Are your kids defiant when you ask them to help with household chores? At your wit’s end trying to get them to do as you ask?
Parenting is hard, there’s no getting around that. And more so when you’re trying to co-parent. Getting your children to help out with household chores can be a fight, but it doesn’t have to be.
There are key ideas and tactics you can use to help encourage your kids to help with cleaning.
Three very important first steps revolve around a change in your attitude. Yes, you are exhausted and frustrated, but that’s not going to make your kids want to help clean.
It can be trying at times, but remember that kids are people, too. Their moods are everchanging, just like yours. It is important to lead by example and treat them with kindness, positivity, and good communication.
Divorce is a very difficult time for anyone going through the situation. It causes many changes in your child’s life. It is extremely important to acknowledge and respect your children’s feelings.
As one of the main people going through the separation, you may find yourself not giving your children the space or guidance they need to get through this tough time.
By being kind and respecting their moods, you are showing them that their feelings matter. Getting mad and yelling at them isn’t going to help any situation.
Being positive might seem out of reach, but it is important to be a good role model for your kids. Show them how to get through this time, or this chore, with a positive attitude.
“We will get through this together!” Don’t dismiss their feelings, in place put a positive spin on it.
“I know that you are having a hard time with this divorce, and so am I. I am always here for you, and we will carry on together.”
“Doing laundry can be tedious, but we do need clean clothes.”
Your mood will set the tone for your kids. Try to stay as positive as possible to keep up their good attitudes.
Complete transparency is always best, assuming the child is old enough and emotionally intelligent enough to comprehend what is going on.
Don’t hide information because you think it will make them feel better. They will just be angry that you hid the information.
Also keeping the line of communication open with your co-parent will create a more cohesive co-parenting relationship. Make sure you are on the same page with chores and expect the same things from your children.
This goes for chores, too. Make sure they know exactly what is expected of them, and have a zero-tolerance policy for lying. “If you didn’t finish your chores before bed, just let me know so I can help finish them.”
Now that emotionally they are in a good place, you will need to find a way to motivate them. Here are some techniques and ideas you can use to entice your kids to help with household chores.
Make sure the household chores you are asking your kids to do are age-appropriate. If they are teens they can do most anything, but expecting your 6-year-old to mow the lawn probably isn’t going to go over well.
By age 10 they can probably help clean the bathroom and do the dishes. A 4-year-old can sort silverware and help put that away.
Start cleaning with kids when they’re a toddler. Toddlers love to help. They can start by helping you with small tasks.
2-3-year olds love putting things in other things! They can help clean the toy area by putting all the blocks in a bin. They also love throwing things in the garbage. They are little helpers in training, get them used to helping out early in life.
Getting started is the hardest part. When they don’t know where to start, give them a hand and a direction. When you start cleaning with your kids, they will be more likely to finish it themselves.
You can also teach them the proper way to load the dishwasher, fold their clothes, or organize their room. They will recognize the work that you put into keeping the house clean.
Teens often won’t admit to not knowing something. You might have to trial-and-error certain tasks if they won’t accept help. But beginning to help is a success of its own.
Kid’s love competition, even if the award is only bragging rights! “Who can clean their bedroom the fastest?” “The first person to put their laundry away gets to pick what’s for dinner!”
The younger the kids are, the better this will work. A teenager isn’t going to fall for this one. But they might be motivated by a prize such as picking what movie for family movie night or being able to have a friend over.
Dancing while cleaning will make it a lot more fun. Blasting music and singing at the top of your lungs can make folding laundry a little more enjoyable.
Try this playlist for younger kids! Or if your children are older, they can pick their own music!
Knowing what to expect and when to expect it could be key. Having certain jobs done on specific days can create a sense of routine that kids can depend on. Kids thrive on routine.
It also lets them visualize what needs to be done. A to-do list that things can be crossed off of is very satisfying.
