How to Get Your Kids to Help You More
Are you tired of feeling like the family slave? Do you feel like if you don’t do it yourself, it’ll never get done?
Wish your kids would pitch in and help, but feel like they’re too young or it’s not worth the battle trying to get them to do it?
I did a Project Me survey and asked:
‘Does your child/children have weekly or daily chores to help out around the house?’
49% said no.
The two most common reasons were:
1. I don’t ask for it.
2. My kids are too young.
It was interesting to note how many mothers with kids aged between 5-8 thought their kids were too young.
Your kids can start helping out from a much younger age than you think.
Sure, in the beginning it’s going to feel a lot easier / faster / more efficient just to do it all yourself, but teaching and training them young gets them into a naturally helpful mindset and is well worth the investment. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, nagging and resentment later on. And you’ll get the help you need so you can stop feeling like a glorified personal butler and start putting your feet up a bit more!
Little kids want to help. It gives you a chance to thank them and it builds self-reliance.
Self-reliant children can do age appropriate things for themselves. This includes doing their own thinking and coming up with their own strategies to solve their problems. A child who can do things for him/herself gains immeasurable amounts of self esteem.
By doing too much for your child, you’re denying them an opportunity to practice self-reliance.
Remember this the next time you’re tempted to do something simple that they could be doing for themselves.
Set your child up to succeed at mastering new skills. Spend time showing them how it’s done and be patient while they’re learning. It may seem obvious to you how to make a bed or to fold socks, but by demonstrating and then continuing to oversee it the next few times, you’re not just showing them how it’s done once – you’re giving them on-the-job training until they master it.
What if your kids are older and even getting them to hang a wet towel doesn’t feel worth the nagging?
It’s never too late.
It’s your job to send your kids off into the world with a set of basic skills and good habits they’ll use for the rest of their life. Their future roommates and spouses will appreciate it too!
So, where to begin?
First you’ll need to overcome any thinking that you’ll do it better and faster, so you may as well just do it yourself. Let go of perfection. Not easy, but you’ve gotta try.
Further below is a list of age appropriate chores.
If your kids are older and haven’t yet learned how to do some of the things suggested for younger kids, don’t expect that they ‘should’ know how to do it properly by now. If they haven’t received any training, it’s not their fault!
Explain that dishes won’t come clean in the dishwasher unless they’re rinsed properly and loaded in a certain way. Show them how you like them done. And if they don’t do it correctly the first time (or second, or third), be patient and show them again.
Demonstrate how to strip their bed and put on new sheets. Do it together until they get the hang of it.
Imagine if you’d started a new job with no specific expectations, then your boss got super annoyed with you for not doing what she wanted. Or if she gave you no training in how to do something new, then blew up at you when you didn’t do it right! You’d might think she was an unreasonable bitch. How motivated would you feel to to do a good job?
Age Appropriate Chores
Put toys away
Put dirty clothes in hamper
Put clothes into washing machine / dryer
Take plastic plates / cups to kitchen
Wipe up spills
Help you fetch / take things from one room to another
Ages 3-4 (the above chores plus…)
Empty plastic items and cutlery from dishwasher (remove knives first)
Flush toilet / close toilet seat
Make bed (pulling up the duvet)
Put away clean clothes into drawers
Ages 4-5 (the above chores plus…)
Help set and clear the table
Replace toilet paper roll
Match socks / Fold laundry
Tidy their room
Put away groceries
Age 6-8 (the above chores plus…)
Meal prep (wash fruit/veg, fetch ingredients and utensils, simple cutting)
Wipe sinks, counters, bath, toilet
Take rubbish out
Clean their own room entirely
Age 9-11 (the above chores plus…)
Clean toilet properly
Wash / dry clothes
Make simple meals
Change bed sheets
Make and pack own lunch boxes
Some kids work really well with check-lists. My younger son gets great satisfaction from working from a list and checking each task off as he does it. (I wonder where he gets that from?) They both definitely need expectations written and posted up as a visible reminder. It saves me nagging and I can just point to the list.
There are arguments for and against setting up rewards for doing chores.
Some kids seem to need them to feel incentivised.
Others are brought up from the very start to view chores as a natural part of being in a family. If your kids are still very young, this is the way to go.
If your kids are older and you’re introducing chores as a new concept, sit down with them and discuss why you’re changing your tune and why you want them to help out.
Discuss incentives and what seems fair to them. You may be surprised when they come up with some very reasonable ideas.
Imagine if your child told you they’d be happy to complete a list of daily / weekly chores if it meant the two of you would play a board game at the weekend? Or they could stay up later on Friday and Saturday nights and watch a movie or play a video game without you complaining?
If they decide they want an allowance, make an easy chart to keep track of it. Rather than long lists of monetary values for each chore (urghh!), keep it simple. They will earn up to a maximum of ___ per week if jobs are done to your satisfaction and without nagging. You’ll determine at the end of each week how much they’ve earned. Be fair and remember the teaching and training part!
More than anything you want to instil a value of contributing to the family. Give them lots of positive feedback for effort. Smile! Show them how happy you feel when they help out – and let them know how much you appreciate it.
Consistency is the key. A lot of mothers in my survey said they started using charts, but then never followed through on them. If that’s you, it’s time to turn over a new leaf!
If you want your kids to be more helpful, you need to do your part to kick start it and then follow through. I promise you – it’ll pay off!
How would you like a free copy of this My Chores Chart for helping your kids to list and check off their jobs around the house? It’s colourful enough to appeal to younger kids, without being too cutesy for older ones. Click the chart below for the PDF!
It’s a part of my Summer Strategy Kit – packed full of 26 drop-dead gorgeous printables to help you plot out all aspects of your summer so it flows SUPER smoothly! It includes plenty for the kids like Screen Time Trackers, Reading Log, Boredom Busters, Rules and Rewards and ones for YOU like setting Summer Goals, Packing Planner, Action Lists and Simple Summer Meal Planning.
For future goodies, pop your name and email address into the box below. I’ll send you the free Project Me Life Wheel® for finding a better balance straight away.
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And be sure to read How to Get Your Hubby to Help Out More Around The House too. It’s time for you to get the help you need!
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Click here to learn about the online Positive Parenting Academy course.
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In the comments below, share how you feel about getting your kids to help out. Could they be doing more? Do you need to structure it / write it all out so they know what their jobs are? What do you think about incentives / rewards for chores?
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