Chores… Something every parent has to think about and most children dread. There are so many tips available on the Internet and in many parenting magazines. Yet chores remains a hot topic in any circle of parents meeting in playgrounds and playgroups across the county.
At this time of year, as schools prepare to let loose the children, parents are talking even more about chores and responsibilities. Summer is upon us and though we want our children to have their fun, we need them to contribute to the home chores.
How do you balance work and play for your children? Do you pay them an allowance? Do they get incentive rewards? How old should they be when you start to assign chores? How you choose to work out those details is as individual as each household. However, most experts (and parents) agree that it is as important for children to learn these skills as it is to learn to walk, run, and ride a bike.
Chores teach children how to accomplish tasks. They teach children how to schedule or budget their time. They teach children how to work together. Chores create independence and problem solving skills. If allowance is involved, it can serve as a lesson on how to budget or save earnings for a special item. These are all wonderful lifelong skills and positive character traits!
So why can it be such a battle to follow through and assign chores to the children in our lives? As adults we rationalize that if we had a choice between something we perceive as fun, vs something that we perceive as work, we would likely choose the fun thing as well. But since we do not really have a choice, we get through the work so we can reward ourselves with some leisure time afterwards. Personally, I dislike kitchen chores. Why does it seem to be never ending? I can relate to “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout” and what happened because she would not take the garbage out!
How can we get our little lovelies to chip in around the house? There is no magical answer to that question. As a mother of four, I know what has worked in my house and what hasn’t. Trial and error can take more effort by the parents, but it is rewarding to find a method that works for your own family. One thing many parents agree on is that, though the chore itself may not be fun, the approach to it should be. Pinterest is a great source for creative ideas and approaches.
My boys are like many other boys and really enjoy their video games and computer time. I struggled to find a balance for their allowable game time, chores, and other fun until I started using a sign up sheet. In our home, it is a successful and fun way to encourage my boys to do chores.
Your sign up sheet can be new daily or laminated to write on with a dry erase marker. On our sheet I add things that I can use help with daily. There are a variety of things to choose from with varying degrees of difficulty and age appropriate for each boy. I write things such as tidy up the shoe shelf, sweep the kitchen floor, take out the garbage, take the dog for a walk, shovel the sidewalk, or weed the flowerbeds. For fun, there are things such as go for a bike ride with a brother, play tag outside, build a snow fort, use sidewalk chalk to create a picture, or even read a book.
The boys are responsible to sign up for a chore one at a time. They have to complete one chore fully before they can sign up for another. Each “chore” or “job” has an amount of time assigned to it by myself, such as 5, 10, 20, or 30 minutes. When they have successfully completed some jobs and accumulated enough time credits, they are given equal time on their games. It is a great way for us to balance chores, play and computer time. The boys feel it is their choice and that they are in control. It balances out well and they never have too much “time” accrued to make me feel they are spending too much of it on video games.
This summer, think how to keep it fun. Have the children think they are in control of how and when they help out around the house. It makes for less of a battle and guarantees more fun for all!