How to Get Your Kids to Help You More

How to Get Your Kids to Help You More
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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

Ages 2-3

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)
Water plants
Feed pets
Flush toilet / close toilet seat
Make bed (pulling up the duvet)
Put away clean clothes into drawers
Vacuuming
Dusting

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
Sort recycling
Vacuum sofa/chairs/cushions
Load dishwasher

Age 6-8 (the above chores plus…)

Meal prep (wash fruit/veg, fetch ingredients and utensils, simple cutting)
Fold/hang laundry
Sweep
Wipe sinks, counters, bath, toilet
Take rubbish out
Rake leaves
Clean their own room entirely

Age 9-11 (the above chores plus…)

Mop floors
Clean toilet properly
Wash / dry clothes
Make simple meals
Change bed sheets
Make and pack own lunch boxes
Clean mirrors
Clean fridge
Wash dishes

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! 

MyChores_planner

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. (All for the price of a jug of frozen margaritas.) 

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!

I’m thrilled to be a proud affiliate of The Parent Practice’s new Positive Parenting Academy. Check out the full course information and if you do decide to invest in a happier family life, using my special affiliate link below lets them know I sent you – and because I’m the sharing type, I’m going to share my affiliate bonus with you 50/50!  That means you get a nice 20% discount at check-out when you enrol. Cool huh?

Click here to learn about the online Positive Parenting Academy course.

Then to get the 20% discount be sure to click here when you make your payment. (You must use this link to get the discount.)

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?

Kelly Pietrangeli

Kelly Pietrangeli

Mama Motivator at Project Me
Kelly Pietrangeli is the creator of Project Me for Busy Mothers, helping women find a happier balance between the kids - and everything else.

Mixing practicality with self-awareness, Kelly helps mothers get on top of their endless to-do’s, set goals and improve their lives one small step at a time.

Grab her free Life Wheel Tool for discovering what needs your focus first.
Kelly Pietrangeli

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12 Responses to How to Get Your Kids to Help You More

  1. Love this! I think my girls will actually love having their own chart. xx

    • Yay! Glad you love it Patty. I wanted to keep it fun, colourful and unisex, without being too cutesy. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll get an email from me with tips on how to use it.

      Let me know how you and your girls get on 🙂

  2. Kim says:

    This is a great article!

    My kids have been helping around the house for as long as I can remember. They never say no or complain when I ask for help, and we don’t have a chart or list of what needs to be done.

    I take a different approach and never call regular housework “chores.” I believe that we all have to have a share in the regular upkeep of the house: meals, laundry, general cleaning. I do not reward/pay for everyday tasks that my boys should participate in as a member of our household.

    In my home, chores are the jobs that aren’t a regular part of every day life, such as painting the deck (which maybe needs to happen once every five years). If they want to make money, they will come and ask for a job that I’m willing to pay them for. I never have a shortage of things for them to do if they want to work for money. But… they never ask for money for laundry, helping make dinner, or packing their lunch in the morning.

    I do believe that being paid for some jobs certainly helps them to learn about managing money, spending, and saving. And we make budgeting a part of our conversations now that they are old enough to understand.

    Thanks for your great posts! I read them all the time, but haven’t commented on one before. 🙂

    • You’re such a great inspiration Kim! I hope mothers with tiny kids are inspired to do things like you’ve always done. It saves having to un-do old habits and mindsets later!

      I’m happy you read my posts – and that you decided now was the time to chime in on the comments! Hope to see more of you here 🙂

  3. Rachel says:

    Love the post and love the chart.
    I started all four of my children off with chores at a very young age. The only one we “struggle” with is the youngest. I love this chart because you’re right, it can work for younger and older kids. And I think the kids will appreciate writing in their chores instead of having them prewritten. Gives them more of a sense of ownership!

    • Thanks so much for letting me know Rachel! It’s great to get feedback.

      Well done for getting four kids into chores from a young age. You don’t say how old your youngest is, but I’m sure with your support they will do just great 🙂

  4. Shelagh says:

    Hi Kelly

    Great post! Love the idea of the chores checklist.

    Thank you!
    S x

  5. […] week I wrote about how to get your kids to help you more. This time it’s about getting the help you need from your […]

  6. Marcus says:

    So for starters, the article failed to mention or recognise fathers as being primary caregivers. I understand that these are your thoughts based on your experiences but I clicked on your post to potentially gain and or share knowledge.

    So a little food for thought, there are many sites that cater to the needs of mothers. Take a moment and look around count how often father’s are mentioned in a primary role or supportive role.

    • Hi Marcus! Thanks for chiming in here. I’ve just re-read the article from the perspective of a dad and the advice here about getting kids to help out seems equally relevant to any primary caregiver who wants to teach kids age-appropriate skills around the house.

      I’d love to hook up with websites aimed at fathers. I do know of a UK based one http://www.dadzclub.com/ and if you know of any others, please pass them my way. 🙂

  7. […] house – set up a chores schedule and make it happen. Summer is a good time to create a fresh rewards chart. Hang up some clear, written rules so everyone knows what’s expected. It’ll save you […]

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