Family Chores

If you haven’t already started having your children do household chores it is time to start! Why? Because you can’t afford not to. You and your partner should not be doing all of the work around your home. You can’t be expected to be happy, calm, nurturing parents if you are doing all of the cleaning, shopping, cooking, driving, organizing and washing by yourselves. The little people in your home must contribute; you need them to.

More importantly perhaps, is the fact that this being needed is good for them. If they are given a free ride in your home they may grow up expecting one in life to more or less degree. When they contribute to the needed work around the house they feel important.  In the past during simpler or even more economically challenging times families relied upon their children to help them with the necessities of daily life. They were enlisted to milk cows, sew clothes or otherwise work. These children knew that their contributions were necessary and meaningful; our children today do not always grow up with this sense of importance and belonging. Authors Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelsen talk about this concept in their book  Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self Indulgent World.

So, it is time to start the chores. Kids are more likely to be willing helpers if they are included in the decision to do chores and take part in choosing what to do. Perhaps start with a family discussion or meeting when you explain why they are being asked to pitch in. Then together make a list of all of the chores or jobs it takes to keep your home running. This will be eye-opening for your kids – they probably have no idea how hard you work!

Break up the chores into daily, weekly and monthly ones. Your family likely has a busy weekly schedule and your children may have enough on their plate during the week already but, consider assigning a few daily expectations. They could for example, be expected to put their dirty clothes in the hamper, feed the pets and clear the dinner dishes into the dishwasher.

For the weekly chores try this idea: make a list and allow each person in the family to choose two that they will complete. Work together all at the same time, teach your child how to do each job and don’t forget to play some loud music! In an hour or so your house will be clean, your children will have learned how to clean and you might have all had some fun. Sure, after the newness wears off they may grumble some but, they will still feel the pride of ownership that comes with doing a job well and they won’t be sent off to college without knowing how to wash the laundry and clean a toilet!

It is not recommended that you pay your kids their allowance in return for doing chores. This goes back to teaching them to be self-reliant adults who contribute to the world around them not just because someone is paying them but, because it is the right thing to do. No one pays you to wash, cook or vacuum do they? Instead expect chores to be done on a routine separate from allowance. An allowance is recognition that they have needs and wants above and beyond the basic necessities you give them. Even more importantly, an allowance is given to children to help them learn to manage money before they become young adults. The less frequent or monthly chores can be ones you offer to pay them for. Perhaps you need the baseboards cleaned, windows washed or the garden weeded? You probably have a willing helper if you offer them a small monetary bonus for their efforts.

Chores may not be their favorite thing to do on a Saturday but who really loves chores? Erma Bombeck said

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint”

she may not have liked chores but, she likely knew that parents and children should work together to keep their home functioning!


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