Giving your child a 10-30 minute timer for chores will encourage them to complete their tasks faster. This gives the kids an ending time. Chores are not indefinite, they will end very soon.
“For the next 15 minutes, we are going to clean this house. Let’s see how much we can get done!” Or the 20 minutes before bedtime are reserved for cleaning their bedroom.
Kids might be more inclined to do chores if they’re the ones who pick what they do. Create a chore list for them to choose from.
You might have one child who doesn’t mind washing the dishes every day and one who despises it. If everyone chooses their own task they’re more likely to actually do it.
Have your children complete their chores at the same time. Additionally, you can be doing your cleaning routine during this time, too.
If one of your kids is vacuuming, and the other kid is having a snack at that moment, they will be jealous and in return be frustrated. Kids tend to want everything to be fair, which we know is unattainable. But keeping things feeling somewhat equal is something you can do for them.
When everyone is working together for the same outcome – a clean house – the teamwork aspect will keep your kids motivated.
Commonly, parents have a right way and a wrong way of doing something. When you ask your children to complete a chore, don’t micromanage.
Let them complete it the way they want to. Even if that means that sweeping the floor will take half an hour rather than the five minutes it should.
It might frustrate you, but it’s important they learn how to complete it themselves. They might ask you for help, which is fine, but otherwise, let them handle it.
They might surprise you and have a better way of doing something than you do!
Money talks! As a last resort, you can pay your kids to help out. Figure out a reasonable rate to pay your children to help clean. $1 per year of life, maybe per task… whatever you feel is a good number!
Some experts advise against paying kids for chores, but one benefit is that it can also help teach money management.
This might not be a route you want to go with, but you could always adjust it to provide incentives. The child could earn something they want, extra screen time, or something along those lines.
When they don’t complete their chores, let them experience natural consequences. If they don’t clean their room, they’re not going to have any clean clothes to wear. Next time, maybe they will foresee the consequences and clean their room.
Sometimes it can be hard to watch your children deal with natural consequences. As long as they aren’t in danger in any way, then let it happen. Especially teens need to learn why they need to do chores and what happens if they don’t do them.
When you make doing chores a form of punishment, your children might see doing them as a negative thing. Have chores be routine, punishment is separate.
Make chores positive. They’re helping out around the house. We all live here and need to contribute.
A little thank you goes a long way! When kids feel appreciated they will want to help more.
Think about how you feel when no one appreciates what you do! An added bonus is that when you start thanking them for their help, they will most likely start thanking you. Your children will start to see what you do for them every day and acknowledge it.
This will also help teach manners to younger children. The more you use a word, the more they will. If you say thank you every time they throw something away for you, then they will learn to say thank you every time you throw something away for them.
Have one of their chores be something fun, like planning a family outing, decorating the kitchen for taco night, or coming to the grocery store with you and being able to help pick out snacks for the week.
Chores for kids don’t need to be hard, gross, or boring. Add some fun and exciting things to their lists. Normalize chores being tasks to help keep the household going rather than just boring cleaning that no one wants to do.
Expecting any child to do a bunch of chores is unrealistic. Keep their to-do lists around 2-5 tasks depending on age and how long it takes to complete them.
If your teen has sports after school, it is likely that they are going to be exhausted. Don’t request that they have hours or chores along with any homework they might have to do. After their long day, their only chore should be to shower and go to bed.
Being a kid can be hard. Especially when you are going through a lot of changes. Allow a little leniency at times, and give them time to be a kid.
Motivating your children to help with chores can be quite difficult. It takes a lot of patience and communication.
Household chores are only a small part of this transition. Divorce is hard, and we can help. 2houses offers various resources to improve communication and make co-parenting easier.
We are here to assist you with all of your parenting needs. Our blog has more helpful pointers to help guide you through this difficult time.
2houses has many resources you can to make sure your co-parent and you are on the same page. You can coordinate calendars, share important information about your children’s medical and school, and much more!
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