3 Tools to Get Kids to do Chores Happily
This past Wednesday night I spent two hours cleaning up messes my kids left all over the house in an embittered, martyr-esque it’s-a-good-think-everyone’s-asleep-so-I-have-nobody-to-scream-at rage.
And for those 120 minutes I realized the extent to which my younger kids feel no sense of responsibility for the cleanliness of the house. And that’s why, day after day, the legos are left on the carpet for me to pick up and the half-finished bowls of soggy cornflakes are left on the table for me to wash and the pre-bath clothing is left on the bathroom floor for me to put into the laundry.
I decided something’s gotta change, like, NOW!. So this is what I did…
1. I made a Chore Wheel
I’ve heard about this idea several times over the years, but I’ve never done actually done it. And now that I realize that it takes only about 10 minutes to make one, I wish I’d done it years ago. This is how you make a chore wheel:
1. Cut out a big paper circle and a little paper circle
2. Divide each circle into as many pie slices as you have kids who are old enough to help in the house, and label the inner pie slices with their names along with how many minutes each one will need to help in the house each day. For example, I wrote that my 5-year-old needs to help for 5 minutes and my 6 through 12 year old need to help for 15 minutes (my 15-year-old isn’t on the chart, she helps half-an-hour a day).
3. Attach the little circle onto the big circle with a round-head fastener (I found out this is called a “seeka mitpatselet” for you Israeli JewishMOMs)
4. Label the outer circle with 4 jobs/areas of the house.
5. Every day rotate the little circle one pie-slice over, so every child gets each job once every four days.
That’s it! So I just started using it on Sunday and my kids are into it…I hope their into-it-ness will last.
2. Chore Chart
I’ve had this chart for a few years, so (in theory) kids can mark down when they finish their daily chore. This means (once again, in theory) that I don’t have to chase after them to make sure they did the chore they were supposed to. After they check off that day’s box, they receive a treat. And our new resolution since my Wednesday cleaning marathon: no computer until job is done. I recommend making something your kids enjoy conditional upon finishing their chore (i.e., dessert, reading, bedtime story, computer time).
3. Family Meeting and House Rules
Last night we had a meeting to talk about keeping the house clean. I tried to make it fun and positive, so I called it a “house party” and served chips with salsa and bamba etc. During the meeting we talked about how we can keep the house cleaner, and my kids had a lot of strong opinions about various things related to the house, so my daughter wrote up all of the rules we agreed upon, and I laminated them and posted them next to the chore wheel for all to see.