Sunday, January 31, 2010

Are you a mom that gives chores to your children?

Do you give chores to your children on a daily basis?

I am shocked at the number of moms that do NOT give their children daily chores or responsibilities. Part of my job as a parent is to prepare my children for a life outside of my home once they are an adult. I am their teaching and training ground.

How will your children know how to clean the bathroom, clean their rooms, make their beds, make a meal, and do laundry after they are out of your house? It will not happen by magic - you will need to teach them, train them, show them, do it with them.

I have had roommates in college that didn't have the discipline or see the value in having a clean room, couldn't boil water to make macaroni and cheese, or even prepare a salad from start to finish. Their mothers did them no favors by doing everything for them! In fact, it is a huge disservice sending untrained and unprepared children out into the world.

I am very diligent about my training of these chores. I do not just say "clean the bathroom" or "clean your room". I spend huge amounts of time doing and teaching these chores to my children side-by-side. Once I feel they have got the hang of it, I make them a detailed list of what "cleaning the bathroom" means and upon completion of each chore they have to call me over for "Inspection". I caringly and lovingly inspect the bathroom or their bedroom and help them with the details they may have missed.

I teach them that it is better to take your time and do it right than try to speed through it and get it done fast (a tendency that I am working on with one of my children).

I am often asked how early do you start chores. I reply that you don't even officially have to "start giving chores" - watch your little toddlers - they are the best little helpers. At 18 months, I could tell each of my children to put their toys in their toybox (I always have had a good looking toy bin in our family room) and they would do it. Now, they may need prompting like, "now, put the cars in the toybox, now put all the balls in the box, now..." - step-by-step prompting. I also sing a little song with the little ones while we pick up together, "Clean up, Clean up, Everybody, Everywhere, Clean up, Clean up, Everybody does their share!"(is that a Barney song?.

My two year old helps wash dishes, puts laundry detergent in washing machine, puts dirty clothes in washing machine, puts all the wet clothes in the dryer, puts the dryer sheet in the dryer, puts the dry clothes in the laundry basket, sorts the clean laundry with me, takes each person's clean laundry to their rooms and puts in their own individual clean laundry baskets, sweeps the floors with a swiffer for me, & more. He joyfully and willingly helps me with all of the chores I do on a daily basis and is thrilled that I let him help, even though it does take longer. I get an opportunity to show him how to do something, let him have the success in doing it, and shower him with love and appreciation for all his great help!

We make chores as fun and joyful as possible. My oldest son doesn't like chores one bit and he is happy to tell you that too. We put on music to make it more fun. I go between all of our chore projects and help everyone out for a few minutes. Sometimes, if one family member is feeling overwhelmed with their chores - we all stop everything and go and help them out. Sometimes, we set a timer and race against the clock to beat it. At the end of chore time we reward the kids by playing a family game like - scrabble, or a board game, or the Nintendo wii.

My children also "earn their allowance" for completion of expected chores and duties throughout the week. My children are not given an allowance simply for existing and being a part of our family. You do not have a job where you are paid just for existing as an adult - you are paid for doing actual work. The subject of allowances are a whole blogpost on it's own!

Happy cleaning! Moms don't do it all yourself! Get your entire family to help; not just to help you, but to to help them - to help them be great and responsible adults in the future !


  1. This is great information Melissa. I wholeheartedly agree with you. We use a chore chart that changes on the seasons. I give the kids some choices in their chores too which helps increase their decision making and empowerment.

    Laura Rolands

  2. Thanks Melissa for your awesome 'how to tips' in getting children to do chores around the house; and in expressing to parents/caregivers the importance of encouraging their children to do them. Implementing this practice at home is especially important for families who have children with autism spectrum disorders, any developmental delays, or for kids with a lot of energy/very active. Chore is a great way to get children to use their energy in an appropriate meaningful way, while simultaneously learning a functional skill.
    Again Melissa, thanks for helping us see the bigger picture and value of chores.

    ABA Family Coach
    Autism: Bridging The Gap

  3. My 18 month old loves loves to "wash" dishes. Her 4 year old sister too. The girls both help with everyday practical life skills and they LOVE it!
    hanging up shirts, folding laundry, putting away their own dishes in a low cupboard, sweeping etc...
    Come check out my blog for more practical life activities we do.
    twitter @montessoriblog

  4. Melissa,

    I love this post. It's so easy to get caught up feeling overwhelmed as a wife and a mother who looks around the house and sees a huge mess she didn't create, but that she feels she has to clean up. And yes, it's hard to take the time to properly teach our kids how to clean up after themselves when we could do it so much faster.

    But I appreciate the reminder of all the good reasons we need to give our kids chores. Heck--my kids have been asking me for chores and I've been too overwhelmed to stop and assign them.

    Looks like I need to make that happen this weekend!

    Lara Galloway
    The Mom Biz Coach

  5. that song! I remember it! my teacher used to sing it in kindergarten.

    as for the teaching kids the chores, awesome, AWESOME. my hubby to be's mom did everything for him, so i'm in the process of teaching him how to clean. i used to get frustrated, but now i realize that he just doesn't know where to start! music is a great help, and we clean for a half hour and then we stop. (good for both of us!)