It’s easy to get into the habit of taking on all the responsibilities of the household, including chores, when you have perfectly able bodies living under your roof who could pitch in and take a load off! Wouldn’t you agree? But here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be this way…here’s my story… 

When my kids were toddlers, I found myself getting frustrated at the fact that I seemed to be the only one doing the dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, folding the laundry, doing the dishes...and the list goes on.  After a long day at work, the last thing I wanted to do was the chores, especially when that meant even more time away from my family.  But I also love a clean and tidy house. #Momdilemma

I started searching the internet for cleaning hacks to cut my cleaning time in half so that I could get time back with my family.  I was surprised at what I found!  I ran across articles about other moms enlisting the help of their toddlers to make cleaning more fun and to help them develop the virtue of RESPONSIBILITY.  At first, I’ll be honest...I was thinking, “Oh yeah, right. I’m sure this will actually take more of my time, not less.” But I figured it was worth a try, and remembered back to my child development courses in grad school where we talked about how competent kids are at a very young age to learn skills like sorting, folding, polishing, and sweeping.  I had hope!

My husband and I agreed we would start the kids off with the basic weekly chores: dusting, cleaning the bathrooms, and sweeping and mopping the floors. No small task for a 3 and 6-year-old, right?! Insert mom hack: microfiber cloths!  No chemicals, no wild spray bottles, no paper towels… I was SOLD!  I needed to be sure my kids could clean without the anxiety of them inhaling harsh chemicals or ingesting some cleaning solutions like bleach or window cleaner. Plus, I didn’t want to have to be over their shoulder monitoring every chore, because that meant more time spent for me “babysitting them,” and less chance they would feel like they were doing their chore independently. To this day, we are still cleaning without chemicals, and the kids are loving the accomplishment of taking something from dirty to clean in a matter of minutes. WIN-WIN!

Let me expand on the benefits of getting your kids to do chores:

  1. Life Skills - Doing chores like laundry, dusting, mopping, doing the dishes, organizing the pantry are skills our kids need when they fly from the nest and are out on their own.  Developing these habits now makes it easier for them when they are facing other adult challenges in their lives. Their bosses and spouse will thank you for a well-developed person who has habits that positively affect those around them. 

  2. Responsibility- When kids understand they have individual responsibilities around the house, they quickly realize how important they are in the overall functioning of the family. Kids want to know we value them.  Having responsibilities and letting them know we count on them reinforces the point that they are important and are needed. Imagine our kids in 10-20 years. They will be part of many different teams and if they are already used to pitching in and doing their part, they will be happier, more successful, and more productive on those teams. 

  3. Courage & Confidence-Learning a new skill, like washing the dishes or sweeping the floor is a great way for kids to build up their confidence and courage!  Praising their efforts goes a long way in reinforcing their ability and helping empower them to do their best. When they try something new and have success, it gives them confidence and courage to try other new things.  

Have you ever met an adult who has a lot of anxiety when it comes to trying something new or believing in themselves? They often get stuck, and choose whatever is safe and easy vs. accepting a challenge that could really propel them forward in their family life or career.  We can prevent this from happening with our own kids by affording them the opportunity to try and succeed at a young age - even at 2 or 3 yrs old - and then keeping that going on a weekly basis for years to come. 

Here are some practical tips on getting your kids to do chores

First, it’s helpful to have a visual aid to indicate exactly what chores you want them to do and when you want them to do them.  Our chore chart is the perfect tool to use to make this process simple.  A simple image to show sweeping or dusting is great for all ages.  Another thing that helps kids stay motivated is knowing what they have to do and understanding when they are “all done.”  Our chore chart gives you the images and words (To Do and All Done) which makes it simple to get started.  

There are 3 different ways you can consider using the chore chart downloadable.  First, is to put it in a sheet protector and have your kids use a dry erase marker to mark off chores as they complete them. Displaying it on a clipboard is helpful too! 

Another idea is to cut out each chore, laminate them and then using 2 clipboards, adhere a piece of velcro to the back of each chore and place the other part of the velcro on your clipboard in a grid.  One clipboard is the “TO DO” board and the other clipboard is the “ALL DONE” board. Kids tear the chore off the “TO DO” board and velcro it onto the “ALL DONE” board. Little ones love the kinesthetic feel of it!  We even have a video from our chore chart producer, Joy Fitzgerald, here! SEE HOW

A third quick and easy idea is to cut up each chore and put them all in a “TO DO” envelope and hang it on the wall next to another envelope with “ALL DONE” on it. Kids can pick chores from the “TO DO” and put them in “ALL DONE” when they are finished. 

The Key to Reinforce Behavior: Be sure to reward your kids. Our kids are constantly seeking our attention. If we give attention for negative behavior, they will continue to behave negatively. Conversely, rewarding your kids’ positive behavior will promote more positive behavior. 

How often do we forget to reward kids for things like chores or helping with yard work? If you think about it, we as adults don’t prefer to volunteer our time 100%.  As a matter of fact, we work a little harder when there is a reward attached.  It’s just human nature.  Offering a reward when our kids finish a list of chores goes a long way in reinforcing that habit!  Think about what the “carrot” is for your child? For some, it may be extra screen time. For others, a dollar a day or a special toy when they get 10 marbles in the jar. Once the behavior you're trying to promote becomes a habit, stop the reward and use the reward to focus on a new habit you're trying to reinforce. This works!

If you do not currently have your kids do chores, what is holding you back? If your kids do have a chore routine, what do you love about it? Do you find it frees up your time to accomplish more in your day?

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