The current coronavirus inspired social isolation policy means kids more time at home. That means there’s more mess, more untidiness and more food to prepare.
It’s reasonable to expect kids to clean up after themselves, sweep floors, wipe benches, wash dishes or empty dishwashers and also contribute in age appropriate ways to meal preparation. At Parenting Ideas we believe that this type of help should happen all the time, and not be reserved for special times when parents really need some help.
Why kids should help at home
There are several compelling reasons why kids should help at home. Instead of relating chores to misbehaviour or self-serving motivations, assigning chores to kids through a roster helps them to belong in their family through contribution. This helps them to develop a genuine sense of usefulness. Also, as I wrote in my book Spoonfed Generation, your job as a parent is to make yourself redundant! Kids doing jobs is an important part of that process.
Most parents like the idea of kids helping without being paid, but have trouble putting the idea into practice. It can be hard work changing entrenched habits. Besides, you can feel like a nag always reminding kids to help out. That’s why I love rosters. When something needs to be done refer to the roster. “Okay guys, who’s turn is it to do the dishwasher?”. It’s the humble roster that tells kids what to do, not you. It takes the responsibility of helping right out of your hands. The third party (the roster) becomes the culprit.
There are 7 secrets to making rosters rock!
- Don’t crowd the roster with jobs. Two to four jobs each day is enough. Not all jobs go on a roster. Just the significant ones.
- Change the roster each week. This gives you a chance to rotate the less than pleasant jobs.
- Place the roster in a public spot. Accessibility is the key if you are to refer to it often.
- Use symbols or simple pictures for non-readers. Yes, very young children should help.
- Make weekends different. Homes work well when there are two routines. Kids should still help on weekends but differently.
- Make a sibling responsible for drawing up the roster (this can be rotated). This gives ownership to kids.
- Include yourself on the roster. This is the kicker as kids will generally help you when they see that you help them.
So what happens when kids don’t pull their weight? We suggest allowing behavioural consequences to do their magic. For example you can avoid doing a job that kids don’t do. Alternatively, you can charge them a fee (which they can pay from their pocket money) for each job that you do. This effectively places the responsibility back on to them.
As kids move into adolescence they still should help out, but you probably don’t need a roster. They should know what they are supposed to do!