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Let's talk Chores and Responsibilities!
A family lives together, and a family should work together. Just as it is important to work with your partner to parent your children, everyone should also be on the same page with it comes to chores and responsibilities.
|Cheerio Champ painted our tissue box chore towers. Just add hooks. The chores are written on scrapbook paper rectangles with holes punched in them. When not in use for the day, store extra cards in box.|
Our family has the chore tower. Each day’s chores are represented clearly. When they are finished, they are flipped over to display the back of the card. Obviously, for the adults of the house, we have no rewards for completing them other than having a clean house and bragging rights. Cheerio Champ, on the other hand, gets a special privilege. He gets to play his LeapPad2 during quiet time. If he point blank refuses to do chores, he earns himself a nap during quiet time. That’s enough incentive for him. We played around with a lot of other ideas, including allowance, stickers, dessert, etc, but none of that worked for long. Cheerio Champ’s chores include some combination of getting ready for the day (brush hair, use bathroom, wash hands and face, put on chapstick, get dressed), making his bed, dusting, sorting his laundry (Yes, he’s five. He can read and the baskets are labeled as well as the clothes. What’s the problem? Don’t underestimate your kids!), taking sheets off bed to be laundered, and cleaning his room.
Many parents make the mistake of nagging at their kids about chores or giving them too much time to do them in. That backfires in a couple of ways. First, kids stop taking you seriously when you repeat yourself one hundred times, because they don’t actually have to pay attention to you the first time you say it to get the message. “Eh…I don’t have to listen this time. She’ll come back in and say it again in a few minutes.” Say it once and be done. Teach them that you expect them to listen the first time something is said and not when they feel like listening. Follow through with consequences when appropriate. And second, if you are truly working as a team in your household, your kids not getting chores completed in a timely fashion messes with your rhythm and keeps you from finishing complementary chores at a reasonable time. For example, if your teen doesn’t dump clothes in the laundry room until ten o’clock at night but needs clean school clothes for the next day, I sure hope you weren’t planning to go to bed any time soon if it was your day to do laundry. I recommend giving them a reasonable window of time to get it done in. Tell your teen that you can’t be bothered to take him to soccer practice until he can be bothered to pick up his room. That will light a fire under his rear, guaranteed. If he doesn’t clean up, follow through on the consequences. You don’t have any obligations to soccer, after all. He is the one that has to explain why he couldn’t make it. Cheerio Champ knows that his block of time to do chores is right before quiet time. I generally give him about ten minutes. At that point, if he’s obviously working hard, I quietly allow the clock to tick and him to finish. If he’s reading a book and not finished, well, he made his choice and now it is nap time.
Responsibilities are not necessarily the same as chores. Cheerio Champ is responsible, for instance, for cleaning up after himself if he makes a mess. I can’t possibly predict every single mess he’ll ever make (contrary to popular belief), so I can’t really list that on his chore tower. I can, however, make clear my expectations. He’s the one that dumped his water, so he can get paper towels and dry whatever surface. He’s also responsible for such things as washing his hands after using the bathroom, using his words to tell me if his sister is touching something she shouldn’t instead of using his hands to personally prevent her from doing so, taking care of his things (not throwing or tearing up or leaving where they’ll get ruined), helping mom or dad do something when asked, not back talking, using good manners, clearing his dishes or trash after a meal or snack, playing nicely with his sister, being honest when asked a question, and going to bed when told.
Keep in mind that you are not a terrible parent or being unreasonable when you require chores of your children. One hundred years ago, parents worked their kids to the bone because they had to in order to keep the household running, or the kids themselves earned a living! The kids didn’t even think to complain, because they needed to eat just like the next person. Kids are capable of much more than we generally give them credit for. Don’t underestimate them, don’t over criticize, and give them a chance. They might just surprise you.