My daughters are 12 and 13. While I do need to remind them at times to do chores, for the most part, our home runs smoothly. Since they know how to do everything from scrubbing the bathroom to cooking dinners, and they do it, I get asked a lot how I get them to help.
1. Start Young
My 12 year old loved the vacuum cleaning when she was 18 months old. She wanted to walk around everywhere with it on. So I let her. Her older sister loved helping with the dishes. At 2 years old, she would pull a chair over and want to clean. I let her.
At those ages, I wasn’t forcing them to do anything. They were curious, enjoyed it and learnt to do more. The jobs were not perfectly done, obviously but as they started doing things young, it was normal for them to do more as they got older.
And they wanted to! My daughters are proud of how much they know to do compared to their peers. They love getting recipes and cooking them or using HelloFresh (get $90 off here, $40 off your first box, $30 off your next, $20 off the next and $10 off the fourth box). They pick the recipes and cook it all themselves now with a few tips from us.
Start your kids young. It doesn’t have to be as young as mine but they are more capable than you think. You will need patience as chores take longer with kids but sacrificing a little extra time now will reap rewards later.
2. If Your Kid can use an iPad, They can use the Washing Machine!
As I said, kids are more capable than you think. How many children easily navigate technology from a young age? If they can do that they can do the washing, load and put on the dishwasher, water plants etc.
Teach them to do it, assist and answer questions when needed, correct and guide them and they can do almost anything. Select age-appropriate chores and you will be amazed at how much less you have to do and how much they can do.
Most importantly, take the time to teach them patiently and correctly. You can’t just show them once quickly and expect them to get it. They need help, you need to go slow, show them step by step and help them understand it so they can do it properly.
3. Chores = Rewards
I don’t do this in my home much. As my kids live here, they are expected to help clean up. They have their specific chores which we review regularly. My daughters chose their own and split what I asked of them between themselves without much of a problem. They both have chores they prefer so it was easy.
When I do offer a reward, it is usually something along the lines of screen time or art supplies or a family activity. I don’t typically tie money to chores. I’ve seen research on this and it seems when money is tied to the chore as the reward and kids aren’t simply expected to contribute, they do less. They also expect more compensation when they do the basics.
Offer praise when they do well and outline exactly what they did well. Instead of “Good job cleaning the bathroom” say something such as “Thanks for cleaning the bathroom. You did great clearing the mould/I love how clean you made the vanity/the toilet is so clean! You did so well.”
By including a specific thing they did, it personalises the praise and makes them more likely to do that same thing next time as well as encouraging them to do more.
Often, I have seen others try to teach their kids but spend the whole time criticising them and how they do it. Your kids will not do the job exactly how you do. Back off a little and let them do it their own way. If something truly needs correcting, be gentle about it.
Approach with love and praise them on what they did well first. Then offer a nice suggestion on a way to make it easier, cleaner or whatever it is you think needs to be done differently. Don’t take over doing it, don’t get angry or anything like that. Be patient, loving and offer the advice in the way you would want someone to teach you.
Kids aren’t robots and they aren’t adults. Don’t expect them to be perfect. They’re learning, they need love, support and guidance to do these things. No one learns or remembers anything when they are yelled at constantly or belittled and criticised.
5. Lead By Example
Let your kids see you doing what you want them to do. Talk to them about it, show them how to do it and lead by example. When we are actively living what we are preaching, kids are more likely to follow.
Ever heard the saying “Actions speak louder than words?” It goes for everything in life. Your kids are watching what you do whether you know it or not.
Get a routine, clean, cook, meal plan and get the kids involved in all of it. My daughters help select meals and recipes, they do shopping with us, clean, all of it. It’s easy for them as they have always been doing those things with me and helping me. Even as toddlers we had pictures of what we were buying and they would help put things in the trolley.
As they got older, that progressed to them helping write the shopping list as we went through the pantry and fridge etc. They learnt how to compare prices, look for the sales and not pay full price.
Your kids will learn what they see you do so be sure to do what you want them to do.