Kids and chores – what a fun topic. I don’t think there is anything that parents and kids or kids and other kids fight about more. It’s your turn, no, its your turn, I did it last time, how come I have to do that, that isn’t fair – kids have an endless supply of complaints and excuses when it comes to chores.
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This is a problem that needs solving. The fact is, these kids are going to be doing some kind of chores for the rest of their lives. Unless they are going to end up independently wealthy with a full staff of maids, gardeners, and cooks, the fact is there are decades worth of chores in their future.
Basically, everyone has to do some amount of chores, and with a few rare exceptions, no one likes to do them. So, who is going to have the bigger advantage in life – a kid who learns early how to do chores without complaining and fussing about them, or the one who doesn’t?
I think you need to be consistent and very matter-of-fact with kids about their chores, the same way you are about car seats, bedtimes, and good manners. It’s just something that is daily, non-negotiable, and nothing to make a fuss about. Get them done quickly and well so you can move on to other things that are more fun!
Enforcement is huge, and that is your job as a parent. The rule in my house is that if you don’t do a chore on the day it is given, the next day, you will do that chore PLUS a penalty chore of my choosing. Miss 2 chores and you get 2 penalty chores. It adds up fast and my kids know that there is not ever going to be any benefit to them for skipping a chore.
Same thing for chores done poorly. I’ve been struggling with my teen on this one all summer long. Chores are done first thing in the morning before a TV, computer, or video game can be turned on. He has ADHD and I know once he gets sucked into something electronic, there is no going back, especially if I’m at work and can’t monitor his usage. However, now he has hit on a strategy of whipping through his chores to try and get to the good stuff faster – the stinker!
The thing is, in the long run, this strategy is not going to pay off. Predictably, every single time, I make him go back and complete the chore properly. If he’s done it poorly enough, he earns an extra penalty chore as well. If it really gets bad over a few days, he also loses his electronics and has to miss fun activities with his friends. It’s taken a while, and we had a long, serious talk about it, but we’re finally coming to an understanding and I can see that he is at least trying, although he’s still got a ways to go.
Everyone is different in how they assign chores to their kids, but I do something even more unusual (yes, of course, this is ME. If you’ve been reading my blog at all, you know I always put my own unique spin on things). I assign chores more or less permanently rather than the more usual chore rotation most families use.
Some things are no brainers. I’m a working Mom, so my kids have always made their own beds, prepared their own lunches, cleared their own dishes, and washed their own laundry. I don’t even consider those “chores”, that’s just life – if they want clean clothes, they’d better wash them. Then again, teenaged boys are not that concerned about clean clothes, so I do have to push a few reminders on that one! But at least I’m not the one putting them in the washer.
But those pesky little daily things, like taking the trash out, loading and unloading the dishwasher, helping set up and clean up for dinner, those I assign on a more or less permanent basis. It’s just SO much easier. I never have to worry about whose week it is, or who traded chores with who. If the dishwasher did not get unloaded, I know exactly who I need to hunt down to do it.
Makes it a lot simpler. Is it fair? Nope, get over it – that’s what I tell my kids. Sometimes I think we worry way too much about trying to make things fair for our kids. My boss doesn’t care if something is fair when she wants me to do a task, so I’m not going to worry about that with my boys. Suck it up, this is life in the big city fellas.
It’s a process, but we’ll get there. What kinds of things do you do to help your kids get better about their chores?
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