Welcome to the second weekend of our Parenting Weekends Series, co-hosted by Lisa from Me Too Moments and myself. For the month of March we will be focusing on the theme Building Responsibility in Children.
Today Kaylie shares some invaluable tips on how to get children involved in household chores, even from a very young age.
Kaylie Hodges is a wife to an amazing husband and mom of five sweet babies under five. She has three bio daughters and two adopted sons. She is a Truth Seeker, a Jesus Follower, and a Strong Coffee Drinker. Kaylie blogs about faith, family and funnies at kayliehodges.com
I have five kids under five. Taking responsibility for household chores seems overwhelming considering how many kids I have still needing help to wipe their own bottoms.
Trying to get kids to learn to live in community when you are still reminding them multiple times a day to use soap and not to put that thing in their mouth.
Despite the overwhelm, this is a concept that we have approached with some serious intentionality in our family for a couple of reasons. First, because the Bible tells us that as a body we are meant to work together. We believe that teaching our kids to be a part of the body of Christ starts here, with giving them meaningful work and showing them that their service matters not only for themselves, but for those around them.
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Romans 12:7
The clock rolled over to past 9:00 and I was still in my pajamas. I had claimed Saturday morning as my own. I mean sure, I still had to parent, but I didn’t have to get dressed, and I certainly didn’t have to make them do chores.
I caught the scurrying around as I glanced over the top of the book I was reading. I didn’t dare let my gaze linger lest they stop.
Beds were being made, floor swept, and furniture dusted.
I didn’t move a muscle.
Now listen, my kids can drive me far past the edge of crazy. I can’t fully explain why they did what they did, but I suspect they were just on auto-pilot. So how do we approach daily tasks with intentionality that will lead kids to walk in that daily discipline?
Rhythms. We have tried schedules and they make me a crazy squid of anger and frustration. Not cool. But what we can manage around here is some rhythm. Sometimes faster, sometimes slower, sometimes dropped altogether. My kids know that when they get down from the table for breakfast they will get dressed, make beds, and do chores. Earlier, later, dropped altogether (we don’t do it on Bible Study days because we have to be out of here by 8:30) it’s just the thing we do next.
Definitions. Miscommunication is blamed for everything, but lets face it…there is something to that. I can remember being in high school and my mother and I standing in the middle of my room. I told you to clean it, she would say. I did mom. Every. Single. Time. Our definitions were different.
First you have to define exactly what you expect your children to do. My kids are split into groups of boys and girls for chore time. For one week they dust and then the next week they swap and sweep. On Monday I make sure they know what their duties are this week.
Second, clearly state your expectations. I don’t expect my two year old to dust the same way or the same things that I expect my five year old to dust. He can reach higher and his attention span is longer. Make it clear what and how your expect your kids to do something.
Simplify. Listen, I would love for my kids to fold their clothes, but right now? I’m happy to settle with them just putting them up. I put labels on my kid’s drawers with pictures. Shirts, Pants, Pajamas. (I hang up dresses and dress clothes.) That’s it. They are responsible for sorting and putting up their own laundry. I also make sure any supplies (dust rags and brooms) are accessible to my kids. They are more likely to do it, if they don’t have to wait around for my help.
Follow up. You’ve probably already heard it said, You can’t expect what you aren’t willing to inspect. I’ve found that to be true, make sure your kids know you are checking on them and definitely let them know when they get it right, you should see my kids glow with the knowledge of a job well done. Those little inspections and genuine thank-you-for-doing-a-good-job has done more to keep my kids going than anything else!
Consequences. Okay, so let’s not pretend that sometimes (everyday) you will have a kid that won’t participate. Around here, we don’t want to dole out punishment for not participating, since we are really trying to show them how the body of Christ works. Our only consequence is that they simply don’t get to move forward. Until you choose to do your chores, you don’t do anything else. Turns out? That works very well.
So what about you? Do you make your kids help out? Do you have any tips to get chores done without begging?
Please be sure to come back tomorrow for more great parenting ideas!
April’s Parenting Weekend topic:
“Setting Boundaries vs Stifling Individuality”
To find out more about this writing opportunity please leave a comment or email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org