I hope you're seeing chores in a whole, different light and their importance in your family life lately! I agree that it's a lot of trouble to implement, especially if you have a helper, or an established system of doing things most efficiently. Why would you want little hands messing things up, taking thrice as long?!
I know right. WHY.... 😫
Because... the training is good for the kids! See the previous blog if you need more reasons to be convinced chores are good for kids 😉
With menial chores, the kids are training their hands, their bodies, using their labour to do something good for the family. It gives them a role in the family and a sense of responsibility. Chores give them a sense of empowerment and they feel good to be a contributing member.
The story of how I gave them money and it backfired...
When I first started out with chores, I thought I was clever to give the kids $2 every time they did their work. It worked pretty well for a while and I wrote a pretty smug blogpost about it. (I'm keeping it there for entertainment purposes, if you care for a read.)
Then a month into it, I started seeing very entitled and bratty behaviour. If the children wanted to buy some toy, they would do the chore. If they had spent all their money and had to save all over again, they were less motivated to do their chores and I had to remind them repeatedly. Then 1 day, I snapped when my son demanded to be paid even though he did a terrible job.
I was raising worst-employees-of-the-millennium here.
This monetary system had to stop. Furthermore, my husband and I were fighting with our daughter too much because she insisted on buying some small toy every week. We felt she wasn't learning the proper value of money.
Some tips which work!
Don't offer anything, if you can.
Just introduce chores as a normal part of family life, expected of every family member. I wrote on the board the additional chore(s) we were all in charge of so it's clear every person has to do something to help out, over and above tidying the area after playing or working in it.
Don't do the sticker chart thing, or give money, or dessert, because we don't want to exchange internal motivation for an external reward.
BUT if you must, you can announce the "reward" after they have done their chores - like a surprise. For us, screen time was the surprise reward. Although after a while, it's no longer a surprise but the kids now know if they want to play games on the ipad or computer for 20 minutes, they have to first complete their chores.
How is screen time better than giving money? It isn't - both are external rewards. Again, if your kids are younger, I'd say, to skip any regular, expected reward. But for us, screen time is spent there and then and there's no additional burden of quibbling about how to spend the money on what, or if it is appropriate to buy a toy every week....
Think through and detail the steps for each chore.
I take it for granted that the children already knows how to do the chore just by watching me do it. But often, they don't! You have to be really specific - show them and talk them though how many squirts of detergent to put on the sponge; how to batch wash the dirty dishes; how strong should the water be; where to put the dishes to dry etc.
You can imagine my horror when my daughter put so much detergent, then left the water running for the looooonngggest time while she soaped and washed each item separately.
Encourage plenty, criticize little.
It doesn't come naturally to me but I'm trying very hard to praise more, notice the small things they do well and then point it out to them. Or I'd express my gratitude and say, "Thank you for helping me with the dishes today. It really lessened my load."
"I saw how you really put strength into scrubbing that stubborn stain off the floor. See how clean it now is!"
I am amazed at how kind words build up these little ones who are trying their best to help! Another day, another time, you can point out areas for improvement gently and matter-of-factly.
Introduce fun tools that you know the kids will love using.
It's always a bit more fun when you get to use cool tools - like a water gun spray mop 🤣. Or the kids are thrilled when they get to empty the robot's dust container. It's a fun and easy job!
Chores can also be fun if we play it like a game and we do it all together.
So here are the 4 things that have really worked well for us. I hope you experiment a little to see what works for your family! I've seen my little baby get really interested in moving the dry mop across the floors. It's so cute when she thinks mopping the floors is like playing! I wouldn't discourage her! I'll let her go at it and say "Well done!"
Which tip do you think you'll implement in your home?