART of cleaning up. I took my time and I stayed consistent using the whole time of cleaning up as a teaching opportunity.
- the HOW: logistically how to clean
- the HEART: modeling a happy heart and nurturing a team effort, doing our part, serving the family, taking care of our home.
Any time I was cooking or cleaning I would ask him if he wanted a turn or if he wanted to help me, he loved being mommy’s little helper – they got up on the counter to do dishes or cook with me, I bought them a stool and dull knife so they could prep food with me, I got on the floor with them, I sang a lot of Barney, I tolerated semi-vaccumed floors so my kids could be proud of their efforts, I gave a lot of high-fives (and chocolate chips). I realize this takes a lot of patience, and re-doing/tolerating a lot of their effort, but it’s so worth it! Go slow, put in the extra work now so when they’re 3 and 4 you’re not having to combat strong-willed toddlers… yikes!
I had my kids help me clean the baseboards… it was WAYYYYY more work for me and took 3 times longer but they understood the HOW and the HEART just a bit more after this chore.
We’ve laid basic ground rules in our house:
- We clean up our mess before we move on to the next thing, which could be wanting different toys or leaving the house. Consequence: The toys need to be cleaned up right now, you can do it like I asked, or I can do it and then I get to keep the toys (I take them away for a week or they have to earn them back).
- We make our bed every morning, I’m still helping them.
- We put our dishes in the sink when were done.
The past few months I’ve added an official chore list for my son (almost 5) along with mine on our Monday Chore Day. Its 3 simple things: sort laundry into piles (colors, whites, darks, and towels), help put away clean dishes (sometimes wash a few too), and wipe down the sink and toilet, and scrub toilet in both bathrooms.
His least favorite is sorting the laundry – silly, I think that’s the easiest one! Often my daughter joins him, “I’ll help you bruhder!” Consequence: if he whines or prolongs doing them I add two more chores to the list (I haven’t had to actually do this). He doesn’t get to trade chores, however he can ask for help – but no whining!! It’s the same 3 each week, and the whole family is doing chores together, so its a team effort to get the house clean.
But before I randomly decided to give him a chore list we had established 4 years of teaching the HOW and the HEART so for us it was a natural transition. What if my kids are 3+ already, where do I start? I’d say have a plan, don’t conquer the world on day one of chores, start with a reasonably easy chore, perhaps tidying their toys, get down on the floor model the HOW and the HEART, use encouraging words, talk about it, make it a game, make consequences for whining, follow-through then start again, take your time, and be soooooo patient.
You can do it mama!