If you are anything like me, you feel like you are cleaning. Constantly. With no end in sight, most of the time. With 3 kids under 7, we have our fair share of messes and laundry. It was during a typical cleaning session in my son’s room (LEGOS EVERYWHERE) that I realized: The kids make the messes, but have no part in cleaning them up afterward. They just walk away, leaving it for the housekeeping fairy to deal with. Well, no more! I was fed up! Of course, there are many chores that I will handle on my own. But, there was plenty (P-L-E-N-T-Y) of stuff that the kids could, and should, be taking care of. Frustration hit, but it brought it’s friend Inspiration. So, I set out to make a chore chart (though I don’t call them chores) for each kid. How? Well, keep reading.
Make a List
My kids are 2, 3, and 7. So, there were definitely tasks that each child could help with. I started out with 3 sheets of paper, and did a brainstorm session of what tasks each one could do on their own. Making their beds, putting their clean laundry away, and cleaning their rooms, for example, all went onto each child’s list. But, the littlest one could do something like help me wipe down the fridge or oven. My middle could wash the windows and put towels away in the bathrooms. And my oldest could clean up the back yard, clear the table after dinner, etc. Just list everything. Bath toy clean up, sweep the floor, vacuum the rugs, every task you do that they could do–put it on a list. And, as an added bonus, you will walk away from this brainstorm session with an all new appreciation with just how much you do every day.
Make It Cute
There are zillions of chore charts on Pinterest. I like a clothes-pin system personally. Get a bag of clothes-pins at the Dollar Store, and write the chore on each one. Then take two pieces of ribbon and a clothes hanger, and hang it in or near the child’s bedroom. One side will be home to the tasks at the start of the day, and as they are completed, the tasks move to the other side. Especially for young kids, this is a super-visual, simplistic way for them to see their workload. Or, you can do a simple checklist, & use stickers or colorful markers to show completion. I do advise, though, to use something reusable. If you have to sit down every Sunday night & rewrite the entire task list, you are less likely to be consistent because, let’s face it, who needs one more thing to accomplish. Put in a little work now, and save time later.
My son, especially, asks for something every time we walk into Target. It is like he automatically assumes that he will be going home with a new toy. Every time. So, I started putting value on money. Part of his success for the day is getting a 90-100% for conduct at school. That is one component. But, when he used to get a 90-100%, I gave him $1. So, he was just doing that and getting rewarded for it. Now, it is one part of his day. It is the expectation. So now, he knows that he has to work a lot harder to get his $. For him, if he does everything on his task list each day, he will get $2. So, at the end of the school week, he could have $10. Small price to pay, in my opinion, for a child who knows the value of hard work. But, the girls have far fewer tasks, and so they get $1 a day. It is fair, in my opinion. And their toys are cheaper. Legos could make us go broke.
Kids crave structure. Every teacher and parent will tell you so. So, be steady and consistent with the implementation. If you catch yourself doing a task that is on one of their lists, stop and call them over. After a while, it will become routine. Just like anything else, it takes time to build a habit. But, kids are smart, and they will adapt to their new life in hard labor fairly quickly.
With these tips, you can share the task load with your children. And, in addition to you having less to do, they will learn that they are not simply here to play and make messes. They will learn that hard work pays off, and that they really can earn their own money. Nothing makes them prouder than earning their own rewards. All they want to do is please us. So, make it special and make it a BIG DEAL when they succeed!