Helping at Home: How to Teach Your Kids to Love Doing Chores
Posted on 18 March 2020
With everyone taking precautions against the spread of the coronavirus, schools are closing and that means the kids are home for spring break a little earlier than expected. All these extra hands makes it seem like the perfect opportunity to get kids involved with pitching in around the house, right? While it sounds simple enough in theory, sometimes winning the “chore-war” is more of a battle than we’ve bargained for. So, how do you teach your kids to love doing chores without bribes, nagging or punishments? Today on Zeena Uncovered, we asked real moms from around the community to share their secrets on how to make tidying up a natural part of the day. From boosting self-esteem to understanding teamwork, when everyone helps around the house, it takes a lot less time to get the work done…and can surprisingly also be a lot of fun!
When children feel needed and appreciated at home, they learn valuable life skills that will stay with them into adulthood (*so, you can skip paying tuition for “adulting classes” in the future!). Putting away toys, running the vacuum and even something as simple as loading the dishwasher show children what it means to be responsible. So, what is the best age to get kids started doing household chores? Let's hear what real moms have to say:
Bayan Jondy, Zeena CEO: “I’ve learned a lot from my older siblings, and making your kids as independent as possible from a young age only helps them in the future. I’ve always had my kids help me out. So if it’s putting away the groceries, helping their little sister, or being my sous chefs I try to keep them involved.”
K. Moiz: “The earlier the better! I think kids show independence at different ages and if you recognize that your child is exhibiting signs of wanting his/her independence, then jump on it!”
J. Abdullah: “When children are very young, they see doing chores as a game and will model your behavior, so my best advice is to make it fun. Sing the ‘clean up song’ and encourage your child to help mommy or daddy by putting the blocks back in the toybox or wiping the table after a meal. Over time, even small tasks like putting dishes in the sink will become habits they won’t even notice are actually chores.”
How old were your children when they started doing housework?
R. Choudry: "I started teaching my daughters at about the age of 2 years old to start putting their toys away. I would sit with them and show them where to put toys away after they were done playing with them. As they got older, I progressively gave them more and more chores to do. Like putting their shoes and jackets in the closet when they came inside."
Bayan: “I’ve had them help out since they were 5 or 6 years old. We started out with small fun tasks like unloading the dishwasher, help prepare dinner, and set the table. Don’t ask me why, but my 5-year-old loves to peel garlic and cook with me! More recently, we’ve implemented a more serious chore schedule as they’ve gotten older."
K. Moiz: “My kids were 7 and 8 when they started doing chores. We ask them to do simple things like making their beds, putting away their things and keeping their rooms clean."
J.M.: "I started having my children clean up around 2 years old. I believe the earlier you start teaching children about cleanliness, the better. Start with small things like picking up toys and helping with sorting or folding the laundry. Sorting laundry can also be used to teach small lessons like colors, matching, and size."
J. Abdullah: “Around 1 or 2 years old – basically, as soon as they could grab a teddy bear and drop it in a basket! I started them early because I wanted my kids to have little jobs they were responsible for. I tried not to move on from one game to another unless we cleaned up first.”
What are some daily chores your kids do now?
Bayan: “We’ve recently implemented a more serious schedule with my 11 and 13-year-olds. On a weekly basis, they each have to pack their own lunches, take out the trash, and wash their own laundry. Even though my 11-year-old is very helpful, it's been a little hard for him to organize his time to complete his chores. I feel like for him, it’s teaching him how to organize his time in order to get everything he wants done.”
K. Moiz: “As my kids have gotten older, we've progressed to having them help with laundry, dishes, collecting garbage, dusting, tidying up around the house, and light yard work.”
J. Abdullah: "Ideally, we like to start each morning with making up the beds, putting PJ's in the hamper, and making sure all the breakfast dishes are in the sink. After school, I try to encourage my boys to help cook dinner or even wipe the floors with the Swiffer. Sometimes they surprise me by doing little tasks without ever being asked like organizing the shoes!"
