You probably experienced it as a child, the daily battle with your parents to do your chores and the inevitable war zone that broke out when dishes weren’t dried or bedrooms dusted. Chores are boring, even for adults, but if we all want to live in a clean and well ordered home, they are unfortunately, necessary.
To create an environment at home where your children help out without the battles, start when they are young if you can. Put a duster in the hand of a one-year-old and show them how to use it and they’ll happily clean with mummy whilst you are also maintaining the home. If your child can associate cleaning with positivity, then this should carry on as they’re older. Even if you have a weekly cleaner or hire Molly Maid spring cleaning once a year to get on top of it all, it’s important that the children learn to help out in their own way, with age appropriate tasks.
Don’t enforce cleaning as a chore, instead make it a simple part of their everyday routine so they don’t think of it as anything unusual – i.e. you always dry the dishes together after washing up or the bins are always taken out on a Tuesday evening before collection day. Having chores as a basic element in their everyday lives from a young age could help prevent any resistance when they’re older. Since the age of around 6, I have encouraged my children to have a ‘job’ of their own. My daughter (now 13) started feeding the cats each morning, and now she is older her brother does that job and she helps to prepare the evening meal. I was always keen that my children learn to cook, as this wasn’t something I was taught at home and meant that I made unhealthy choices and got into bad habits with food when I was older.
Don’t let one parent do all the work. You might have grown up in a very clear gender-divisive environment but try to eliminate this when you have children. Ensure both you and your partner are seen regularly doing chores, so your children understand that everyone needs to play a part when it comes to cleaning the home.
Try and do your own chores at the same time as your kids; if the whole family is giving up their time to get things done they might accept the task at hand more easily. We also link chores to pocket money so if the children want to earn some more money for a special event they can do a job to help out the house. I find that this instills the belief that money has to be earned and doesn’t just get handed out. There’s nothing more unattractive than an entitled attitude and an inability to show gratitude.
If your kids are a little older and you’re just starting to introduce the concept of chores, then why not make it a game? Time how long it takes them to complete a task and if they beat their time (and the job is still done properly) then they can have some sort of reward – perhaps something like a slightly later bed time. You could also assign a time to the task you want them to do. Tell them that drying the dishes should only take 20 minutes and they’ll try to get them done even quicker.
Don’t ever let them off the hook with chores as a reward for good behaviour though and don’t use chores as a punishment. While you might consider chores a threat you can use to get kids to behave, it will just reinforce the negative associations they might already have. You should also try to avoid overloading them. I find that being realistic with your expectations for their age is a more productive way to treat chores. Plus if you need to deliver punishment you could always threaten to take away the Wi-Fi!
Disclosure: This post was brought to you in collaboration with Molly Maid. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make JuggleMum possible.