Maintaining family harmony is already a challenge, so how can you get the kids involved in actual household chores? It may be tempting to just do it all yourself – instead of asking them over and over again, and wasting all kinds of time – but you’re not doing anyone any favors… least of all, yourself.
So how do you pull it off? Here are five tips you can use as a guide.
Most specialists agree that kids can take on a little responsibility as early as age two or three. There’s no reason why even your littlest one can’t get some practice… and imitation games are a good starting point. Give your kids a small broom and some cleaning cloths, so they can practice keeping their play area tidy… or help bring out their cooking skills with a couple of pots and a spatula!
At age 2 or 3 should be able to do some things, with adult supervision: brush their teeth, put wet clothes into the dryer, arrange shoes in the entryway, or pick up toys and books.
At age 4 or 5, kids can dress themselves most of the time, set the table with silverware and placemats, help with the cooking, empty the dishwasher (keep a close eye on Grandma’s dishes, though!), fold socks, underwear, and towels, and disinfect doorknobs using a cloth and a safe household product.
From 6 to 9 years old, kids are more confident in what they do, so they can take on more responsibilities, depending on their skills and interests. Some of them will love helping you in the kitchen, while others will take more pride in wiping fingerprints (and tongue marks…) off your windows. The easiest solution is vinegar and water – always a good choice, especially because it’s eco-friendly, non-toxic, and low cost. Making the beds, sweeping the floor, dusting, or mopping the floor are also fairly easy chores.
Finally, past age 10, you’ll have to decide what you want them to do, since they can usually help with just about anything. You could involve them in picking their chores by having a family meeting, or suggest a rotation and post it on a board everyone can see. And how about a chart with pictograms for the littlest ones, since they’ll recognize images of the various chores? You never know: it could even become a DIY project.
You can (and should!) turn household chores into family time enjoyed by all. One key to this is your positive attitude... and why not think up a thousand and one ways to make it a fun time for your little ones? You could, for instance, make your kids little superheroes with a mission: to rescue lost toys and missing socks… or get them going with a race, your timer in hand; dance as you dust; sing as you clean the windows. In short, make it a good time!
Feel free to praise your kids for their great work – you could even make a medal for the “LEGO blocks pick-up” champ, and keep telling them you’re proud of how independent and responsible they are. Make sure you keep assigning the same chores – they’ll get better with practice! And finally, keep in mind they may not always do a perfect job – you’ll need to be patient!