One of the many things I know about chores: it is impossible to do chores and play a video game at the same time! In our day of gaming use and obsessive screen entertainment, research tells us that kids are forfeiting chore time for game time. (Did we really need research for this?!) Do you blame your kids for making the trade? What are they really missing out on?
It takes a very active parent to instill the values that can be learned only by hard work. Thanks for sharing some great tips and inspiration, Maureen!
Chores can be a divisive thorn or a source of powerful bonding and fun within a family; it’s all about the intent (and the marketing)! Chores have a triple purpose.
- The most obvious purpose is to get projects done.
- Another is to build a work ethic and character.
- Lastly, chores are an easy training ground for learning useful skills.
As parents, we would never question whether or not our kids should do chores. Of course they should! We would be derelict in our duties if we sent even one of our sons out into the world with limited training. Chores are great training. What good would our son be to his future roommate, wife, and employer if he had no hands-on skills and problem-solving practice? We actively choose to include the boys in all house projects and we have even been known to take on projects just to teach a new skill. Keeping the end-goal in mind, we hope to raise boys who are competent in many areas (cooking, mowing, weeding, trimming, stonework, gardening, electrical, plumbing, building, house cleaning, laundry, babysitting, wood cutting, etc.) and confident enough to succeed in untested areas. We often choose volunteer work at the schools and church and neighborhood in which we feel like we can work hard and learn and be productive. We parents are often learning alongside the kids on some projects.
The fact is, we are a family of 6 and it takes a lot of work to keep up with the meals, projects, repairs, schedule, yard work, cleaning, etc. As a group we create a lot of work, but we do a lot of work! No one over the age of one is off the hook. But how do you motivate everyone to be helpful? You have to believe in the bottom of your heart that chores are useful. Working for the betterment of all is useful. Tackling a project and seeing it through to its completion is useful. Working hard builds muscles. Model a positive attitude and your children will follow. Remember, you are trying to raise hard working, productive young adults. Instead of looking at chores as “chores,” look at them as “projects” and “learning opportunities.”
A few chore tips from our house:
· The actual activities change over time, but children of all ages are perfectly capable of working. When they are young it’s best to work nearby your child as they tackle their chore so that you are ready to help out, instruct, and keep them on task. For example, while you are doing laundry or sewing, they are folding clothes nearby. Working side-by-side fosters communication and builds relationships too.
· Keep chore assignments loose. We have some set jobs (Charlie does bathrooms, Paul does dishes, Owen does garbage/recycling), but I can call on anyone at any time to help. In some families, siblings watch carefully how much the other does and the kids turn every request into a battle “But that’s not my job!” It’s better that your children know that they are “on call” at all times to help.
· At any time, we can call for 15 minutes of clean-up. Everyone stops what they are doing and pitches in. The benefits are immediate and no one cops out.
· There’s nothing like having a party to make a chore list even longer. If adults and kids alike chip in on the party prep and cleanup, the party will be all that much more special. Kids appreciate events when they know how much work went into prepping for them.
· Add a little music to your chores, work in pairs/groups, or add a competitive element and the work flies by.
· If the timing isn’t critical, write lists of the tasks to be done on a Saturday and let the kids divide them up and get them done at their own pace. Let the kids sprinkle in fun activities and homework along with the chores. They cross items off the list through the day and feel a sense of accomplishment.
We definitely feel like it’s “all for one and one for all” when we work together as a family. Set expectations high, model good behavior, and have fun. Chore days can make for great camaraderie, learning and family togetherness and of course, you’ll get some work done too!
Have fun with your chores!