Chore Time – Teaching your kids to work

 Chore Time

It’s Chore Time Kids!

Empty toilet paper rolls and damp crumpled towels litter the bathroom floor.  Wincing with pain I pick another Lego block from my foot as I pass one of the four clothes covered bedrooms. I’m ready to escape but I can’t! People are coming over tonight and this house needs to look like a home not a war zone. It’s chore time but I have to enlist the help of those munchkins playing in the dirt outside. How am I going to do it!

I have tried monster mummy and that does work sometimes but nobody is happy after that. It was no use saying, “Clean up this mess! if they felt overwhelmed because they didn’t know where to start.

Chore Time Lessons

I took me a while to work out the keys to getting chore time happening but now I’ve learnt a much more effective, and a lot less emotionally draining way to get them working and that was to teach them how to do a job.

Clean your room! meant I had to also get involved so I would sit on the bed and instruct them:

  • Now pick up the blocks.
  • Now put your jumper away.
  • Now put those dirty clothes in the wash basket
  • Now pull the quilt up on your bed.

Make the jobs do-able. Organise the job so they can do it.

  • If you want them to unpack the dishwasher then make sure they can reach the cupboards.
  • If you want them to put away their own clothes, label the draws and put the clothes at a reachable height.
  • If they clean the bathroom, have the cleaning fluids together in a spot they can reach.  The first child who to gets to the bathroom job gets to pick which one they want to clean.
  • For vacuuming we have regions. Each child has a particular sections
  • For the washing line I teach them how to hang the items. Our washing line drops down so they youngest ones hang socks and undies and the older ones hang the rest.

Make the roster easy.

We work on a monthly roster. This cuts out all the arguments of ,” He didn’t do it last night, it’s not my turn etc.” We have one month on washing the dishes, one month on stacking the dishwasher. There is a monthly rotation for the dishwasher with the added bonus that you can sit in the front seat of the car.

Here are some free printable chore charts with age appropriate activities.

What if they refuse to work?

Well, I suppose it depend why they are refusing. One child finds our vacuum cleaner too loud. So I get the siblings to do his room. He has always found noise bothers him. Another found the cleaning fluid for the toilet too strong, I changed the brand.

Out right refusal just because they don’t feel like it has not been a big issue. They know it is expected. But I do tie incentives to their work. For example when asked “Can I play on the computer?”. I usually respond with “Is your room tidy?”

Another thing is we often all work together. All the kids are taking the washing off the line, all the kids are sorting out the washing. Everyone is cleaning at the same time. Saturday morning is often spent getting the house in order.

We do use pocket money as an incentive.

If they want to be paid more pocket money we discuss more responsibility. The money is direct deposited into a savings account for them which is difficult for them to access without planning.

We have an attitude if you live in this family you work as part of this family. These include all the daily chores that make the house function.They include: clean bathroom including toilet, hang out washing, sort washing and put own clothes away, pack and unpack dishwasher, wash dishes, clean the kitchen(if asked)vacuum, dust, sweep, set the table, clean own rooms and other room they have messed up. Help with the shopping, take the groceries out of the car etc.

When we have extra jobs that need doing that are horrible such as; clean the oven, scrub the mold from the shower, rake up the leaves, vacuum the car etc. – we pay extra, at a negotiated fee -in cash.

My kids don’t just think to do a job.

They don’t see a mess. They still need to be told to do their jobs 70% of the time but we are making progress.

I have tried to teach ironing. But I find it hard to teach without having conniptions- but I will keep trying and I will pay big money for it when the time comes.

A wise homeschool mum who was admired for all the things she managed to do with her time once said, “You don’t know how much I don’t do!”

If you have more ideas that you have found helpful-especially with ironing, please let me know.

Chore time

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  1.  July 10, 2009

    The plastic envelopes can be purchased from Office Works. They were in a pack 3 for $1.00

  2. AF Wife99  July 9, 2009

    I love your workbox system. I am really excited to get started with it. Can you tell me what kind of envelopes you are using and where you got them? We don't have room to set up 12 shoe boxes per child in our rent house, so I am adjusting the system to fit our needs.

    AF Wife99

  3. The Handmaden  July 4, 2009

    We have a similar approach to you too.
    One thing I've done with our 9 year old is to put a list in his room (for things he needs to do before he leaves his room in the mornings) and one in the dining room where most of the action is. This way, I don't have to constantly tell him which jobs to do, he refers to his list until its all done.
    Pocket money is a definite incentive too!

  4. Jeanne  June 26, 2009

    This is perfect timing for me, Michelle. Jemimah asked her Daddy about the possibility of pocket money this evening, and we were discussing chores. You've given me some great tips.

    Thank you.

  5. alecat  June 24, 2009

    I agree with the thoughts expressed in your post. You MUST first teach the chore, step by step, listen to the children if something's not right, and have the expectation that all pitch in.

    I learnt ironing at around the age of 10. Mum started me off with a handkerchief. I then found this great book in my school library (along the lines of "all the things a girl ought to know") and it had step-by-step diagrams on how to iron shirts, skirts, etc. That's when I began ironing for almost everyone (I revelled in the responsibility as the eldest of 9). Friday nights I ironed in preparation for church.

  6. Tricia  June 23, 2009

    Thanks Michelle! Great post. Now that I've used all your workbox ideas I can get started on some of your housework tips!

    I have a tip for ironing. Not sure you'll take it up…don't do it! We iron only for Church or other important appointments. I find that folding straight from the line means that I don't need to iron most things.

  7. Leanne  June 22, 2009

    thanks for posting that Michelle,
    We fostered a similar approach with our children. My eldest 3 now know how to keep a house in order.
    they actually thank us for encouraging household responsibility.
    I agree there is no usesaying clean up, if they don't understand how. Its a learnt tool, and it takes perserverance


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