Chores are important for kids. They are part of the family, and part of being part of a family is help out!
But giving the chores to kids doesn’t necessarily mean the adult in charge gets to take the day off and lounge in an easy chair. It actually takes more time to “train” the kids in, and then to correct sloppy work (occasionally). It’s definitely an investment in future relaxation, though.
My chore methods for my kids is something I am updating often. Here’s how it goes right now: each kid does two chores (or groups of smaller chores) each day; one upstairs (bedroom and kids’ bathroom care) and one downstairs (common area care). This is because they should help with their own stuff (upstairs) as well as something that may not be directly tied to them but is a family area (downstairs). Each one has something different, but usually related.
For example, Wednesday’s upstairs chore for each of the older boy is to prepare their room for Bot and then clean up after. (Bot is our WONDERFUL robotic vaccuum cleaner who I love! Here’s a link to what I mean: BOT) That means getting things up off the floor, setting Bot loose when no one is currently napping, putting him back on the recharger, and putting everything away again. The downstairs Wednesday chore is sorting socks (one kid) and kid underwear (the other), folding appropriately, and putting into the owner’s room.
I have our playroom cleaned and vacuumed twice a week (each given a specific area of responsibility), the kids’ bathroom and our downstairs powder room cleaned up twice a week, their rooms cleaned up once a week, their school area cleaned up once a week, entryway cleaned up once a week by each, etc. For each of these, I have specific measurable tasks that they need to do, both written and depicted so they can fully understand.
Each child’s chore cards have the day along the top, the child’s color down the side, the chore(s), and then a checkmark on the back. And each is laminated (have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE my laminator–or as my 4 year old used to call it, my lemonader?) The cards are hung on two side-by-side hooks – one for still-to-be-done chores and one for completed chores. Each child can tell at a glance what comes next (see photo above).
Where does the simcha come in? It comes from the child knowing what is expected of them and following a routine, and doing it both correctly and independently. This system minimizes nagging and encourages the child to do their work on their own. (The kids know no playdates until their chores are done and just do them. Yay!)
When you assign a child chores, it pays to go through it exhaustively with them, explaining what you want done. Then do it again. Then check their work and explain whatever needs more work. Then check it randomly, always gently correcting when needed. It’s a lot of work for the grown up, but really worth it when that easy chair calls…in a few years, I guess! 😉