Chore Workshop Series, Part 1
Mobilizing the Help-Force in Your Home
Let's face it: Unless you are superwoman, managing your household can be overwhelming. Perhaps you are one of those rare people who can run a business, keep an immaculate home, and coordinate your church's food bank. Many of us - myself included - cannot. The good news is: That's okay. It's even better than okay, it's great! Our humanity provides us with an opportunity to teach our children some very valuable skills. Things like household maintenance, time management, and cooperation. None of us lives in a vacuum, and learning to help around the house shows our children that as each of us contributes to the use of our home, each must help in it's upkeep as well.
Tips for Success
Make it a Team Effort
Work side by side with your children, especially at first. One mom I knew was frustrated, because no matter what she did, her daughter could not remember to put her clothes in the hamper. After asking some questions, I realized this was not a discipline issue, it was a a habit. I suggested she stay close by every time her daughter got dressed---at least for a week or two---and remind her daughter to put the clothes in the hamper before they went on the floor. It worked! Her daughter learned to form a new habit---placing items in the hamper.
To most kids the phrase, "clean your room" is very vague and overwhelming. “Pick up your Legos and put them back into the Lego box.” is better.
Keep chore charts where you can see them every day so you will keep them current. If they are in a drawer in your kitchen, nobody will remember to follow them.
Make sure chore charts are marked every day, and that rewards and consequences are given in a timely manner.
No Fun ‘Till Work is Done!
Really. If your kids ask, “Can I watch my show?” or “Can I go outside?” or "Can I take a break and play on the computer?" Get into the habit of asking them, “Have you finished your chores?”
A Place For Everything...
And everything in it’s place. For example: Shelves in closets, shoe boxes or plastic storage boxes. In short, make sure your child’s things can be put away. For younger children, it is helpful to label shelves or boxes with pictures, so they can remember where things go.
Wiggle with Purpose
After doing a Math assignment, kids might benefit from a chance to wiggle (constructively) by feeding animals or taking out the trash.
Keep Chores "On File"
Instead of a chart or list, create a "card file" with all of the chores detailed on 3 X 5 cards. (Kept in a convenient place...) When your child completes a task, she can move that card from the "To Do" pocket/envelope/box into "Done."
Lily Tomlin said, "Ever feel like your brain is made of Teflon, and nothing sticks?" Yes! I will make a plan to affect change in my household, and then, summarily forget. So, I have developed a habit of writing sticky notes to place on my mirror or set alarms on my cell phone---whatever keeps me on-track. Additionally, I write notes on my calendar to remember rewards and consequences given.
Be a Good Example
Whenever possible, put things away immediately, hang up your clothes and put your dishes in the dishwasher.
Teach Them to Plan Their Day
Some kids will quickly figure out that “Finishing my checklist means I can do what I want!” Others never do… sigh.
Keep a “Redemption box.”
After your kids have a chance to put their belongings away and they don't, put those items into a box. To be able to "redeem" those items in the box, you can have your kids do extra chores around the house.
Charge for “Maid Service”
A nickel, dime, or quarter charged for each item adds up quickly. (My kids do not have the option to pay or not to pay. Just like when your car is towed, you must pay to get your car from the impound lot---don't ask me how I know that, LOL!)
Strike One, Two, Three!
Thinking of a consequence for every little struggle gets tedious, try giving “strikes.” For example: “I asked you to do your chores once already and you didn’t, that’s strike one.” After three strikes they lose a privilege.
If you are yelling or nagging, chances are you are not following through with consequences.
Look for Success
If your child does his chores without being asked, or is “caught being helpful” give bonus points toward a movie rental, a game played with mom or dad, or a special treat of some kind. We give plastic "tokens" that they save in a jar for new books, small toys that they have been wanting, or a "night off" from helping with dishes.
...For a challenging couple of weeks. You won’t be very popular, but it really does get easier.
If at First You Don't Succeed...
Start again next week!