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It's a Chore Thing

Make the best use of live-in household labor: your kids!

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Following Directions

With a little persistence and a lot of encouragement, you can go from being sole cook, cleaner, and clothes-washer to manager of a smooth-running domestic team. Smart parents know the home is the best training ground for self-sufficiency. For your kids, helping with household chores instills a work ethic, encourages self-reliance, and can be a gratifying experience. (Many kids enjoy the before-and-after results they get from applying a little elbow grease to dirty bathrooms and dusty dressers.) Children who contribute to the family feel important and helpful.

Getting the Job Done: A Step-by-Step Plan:  

  1. Get everyone involved. Hold a family meeting to discuss chores. Children will be more invested in the process of doing chores if you include them in conversations about what needs to be done. 
  2. Make a list of basic, weekly chores. There is no right or wrong way to divvy them up. Some families make each family member responsible for keeping clean one room in the house (the bathroom, for instance). Others have their kids volunteer for various jobs rather than assigning them. Still others keep kids from getting bored by rotating chores regularly. 
  3. Interview job candidates and fill positions. With a little imagination, you can come up with funny job titles such as: sweeper-upper or broom commander; dish washer; dog feeder; filler-upper (this person restocks napkins, toilet paper, paper towels, the salt shaker, etc.); feather-duster; rug rat (in charge of vacuuming); sink sergeant (makes porcelain shine); toilet tamer; mirror maven; garbage guru; greens-keeper (watering household plants); and table-setter/silverware sergeant. 
  4. Get to work! For best results: 
    •  Be realistic about kids' ability. Don't give young children more than they can handle (too much frustration, after all, could lead to an early retirement).
    • Show how to get it done. Kids generally take clean laundry and neat family rooms for granted. Put to rest the notion that a hardworking, invisible elf lives at your house and returns it to order when the family sleeps.
    • Emphasize effort over outcome. Your goal is to promote responsibility and a cooperative attitude — not perfection. 
    • Make it fun. Exchange jokes as you fold laundry together. Play music while your child sets the table. With a soup ladle as a makeshift microphone, they can play Karaoke Kitchen during KP duty.
  5. Be sure to thank them. Let your kids know you appreciate their help. “Thanks for putting your soccer gear away, Billy,” can go a long way in nurturing cooperation. When kids feel appreciated, they’re more likely to pitch in without protest.

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