We all know the struggle it is to teach the kids to pick up after themselves. It seems like the first few younger years of life they’re only objective is to drive you crazy with how many spills they can make, dirty clothes they can pile up in a day, or how many legos they can leave on the floor for you step on despite the MANY times you’ve yelled “CLEAN UP THIS ROOM!” That’s just THEIR mess. It’s not including the house maintenance that needs to be done consistently especially when you have a big family like ours. All that work can drive any person crazy not to mention it can be extremely time consuming and leave you with little to no time for yourself while the kids are happy go lucky as you’re being their Cinderella. How about NO!
When our family was smaller and my husband and I just had our 2 boys chores were still an issue to get them to do consistently, but it was way more manageable since we lived in a small apartment. There wasn’t that much work to be done and the ratio for kids to adults were matched. However, once our daughter was born, we added our 3 nieces into the family, and we moved into a 4 br house all within’ a year the upkeep on chores, kids, homework, fighting, and bickering became to much to bare for me. So after finally getting fed up of working my butt off to try to keep up with it all by myself I decided it was time for ALL the kids to get designated chores and learn to be more responsible, appreciative, and learn new life skills. Which was the best decision I made!! Now of course you still will have to deal with the occasional moans and groans from time to time, but by having a system in place it allows you to be able to delegate the some of the responsibilities off of your shoulders and teaches the family to work together as a team.
How soon should you start your kids on chores?
My opinion…The younger the better!! As I mentioned earlier we have a total of 6 kids that we’re raising right now (soon to be in July.) The age ranges from youngest to oldest are 15, 11, 8,6,4, and 23 months old. Wait what?!?! Yup that’s not a typo. So we have a WIDE age range and I can tell you from experience that the earlier you teach the kids to pick up after themselves and learn to help around the house the better it will be for you and for them in the long run. I’ll give you an example.
When our nieces first came to live with us we noticed that they weren’t used to cleaning up after themselves whatsoever at least not the younger ones (they were 5 and 3 at the time). It was mainly done by my eldest niece (14 at the time). So getting them to clean up and follow directions was a big struggle in the beginning and can still be from time to time, but now that they’re in a consistent routine and understand they need to help clean up too it’s been MUCH easier. Now my daughter Nayeli is the baby and even though she’s small she does her share of helping clean up around the house just like the oldest one. Now does she have designated chores?? No, but she does help with putting dishes away when she sees one of us doing it, she LOVES to help you sweep and MUST be the one to take the dust pan to the garbage when it’s time otherwise she throws a fit. She also helps when it comes time to pick up toys, fold clothes (she tries, but yea you have to end up fixing it), and throws her own diapers away.
Why is there such a difference in actions when the other 2 are years older??
It’s because we started EARLIER. The baby doesn’t know anything different, because we’ve never taught her anything different. She see’s all of us cleaning and we get her involved in the process so she just thinks “ME TOO!” and thinks it’s fun to do together. Of course she still makes her share of mess and is starting to head into terrible 2’s phase soon so things will probably change up a bit, but still getting her involved NOW is helping make the process much smoother than waiting till she’s older. Just as the saying goes “Monkey see monkey do.” Take that LITERALLY with your kids and start NOW!
Raising kids into responsible adults
Some of you may be thinking well they’re just kids and you don’t want to put too much pressure on them with chores when they should be focusing on just being kids. Well… Although I totally understand where you’re coming from and want my kids to be able to enjoy their youth as much as possible; I also FIRMLY believe that the younger you teach them to be responsible and have them help with cleaning up the more aware, appreciative, and respectful of the work it takes in raising them. It also helps them learn vital life skills like working as a team, responsibility, work ethic, and routines which will be extremely important for them as adults in the future. It’s not robbing them of their childhood by teaching them to clean up after themselves. It’s just teaching them responsibility earlier so that it’s a HABIT that will serve them well later.
Creating systems and lists
Just like when you’re starting a new job and going through training you had to learn the basics of what was expected of you and how to maintain and do your job. When creating a chores list for the kids I recognized QUICKLY that although some things may seem clean to them would NOT be clean to ME. So verses going through the complete headache of having to repeat myself constantly on what they needed to do I created chore list with STEP by STEP tasks that needed to be completed to insure their chores were completed properly. Now you don’t necessarily have to be as detailed in creating your own chores chart if you don’t feel your kids need it, BUT I highly encourage it because it leaves very little wiggle room for them to use excuses like “Well I wasn’t sure how to do it…” or “I did clean it correctly…”. If your pair your chore chart with an individual checklist for each zone it makes holding them accountable even better as well as gives you an easier way to track their progress if you decide to pay them for chores down the road. Here’s a sample of our families Chore Chart and Weekly Tracking sheet that I’ve set up for our kids. If you’d like try this out at home with your kids feel free to download the full PDF below.
Should kids be paid for their chores?
Now this is 100% completely up to you, your spouse, and your family budget. If you’d like to pay your kids for the chores that they do around the house perfect! If you DON’T want to pay them PERFECT! It’s all up to you and how you choose to parent your kids. We personally have opted NOT to pay our kids for their household chores for the simple fact that these are LIFE SKILLS that they need to learn need to get done whether they get paid or not PERIOD. When they get older and decide to get their own places they need to know how to pick up after themselves and maintain their house for free. Plus, this is apart of contributing to helping out the family. Everyone pitches to make the mess and everyone pitches in to clean the mess.
Bonus Bucks Chart
If you’re opting NOT to pay your kids for their household standard chores like we do, but would like them to learn how to earn and manage their own money so they can buy special things I suggest doing a BONUS BUCKS CHART. Bonus bucks are basically EXTRA bonus chores or things that require a little bit more work that you can pay them for doing such as washing the car, cleaning out the garage, baby sitting, yard work, or whatever other chores that need to be done that you can delegate to them for a price. For my moms who work from home and or are needing to delegate some of their business to do’s like video editing, picture taking, printing pages, or anything that you can outsource this is a GREAT opportunity for you to hire your kids as your first employees, teach them a new skill, and free up your time to do more of the top tasks on your productivity list. Even if you don’t have a business or work from home you can still totally delegate various chores to the kids that you’ll pay them for to help you free up your time to do more of what you want verses HAVE to do. Which is a total WIN WIN! In the end however you decide to dish out your family chores and allowances always keep in mind the end goal is always to teach your kids how to be helpful, responsible, and to work hard for the things that they want.