J.M.: "When they were four or five years old, we started with wiping down the breakfast table and setting the table for dinner. As they got older, they moved on to sweeping, vacuuming, washing dishes, washing windows, and taking out the garbage/recycling by the time they were ten."
How do you keep your kids motivated to help...and not procrastinate?
Bayan: “I give my kids a small allowance. It’s so small that my husband said it's probably illegal in all 50 states! I also give them reminders to help them get used to it so they're not scrambling.”
K. Moiz: "Initially, keeping them motivated meant incentivizing. My kids LOVE tangible incentives -- things like sticker charts and weekly rewards were very important. This also taught them delayed gratification. We tried to make a big deal when they were consistent and reached the goals we set. Whether we took them out for ice cream or let them choose a movie for movie night; letting them know they earned something and that we are proud of them, always resulted in a smile! We also make sure to be present with them when they are doing chores such as dishes so it’s not overwhelming for them, especially on nights they may have a lot of homework or studying.
We struggled with the idea of an allowance for chores because we strongly feel that taking responsibilities in one’s own home should not be tied to money. We think there are better, more creative ways to encourage kids to help out that aren’t tied to an allowance expectation, so our kids don’t get an allowance for doing chores.”
J.M.: "When my children were young, I tried to make clean up time a game! We would sing the “clean up song” from Barney or put a timer on like Lunette The Clown from “The Big Comfy Couch” and try to get the room clean before time ran out. Sometimes we would just put on good music, blast it loud, and call it a clean up party! As teenagers, I started using a small allowance as an incentive for them to do their “jobs". They all have assigned chores and earn their pocket money by doing their job. They got paid at the end of the month, like an actual job. I think this taught them to be more responsible and conscious of consequences. If they did not do their jobs consistently, they got their pay “docked” or didn’t get paid at all. I’ve even “fired” some of them from certain jobs, and reassigned them to something else; either promoted or demoted (e.g. promoted to moping from sweeping or demoted to wiping the table from sweeping). My version of lessons in what it may be like in the “real world”! My children now range in age from 15-24 and they all (3 boys and 2 girls) know how to do, and do everything; from household chores, to cooking and baking."
R. Choudry: "Incentives for helping out would be treats, going on outings, or inviting their friends over."
Any tips on how to give your children a sense of responsibility without making them feel like "chores are a punishment?"
R. Choudry: "In my home, chores are for learning to work as a team so my kids can have a sense of responsibility and appreciation for what they are blessed with. If you can instill a sense of gratefulness and appreciation in your children, chores will not be seen as a punishment, but as a way life, where everyone in the family helps each other out. These values are important because when children grow up and they are more independent, you want them to be thoughtful and extend themselves voluntarily to whatever help a parent may need.”
Bayan: “I try to give each kid tasks that they don’t see as a chore. My son loves to cook and enjoys helping his little sister. My daughter helps with re-ordering supplies and putting away the groceries. These are the chores that they like helping out with so it comes easy to them. Nowadays, my 13-year-old is more organized about her schedule. Overall, she has become more helpful around the house. I also feel like its brought us closer together. They have a lot more empathy and appreciation for what I do for them. It's really cute how many ‘Thank You’s’ and hugs I’ve been getting lately!”
K. Moiz: “Make it fun. In my experience, I’ve found that kids enjoy being helpful. Remember to thank them for their involvement. Appreciation goes a long way! We continue to remind our kids that since we are all a part of the household, we share roles. Don’t get me wrong, they may whine and complain, but eventually they will do it out of a sense of ownership and responsibility. It’s the best feeling when you walk into your home and the kids have done their chores without being reminded!
J.M.: "Try to make chores as fun as possible when they are young. The earlier you start the better. Make cleaning a game or a friendly competition and play the game with your children. When they see you having fun, they’ll want to have fun too."
We’d love to hear your thoughts! How do you feel about kids and chores? What strategies do you use to get everyone involved at home? Share your parenting wins in the comments below. See you next time!