If you’re a parent it’s no surprise to you that children recoil at the mere mention of chores. Some days calling chores a battle would be an understatement. At times, it’s easier to just give in and do it all yourself. That is, until they become teenagers and start smart mouthing you and tell you to “Do your job and clean my rooom, mom!”
To give you a (brief) background, I’m a stay at home mom to 4 kids. Twin 10 year old girls, a 5 year old girl, and a 2 year old boy. The twins are (technically) my step-daughters. In the spring of 2012, my husband and I finally saw a chance to have the twins live with us FULL time. It’s a long story (for another day) but the twins lived with their grandmother temporarily until things settled down when my husband and his ex-wife divorced in 2005. When he and I married in 2007, I fell in love with those girls and I knew that when the time was right, they would live with us full time. Fast forward to today, they’ve lived with us for almost 2 years, they call me “Mama” and I can’t fathom life without them.
When they started living with us, they didn’t have many responsibilities at their grandmother’s home. “Chores” didn’t really exist for them. Because living with us full time was a new thing, I didn’t want to spoil their fun at living with us either. I certainly wasn’t in a rush to become a legendary “evil” step-mom.
I know in my heart kids need to do chores. It builds character, teaches them to work hard, and work as a team. Children NEED to learn to support their family and (especially) in a family of 6 like ours, they need to know we are a unit and that we all count on each other. Not to mention that chores show them how to be responsible and accountable for their personal job. There are limitless articles you can find that support that children need chores. Including this one found on the New York Times website.
There are age appropriate chores for all children. My 5 year old takes her plate to the sink, helps wash dishes, and puts away silverware to name a few. When she was younger, she carried an empty spray bottle and paper towel or wash rag around with me and would “clean” along with me. She has a play vaccum. Cleaning has been a game from the start for her and for my 2 year old as well. Not sure about what your child can or should do? Focus on the Family has a list here for ages 2-18.
So how the heck was I going to get these pre-teens to do chores without (in their eyes) morphing into an evil step-mom/hag/witch? Transitioning from being expected to do nothing but have fun to being expected to carry their share of the house work was not going to be an easy task for ANYONE involved.
What I Did aka How to Get Your Kids Started on Chores NOW
Make a list of chores you expect your child to do on a daily and weekly basis. Type them in a fun and colorful way and post them in visible places around your home. Don’t make your first list to difficult or demanding, remember this is supposed to ease them into the idea, not frustrate them. Download ours by clicking here: responsibilty chart
Next make a reward system. I found something called “caught you” coupons. These also work great for behavior modification. For example, when your child is “caught” picking up after themselves after dinner, you hand them a coupon because you “caught” them doing what they were supposed to do. Make sure your child knows that they won’t always get a coupon, but that sometimes they will. Hand them out sometimes just for no reason, and sometimes because you saw them do something above and beyond. Don’t forget to HEAP ON THE PRAISE! Your approval is the best reward you could give your kiddos.
The next part of the system is to come up with a reward list. Each coupon should have a point value written on the back. When you make a rewards list, it should fit your lifestyle. For example, if you don’t have a lot of wiggle room in your budget, stick to free rewards i.e. Stay up with Mom late for 2 hours, extra dessert, 30 min undivided attention from mom/dad, sleep in late, 15 min delay of bedtime, You pick the movie for family movie night, etc. Click here for a few different reward printables . Also HERE…HERE…and HERE
You also need a list of consequences when the chores are not done, or if you are using this system for behavior modification, a list of consequences when the unwanted behavior is carried out. This list, along with the chores, and rewards, should be clearly posted somewhere in your home.
A simple google search of “coupons for kids” or “reward coupons for kids” will help you as well.
Will you be using these printables? What questions do you have about this system? How will you modify it for your family? It’s designed to be customizable!!…Please comment below!
Playlist for this post: When a heart breaks- Ben Rector, Daughters- John Mayer, To Love Somebody- Michael Buble, I Run to You- Lady Antebellum, Tiptoe- Imagine Dragons, Wait for Me- Shane Harper, Let me Roll it- Lakeside Drive, Slumber- Need to Breathe, I’ll be Seeing You- Billie Holliday, Next to Me- Emeli Sande