Oh friends, there are amazing things that happen when you finally realize that not only do you have little people in your home to make messes... but you also start to recognize that they can be your helpers too! If you don't have them working already, now is the time to get them working around your house!
Do your kids do chores at your house? Or have family responsibilities? Or whatever else you call them?
We're getting ready for winter vacation and holiday events and I'm trying to do a better job of keeping my kids involved and helping with jobs around our house. Sometimes it is easier to just do it yourself, but in the long run, teaching the kids to help is so important! It is amazing how much faster and more fun it is to work together too!
What are some jobs that your kids do at your house?
We are always trying to find new ways to get our kids helping at our house! I like to tell them that I am working myself out of a job. LOL.
Seriously though, I want them to go to college someday and actually feel prepared to live on their own. When I start with my end goal in mind, it makes it a lot easier to start creating some littler goals.
Here are a few of the jobs my kids help with at our house, depending on the day:
- Setting the table
- Putting dishes in the sink
- Loading/Unloading the dishwasher
- Rinsing dishes
- Sanitizing toys
- Cleaning the toilet
- Wiping down counters
- Spray and wipe windows
- Wiping down baseboards
- Helping sort clean laundry
- Carrying clean laundry to rooms
- Putting clean laundry into drawers
- Putting dirty laundry into a hamper
- Picking up toys
- Taking out the trash and recycling
- Picking up around the house
Eventually we'll work towards... doing their own laundry and putting it away each week, making/cleaning up dinner (including dishes), keeping their room tidy/bed made, and being an expert bathroom cleaner! Those are the tasks that I think are most important as kids go off to live on their own. Any others you'd add?
How do you know when to get started and have your kids help?
I think it is important to have kids start helping as little as you can. Once they can walk or crawl, they can try putting toys in buckets. Even non crawlers could help you pick up a piece of trash and then you could carry them to the trash can to drop it.
For my littler ones, I usually start with these three jobs:
1. Picking up toys
2. Putting their plates/cups/silverware in the sink (non-breakable stuff, of course!)
3. Putting their laundry in the laundry hamper
My toddlers also often think it is fun to throw their own diapers in the trash.
The most important thing you can do when getting kids involved working in your home is to make it a positive experience.
Making it a positive experience, doesn't mean that it is easy.
Obviously, start simple, but I like to remind my kids that they can do hard things. Giving kids challenging assignments can really make them feel good and boost their confidence.
When I give kids a job, I like to scaffold their experience. Scaffolding means that I like to set them up for success and teach them along the way. I like to give them help and support and then slowly remove that help as they begin to get better and be more successfully.
One support that I give kids as they are learning to set the table is placemats with the instructions for how to set a table on it. There are little pictures of where everything goes and it makes it so easy!
How often should you have kids helping around the house?
Ideally, you want your kids to have some sort of job every day. Repetition leads to mastery.
One of my friends shared her Big 5 with us, so we try and make sure the kids do them every day.
The Big 5 daily jobs include...
1. Make your bed
2. Brush teeth
3. Get dressed/Put your clothes away
4. Do hair
5. Say prayers
At your house you might switch some out and say, "clear breakfast dishes" or "pick up toys" or whatever else you want to add.
In addition to Big 5 jobs, we try and have one or two other jobs for the kids to do each day. They do these jobs every day for a month and then they switch to a new job!
One of my friends recommended having daily jobs and a weekly job that we try and do on Saturdays. Here's our basic list for my three big kids right now. Since they can all read, I don't need photos. I am making my toddler's list this week and then her's will have some photo reminders. I love this easy To Do/Done visual chart for toddlers when they are cleaning up.
How do you decide who does what job?
A few years ago, we created a job schedule. We divided up different jobs and created Zones in our house. Each kid is then assigned to a specific zone each month. After a month of doing the same job(s), we switch. A month is a really good amount of time to feel like you actually mastered a task.
How do you teach kids how to do their jobs?
When we start a new job, I spend the first week or so teaching the kids how to do it properly. If they are cleaning the bathroom, then we work together. I showed them quick tips or easier ways to do things. Sometimes they share ideas with me too.
Each kid has a job that fits their age. For example, if my toddler was helping me clean the bathroom. I would have her help spray the mirror and try to help me wipe it. I would also have her spray the toilet bowl and then we would both swish the toilet brush and scrub together. I would model how to do it and then finish anything she missed. My goal is to keep it short and positive, so after a few minutes she would be done and I would finish. Over time we keep making it longer.
Do you pay kids to do chores at your house?
The short answer is no.
We decided a few years ago that there were certain expectations for being apart of our family. Those expectations included being a contributor and helping out in our home. General chores like putting away laundry, cleaning dishes, making beds, etc. are done because each kid is part of the family... and we are all responsible for helping.
Occasionally there are jobs in our home that don't happen that often, but they are more annoying jobs or dirty tasks. These tasks we will often put a price tag on. Kids can usually earn a quarter unless they negotiate for higher. They aren't jobs kids can do every day, but they can do them a few times a week. These include taking out the trash and bringing it in, taking stinky diapers out to the trash (outside, because I don't keep those stinky things inside), picking up other kid's clothes in the family (if they don't do their jobs), and helping at siblings birthday parties.
I don't usually pay kids for these jobs until they have some concept about money, which is usually around age 4 to 5.
How do you make cleaning fun?
Sometimes cleaning isn't fun, but you can make anything fun depending on your attitude.
Four ways that we make cleaning fun are by...
1. Listening to fun music. Here are the best toddler clean up songs.
2. Working together (everything is more fun when you work together). If you are doing it along with them, they will also feel more motivated. Kids learn best by example!
3. Chatting while you work. I love working with my mom and siblings. We just chat about favorite things, passions, interests. You can do the same thing with your kids. Be interested in them. Ask them questions and listen to the answers.
4. Set a time limit! It is so much easier to work when you know you are only doing it for a specific time limit. I love to set a timer and then try and complete a certain project within that time frame.
What other chores do your kids help with? How do you work chores at your house?
Do you have a system that works for you? How do you make time for jobs in busy schedules?