I have decided to start treating my children like slaves. That’s right. There are a ton of chores they can do around the house and I’m going to force them to be just like Cinderella and complete them all.
Actually, I’m just kidding, but I did realize something this week and that is that children can actually enjoy helping out, even older ones like mine. Yesterday, I paid my twelve-year-old to clean my vehicle inside and out. I offered her $13.00 for a job done well, told her what I expected and left her to complete the task. She did suprisingly well and I saved $5.00, since the local car wash charges me $18.00 for the same job. She’s happy – she now has some money of her own; I’m happy – I saved money and have a clean car. We all came out winners.
However, there are also tasks that I expect my girls to do simply because they are part of our family and need to help the household out. For example, everyone should pitch in and carry in groceries, pull the trash cans up to the house and help with the pets, which belong to us all. The same goes for taking turns cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.
Then there are jobs that I would pay someone else to do or simply hate doing myself. These are the jobs that I will offer them money to do. They don’t always take the jobs and that is fine. I can go elsewhere to have these things done or do them myself. However, when they then want money to go see yet another movie with their friends, I will often say no and remind them of the job they should have done to earn the money.
You can start giving your kids small chores at a young age.
Toddlers are great at help pick things up. Make it a game to see how fast he or she can pick up toys and put them in a toy box or throw away the newspaper when you’re done reading it. Money doesn’t mean much to toddlers, so if you want to offer them payment, you may want to do it in the form of treats. “Help Mom pick up this newspaper and we’ll go get an ice cream.”
Some might say this is bribing, I call it rewards. Bribing, to me, is more like saying, “If you’ll quit throwing a fit, we will go get ice cream even though I already told you no.” One is a reward and the other is a bribe.
Elementary Age Kids
As kids get older, they can help with more chores. You may even want to start a chore list. Donna Young has some great resources for running a household and homeschooling. Older kids should be expected to pick up their room and take care of their personal needs. In addition, you may want to give them tasks such as caring for the family pet (always double check that pets are fed and watered), vacuuming, dusting furniture or watering plants.
This is an age when you can start expecting a little more or paying for tasks. I believe that pre-teens should be taught to do their own laundry and how to make a few easy meals for those busy nights when it would help if everyone could make a quick something on their own. This will start leading them toward be self-sufficient adults. While they do still need nurtured, they can contribute a lot to the running of your household and having a few key tasts will give them self-confidence.
With each year, teens should have more responsibilities and abilities. Remember that soon your precious child will be out on his or her own. Teens also have an unending need for money, so offering tasks that will help your teen earn a few extra bucks can be greatly appreciate, but not as limiting as working an outside job (although there are advantages in the experience of working for someone else too). Teens should be able to do just about anything an adult can do.
Try not to be overly critical. Offer some advice and tips for doing the best job possible but be careful not to destroy your child’s self esteem. A good rule of thumb is to offer two praises for every criticism. Be sure to make the criticism constructive.
“You missed a ton of spots on this car!” is not constructive.
“If you take the sponge and scrub at the front, these bugs will come off. See?” This is constructive and teaches the child how to do a better job without tearing him or her down. Remember, you’d need to add two praises too. “The wheels are super shiny and my windows have never been so clean!”
Delegating chores can free up your time for other household projects, so try to make good use of your choices in which chores to pass down to which kids. Good luck!